Call volumes, calls handled, average handle times, and first call resolution. These are the metrics that have traditionally determined a contact center's success. But now that customers have shifted to digital channels, contact centers need new ways to understand the customer experience across social media, Web chat, and digital self-service. They require metrics that will help them track behavior across digital channels, respond to customers in a timely manner, and improve customer loyalty. They also need to monitor the efficiency of the agents who are responding to queries sent via digital and mobile channels to improve resolution rates and validate further investments in digital technology.
Unfortunately differing customer preferences and the increasing range of communication options means there is no easy solution for measuring digital customer experiences. Contact centers should invest in both text analytics and customer surveys to monitor agent efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Review agent efficiency in digital channels
Agents hired to cover digital interactions were initially recruited to field complaints on Twitter and Facebook or help push sales using Web chat. But now that these channels are maturing, customers expect more than just rapid responses. They want resolutions and insightful answers. Agents, therefore, should be held accountable to efficiency metrics, just as they are when handling voice calls. Time to respond, first contact resolution, and number of queries answered are all relevant.
There are, however, a number of differences to take into consideration. For example, a request for help with a technical issue sent via a private Twitter message might begin on a Tuesday and end on a Friday. Although the agent might be responsive, the customer might not necessarily reply quickly unless his issue is urgent. Unlike phone calls, social or chat conversations can be revisited at different times and agents should't always be held accountable for resolution times, especially if they were waiting for the customer to respond.
Another consideration is that in many instances social or chat agents wear two hats, handling both sales and support queries. This could mean that traditional call center efficiency metrics are not always the right ones. Metrics for tracking performance in digital channels could include the following:
- Time to respond;
- Escalations to agent-assisted channels;
- Number of interactions before a resolution;
- First channel resolution;
- Cost per interaction (a rollup of the agent time spent handling a query); and
- Customer feedback (relating to the agent interaction).
Monitor the relationship between customer effort and satisfaction
At the same time, customers are not necessarily concerned with different channels or touchpoints. They want resolutions to their queries and easy access to empowered, knowledgeable agents if they can't find answers themselves. For self-service (via FAQ pages, mobile applications, Web sites, or customer communities) the number of clicks or length of time spent finding information are good indicators of effort. When the customer switches to a live interaction, effort is measured by the time to reach a relevant representative, number of transfers, or perception of the business or service received. Contact centers should consider monitoring the following:
- Customer value (dollar value for sales or social influence);
- Customer effort (individual task rates, number of clicks, or channels used to get a resolution);
- Net Promoter Score (calculated by asking customers whether they would recommend a product or service);
- Customer loyalty (repeat purchases or length of time as a customer); and
- Customer sentiment (assessed by word analysis or survey feedback).
Link metrics together
It isn't enough to focus only on one part of a digital interaction or one side of the equation. Contact centers need to link agent responsiveness to customer behavior and satisfaction to gain insight into the digital customer experience. This is where customer journey management plays a role, and it doesn't need to be complicated. Using a unique customer ID, such as a phone number or email address, contact centers can track which channels a customer uses.
Perhaps a customer who wasn't given a fast response on social media (measured using agent response time) also asked the same question in a Web chat or phone call. It is important to consider how phone and interactive voice response systems are used in conjunction with digital engagements. When queries are escalated to phone, this could indicate problems with digital support information or agent knowledge.
In addition, contact centers should evaluate the customer experience alongside the agent experience to determine the best strategy for agent training and recruitment for individual channels.
Finally, contact centers should realize that customer behavior, digital tools, and devices will continue to change and that digital customer experience critically influences customers' perceptions of businesses. By monitoring digital customer behaviors alongside customer satisfaction, businesses can evolve and remain relevant to their customer bases.
Aphrodite Brinsmead is a principal analyst on the Customer Interaction team at Ovum.