From monitoring the average time it takes to handle a call to asking customers to rate their associate, what are the call center performance metrics that really matter when it comes to delivering a differentiated customer experience (CX)?
The most common way of recording how well a contact center is meeting its users’ needs, the service level is the number of calls received that are answered by an associate within an acceptable time frame. Different industries have different expectations, for instance, within banking and finance the global metric is 80 percent of calls answered within 20 seconds. By then measuring the average speed to answer, the difference between the two figures will highlight if there are enough associates in place to deal with the amount of incoming call traffic.
This is the number of calls where a customer hung up the phone before getting through to an associate. It’s measured as a percentage of all calls received and it will vary depending on the seriousness of the issue a customer is attempting to resolve. The more serious, the more likely they are to hold the line.
The theory goes that the longer an associate needs to be on the phone to resolve a customer’s issue the more that call is costing the company and the less time the associate has available to service other callers. However, if a longer initial call ends with a problem being resolved then the customer is happy and won’t be calling back.
“In our world of high volume and instantaneity, AHT is a good indicator for planning staffing levels and for checking that scripts and knowledge bases are working well and are up to date,” explains Olivier Camino, Global COO and founding partner, Sitel Group. “But it shouldn’t be used as a measure for judging an associate’s soft skills or emotional intelligence, which are crucial to delivering CX. If we are well calibrated, a good AHT reflects the fluency of the conversation with our clients’ customers – good communication, CRM system controls, associate behaviors. But, we must remember, AHT comes at the end – as our final result.”
Indeed, as more companies begin to leverage self-service elements such as FAQs, community forums and chatbots to deflect low-value contacts, the likelihood that a call into a contact center needs more time to resolve increases. The latest Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report shows that 61 percent of U.S. consumers will always attempt self service before calling a contact center.
“What’s required of our associates is changing rapidly,” continues Camino. “Today, when a customer reaches out to a contact center, it’s usually a real moment of truth – a highly emotional experience.”
This is the percentage of all calls received that are resolved by the associate receiving the enquiry without having to transfer to a colleague or manager or having to call the customer back.
According to the 2018 CCW Customer Experience Market study it is the most important element of CX for 65 percent of U.S. consumers. It should be the ultimate goal when it comes to call center performance metrics that really matter because it’s a measure that hinges on more than simply making sure data and information are freely available to associates so that they can take responsibility for an issue. It’s paramount that they have the skills, training and empathy to understand the customer on the customer’s terms.
“Associates need to quickly understand the context of each interaction – who the client’s customer is and what his or her expectations are,” says Camino. “And, they must be ready to create a positive emotional interaction with the customer by offering the right answers at the right time – creating a real connection and conversation between the customer and the brand.”
In the most recent Call Center Helper What Call Centres are Doing Right Now industry report, Customer Satisfaction was rated as the most important of all call center performance metrics. Just 0.6 percent of respondents said that the metric was unimportant.
A CSAT survey asks customers to rate their experience with the contact center on a scale of 1-3, 1-5 or 1-7 – where the higher the score, the higher their perceived satisfaction – and is usually sent to the customer within 15 minutes of their call. As such they are a great tool for obtaining immediate feedback. Furthermore, their results can be enhanced by sending out new surveys on a quarterly basis to all customers who have been in contact within a certain period of time.
There are a host of associate-related metrics that one can measure, from absenteeism to attrition, but the most important and the one that’s most overlooked is satisfaction.
“If a company wants to make sure they offer customers an engaging, emotional experience, they need to start by looking at their associate experience,” says Camino. “If associates are happy in their job, they will put in the extra effort with the customers they are interacting with to create real, conversational experiences. Your company is responsible for creating the conditions where associates feel empowered to deliver emotional experiences for customers – if your people are happy, your clients’ customers are happier and more satisfied.”
As well as increased performance, when employees are engaged, they’re less likely to take time off and to look for work elsewhere. As for CSAT, associate satisfaction can be measured with surveys but they should be supported with frequent one-to-one meetings for a great qualitative insight into the elements of their role where things could be improved and the tools and functions that are working well.
As a leading global outsourcing provider of customer experience management, Sitel Group understands better than anyone how critical your customer relationships are. With 150 offices across 27 countries and more than 75,000 associates speaking 48 languages, our contact center associates deliver more than 3.5 million unique customer experiences every day.