There has been some discussion as to whether call centers are still relevant in this day and age, due to the emergence of social media channels where customers can instantly communicate with a brand.
I argue that they are still relevant, but it is increasingly evident that the role of the contact center is changing.
Customer contact is beginning to look very different, as customers’ problems are now more complex due to more emphasis on self-service channels, and agents are now faced with bigger challenges, meaning more pressure. Consumers are also more empowered than they ever were before, and therefore expect more from companies.
This means that automated models of measuring effectiveness could no longer be the most efficient. There is an ongoing shift in how businesses are now measuring effectiveness, where customer satisfaction and customer effort are overtaking the more outdated metrics such as Call Handling Time, Resolution Rates, and Conversion.
Could this be the future of measuring contact centers? And are you measuring your contact center’s performance all wrong?
Due to the rise in omni-channel, consumers are now more likely to self-serve rather than call a company, and will often reach out via social media before calling. This suggests that calling is a last resort, which means a few things for contact centers.
First, voice agents will need to be highly-skilled experts capable of dealing with these complicated issues that couldn’t be fixed the first time around. Second, voice agents will need to have full visibility and understanding of the information callers will have likely already accessed via other channels.
This also makes this ‘last-resort phone call’ matter a great deal more than it did before, which makes call handling time a less effective means of measuring performance. If the call is short, yet you haven’t managed to solve the problem in the best way possible, a customer will leave unsatisfied, and thus the time taken will mean nothing.
44% of consumers in 2012 said their expectations were higher than they were a year ago – and that was three years ago. This number has only increased since then.
This is because consumers now know their value and have the knowledge and resources to locate a better deal, as well as the ability to influence others. 61% of customers who have had a bad experience have stopped doing business with an organisation, and a similar number (67%) have spread negative word of mouth, either verbally or online.
For these reasons, empowered consumers now expect nothing less than the best. They expect accurate, seamless, consistent and personalized service across all contact channels. More importantly, customers expect their expectations to be met. When this happens and a customer is satisfied, it is proven that they are much more loyal.
Customer effort is becoming the best measure of customer sentiment and loyalty. Having a frictionless, low-effort support journey is just as important to customers as having their issue resolved. Businesses should track customer effort and look at how easy it is for customers to reach them, and if possible reduce this effort.
This is achievable by measuring customer navigation; keeping customers informed; noting and aiming to reduce the number of times they’ve contacted you; and if customers are being put through to the right people.
A customer effort score is even proving to be a much better predictor of loyalty than the net promoter score. High effort proves to be an extremely strong predictor of future customer loyalty – Data from CEO 2.0 says 96% of customers reporting high-effort experiences become more disloyal in the future.
Customer satisfaction is the number one indicator of performance. Customers want to be seen and heard; they want to be guided, healed and cared for. We are shifting away from a one size fits all model, to a more personalised and emotional experience, because not all problems and issues can be resolved in the same way, especially with the amount of things that can now go wrong.
Contact centers are moving from customer service to customer engagement. They are becoming the heart of businesses, because they are the first point of contact across multiple channels, and aim to create positive relationships with customers.
Businesses should use these relationships to gather customer feedback, not just at the end of the customer journey, but at other parts of the journey where it’s more relevant to the customer and more useful to the business. They should also capture customer feedback over a variety of channels – SMS messages, email, social media and Live Chat.
Both O2 and First Direct use customer satisfaction when measuring performance and it has worked for them. First Direct even claimed the title of ‘Best Company in the UK’ in 2014. O2 in particular measure customer satisfaction by conducting independent research involving randomly selected customers, and covers areas like network quality, customer service and value for money.
Something that is often overlooked, yet when you think about it, is absolutely vital for a positive customer experience is employee satisfaction. A growing number of businesses are learning that employee satisfaction and employee productivity go hand in hand.
Understanding what makes call center employees unhappy – and what makes them more likely to quit their jobs than almost any other type of employee, is something to consider when measuring performance. It’s simple – if your employees are happy, they’re more likely to do a better job.
For example, according to The Guardian, Sociometric Solutions found that giving employees breaks together, instead of forcing them to take breaks alone, resulted in a more cohesive staff at Bank of America’s call centers. By simply changing this rule, the company dropped its turnover rate from 40% to 12%.