Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Measure the Right Customer-facing Metrics, and Ensure Agents are Equipped to Achieve Them

August 25, 2014

Most contact centers track some form of metrics. Smaller, less formal contact centers might track basics such as average handle time, whereas larger, more formal call centers may track dozens of metrics that help them understand where they’re doing well and where they are lagging.

All this tracking takes up a great deal of time and manpower so it’s important to understand how the metrics you’re using are helping your contact center. In many cases, they’re simply not, according to a recent blog post by The Call Center Corporation’s Scott Sachs.

“The question is whether the specific metrics in your contact center are measuring appropriate results, identifying meaningful opportunities, and driving proper behaviors,” writes Sachs.

Many contact centers track metrics that are pertinent only to the convenience of the contact center, and they may not be serving the customers’ best interests. Sachs highlights service levels and uses as an example organizations that are answering 80 percent of their calls in 30 seconds. What happens, he wonders, to the 20 percent of the calls not answered in 30 seconds? Is anybody reporting how quickly those calls are answered?  Imagine how many customers are hanging up in frustration and never returning. The same thing may be happening with average handle time (AHT).

“Driving agents to reduce AHT by handling calls quicker is a disservice to both the agents and customers,” writes Sachs. “Interactions are rushed, questions are not answered, and relationships may be destroyed. Does anybody measure the AHT of resolving a customer issue that’s driven by multiple calls rather than the AHT of a single interaction?”

For this reason, many organizations have chosen to put less emphasis on call center-focused metrics like average handle time and switch to more customer-facing metrics like first call resolution. But even this has its challenges, notes Sachs. It can be more difficult to measure, and many companies struggle with the pure definition of “first contact.” In addition, if the contact center isn’t configured to provide the agent with all the resources he or she needs to resolve every call it can result in bad information being given.

“The agent has done everything in their power to resolve the issue, but the supporting processes do not allow for first contact resolution,” writes Sachs.

Contact centers are therefore challenged to put more customer-friendly metrics into place, but this can’t be simply a change in the rule book. The call center technologies and processes must be aligned in a way that the agent has all the tools to bring about true first-call resolution. While metrics are necessary and a good business practice, be certain those metrics are serving the needs of the customer and not the organization, and ensure that agents have all the right tools to achieve them.




Edited by Peter Bernstein

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