Call Center Metrics

5 Contact Center Trends to Watch

Contact centers have a lot of contradictory goals to juggle: focusing on both employee and customer happiness; modernizing while still utilizing helpful legacy systems; and upholding security while being open-minded enough to evolve. Contact centers are almost always in some sort of transitional phrase, with late-2017 being no different. Here are five trends you should either be familiar with or keep an eye on moving forward.

1. Omni-channel, not multi-channel, service.

Some contact centers mistakenly think that offering multi-channel service means they’re immediately able to deliver omni-channel support, but the two are quite different. Omni-channel services takes those multiple channels and seamlessly integrates them. Agent-customer interactions can be switched to a different channel mid-communication without losing any relevant data.

2. New digital channels.

Customers want convenience, which means being able to interact with customer support when they’re on-the-go. Emerging digital channels have to be adopted by contact centers, including mobile apps and web chat. These channels must be adaptable and easy to use, too, and they have to make it simple for customers to troubleshoot on their own and, when needed, get in touch with a live support agent.

3. Additional performance metrics.

Most contact centers have strategies in place to measure voice and call quality, but since digital channels are still relatively new, measuring them isn’t as commonplace. Understanding how agents perform on digital channels, including mobile, live chat and social media, can help to increase agent productivity and improve the customer experience.

4. Dependence on the cloud.

Though many contact centers have switched over to the cloud, others are still relying on their antiquated legacy systems. According to Customer Think, reliance on the cloud is about to increase dramatically, particularly over the next four years. More contact centers will move to the cloud, allowing them to scale globally, improve their data security and increase their efficiency.

5. Two-way conversations on social media.

The ways customers want to connect with brands on social media has changed – they now want to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with support instead of just observing the content a brand posts. Contact centers will need to train agents in how to chat with customers on social media platforms, both publicly (like on a Twitter thread) and privately (like on Facebook Messenger).

 

5 Tips for Root Cause Analysis in the Contact Center

The best way to solve a problem is to dig deep and find out where it started in the first place. Often, what you see of a problem is a symptom, not the cause. Here are five steps you can take to improve your contact center’s root cause analysis.

  1. Consider acoustic issues.

Root-cause analysis should take acoustic factors into account. For example, if the call has long periods of silence, this could point to a problem with the system. If the contact center agent can’t access data quickly enough or if there are problems with IVR, a slow system may be the problem.

  1. Flag conversations that are abnormally long.

Speech analytics will let you sort through calls based on parameters like duration and repeated calls. You can also find calls where specific keywords are mentioned, like those that are normally associated with a complaint. This will let you know which calls need the most attention.

  1. Monitor data in real time.

Accessing real time data can help you spot and stop issues early. If a new sales or marketing strategy launches and then phone calls start coming in within an hour or two, you’ll know that there’s a problem with the launch that must be fixed. Real time data lets you identify trends as they emerge, giving you the opportunity to stop a problem in its tracks.

  1. Sort problems into categories.

As you start to uncover the main problems customers are having, you can segment them into categories, such as product defects, customer education and marketing communication. Then, you can meet with specific teams to come up with targeted strategies to solve the problems.

  1. Understand the context of the situation.

Relying on word count frequency isn’t enough – the terms and phrases that are being used have to be understood contextually, too. Knowing the context of a problem instead of just the hard data will allow you to pinpoint the situation that caused or contributed to it.

Knowing the average number of complaints your contact center receives on a weekly basis is just a start. You have to figure out the root cause of the complaints in order to effectively tackle them and prevent them in the future. Root cause analysis is a way to solve prominent issues instead of merely putting a Band Aid on them.

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.

Consumers “unfriend” social media for customer service, new survey finds

Consumers “unfriend” social media for customer service, new survey finds

By Micha Catran

If you’ve spent any time on social media – Twitter and Facebook especially – you’ve likely seen posts from consumers less than happy with their recent customer experience. And sometimes a social post can be the quickest way to get a response from a company.

Yet, surprisingly, social media is among the last places consumers want to go for customer service, according to a new survey commissioned by NICE and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The NICE/BCG 2016 Consumer Experience Report offers a snapshot into the attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,700 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 across the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and Australia.

And the decline of social media wasn’t the only note worth taking for brands looking to improve their customer service. Let’s look at some of the major findings and what they mean for customer service in 2016 and beyond.

Social media customer service drops off

Daily, weekly, and monthly use of social media channels doubled between 2011 and 2013, yet those same categories declined between 2013 and 2015. At the same time, the number of respondents who never use or are not offered social media customer service rose from 58 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2015.

Respondents who do not use social media cited a number of reasons why: It takes too long to address issues, said 33 percent. It has limited functionality, reported 32 percent. It isn’t feasible for complex tasks, according to 30 percent. Social media was the channel with the highest percentage of abandons in both 2013 and 2015, with the number rising from 32 percent to 42 percent over that period.

Americans have low customer service expectations compared to the rest of the world

The survey asked respondents to rank 25 customer service factors as essential, non-essential, or exceeds expectations. Australians and Europeans thought it essential that they be automatically routed to the correct customer service agent without being transferred multiple times, and that their service provider rep be aware of their past three to five interactions with the company to tailor service to their needs. Americans, on the other hand, said all of those actions would “exceed expectations.”

In total, Americans surveyed ranked only 15 out of 25 factors as essential, while other countries’ respondents expected anywhere from 21 to all 25 attributes.

While American respondents don’t seem to mind waiting for multiple call transfers or repeating their information, having issues resolved immediately was cited by other countries and all industries, genders, and ages as the top factor in a perfect experience, valued by 51 percent of respondents.

Other important factors include reps knowing what consumers need and providing an immediate solution, forwarding information and actions from department to department, and knowing what consumers already did through a self-service channel.

Other customer service findings of interest

Respondents expressed decreased satisfaction and success since 2013 across the board with all contact channels (except for mobile apps), particularly Interactive Voice Response (IVR) (down 20 percent) and social media (down 23 percent).

Churn rates vary amongst different age groups. While 78 percent of baby boomers will leave a provider due to a customer service issue, only 54 percent of millennials will do so.

There was a sharp increase in customer skepticism about the effects of their feedback, with only 25 percent believing that service providers took action based on their feedback, down from 40 percent in 2012.

What the results mean for brands looking to improve customer service

This year’s survey provides further proof that customer service is becoming more complex and more critical for a company’s success. When an organization can create a perfect experience, there are many dividends. As the report’s findings make clear, ample room for improvement creates many opportunities for businesses to set themselves apart.

Every day, we see companies adopting technology to better anticipate their customers’ journey. By leveraging advanced analytics to better understand customers both as individuals and as a collective, they can align their service organization with customer expectations in order to really make a difference.

Micha Catran, Global Vice President and General Manager at NICE, has expertise in portfolio management and new product development across analytics, customer experience, customer journey solutions for the telecommunications, banking, insurance, health care and hospitality markets.

Mr. Catran is responsible for growing NICE Customer Journey and Voice of the Customer market-leading position and ensuring continuous innovation and agility to meet the needs of customer experience and service firms around the world. Before joining NICE, he was a Director of Contact Centers in a leading Telco in Israel. Mr. Catran holds a L.L.B in Law and B.A. in Economics from Haifa University in Israel.

The Customer Journey from Beginning to End

Just as contact centers evaluate analytics, customers evaluate the experience support agents deliver. Most importantly, purchase decisions are often made off of those evaluations.

Assuming your customers are happy isn’t enough. You need to know the realities of the experience you’re providing. Often, customers have a different experience with a product or service than the brand expects.

Understanding the beginning-to-end customer journey provides the opportunity to develop a meaningful and intuitive customer journey map.

The True Beginning of the Customer Journey

Figure out exactly where the customer journey begins. For example, an airline may assume that the majority of the customer journey is the same as the physical journey, i.e. when they’re in the air. However, customers know that the journey starts much earlier and ends much later than the flight itself. The customer journey for travelers begins when they’re thinking about where they should go. During the brainstorming and planning stages, they search for information about destinations and travel deals. Airlines, in turn, can provide this information on their blog and in their newsletters. While data may not be able to capture the exact moment when a potential customer is thinking about travel, the airline can make sure that helpful information is there when a person goes looking for it.

Discovering Your Most Important Customers

Who is your brand most appealing to? What do they need in order to meet their immediate goals and then to be satisfied and impressed beyond that? For example, if an airline’s main customer base is made up of business travelers, it’s a given that they need WiFi access and a business lounge. While business travelers may be on a work trip, though, they’re not robots who eat, sleep and breathe their job. Treating business travelers to relaxation (massage chairs in the lounge) and niceties (gourmet in-flight meals) that they may not get once they arrive at their destination makes for an enjoyable and memorable trip.

Customer personas specify the customers that need your focus. Job title alone won’t help with categorization, though. Instead, consider their role as it relates to your brand. For example, if you sell Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you’ll have several types of customers for each transaction:

  • The marketing manager, who understands why your product is so important.
  • The person in charge of the budget, who makes the ultimate decision about whether or not to spend the money on your product.
  • The head of the IT department, who knows how to use the software.
  • The person who’s going to sign the contract and finalize the purchase.

While each of these people are your customers, they need to be handled differently.

Outlining Customer Stages

Depending on the complexity of your brand, you may have as few as two customer stages or more than twenty. For most brands, the customer journey map follows a basic formula: research, compare, choose and purchase. These four simple stages can be built upon as the map is fine-tuned and expounded.

While the full spectrum of the stages should add up to one complete journey, each customer will not fit neatly into every stage. Some personas will skip entire stages, starting later or ending earlier along the journey than a different type of customer. For example, the marketing manager may be the only person to research SaaS, while the person in charge of the budget may come into the journey toward the end.

Setting Goals Throughout the Customer Journey

In order to create an empathetic customer journey map, brands have to understand what the customer wants to do. For example, when travelers fly, getting to their destination is just one of their goals. They want to get to their destination without changing flights multiple times, without killing time during a long layover and without losing luggage. Beyond that, they would probably also love to travel without being hungry, thirsty or bored. Certain goals are functional (getting to where they’re going as quickly as possible), while other goals are emotional (enjoying the flight instead of wishing for it to end).

Each customer persona and step of the journey has its own goals. Some will overlap and others will differ entirely. The focus should be on meeting the needs of the customer while staying on course to meet the overall goal of the brand. Each goal can be broken down into two aspects:

  1. What does the customer want to accomplish in this stage?
  2. What will help move the customer along to the next stage?

Here are general goals that most customers and brands have during the four main phases of the customer journey:

Research: The customer’s goal is to find interesting and up-to-date solutions that will meet their needs. The brand’s goal is to showcase their thought leadership.

Compare: The customer’s goal is to compare the solutions they find during the research phase in order to narrow the list down to a few front runners. The brand’s goal is to stand out from competitors.

Choose: The customer’s goal is to figure out the brand they most want to work with. The brand’s goal is to be chosen by the customer.

Purchase: The customer’s goal is to make the final decision and select the brand they’ve chosen to work with. The brand’s goal is to have the invoice paid, the contract signed or whatever it takes to close the deal, and to make it easy for the customer to take this step.

Setting Up Touch Points

Today’s customers are setting the trends when it comes to how they’re shopping. From mobile apps to “Buy Now” buttons on social media, it’s important to know the new ways for your company to connect with customers during each stage.

Once you’ve determined the personas, stages and goals to add to the customer journey map, specify the tools that should be available along the way. Here are common touch points that are used during the four main phases of the customer journey:

Research

  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • Conferences
  • Newsletters
  • Seminars
  • Webinars

Compare

  • Demos
  • Reviews
  • General pricing sheets
  • Product descriptions
  • Testimonials

Choose

  • Email support
  • Live chat
  • Meetings
  • Phone calls

Purchase

  • Contract explanation
  • Detailed pricing sheet
  • Guide with implementation steps
  • Supporting documentation

Analyze Important Data

Making decisions about the customer journey map shouldn’t be based on hunches and guesswork. Analytics can help you identify stages and touch points you may not have noticed yet as well as show you if what you’ve been doing is working. You’ll also determine how long it takes for customers to pass through each stage of the journey. For example, if the customer is spending more time than expected in the research phase, is this because they can’t find the information they need? Is there additional content you can offer or a different way to deliver that content?

When further developing the customer journey map, figure out the data that’s most important for the customer experience. Long-term goals are more important than short-term successes. Creating a good relationship with customers will pay off down the road. Forcing a sale may bring more cash flow at the moment, but could be a turn-off to customers and prevent them from returning.

Customer Journey Mapping Techniques: Research and Behavioral

There are several different approaches to mapping the customer journey. Two popular techniques are research mapping, which involves voice of the customer data, and behavioral mapping, which determines the customer’s underlying reasons for taking certain actions.

In general, improving the current customer journey map follows four main stages. First, it’s necessary to create a framework that includes the standard stages of the journey that practically any customer and persona will go through, like making a purchase and requiring customer service support. Then, you need to map the current customer journey, including the various channels and touchpoints that different customer segments will experience. Next, you’ll have to create a future customer journey map that improves upon the current customer journey. Lastly, determine where the gaps are between the current and future customer journey maps and decide how to close those gaps.

How you create a future customer journey map and close the gaps will vary, depending on the approach you take.

Research Mapping

Voice of the customer research is used to determine if the current plotted customer journey is truthfully reflecting the actual customer experience. Both qualitative and quantitative research are used to create a prediction-based map. Voice of the customer data helps the brand plot both the current and the predicted performance at various touch points. These plot points, also called CX Curves, help determine the Moments of Truth, which are the instances when the customer has their greatest expectations. Pain Points are included in the Moments of Truth, referring to the times when the brand is performing at its lowest, especially if there’s a major gap between the customer’s expectations and the company’s performance. Voice of the customer data also helps the brand determine what drives certain behaviors, such as brand loyalty and repurchasing.

Behavior Mapping

For behavior customer journey mapping, a creative approach is taken, similar to storytelling. Touch points are assessed to determine what the customer is thinking, feeling and doing at those moments. With a behavioral science approach, customer journey mapping is based on both the behaviors of the customer and the reasons behind those behaviors. A narrative is created that details how various customer personas will behave throughout the journey. While behavioral mapping is used to design real life experiences, like when a customer enters a retail store, it’s also used for virtual settings and when the customer calls a contact center.