Performance metrics are not the end-all be-all of call center performance. Companies desperately struggle to make their call centers operate more efficiently, at lower costs, with more calls completed per hour, and with fewer return complaints. However, when reaching for those goals, some businesses fail to make their centers better overall, as if the sum of those individual parts was something more.
A recent blog post from the Call Center Corporation suggests that managers have lost their "gut" feelings as a result of relying too much on performance metrics and the ways that they think operations are supposed to run. They get tied into average call handling time, for example, and that is all they think about. Meanwhile, their business suffers because their customers are not receiving personalized attention; instead, they and their respective agents are being pushed to finish their calls more quickly.
The post's author suggests that the problem may be one of comparison.
"[It] could it be that too many contact center professionals are over-emphasizing the value of finding out what everyone else is doing rather than [developing] and working towards the objectives best for their own organizations," he suggests.
Indeed, managers began to look at the changing face of call centers -- with their emphasis on being omnichannel and providing all sorts of avenues in which customers can connect to them -- and combined the pressure to provide multiple channels while keeping call handling times low and first call resolution rates low. They stopped using common sense when, for instance, deciding which employees were best for which positions, and they started providing them with scripts similar to other successful companies. But they found out quickly that scripts are not always one-size-fits-all solutions.
He references the contact center for Zappos which was innovative in its approach to customer service. Zappos allowed its agents to receive training that prepared them to take their time with customers and to provide them with human experiences. The company flourished, but other managers saw that example and instead went back to scripts and metrics.
TMC has noted that there is value to deciding which performance metrics to use and when to use them. The customer must come first, TMC says, and as customers continue to come first, businesses will be rewarded in ways that go beyond what their metrics' numbers represent. Call Center Corporation suggests that managers need to lead and experiment in the field instead of copying the style of all others. That is innovation, and thinking outside the box, with customer satisfaction as the primary target, may provide call centers with much more than they expect.