The New KPIs for Achieving Effective Customer Engagement

According to Forrester Research, organizations in industries ranging from airlines to health insurance have the potential to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue when they provide a better experience for their customers. This revenue is typically driven by increased purchases, reduced churn, and improved word of mouth promotion.

To truly engage with customers and reap the full rewards of a customer-centric focus, however, companies need to build a deep understanding of their customers' journeys across all touch points.

Today, many organizations are exploring more sophisticated ways to build that level of understanding to provide consistent, contextual, and personalized experiences—no matter which channels customers use to engage with their brand. It has become imperative for organizations to consider end-to-end approaches to collecting, analyzing, and utilizing customer data across all channels.

To that end, the following new key performance indicators (KPIs) are helping organizations shift the paradigm to view interactions from the customer's perspective rather than the company's, resulting in a much better understanding of customer needs and engagement:

Customer Effort Score looks at making the overall customer experience as effortless as possible. Customers dislike having to contact an organization multiple times to resolve an issue, having to repeat information, or having to be transferred from one agent to another. Organizations are analyzing both structured and unstructured data mined across multiple channels—including phone and branch interactions, emails, chat sessions, and social postings—to determine how easy or difficult it is for customers to interact with them.

First Contact Resolution is an important element in the customer effort score. This metric has evolved from a single-siloed measurement to an omnichannel measurement. This is done by trying to map the end-to-end journey customers experience across channels to achieve full resolution. For example, speech analytics can help analyze phone interactions to identify when a customer says he/she was promised something in a previous conversation or has tried communicating via other channels. This would then be tagged as a repeat contact journey, even if it may be the customer's first phone call or a call that is beyond the time window associated with traditional first contact resolution.

Customer Health Score examines how a customer might rate an organization and allows a business to use the information to pinpoint loyal and content customers who might want to increase their purchases—and even help promote the brand. The score also helps to identify unhappy customers who need more personalized attention from agents to prevent them from churning or becoming brand detractors. The customer health score and relevant personalized suggestions should be presented to the agent every time she serves the customer. Armed with this information, agents are better equipped to handle customer interactions in a personalized and contextual way—which also helps to achieve true customer engagement.

An effective way to meet consumer demand for personalized service and a positive customer experience is to utilize these detailed metrics in tandem with customer journey mapping to create a clear view into the customer relationship life cycle. By being able to create an illustration of this life cycle, employees across departments gain a much deeper understanding of the customer experience. They are primed to influence and optimize customer engagement and, if need be, change existing processes and procedures.

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the end-to-end service journey of a customer, including customer expectations before the first encounter. It shows the customer perspective from the beginning, middle, and end as they engage in different services and departments to achieve their goal. This helps to illustrate the range of tangible and quantitative interactions, triggers, and touch points, as well as the intangible and qualitative motivations, frustrations, and meanings.

Creating a customer journey map is one of the most effective methods for understanding how customers interact with companies, whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied (including ways to address specific areas of dissatisfaction). It typically involves interviews within the organization and customers, as well as customer-facing employees across all business areas, to get a full perspective of all the customer touch points.

As a way to augment customer journey mapping strategies, organizations can now employ more dynamic customer journey mapping solutions by leveraging new analytics platforms to capture, analyze, and correlate customer interactions, behaviors, and journeys across all channels. These new engagement analytics platforms allow for real-time information to reflect the inevitable changes in customer interactions and behaviors. Because customers use so many communication channels—often simultaneously—organizations need a single view of the customer journey, pinpointing areas of opportunity and deficiency, and developing actionable strategies to address them.

Dynamic dashboards, advanced data visualization tools, and sophisticated engagement analytics capabilities are now helping leading organizations to truly understand and affect the end-to-end customer journey. But these insights need to be applied and used by employees who interact with customers as well as back-office employees, who sometimes have a huge impact on these interactions as well. This emerging new space is called Customer Engagement Optimization, which combines advanced analytics capabilities with engagement management solutions that include unified agent desktop powered by contextual knowledge management for the front and back office, as well as optimized self-service solutions that are constantly fed by analytics insights.

Customer engagement is high on the priority list of senior executives because of the quantifiable links among customer experience, loyalty, and revenue. The most successful organizations are adapting metrics and processes to reflect a more personalized customer-centric perspective. For organizations seeking to optimize customer engagement, ongoing assessment and evaluation and a willingness to update traditional metrics and business processes can provide a clearer picture of how to engage customers on their own terms, which ultimately benefits customers and company alike.