You’re Analyzing Your Contact Center Incorrectly

Industry experts predict that digital interactions will soon surpass those handled by phone in contact centers. More than three-quarters of these interactions taking place on digital channels like chat, text, and mobile apps will be service-oriented and requiring agent attention.

With this dramatic shift toward digital customer service that has taken place in the last decade, new metrics are needed to manage contact center efficiency, productivity, and quality. The days of only measuring agent performance by time per call, calls handled per day, customer satisfaction scores, and other hard data are over. Contact centers now have to analyze email, chat, Facebook and Twitter conversations, and responses from apps, along with phone interactions.

Each form of interaction has key performance indicators that can be applied to the agents who handle these channels, and there are different metrics for each form of engagement. As well, some key performance indicators are applicable to some or all channels, and some are very specific to only one digital channel.

Measuring Social Media

Customers are increasingly jumping on social media channels with service-related issues. Because of this, social customer service is becoming a growing focus for contact center executives. In 2010, less than 5 percent of organizations took advantage of social media as part of their overall customer service strategy. Today, consumers expect that they will get a response if they post a question or comment on company social media channels.

Yet, measuring the effectiveness of social media customer service is challenging for a couple of important reasons. First, its usage is increasing at a very fast rate. It's also difficult to measure because conversations can cross channels, which makes it difficult to accurately calculate returns.

While there are obvious metrics, such as the number of likes or followers, these only capture a glimpse of what truly communicates a social customer service program that is aligned with business goals. More granular metrics are necessary to truly calculate the level of service, quality, and overall effectiveness. These include the folowing:

  • First post resolution: The percentage of posts resolved on first response.
  • Redirect rate: The percentage of responses that result in a post being redirected to a private conversation.
  • Quality of response.
  • Transfer Rate: The percentage of posts that are ultimately transferred to another department.

Other social media metrics that are worth reviewing include the following:

  • Average amount of time each agent works on a social media response.
  • Percentage of posts that aren't responded to within a pre-defined interval of time.
  • The number of people who are subscribed, following, or friended on the channels where agents are posting messages.
  • How likely a customer is to evangelize the brand on social channels, also called the brand evangelist index (BEI).

Measuring Self-Service Accessibility

An increasing number of contact centers are striving to transition agent calls away from queues to self-service systems, such as interactive voice response systems and Web applications. This goal enhances service efficiencies while also cutting costs. It also enables agents to be available to handle more complex customer issues.

As self-service channels become more popular, the need to measure their success also grows. Contact centers that are most focused on providing self-service channels are gauging how many customers begin self-service transactions via the IVR and the Web and how many complete those transactions without requiring live agent assistance. To drill down even deeper, some are even using tools that record customer interactions on self-service channels to identify possible system glitches that affect the customer experience or force the customer to shift channels to obtain a higher level of service.

Measuring Email and Chat

Like with phone, social media, and self-service engagement, email and chat channels also need to be measured for how they contribute to the overall success of the customer experience. With email, it's most important to determine the response time and the percentage of email interactions that ultimately are redirected to the phone. Likewise, chat conversations need to be measured for the average handle time of the chat session.

Putting It Together

As organizations begin to think beyond the phone call and strive to improve all of their customer interactions, completion rates will continue to be the most important metric for overall contact center performance. Simply put, this metric looks at the number of customers who were able to accomplish their goals through a mix of interactions.

In contact centers where automation is more prevalent, high abandon rates and low completion rates signal issues with the IVR system. It could be as simple as an unclear prompt or message or as serious as a system failure. However, in contact centers where live agents still handle the bulk of the interactions, low completion rates are more a sign of lack of cohesion between the channels, insufficient agent training, or even processes that aren't aligned with customer needs.

In either situation, low completion rates plus high abandon rates communicate a significant problem that needs to be identified and resolved quickly. In today's competitive environment, a less-than-stellar customer experience leads to increased churn, serious brand damage, and, ultimately, a negative impact on the bottom line.

Walter Lash is manager of business intelligence and analytics at VHT.