Multichannel customer support is no longer a trend. It has become the standard.
By opening multiple channels, most, if not all, businesses widened the scope of the user experience they offer. Thus, the ways by which consumers interact with brands have become varied, unpredictable, and complex. And so has performance measurement.
The key performance indicators that have worked for voice-only call centers, such as average handle time and first contact resolution, might not apply to multichannel services. These traditional metrics have a narrow, one-dimensional focus that will not be able to encapsulate the dynamism of a multichannel contact center. If we continue using them, an accurate measure of success is unattainable.
Several factors must be considered in evaluating the customer experience across platforms. On a micro level, what are the specific standards of good customer service on social media? On email? On live chat? And on a macro level, how do we weave together several tools and assess whether they are operating harmoniously?
Three broad call center metrics are necessary in measuring the quality of multichannel services: productivity, avoidable contacts, and seamless services.
Whether in uni- or multichannel contact centers, agent productivity has always been an important metric. In the latter, however, there's a more complex twist involved because agents handle several customer support tools at once. Perhaps they switch back and forth between two chat windows and an email-based transaction. This leads to higher productivity, but managers must watch out for inefficient work distribution.
For instance, if agents are responding to Facebook comments, can they still be tasked with email transactions? It might be possible because a little delay in email replies is acceptable while social media comments warrant a much faster response. But what about agents who are engaged in a voice call? Will they still be expected to handle another channel?
Multichannel call centers, therefore, need a robust, productivity-oriented routing system to maximize the individual performance of agents without compromising the quality of their work. Hiring home-based agents, a cost-effective and flexible staffing solution, can also give you a great boost.
This is largely similar to first-contact resolution. The only difference is that, in a multichannel contact center, a company's capacity to solve problems is ideally made more powerful by several customer support tools. However, if there are too many repeat issues or, worse, repeat customers, then there's something going wrong. It's either a sign that you're not making the most of the platforms you have or there's a mismatch between the nature of the customer's problem and the channel you're using to solve it.
Agents must know when to transfer transactions to another channel considering the devices the customer owns and the type of issue to be addressed. For example, live chat is suitable for simple queries but email is best for sending files like product manuals. These must be considered when trying get to the core of a complaint.
Measuring avoidable contact can identify training and resource needs as well as gaps in agents' skills, which allows you to enhance the customer experience. Also, contact center databases that outline the standard responses to common types of queries can be built by identifying the pain points in problem resolution.
The end result is often the most important component of performance measurement. Companies are going multichannel to provide positive experiences that satisfy the expectations of modern customers. This means the quality of customer support depends on speed and smooth transitions between devices.
So aside from sufficient staffing and an organized transaction routing system, companies must offer all possible means of customer service. Allowing people to decide how they want to solve the issues they experience is the best gift they could get from companies. This is where self-service comes in.
Although there's a heated debate about its impacts on human-mediated services, self-service is well-loved by a lot of customers. Those who are always on the go and have highly inconsistent schedules usually don't find time to connect with customer service representatives. These are the same ones who will appreciate knowing that there's a do-it-yourself platform ready for them anytime. But like all other channels, it also requires evaluation. Measurement can be done through pop-up surveys, email or SMS outreach, or face-to-face interviews.
From these three broad call center metrics, you can identify more specific ones. You might even come up with your own unique key performance indicators depending on your customer support goals and your company branding. Just remember the most important principle in delivering multichannel services: The customer experience must always be your highest priority.
Faith Ocampo is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.