How to Evaluate Customer Feedback Metrics

Contact centers that understand their customer metrics are able to get a clear idea of what they need to do to manage and enhance the customer experience. Customer metrics are based on several sources, including surveys, social media, customer ratings and comments, and interaction logs. By collecting, analyzing and acting upon customer metrics, the contact center can enhance their value as a company while improving customer loyalty. Here are four must-have criteria for evaluating customer metrics.

  1. The metric cannot be ambiguous.

The metric has to be clearly defined and straightforward. You need to know exactly what you’re measuring. The definition of the metric may also clarify what you are not measuring in addition to what you are measuring.

  1. The system for scoring has to be clear.

You need to know how the metric is scored and calculated. To do this, it’s necessary to understand the questions or items included in the metric and how those questions or items are combined to get a score. Note that in situations where natural language processing is used, it’s important to know how the scoring system processes sentiment.

  1. The metric has to be both reliable and valid.

Two important measurement properties for customer feedback analysis are reliability and validity. Reliability refers to how precise or consistent the measurement is. Validity ensures that the right information is being measured. Each metric has to be both reliable and valid.

  1. The metric provides the contact center with insights that they can use.

Customer feedback metrics are only beneficial to the contact center if they can spur positive organizational changes. To do this, the contact center must know the consequences of the customer metric. What changes will improve the marketing, sales or the service team? How will that improvement then increase revenue or lead to growth? What will happen if those changes aren’t put in place?

Cutting-edge contact centers know to rely on customer metrics in order to understand and improve their customer relationships. Once you’ve analyzed the data and deployed a solution, you should notice that your metrics improve and that your customers are positively impacted by the changes. If your metrics don’t improve, consider that you may have used the wrong solution. Re-start the feedback loop to take another look at the data and to find an alternative way to troubleshoot the problem.

5 Tips for Improving Your Contact Center’s Virtual Agent

The brand-customer relationship has evolved to now include self-service support and today’s consumers expect it to be available and personalized. The virtual agent (VA) is a form of self-service that allows the customer to interact with an automated system, albeit one that simulates human interaction. Improving your contact center’s VA system will enhance the customer experience.

1. The VA are available around-the-clock. One of self-service’s benefits is that it lets customers find and digest information on their own time and at their own pace. If the customer has a complex issue – which modern VA systems are able to handle – they can sit down to deal with it when they’re best able to.

2. During normal hours when live staff is available, offer the customer the opportunity to speak with a live agent. They should be able to either connect to a live agent in the moment or request a call back instead of having to wait in the queue.

3. Don’t simply send the customer to a list of FAQ based on their keywords. Intelligent VAs can do so much more than crawl for SEO – they can analyze phrasing to truly understand what the customer wants and respond accordingly.

4. Invest in the latest technology. Not every VA will remember personal details about a customer, but companies are coming out with new intelligent assistants that are on the same level as technology like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Over time, these systems learn customer preferences and continually customize services to meet each customer’s needs.

5. Self-service should always be easy to find and use. For on-site virtual agents, like through live chats, the option should be on every page. When it comes to IVR, menu options should be clear and limited. If you find that people are quickly going from self-service to live support, reassess the self-service options you’re offering.

VAs provide an alternative, helpful service for customers that also lowers the operating cost of the contact center. When a customer can’t or won’t troubleshoot on their own, they turn to channels where they can have their questions answered quickly. Usually, that means interaction with a live agent. With a VA, though, the customer can access the information they need immediately, without waiting on hold for any length of time.

Why Omnichannel Consumers Are So Valuable

“Omnichannel” isn’t simply a trendy marketing buzzword or a flash in the pan – just ask customers. According to Business Insider and insight from the Harvard Business Review, “Shoppers who engage with retailers across multiple touchpoints are driving boosts in conversion rates both online and offline as they become increasingly reliant on more than one channel to aid in their purchasing decisions.” Multiple touchpoints are necessary for engaging customers and increasing sales, but those touchpoints have to work together in an omnichannel – not just multichannel – strategy. Here are three ways that Business Insider says omnichannel consumers are highly valuable:

1. They spend more money per purchase. Every time the consumer is in an actual store, they spend 4% more. When online, they spend 10% more. This spending is higher than shoppers who interact with brands via just one channel.

2. Customer loyalty is increased. Customers who engage on various channels visit real-life stores 23% more over a six-month period. They are also likely to recommend the brands to their peers.

3. Customers who engage with retailers on four or more channels spend 9% more in a brick-and-mortar store.

Ultimately, the more ways a customer can engage with a brand, the more money they’ll spend. When omnichannel is setup in the contact center, the customer knows that they will get up-to-date support no matter when or how they choose to engage. When self-service fails, they can seamlessly contact an agent who will pick up right where they left off – customer information is synced live so the agent can get all necessary information immediately. In addition to customer support, omnichannel ensures that inventory and product information is the same regardless of where it’s accessed. Inventory is synced in real time. Overall, building trust with the consumer increases brand loyalty as well as sales.

Soon, brands will have to also embrace the Internet of Things as wearable gadgets grow in popularity. These devices are collecting a ton of data about current and potential customers. CRM systems will need to measure analytics that come from the Internet of Things and find contemporary ways to market to those customers with each new platform that emerges. Omnichannel strategies embrace new methods for collecting important customer data, as each channel and device that’s added to the strategy is able to inform and improve the others.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-omnichannel-consumers-are-more-valuable-2017-1

How to Improve Your IVR System

In theory, an IVR system is a great idea. Customers can get personalized support without having speaking with a live agent. When you break the cardinal rules of creating a user-friendly IVR system, though, you risk irritating customers and overloading your agents with live calls.

Simplify Options

Too many options are impossible for callers to remember. Menus within menus are confusing and long-winded. Customers will default to speaking with a live agent or choosing options that sound close to what they want just to get on with it.

Name the Department First

The department should always be named before its associated number You may think that a caller will easily remember to “press 1 for sales,” but “for sales, press 1” is much more fool-proof. This makes it easier for the caller to associate the number with the department. Otherwise, they’ll have to repeat the menu or just opt to speak to a live agent.

Allow Extra Time

It’s great when an IVR system can access detailed customer information, like an account number or tracking information. However, it’ll take the customer a moment to jot that number down. Give them a few extra seconds, say the number twice and offer a way for the customer to have the information repeated. If the customer misses the one detail they called in for, the IVR system hasn’t done its job.

Don’t Hang Up

Some IVR systems will automatically disconnect the call if the wait is too long. Even if there’s a lengthy queue and the caller will need to wait for a long time, it can be more frustrating to get hung up on. Some callers prefer waiting instead of having to call back at a future time, even if the wait time will be shorter. Offer a callback option that will hold their place in line and ring them when an agent is available.

Maintain the Same Voice

The same voice – a human voice, not a robot one – should be used throughout the entire IVR system. Switching voices is distracting and the caller may not focus on what is being said as much as the new voice. Maintaining the same voice throughout each menu and option is the most professional option.

AI integrations like IVR can be incredibly helpful for the contact center, so long as they make less work for agents.

CX in 2017: A Tale of Empowered Customers, AI and Self-Service

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

For many the end of 2016 couldn’t come soon enough, with the dawn of the New Year bringing a fresh start and a clean slate. Yet, according to Forrester, companies are starting 2017 under attack. While traditionally we would think of this pressure as coming from competitors, today’s organisations are under attack from their customers. Forrester Analyst and Vice President Dane Anderson explains:

“Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.”

For example, Forrester identifies consumers in Asia Pacific as changing along five key dimensions:

  • Increasingly willing to experiment
  • Reliant on technology
  • Inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences
  • Able to handle large volumes of information
  • Determined to create the best experiences for themselves

Forrester has found these key points to explain evolving customer trends and increased customer empowerment. With highly empowered customers willing to take their business elsewhere for a new, exciting experience, organisations need to be customer-obsessed and constantly innovating in order to remain competitive.

creative2016-state-of-global-cust-serveThis phenomenon isn’t confined to consumers in Asia Pacific. Digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers around the world are placing these expectations on organisations in all industries. Microsoft’s 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report found that an average of 90% of consumers surveyed in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA expect brands to have an online customer self-service portal. 97% of global consumers answered that customer service was either somewhat or very important in their choice of or loyalty to a brand, and 60% reported having stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.

The analysts at Gartner have also been following these technology-driven changes in customer preferences. In their report Predicts 2017: CRM Customer Service and Support, they observe that AI is finding rapid uptake as a tool to provide better customer service and predict that by 2020 the use of virtual customer assistants (VCAs), also called virtual agents or chatbots, will increase by 1,000%. They also discuss how changing customer preferences will lead to an increased automation of customer service needs and a growing market for chatbots able to provide customer engagement over messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat. Gartner foresees VCAs and chatbots becoming a necessity for business-to-consumer organisations in order to deal with the demand for 24/7 support and the increased volume of customer interactions.

The panel of industry experts interviewed for Call Centre Helper’s annual Contact Centre Technology Predictions shared similar thoughts on the increase of self-service and the changing role of contact centres in 2017. One contributor predicted the replacement of FAQs with conversational systems that allow for dynamic two-way conversations. Another expert felt 2017 may be the year in which chatbots or virtual agents become widely used in call centres to alleviate workloads and help live agents focus more on important calls. Others echoed these insights through predictions that the investment in customer self-service will gather pace in 2017 and organisations will focus on engaging customers through conversational commerce.

It’s clear that organisations need to take action in 2017 in order to avoid being declared a loser by empowered customers, and digital self-service options will be key to successful customer engagement. This certainly isn’t a surprise to those in the industry. In fact, both Personal Assistants/Intelligent Agents and Artificial Intelligence were in the top four marketing-related searches of 2016 in the UK according to Microsoft’s Bing Ads.

But knowing you need to offer digital self-service and successfully implementing these tools as part of your overall customer engagement plan are two very different things. The best way to begin this journey is to educate yourself about digital engagement solutions, the advancements in and limitations of AI and customer expectations of self-service tools such as chatbots. The whitepaper Virtual Agents and Chatbots and Avatars – confusing or what! is a great resource to get you started on your path to creating a tale of customer experience success in 2017.

Your customers may not be giving you a fresh start when it comes to their opinion of your customer experience just because the new year is here, but there’s no time like the present to take a hard look at your CX strategy and identify where you can make improvements. Make 2017 the year digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers declare your company a winner!

Contact Center WFM: Dealing With Toxic Employees

Meeting contact center staffing needs goes beyond the science of predicting when you’ll need employees – it’s also about choosing people who are right for the contact center. What happens when all goes well during the hiring phases, but once hired an employee becomes toxic?

Accepting That You Have a Toxic Employee

Toxic employees are much different than difficult employees. They cause psychological pain and often influence others with their behavior. They often find their bad behavior fun and engage in certain behavior simply to find out if they can get away with it. Take note of how your other agents are reacting. Do they seem to have a slump in energy? Are they frustrated most of the time? Do they complain that they’re constantly being put-down?

Determining the Cause of the Behavior

Is the employee not happy with an aspect of their job or are they facing difficult circumstances in their home life? Are they upset with one or more co-workers? If there’s a reason for why they’re acting a certain way, it’s possible that they just need some help in order to improve, saving you the trouble of having to find a replacement.

Explaining the Behavior

Sometimes toxic agents are oblivious to how much destruction they’re causing. Explain to them what their behavior is and how it’s affecting the rest of the contact center. Guide them on how to improve. Make sure that they understand the consequences if they don’t change. Will they lose a privilege that they enjoy, like setting a flexible schedule or getting an end-of-year bonus? The initial consequence doesn’t have to be that they’ll lose their job (though that may be a possibility down the line).

Cutting the Cord

In the end, if the employee will need to be let go, it will require some sort of documentation. Even if you’re confident that the situation will improve without having to fire the employee, document everything from the beginning. A pattern of behavior has to be established by providing as much material as possible. This will protect you in the event that you do need to let the employee go.

It’s not unheard of for a contact center agent to turn toxic once they’ve been hired. Traits that went unnoticed before can be exposed. Knowing the red flags of toxic behavior can help you find and replace those employees immediately.

How Real-Time Analytics Monitoring Improves the Contact Center

Real-time data helps businesses run smoothly. Being able to see the truth about how your company is performing moment-to-moment lets you understand the reality of your business. When you know where you’re losing as well as where you’re winning, it’s easier to appropriately adjust and monitor the contact center’s daily functions. When day-to-day functions are made more efficient, productivity can increase. Here are six benefits of real-time analytics monitoring

1. The quantity and quality of calls can be tracked.

Real-time monitoring allows the contact center to know exactly how many calls are being handled by agents, plus how many calls are currently in queue. The supervisor can see how many calls are being worked on and resolved by specific agents, and conversations can be listened in on to find out how they’re being handled. At any point, the contact center can track a call in real-time and then step in if the agent seems to be struggling. By closely monitoring calls, you can determine where a specific agent or a group of agents need more work.

2. Assess the changing value of a customer.

Customers will change their value to a company as they continue to purchase items or as they become dissatisfied with the products or level of service they receive. When a customer changes how frequently they purchase, real-time analytics can immediately update the customer’s status. The next time the customer contacts an agent, the agent will know how valuable the customer is. If the customer has been purchasing more frequently, they can be moved to VIP status. If they haven’t been purchasing as frequently as in the past, they may need an incentive in order to trust the company more.

3. Analyze waiting and idle time.

The amount of time a customer has to wait to have their problem resolved is a huge part of the customer experience. The longer the wait time, the more upset the customer may get, getting the customer-agent conversation off to a bad start. While an agent may need extra time to resolve a problem, the customer only cares about how long the process is taking. With real-time analytics, the wait and idle time for each agent can be assessed.

4. Quickly manage long queues.

At times, the contact center will be understaffed or inundated with calls, live chat requests, and emails. During these times, real-time monitoring can show you which agents are idle, allowing you to redirect calls that are currently in queue to those agents. Team members can quickly be reallocated in order to meet a surge in demand.

5. Find out how long it takes for agents to handle queries.

Contact center agents are tasked with resolving issues in the quickest way possible without lowering service quality. With real-time analytics, you can see how long agents are spending on each customer. You can then work with the agents who regularly take a long time with customers in order to lower their average resolution time.

6. Take advantage of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

When a customer has recently bought a product or service, the contact center agent has an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell. Real-time data can track what the customer has recently purchased and then automatically populate other products or services that they may be interested in. The system may also prompt the agent to offer the customer a better version of the product they’re ready to purchase at a higher price point.

6 Benefits of a Cloud Contact Center

The premise-based contact center requires hardware and software that have to be purchased, setup, updated and maintained. Equipment and maintenance can be costly, and an HR or IT department is usually required to manage the system. When the hardware or software becomes outdated, it will have to be replaced, which is another large investment.

Cloud-based contact centers, however, are subscription-based. The hardware, software and maintenance is controlled by a third party provider. You won’t have to spend money on special routers, servers, hardware, software or in-house staff. The cloud-based system can be accessed online from anywhere. Here are six benefits of switching to the cloud:

  1. Accessibility Everywhere

Cloud-based CRM can be accessed no matter where you are in the world. The CRM industry is fast-paced and it’s necessary to keep data up-to-date by the minute. Data that hasn’t been updated even within the past hour can already be irrelevant. Not only are cloud-based CRM systems accessible from wherever you are via a number of Internet-connected devices, but the system will also update in real time.

  1. Simple Setup

Software-based CRM systems require a lot of time and expertise to get up and running. Installing software on hundreds or thousands of machines can be time-consuming. With cloud software, employees can signup, login through their browser and immediately get to work. Plus, the purpose of cloud CRM systems is to have every agent be able to use it. While quick training may be helpful, there’s no reason to spend hours training agents on how to use the system. Modern cloud systems are intuitive and user-friendly.

  1. Less Overhead

Cloud contact centers avoid the large, upfront payment that’s the norm with premise-based software. The monthly subscription will remain the same, covering everything from storage and access to maintenance and support services. Plus, since cloud CRM systems don’t require the same type of IT attention that software does, you won’t have to pay high maintenance costs.

  1. Hassle-Free Upgrades

Traditional software requires routine upgrades, which can cause problems with other software that’s not compatible. With the cloud, upgrades never result in compatibility issues because the program doesn’t actually live on your device. If you want to scale your business, the cloud-based system will scale with you, often without no added cost. You can add more agents and buy more phone lines without paying anything extra. As your business changes because of something unexpected or simply due to seasonal fluctuations, your cloud system can change along with it.

  1. Automatic Backup Protection

The cloud automatically backs up your data in order to keep it safe. If a disaster or emergency happens, your contact center information won’t be vulnerable. Even if one cloud server goes down, another cloud server will immediately take its place, making it possible for you to continue working.

  1. Remote Workers

Cloud-based CRM systems allow you to employ remote contact center agents. This is especially helpful if you need agents to provide service to customers in different time zones. So long as the agent can access the Internet, calls can be routed to them from the contact center’s network. Telecommuting has its perks: employees are happier, overhead is lower and the hiring pool is larger because you’re not required to hire people who live in a certain location.

Cloud-based CRM software can streamline business practices, improve the customer experience, give you a better pool of candidates to hire from and increase your bottom line.

3 Contact Center Metrics Worth Tracking

Analytics reporting systems churn out a ton of data for contact centers to work with. Having all of that information at your disposal can sometimes be a hindrance, though, particularly if you don’t know what to look for. Relevant data should never go under-utilized because less important analytics are in the way.

What is the Real Potential of Contact Center Data?

The data with the most potential will help the contact center take the pulse of their own performance and compare it to that of their competitors. It will help create new performance goals to work toward. It will also identify any gaps that need to be filled and weaknesses that need to be fixed.

Which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Should We Track?

Contact centers have the ability to track upwards of 25 metrics at a time. Without being diligent about which metrics will genuinely make a difference, quantity can easily trump quality. Here are three KPIs that matter for practically every contact center:

  1. Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction is an excellent barometer for determining how well a contact center is doing. A Customer Satisfaction survey can find out why a customer may be dissatisfied, giving the contact center the opportunity to fix any recurring problems. Customer Satisfaction analytics are also affected by several other metrics, including Call Quality and Handle Time.

  1. First Contact Resolution (FCR)

FCR is another big influencer on Customer Satisfaction. Often, when Customer Satisfaction scores are too low, improving FCR could solve a large part of the problem. Offering incentives to agents, improving training programs and developing helpful knowledge bases may all improve FCR.

  1. Agent Satisfaction

When agents’ needs are being met, there is less absenteeism and turnover, plus higher rates of FCR. This also positively affects customer satisfaction. Aim to measure Agent Satisfaction twice a year and to mentor and train employees whenever the data deems it necessary.

Putting it All Together

Knowing which data is important will help you answer the most important question: how well is your contact center performing? The Aggregate Service Desk Performance metric grades a contact center’s overall performance. By combining data from the other KPIs, a combined score is determined. While each important KPI should be monitored separately, the aggregate score is a good all-inclusive metric for learning if the contact center’s performance is rising or dropping over time.

4 Voice of the Customer Tools for Collecting Feedback

Analytics often track what a customer does, but voice of the customer tools figure out why someone performs an action. Several voice of the customer tools can be used to collect feedback. The feedback tool you choose depends on your goal.

  1. Community Forums

Customers can discuss their experiences with one another in forums. These are great places to find out what customers need and which needs aren’t being met. They’re hubs for suggestions and ideas that a brand can use to guide everything from product development to customer support practices.

  1. Visual Feedback

Brands that have recently launched a new website or mobile app can benefit from visual feedback tools. Elements on a page will have the option to provide feedback. The customer can make a note about what they think about a specific element and then a screenshot will be sent to the appropriate department or agent. The customer uses his or her own words to describe a problem, which helps brands figure out which parts of a page or app are faulty or unclear.

  1. E-shop Reviews

E-shop surveys are auto-emailed to customers after they purchase or receive a product. A short assessment survey asks the customer to rate their experience or the product on a scale of one to five. There’s also a section where customers can write in an account of their experience. The benefits of this type of feedback are twofold. First, the brand learns about the customer’s experience and can opt to reach out to the customer if they submit low scores or describe a problem. Second, if the star ratings are published on a review site, other shoppers will be influenced by them, and a brand with high ratings will attract more customers.

  1. Speech Analytics

Speech analytics delve deep into a recording to uncover intelligence from customer-agent conversations. Advanced software digs through dialogue to isolate specific phrases and words. Results can be organized and then compared to reason codes (why customers contacted support) as well as trends to determine recurring problems.

Voice of the customer feedback tools help contact centers to determine what people do and do not like about a brand. By pinpointing why someone may choose, stay with or leave a brand, the entire customer journey can be updated and adapted to meet specific customer needs.