Staying on Top of Customer Satisfaction

Customer experience is paramount in customer retention, and technical glitches, even minor ones, can have an enormous impact on a consumer's perception of a company. Combine that with the undeniable fact that today's contact centers are extremely complex—featuring multiple communication channels, self-service applications, routing schemes, agent groups, and vendor equipment—and the result is companies that sometimes are unaware of an issue until it is reported by a customer. Frustrated customers take their business elsewhere, and with word of mouth as a powerful influencer, they're likely to take their friends' business with them. With the advent of social media, a complaint that a few years ago would have been aired to a small circle of family and friends can now easily reach thousands, and potentially even millions, of others.

To illustrate this point, consider the global retailer that deployed a new CRM system in an attempt to provide better service with a CTI screen pop. Unfortunately, multiple integration issues occurred in the deployment. Although everything functioned well at low call volumes, the solution was unable to handle peak traffic loads, and the screen pop response time went from less than two seconds to an unacceptable 38 seconds. Additionally, while the agent waited for the screen pop, the entire custom CRM application froze, making it impossible for the agent to assist the customer at all. The result of this "glitch" was hundreds of frustrated customers.

Tracking certain key performance indicators (KPIs) is vital to better understanding the customer experience. By closely monitoring KPIs in real time, companies can spot service degradations and possibly preempt their impact on customers.

The top five KPIs to watch are:

Voice quality of service. Degraded voice quality does not reflect well on any company. It also leads to longer call times, since customers and agents struggle to understand each other and may be forced to repeat themselves. In extreme cases, customers will hang up and try again. A seemingly simple issue like poor voice quality can be extremely costly in both customer loyalty and overall value per call.

Repeat calls. A measurement of how many times a customer contacts the company before the issue is corrected, this KPI reflects how successfully agents are able to satisfy callers the first time. A variety of technical issues, including improper routing, long queue lines, dropped calls, and more, can lead to higher repeat call rates.

Call abandonment rate. High abandonment rates indicate application problems, incorrect routing latencies in back-end communications, or inefficient management of customer service resources. These conditions result in frustrated customers who are unable to get their problems taken care of in an efficient and timely manner.

Call blockage rate. A metric utilized by most contact centers today, the call blockage rate calculates how efficiently customers can access services. When applications are not working correctly or the contact center cannot handle the sheer volume of customer inquiries, calls are not answered. A high blockage rate directly impacts customer satisfaction.

Mean time to diagnose. Pinpointing the cause of problems in today's complex environments can be difficult. Decreasing the mean time to diagnose is essential for limiting the adverse impact on customers. Additionally, it drives considerable cost savings for the organization, since support man-hours can add up quickly.

No company can afford to lose a customer as a result of a technical glitch. Implementing performance monitoring solutions to provide an end-to-end view of KPIs across the entire contact center can prove priceless in contributing to customer satisfaction and increasing a company's bottom line. Beyond simply tracking how well the bits and bytes are floating through the network, they assess application performance, service quality, system delays, and related factors to provide a true picture of customer experience. End-to-end performance monitoring simplifies KPI reporting and enables companies to more efficiently isolate, drill into, and diagnose issues, thereby reducing their negative impact.

In the end, customers aren't concerned with the intricacies involved in managing complex contact center environments. They just expect top-notch service whenever, and however, they choose to contact you.

Tim Moynihan is vice president of marketing at Empirix, where he is responsible for strategic business planning and product revenue growth.

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