• May 15, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Customer Service Is the Only Metric That Matters

INDIANAPOLIS (Interactions 2013) — The contact center of the future will incorporate greater uses of video, analytics, Web RTC and mobile technologies, and social media, a panel of consultants said during the morning keynote today at Interactive Intelligence's Interactions 2013 user conference.

Now, as in the future, nothing in the contact center will be over-hyped, the panelists agreed. But, that comes with a caveat: "You need to look at all technologies to see what fits in with your brand. If you're Nike, you need to be on social. If you're the AARP, probably not," said Blair Pleasant, founder of CommFusion.

And then organizations will have to look at the technologies their customers are using. "The proliferation of smartphones doesn't necessarily imply a change of channels," added Brian Henton, principal consultant at Strategic Contact, because customers could largely be using them for phone calls.

The same applies to the metrics that contact center managers should employ to measure the contact center's performance. These metrics should provide a real-time view, said Henton, who advocated for first call resolution as one of the most important metrics to consider.

Pleasant also supports using FCR as a basic starting point, and quipped that it will soon morph into "first tweet resolution," which she said will be very different for the contact center. "What's not getting through to companies is that average handling time and time to answer are not what customers care about. They want issue resolution," she added.

In another session, Brenda Kross, a contact center solutions consultant at Interactive Intelligence, said customers should be the guiding force in everything that happens within the contact center. "You need to look at everything from the customer's perspective. At the end of the day, was the customer served?" she said.

But there are other factors that can't be overlooked, she added. For example, the customer service goals and metrics should align with the organizational strategic objectives. This can be tough, she noted, when executives, contact center leadership, and contact supervisors are all working toward different ends.

The metrics that matter to corporate executives are customer satisfaction, service levels, quality, finances (cost per call versus revenue per call), and first contact resolution, according to Kross.

For contact center directors, forecast accuracy, quality, abandonment, schedule adherance, service levels, costs per contact, volume, handling time, and customer and employee satisfaction are the most important metrics, she added.

For that reason, "it's important that you only measure things that you can take action on," and that the metrics employed don't conflict with one another," Kross said.

But regardless of what's being measured, it must be a continuous process. "Don't just settle for the status quo," Kross challenged attendees.

That also should be the guiding principle for any other technologies that get added. "It's important to think about the value [to the customer] that you add with it," Pleasant maintained.

Beyond that, "you need to focus on the technology, people, and processes," Pleasant added. "A lot of times you only focus on the technology, and that can be the easiest part. Changing people and processes, that can be the toughest part."

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