Our panel of experts share their best ideas for contact centre goals, which can be set as objectives for improving the customer experience.
1. Speed Up Responses and Reduce Abandons
A key objective of a contact centre should always be fast response times and low abandon rates.
Once an acceptable goal is agreed, good queue management is essential. This is especially true in these days of omnichannel, where advisors can receive and respond to enquiries regardless of channel, i.e. voice, email, social, live chat and SMS.
Supervisors should be able to see the total number of requests queued at any point in each channel and make adjustments as necessary. Likewise, advisors should be able to see, and change, in real time their status in the queues via their desktop.
So, to hit response time goals it’s important to keep advisors’ desktops simple. They will ideally have rapid access to relevant data from disparate systems without switching between screens. A simplified desktop reduces call times, queues and abandon rates.
2. Boost Customer Satisfaction
Customers want fast, positive outcomes. However, customer satisfaction is one of the more difficult objectives to measure.
The most common way is to ask people after a contact how satisfied they were with the experience by way of a survey using a scale, e.g. 1-5, 1-7 or 1-10. However, this is an instant result following an interaction and is not an indication of their overall happiness.
Results of CSat surveys should be reviewed along with customer retention or customer churn measures to judge whether value and loyalty has been improved or just the ability to answer questions.
So, results of CSat surveys should be reviewed along with customer retention or customer churn measures to judge whether value and loyalty has been improved or just the ability to answer questions.
Also, just remember that your goal isn’t to directly improve the score that’s generated, it’s a measure and not a target. Focus on improving areas of the customer experience and hope satisfaction improves naturally, otherwise CSat fails to become a “fair” measure.
3. Improve Forecast Accuracy
To ensure customers don’t have to wait for an answer, getting the numbers right is essential. This makes forecasting and scheduling a priority.
If demand forecast or advisor availability is too low, then customers will queue and potentially abandon an attempt to contact the company. Getting the balance right means balancing advisor availability, demand levels, handle time and service level assumptions.
To build a successful forecast, first make sure that you have access to validated historical call data.
Looking back is valuable when spotting deviations from normal events, unexpected spikes in volumes or changes in average handling time (AHT) patterns. Remove those unusual events and concentrate on what usually happens during typical demand periods to establish forecast accuracy.
So, just be sure to keep records of previous forecasts, build in operational and business changes and keep in touch with other parts of the organisation to help hit those consistent forecast accuracy goals.
Thanks to Colin Hay at Puzzel
Listen to the following podcast on setting objectives to achieve contact centre excellence, which includes a conversation with Thomas Laird – aka. “The Contact Centre Geek”.
4. Make Self-Service Containment a Priority
Self-service containment refers to the percentage of customers that stay within the self-service channel to solve their problem, without elevating the interaction to an advisor.
Measuring self-service containment can provide insight into process or system improvements for your self-service platforms.
For example, if customers begin to pay their bill within the IVR, but consistently abort and end up speaking with an advisor, this may reflect poorly scripted prompts or an issue with prompt timing, resulting in cross-talk errors.
If customers are navigating to the FAQs page on your website, but then consistently still click the “Contact Us” button from that page, this might reflect a gap in FAQ content.
Similarly, if customers are navigating to the FAQs page on your website, but then consistently still click the “Contact Us” button from that page, this might reflect a gap in FAQ content.
A poor self-service containment rate is a symptom of another problem that you can then research, identify and correct.
5. Get Smarter Over Adherence
If your forecast says that you need ten advisors on the phone right now to support anticipated call volumes, but four of those advisors are at the water cooler instead of at their desks as scheduled, you won’t be achieving desired business results.
Luckily, your contact centre can mitigate this through measuring both Real-Time Adherence (RTA) and historical adherence.
Real-time adherence empowers you to see what your advisors should be doing based on the schedule, and what they are actually doing in real time, as well as how long they have been out of adherence.
Having this insight at a glance allows you to address the issue immediately, whether that be shooting an email to that advisor telling them they need to head to lunch or walking over there yourself.
Additionally, historical adherence reporting empowers you to have informed conversations with your agents related to their adherence trends and discuss how non-adherence impacts their own performance and your customers.
Thanks to Lauren Comer at NICE inContact
6. Review Your KPI Choices
Ensuring that the results of your key performance indicators (KPIs) are actionable, easily accessible and still related to your wider business objectives is an important exercise.
There are three key considerations when tackling this seemingly mammoth task: data collection, data sharing and coaching. Using Customer Satisfaction (CSat) surveys combined with quality assessments to personalise and target coaching is a proven win-win for all parties.
Identifying customer pain points such as lack of product knowledge, poor call outcomes, lack of rapport or soft skills will benefit you in devising a strategy to tackle the weak areas, broken processes or skill gaps and help you surpass your goals.
Once your KPIs are identified and quantified, all you need is the vehicle that will drive you from point A to B, and that’s a robust tool to gather and share the KPI data on a rolling basis.
The idea is to provide an infrastructure to support your advisors and supervisors with streamlined tools to easily collect and share the actual quality of customer interactions and allocate appropriate training and support.
Use that data to understand the root causes of poor service and ideally get insight into what the emotional state of the customer was before, during and after interacting with the contact centre.
Thanks to Dick Bourke at Scorebuddy
7. Increase the Effectiveness of Your Service Recovery Programmes
Leading customer-focused organisations have started to actively implement “closed-loop programmes”, also known as “service recovery programmes”, across all their contact centre channels. These are programmes that ensure your organisation responds directly to customer feedback.
As you start up your closed-loop programme, consider setting some measurable objectives to evaluate success. Three examples include:
i. The number of customers reached out to per month
Start the programme small and expand as you measure effectiveness and establish rules of engagement.
Also, be intelligent about which customers you prioritise by focusing on customer segments that will have the highest impact.
Combine data from your CRM systems with interaction data from your feedback channels and other profile information available to you to set up an outreach roadmap.
ii. The amount of time taken to respond to customers
It’s important to be prepared when talking to the customer. Create a document that specifies who reaches out to the customer and what they say when in contact with the customer. Follow-up actions post contact should also be well understood.
Also, the channel of feedback matters—closing the loop on social media needs to happen as soon as possible even if it is just acknowledging the customer frustration and asking for more details.
Other channels like surveys and phone calls can have a longer customer contact time but ideally it’s within 24–48 hours.
iii. The overall value of the closed-loop programme
You should be able to correlate the actions taken by your service recovery efforts to increased satisfaction and ultimately to better financial metrics.
Being able to demonstrate such positive correlation will help expand the scope of your service recovery programme.
Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge
8. Reduce Customer Effort
A high-impact contact centre objective would be to reduce customer effort in getting service. While it is specific to the contact centre, it affects wider more strategic metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Customer effort can be measured by using a transactional survey or measuring the number of times the customer reaches out for service, which can be an indicator of the number of problems they have with the product.
Some of the other indicators of high customer effort include:
- The number of transfers from one advisor to another
- The number of times the customer has to switch channels
- The number of escalations to subject-matter experts
- The number of repeat attempts to get a resolution
- The amount of time finding answers on the website
According to CEB (now Gartner), 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.
These disloyal customers tend to be vocal, and their negative word of mouth will often prevent others from dealing with your brand.
Thanks to Anand Subramaniam at eGain
9. Make Positive Changes to Culture
When it comes to improving the customer experience, there needs to be a balance between the right culture, training and technology.
Remember, happy advisors will lead to happy customers, and providing advisors with easy-to-navigate technology and more workplace flexibility will lead to greater empowerment and a better service.
What’s more, when this is combined with training, development and gamification, advisors can support their customers to a far greater degree.
On a practical level, greater internal communication puts advisors in a stronger position to help customers and improve culture.
To achieve this, you can start the day with a huddle, create listening mechanisms or – to go one step further – implement workforce optimisation (WFO) tools.
Thanks to Sunny Dhami at RingCentral
10. Offer Advisors More Support
Contact centres are full of digital natives; however, organisations are mostly led by those of a different generation who have different expectations. This has led to a real workforce challenge, with attrition rates increasing.
Organisations are mostly led by those of a different generation who have different expectations. This has led to a real workforce challenge, with attrition rates increasing.
One of the most neglected objectives in the contact centre is to measure the impact of coaching. Huge effort is placed on collecting data from customer feedback, quality, WFM, CRM and analytics. Little effort is placed on coaching.
So, remember to set the objective of increasing the impact of your coaching by correlating coaching activities to improvement in relevant KPIs.
11. Introduce Journey Excellence as a Metric
Customers want a personalised experience across all channels, with simple self-service and an immediate response in assisted channels. To measure this, try using a Journey Excellence Score.
The Journey Excellence Score measures the quality of customer experiences by analysing the customer journey across all touchpoints and over time.
So this is a great metric to follow in terms of considering the entire customer journey, while being more representative for the “silent majority” who don’t provide direct feedback via surveys.
Thanks to Ed Creasey at NICE
12. Optimise Back-Office Operations
In a business environment, where data compliance needs are getting ever-stricter, customer expectations are continuing to rise in terms of what brands are able to offer.
Also, with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) benchmarks getting ever higher, it’s now more important than ever that organisations have an overview of both their front-office and their back-office operations.
Many businesses remain stuck in the mindset that customer service is only delivered by front-line agents. However, the majority of customer queries and requests are not dealt with at first point of contact and are referred to the back office for processing.
With this in mind, optimising back-office operations in the same way organisations would for the contact centre can lead to quicker resolutions and major cost savings.
Going one step further and optimising both the front and back office together would lead to even greater gains.
Thanks to Helen Berry at Business Systems
13. Connect Your Channels
Customers expect convenience and great service. They’ll contact you through their chosen channel, which may be social media, apps, text message, phone etc. This can pose problems if you’re not prepared.
For example, a long-standing contact centre metric is First Contact Resolution (FCR). With a single phone channel, measuring FCR is relatively straightforward – the customer calls, the issue is addressed, the caller confirms that they’re happy and everything is resolved during first contact.
But in the multichannel world, an email may be received and a response is sent. How do you know that the issue is resolved? Your customer might message you directly and your response might be to make a telephone call. Is that First Contact Resolution or Second?
One thing is clear, to address these channel-shift scenarios you need to join up your contact centre systems and see the world from the customer’s perspective – how often was contact made? Was the right response given at each stage?
Contact centres need to ensure that offering choice doesn’t result in customers getting lost in the process.
Thanks to Ken Reid at Rostrvm Solutions
14. Focus on the Advisor Experience
Providing your advisors with consumer-like technology that mirrors the ease and simplicity of their personal devices will empower them to maximise productivity.
Take the contact centre headset, for example. It is essential for advisors, but there’s no reason why it should not emulate the features and ease of use of the headsets we wear on our daily commute or in the gym.
Wireless headsets are simple to set up and use, and with up to 120 metres of wireless range, they give advisors the freedom to roam.
What’s more, users can choose a model that suits their personal style — whether that’s over-the-ear, behind-the-head or over-the head — for optimum comfort.
Thanks to Paul Dunne at Plantronics
15. Develop Advisor Soft Skills, Especially Listening
If you want to really improve contact centre conversations, you need to make sure that you are doing the basics really well, including simple courtesies, building rapport and, of course, listening well.
In fact, the CallMiner Churn Index shows that listening is critical to success. When asked about their emotional state before a call to a contact centre, the top response by almost half of consumers (46%) is that they just want someone to listen to them.
To improve listening, try coaching push and pull communication, eliminate distractions and remove any stringent metrics.
However, only half that number (23%) reported they felt listened to after the call. That means 50% of callers were sent away unhappy.
To improve listening, try coaching push and pull communication, eliminate distractions and remove any stringent metrics, i.e. stop targeting advisors on measures such as Average Handling Time (AHT).
16. Eliminate Unnecessary Compliance Risks
What many call centres will be getting wrong is not ensuring that ALL your contact centre agents adhere to essential processes and scripts that comply with legislation and directives.
In the light of legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which brings the risk of huge fines, non-compliance is not an option.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply ask advisors to be more careful. So, technologies such as interaction analytics can provide an innovative edge against compliance violations.
By monitoring and analysing every interaction you can reduce risk and make compliance easier and more efficient by automating essential oversight functions and documentation and audit processes.
Also, the technology enables real-time intervention, so you can stop some situations from turning into compliance violations.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
17. Lower Attrition
Contact centre attrition is notoriously high when compared with other industries, which can make resource planning a tricky task, not to mention all the additional costs associated with it.
So, it is good to look for ways of minimising attrition, which could include bringing in gamification, redesigning shift patterns and providing more opportunities for career progression.
It is good to look for ways of minimising attrition, which could include bringing in gamification, redesigning shift patterns and providing more opportunities for career progression.
While these are all great ideas, another way, which doesn’t always receive the same amount of attention, is to bring in intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs).
IVAs can reduce attrition by taking over menial tasks such as transactions, gathering information, etc., allowing advisors to focus on complex tasks that utilise their expertise. This gives advisors more challenging tasks, which will leave them feeling fulfilled, happier and will ultimately increase their productivity.
18. Move From Multichannel to Omnichannel
Contact centres need to be available to all customers anywhere, any time, and on the channel of their choice to create an easier experience.
Also, it is good for contact centres to maintain the context of the conversation across channels to allow customers to pick up where they left, without repeating themselves as they traverse through channels.
To do this, integrate all of your contact centre channels, so that you no longer work in silos, and therefore move away from multichannel and towards omnichannel customer service.
By doing so, you will not only increase brand loyalty but likely increase Customer Satisfaction (CSat) scores by reducing key sources of customer frustration.
Thanks to Priyanka Tiwari at Interactions
19. Move to the Cloud
An increasing number of organisations are aiming to move to cloud-based customer experience platforms, and this will only continue to increase as a contact centre objective.
These platforms can move beyond inflexible legacy systems – providing increased agility for busier periods — and bring all the elements of the customer experience together into a solution that can be accessed by anyone and from anywhere.
The cloud also reduces expenditure as it enables a higher volume of inbound calls to be handled and automatically scaled up or down in response to periods of peak or low demand.
In addition, moving the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Workforce Management (WFM) capabilities of the contact centre to the cloud optimises human resources and scheduling processes, which can lead to a significant boost in efficiency.
Thanks to Stephen Ball at Aspect Software
20. Start Measuring Conversion Rates
An important KPI for contact centres is the “conversion rate”. Conversion may not simply be making the sale, it could also cover moving the prospect to the next stage in the buying journey.
Many traditional contact centre metrics are less important than making the sale and, while sales efficiency may be important, first and foremost you need to make your number.
Operations teams also need to ensure that quality leads are being delivered to the sales team. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help predict the outcome of sales journeys and ensure those all-important high-quality leads are identified and passed on.
You achieve this consistently by having the ability to shape the customer’s journey so you know what the next-best action is for each individual. AI gives you the real-time engagement and predictive personalisation that makes it all readily attainable.
Thanks to Richard McCrossan at Genesys
For more from our panel of experts, read our articles: