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Contact Centers—often overlooked, yet essential to your overall CX strategy

Charlie Moore | Dec 9, 2016 Charlie Moore 12/09/16

How many of you have called a company’s customer service center on the phone within the last year? I know I have, and it looks like we’re not alone. Data from a recent study shows 73% of customers today have used a live phone call to escalate an issue to a contact center in the past 12 months, while 68% have used email and 58% have used chat or instant message.1 In the past, customer contact centers may have been viewed as a waste of revenue. These numbers prove that companies cannot afford to ignore the reality that contact centers are an important extension of the brand and must adjust their approach accordingly.

Whether you’re managing an internal contact center or using an external third-party contact center, brands need to collect and connect the relevant data for a complete view of the customer—then they can uncover insights that lead to changes in the business. For internal contact centers, that might mean measuring the customer’s phone, email, and chat interactions at the agent level. For external contact centers, it might mean importing the data captured by a third party. 

No matter how it happens, measuring the contact center experience across multiple channels can have a favorable impact for your brand. In the figure below, measuring customer satisfaction is the top metric for contact centers according to a 2016 survey.2 Most organizations can manage the numbers on their own, but that’s not enough to truly drive your business strategy. The best brands know they have to improve their metrics by leveraging their customer experience data, then they can mitigate service failures and boost customer loyalty. That’s the real end game. 

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Over the past 25+ years, I’ve built and managed internal contact center organizations in a variety of industries—technology, retail, consumer goods, healthcare—and worked with numerous third-party contact centers, too. In that time, I’ve learned contact centers are a balance of three things—budget, value, and on-brand experiences. While budget and value may be limited by financial constraints, delivering on-brand experiences is often only limited to a contact center agent’s performance. It’s possible for a brand to lack the budget necessary to improve their CX technology, but technology simply can’t replace the connection possible through human interaction. 

Insights + action = results

With that in mind, brands need a solution that can capture customer interactions, report the data, and provide the insights needed to take action. In my experience, unless you can capture data from the customer’s perspective, simple operational measures are no more useful than points on a graph. Insights are what turn the data into real results.

By using a contact center interaction survey, brands can begin to understand the importance of issue resolution through the eyes of the customer. Consider the metric First Contact Resolution—it’s the number two most important metric behind Customer Satisfaction in a recent 2016 study2. The data shows overall customer satisfaction can improve more than 50% if an issue is resolved quickly versus left unresolved. The question is, why could some agents with the same operating constraints obtain higher satisfaction on first contact resolution while others failed? Again, the answer lies here—technology doesn’t replace the on-brand connection possible through a live interaction.   

Digging into these insights is what leads to results. By investigating agent training and employee empowerment practices, brands were able to implement a consistent approach to customer problem resolution—which tightened the gap in customer satisfaction. Taking these actions made a solid improvement in first contact resolution. By improving that metric, brands saw a downstream gain in productivity and an overall savings in costs—now those are results.

While there will always be a gap in satisfaction between issues resolved quickly or left unresolved, the goal is to use insights like these to narrow that gap. Insights + action—that’s what leads to better brand performance, and a boost in customer loyalty.

To find out more about how your contact center can help you build better customer connections, check out our SMG AgentTrack product piece here.

 

1. Forrester’s Contact Centers Must go Digital or Die – April 2015

2. CCIQ – 2016 Next Generation Customer Engagement Report