“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred
battles.” – Sun Tzu
One of the most effective ways to determine how your contact center’s performance stacks up against other providers in your industry is to benchmark. Many enterprises are satisfied when their contact center meets goals that are set internally, and that works to a point. But, the picture can get less than rosy when goals achieved in a vacuum are compared to companies who benchmark against contact center industry standards.
One of the industry leading benchmarking and research firms is Benchmark Portal. In the mid-nineties they conducted the first scientific, industry-wide benchmark study, and achieved a U.S. Patent for their standard-setting methodology. As recipients of their 2015 “Best Contact Center in North America” award, we are committed to upholding the industry through the use and promotion of highly functional and relevant benchmarking tools.
Benchmarking can power up your business intelligence in several ways. Here, according to Benchmark Portal, are seven positive impacts that benchmarking can have on your center (in no particular order):
1. Greater data driven visibility into operations
2. Apples-to-apples comparisons with competitors
3. Pinpointing performance gaps
4. Linking performance gaps to processes needing improvement
5. Examining customer satisfaction
6. Identifying and measuring improvement changes
7. Increasing company value with measurable, returns on investments
Now that we can see the benefits of benchmarking, let’s consider one of the hottest metrics that nearly all companies are laser-focused on: customer experience (CX). “The metrics your center embraces have an impact on the customer experience that simply can’t be ignored,” says the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI). “Of course, not every metric can be completely customer-centric – there are operations costs and business needs that must also be considered – focusing strictly on straight productivity metrics and managing a contact center primarily as a cost center simply is no longer feasible.”
In Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, researchers asked 1,320 contact center professionals from 81 countries and 14 industries what they felt were the most important key metrics to measure. Over 77% of the respondents said that CX is their most important strategic performance measurement. Over 85% recognized CX as a competitive differentiator, and reported that positive CX increased revenue/profits. Over 82% reported cost reductions because of bettering their CX efforts.
On the operations side, their findings reveal first call resolution (FCR) rates remain the coin of the realm. Agents are keeping their sights trained on FCR and productivity measurements, with CX coming in as their third greatest priority. Participants identified ease of resolution as the top operational factor that impacts C-SAT rates.
An interesting thing to note here is that, although there is a greater focus today on the all-around experience a customer has with a contact center, the metrics that mattered most five years ago, still matter most today. Again, let’s turn to the ICMI for their take on the matter.
First call resolution (FCR) is still the number one killer KPI
High FCR rates keep callbacks down and lower costs, keep your customers from defecting to the competition, and help to keep your agents productive and confident. All that said, however, FCR does have a CX-related drawback: it lacks the customer’s perspective on the interaction. “It’s important to let the customer tell you if their issue has been resolved, whether through real-time or near-real-time customer feedback channels, such as post-call IVR surveys, online surveys, live surveys or immediate email-based surveys,” says ICMI.
Service level and response time remain essential metrics
They’re the bedrock of your budgeting and planning initiatives, but setting and meeting clear objectives are a necessity. It’s not enough to set high goals for your center; what matters is how often your center meets those goals every day. And there’s more: “Don’t be lulled into thinking solid performance here is the only thing to watch. A center can achieve its objectives, yet still be wasting resources, creating extra work and providing poor quality.”
You’ll always have to make the trains run on time
Adherence to scheduling is even more important today, but its interpretation has shifted. Centers have learned to focus on those things agents can control, rather than dinging them for what they can’t – customer response and interaction. “The good news is that when placing a stronger emphasis on adherence to schedule by having agents in the right places at the right times, things like average handle time and calls per hour tend to take care of themselves. That is assuming the center has taken time to provide agents with adequate training and a quality mindset, and that the center has done a decent job of forecasting and scheduling.”
Forecast accurately or perish
We’ll let the ICMI lecture you on this one. “Underestimating demand leads to understaffing. This, in turn, leads to long wait times in queues, frustrated customers, burned-out agents and high toll-free costs (due not only to the long hold times, but also to the longer call times that might result from dedicating a portion of the call to caller complaints about hold times). However, overestimating demand results in waste, overstaffing and increased idle time.”
Automation will continue to make self-service accessibility a top priority
Many enterprises expend lots of energy trying to move customers out of the live agent interaction space, most commonly to interactive web apps and IVR. Well-trained agents are freed up to handle complex issues, and implementing successful self-service channels has been shown to increase efficiency while keeping costs down. But it is necessary to follow the customer after the self-service actions are completed. “Leading contact centers gauge not only how many customers begin self-service transactions via IVR and the Web, but also how many complete those transactions without live-agent assistance.”
Contact center quality matters
“Top centers track contact quality as a high-level, center-wide metric, as well as an individual agent performance measure,” says ICMI. This is where training and reinforcement of soft skills come into play. Here are some of ICMI’s top quality criteria, directly from the source:
• Use of appropriate greetings and other call scripts
• Courtesy and professionalism
• Capturing key customer data
• Providing customers with correct and relevant information
• First-contact resolution
• Accuracy in data entry and call coding
• Grammar and spelling in text communication (email and chat)
At GCS, we know that using the right metrics in the right way will deliver consistent and impressive results. To that end, we’ve developed a brand new 10-Point Contact Center Improvement Tool to help you identify the most meaningful areas of improvement for your center. Not ideas for any center or every center – your center. That’s something that out-of-the-box or bolt-on improvement solutions can’t do.
The same thing goes for generic advice on which KPIs to measure; tracking every single indicator will give you plenty of data to analyze, whether or not it applies to your specific goals. Our methodology puts a spotlight on the weaknesses and inefficiencies in your processes. We are process-centric because it works.
Great processes will transform your out-of-shape center and deliver consistent performance at the lowest cost. Our 10 Point Improvement Tool will form a foundation for excellence in your contact center, and you can start working with it right now. Are you ready to reshape your center’s processes and reap lasting, measurable benefits? Let GCS show you how.