The Measures Every Contact Center Should Have

By Brad Cleveland

These key categories of measures and objective are as important for Facebook and Twitter interactions as they are for traditional contact channels.

Establishing the right measures and objectives is one of the most important responsibilities in leading and managing a contact center successfully. But there’s a significant inherent challenge, which has only become more difficult with the introduction of new channels and social contacts – we produce mounds of data! And even so, many organizations are operating without information that is essential to creating the best results.

Ultimately, you will need to establish measures and objectives that are right for your organization. But there are seven key categories of measures that should be in place in every customer contact center. They build on each other, and it helps to order them from the most elemental and tactical, to strategic. They include:

Forecast Accuracy. If you don’t have an accurate prediction of the workload coming your way, it’s almost impossible to deliver efficient, consistent service and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. And that’s just as true for new social interactions as it has been for telephone, chat or email.

Schedule Fit and Adherence. If you have a good handle on the contact center’s workload, you can build accurate schedules that ensure the right people are in the right places at the right times. This is best managed from the bottom up, with ample buy in, and is an important enabler to everything else you’re trying to accomplish.

Service Level and Response Time. If customer conversations don’t get to the right places at the right times, then little else can happen. Establishing service level and response time objectives is a prerequisite to ensuring that the organization is accessible and part of the conversation, wherever customers choose to interact.

Quality and First-Contact Resolution. Quality is the link between call-by-call activities and the organization’s most important high-level objectives. First-contact resolution is essentially an extension of quality — a tangible result of getting quality right. Quality measures should be applied to every type of customer interaction.

Employee Satisfaction. Employee satisfaction clearly influences — even drives — customer satisfaction and is an essential measure in any environment. Further, retention, productivity and quality often have a definable, positive correlation to agent satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty. Customer satisfaction is essential in all environments and has greatest value as a relative measure and in conjunction with other objectives (e.g., how do changes in policies, services and processes impact customer satisfaction?). Customer loyalty is usually viewed through breadth and longevity of the customer’s relationship with the business.

Strategic Value. What contributions can the contact center make to favorably impact revenues, marketing initiatives, product innovations and other primary business objectives? Measures are often focused on contributions to improved quality and innovation, more leveraged marketing initiatives, more effective self-service systems, minimizing potential legal issues, and contributions to revenue – all ultimately based on the contact center’s role in listening to, engaging in, and learning from customer interactions.

These are the essential categories, and other measures and objectives should be driven by your mission and objectives. For example, many customer service environments focus on customer satisfaction, efficiency issues and cost measures. Sales environments often base key objectives on revenue, cross-sell, upsell and customer retention activities. And encouraging the use of self-service systems and preventing contacts before they happen (e.g., by working with other business units to simplify features, fix glitches or improve manuals) are important objectives in many technical support environments.

As you home in on the right objectives, keep your eyes on creating maximum strategic value, and push hard to include all types of customer interactions in your plans and measures of success. You’ll also need to ensure that measures don’t become an end to themselves. It’s often said that “what gets measured gets done,” but I believe that’s an over-simplification. I’ve seen organizations measure lots of things, yet not make sustained improvements in those areas, nor embrace the new ways that customers want to communicate. It’s a matter of, not only measuring the right things, but also focusing on them, working on them, building a culture that understands and contributes to them, and ultimately, building processes and ensuring that day-to-day activities and decisions support them.

As you establish measures in each of these categories, many good things begin to fall into place!

This article was originally published in The Global Report on Call Center Practices, by ICMI,

Copyright Brad Cleveland

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