New Metrics for the Era of the Customer

Most activities in contact centers are tracked, measured, and used to evaluate the performance of the department and its staff. While this is necessary and useful, most, if not all, of the key performance indicators (KPIs) are internally oriented. This means that they are focused on improving contact center performance instead of determining whether customers are satisfied with their service.

The top traditional contact center KPIs are the following:

  • First contact resolution (FCR);
  • Number of transactions offered and handled, by channel;
  • Service level;
  • Average handle time (AHT) (average talk time + after-call work time = AHT); and
  • Customer satisfaction score, including Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Even the customer satisfaction rating is assessed from an internal perspective in many organizations; too many companies use NPS for bragging rights instead of to determine which operations, systems, or processes are broken and need to be fixed.

Today, however, digital transformation initiatives will lead companies to change how they treat their customers. The metrics and KPIs used to evaluate contact center performance must change and become customer-centric. These new customer-focused metrics should concentrate on identifying how customers view the organization and determining what needs to be improved to enhance the customer experience.

This is where customer journey analytics (CJA) fits into the equation. The challenge is to come up with a new set of metrics that evaluate what matters most to customers and provide actionable findings so that companies can use the data to determine which systems and processes to fix to meet customers' needs.

DMG has identified the following five metrics for organizations to use to evaluate their performance from the customer perspective:

  1. Ease of conducting business – customer perception of how easy or hard it is to conduct business with your company;
  2. Emotion/sentiment score – how customers feel when doing business with your company (happy/unhappy, fulfilled/frustrated, satisfied/displeased, enthusiastic/blasé, etc.);
  3. Transaction profile – the type and amount of activities that customers conduct with your business, by category;
  4. Wallet share – what proportion of your product line customers are using; and
  5. Repeat business – the number of times (or dollar value) of each customer purchase of a product or service after the initial transaction.

Calculating Customer-Centric Metrics

The challenge with customer-centric metrics is that they cannot be measured using the same operating systems as the traditional KPIs listed above. Companies need different operating systems and processes to gather customer-focused data. Additionally, there are different ways to calculate some of these metrics, which will make it difficult to do external benchmark comparisons. This should not matter within a company as long as they are calculated on a consistent basis.

Once the metrics are calculated, companies need to create new processes to apply the findings, which represents a substantial change for contact centers that have been using the same KPIs for close to 40 years. While this is difficult, it is a necessary step in any digital transformation.

Contact centers will continue to need many of the same operating systems that they've used for decades: contact center infrastructure (the automatic call distributor (ACD) and dialers), interactive voice response, customer relationship management (CRM), recording, quality management, workforce management, and more. These systems should continue to be used to keep contact centers operating properly. Internally oriented KPIs are still necessary as well. However, to measure their performance from the customer perspective, contact centers will need interaction analytics (IA), voice of the customer (VoC), predictive analytics, customer journey analytics (CJA), as well as input from other systems already used in the company, such as sales and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Data from all of these solutions needs to be analyzed on a stand-alone basis as well as combined, to fully understand what is happening with customers. The relevant data from these solutions must be entered into the CJA solution so it can be used holistically to gain an understanding of what is happening to customers at every touch point.

The digital transformation is driving long-needed changes throughout companies, including in contact centers. While it's necessary for companies to build omnichannel contact centers, this is a small, albeit foundational, aspect of a digital transformation. Another major aspect of digital transformations is to change how companies view and treat their customers. Using the five customer-centric metrics mentioned above is a step in the right direction to help companies acquire the information they need to meet their customers' increasingly high expectations.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at