Too often, efforts to improve contact center performance are based business goals like increasing labor efficiency, or lower operating cost. But contact centers are not built to serve managers, they are built to serve customers. We surveyed over 2000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Here are some of the things we learned:
- Nearly half of all inbound contact center interactions are for the purposes of asking for help
- Two in three responders prefer working with a live agent as opposed to self-service or a chat-bot
- Only about a third of consumers are happy with their last interaction
- Most interactions occur over the phone. However, those who use chat tend to be more satisfied because chat is considered quick, easy and convenient
- 81% of those surveyed say they’d switch to another company if they’ve had a bad customer experience but over 80% also say they would be willing to reward companies who give great service by going out of their way to buy again and even recommend the company to a friend
What does this mean? Here are five key takeaways, in no specific order, to improve contact center performance.
- Be there when your customers need you. When customers call, they want their problems solved fast. Strive for an Occupancy Rate of around 80%. Also make sure you can accurately forecast call volume and create the right staffing plan. If you do these two things, chances are your callers are going to get help the help they want fast. Workforce management (WFM) software can help. WFM software is no longer for big contact centers. Look for a solution that is tightly integrated into your contact center software. This will eliminate the need to manage WFM as a separate application as well as give you the best results.
- Focus on the results your customers want. Your customers want convenient access to people who can help them solve their problems quickly while being treated with respect. Strive to have your Average Speed to Answer under 10 seconds and your First Call Resolution (FCR) at around 70%. You will need a good reporting system to monitor many of your contact center KPI’s like ASA and FCR. Again, seamless integration with modern contact center software is key. Older systems often don’t provide convenient access to KPI metrics. In addition, consistency in following contact center processes is key to optimizing FCR. Consider a quality management solution that will let you observe agents as they interact with customers and allow you to score interactions using a standardized evaluation form and to provide systematic coaching and teaching.
- Let your customers contact you in ways that work best for them. We live in a digital world. More and more communication is now occurring over email, web chat, SMS and text messaging than ever before. Does your contact center support these communications channels? These digital channels are highly preferred because they are considered more convenient. If you have not added digital channels to your contact center, consider upgrading your contact center software to a solution that offers true omnichannel capabilities. This includes not only digital channels, but also advanced routing and giving agents the ability to simultaneously service voice, email and chat sessions concurrently.
- Listen to what your customers are trying to tell you. You need to listen to what the boss is telling you. No, not the CEO, your customers. When it comes to scoring contact center service, it’s the voice of your customer that really counts. If your customers are happy, then your business benefits. Customers will buy more and refer their friends to you. But if they are unhappy, you lose them – maybe for good. Consider using feedback tools that let your customers talk back. Also, learn to listen more carefully by using advanced analytics that can suss out nuances in interactions to help you identify sentiment and trends.
- Empower your Agents. Working in a contact center is tough. The work is stressful and highly repetitive. Each call is different and offers the possibility of placing an agent into a situation they may be ill prepared for. Add to this, that agents must often interact with dozens of business systems and applications to research account history, order status, returns, billing and payment errors, support recommendations and more. So, consider giving your agents a single unified interface into your company’s systems. Better yet, consider using new artificial intelligence tools which make it easier for agents to quickly locate and access information they need to assist customers.
There are many ways to improve contact center performance. Certainly, controlling cost and improving efficiency is important. But so is providing great customer service. Smart managers know that as call enter quality and service improves, efficiencies and cost reductions will naturally follow. There are several industry standard KPIs that can help you measure and benchmark your contact center performance. To learn more you can review the 2018 CX Transformation Benchmark and then review this white paper “Top KPI’s for Managing Customer Service, Sales and Collections Contact Centers”.