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Making sense of contact center metrics and customer satisfaction

Stop getting caught up in measuring contact center metrics and concentrate on what’s important: customer satisfaction.

If there’s one word call center managers have percolating through their minds at all times, it’s this: metrics.

And while contact center metrics should be your focus, you can’t get bogged down in the numbers, said Tim Montgomery, principal of San Antonio-based The Service Level Group, LLC, at last week’s annual ACCE Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

“[Managers are] all looking for that magic number, to measure and manage everything,” Montgomery said during his session at the show.

With the technology available today, contact center managers can measure everything from average handle time (AHT) to dropped calls to when their employees are in the bathroom.

“Which means what? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because we can measure, we often do,” Montgomery said.

Making sense of the numbers

Many managers make the mistake of looking up “recommended” numbers for metrics like agent utilization or agent occupancy and then believing those numbers are the “correct” ones, he said.

“They’re basically saying there is one way to do it, and doing it that way means success,” Montgomery said.

But that assumption is erroneous -- it’s never going to be an apples-to-apples comparison because different call centers have different needs to manage.

“In call centers, we spend way too much time analyzing the score,” he said. Managers spend too much time looking backwards, to see what went wrong.

 

What they should be doing is acting like a coach, said Montgomery, who will always focus on the next game -- analyzing the problems in the previous game and applying what worked and what didn’t to the next game.

And understand that the size of the contact center makes a difference as well, he said. What works for a 2,000-seat center isn’t going to work for a 10-seat center.

Happy customers and happy employees mean success

Above all, what matters to your customers is what you do when you answer the phone, not the tracking of call times or agent occupancy, Montgomery said.

The top-rated customer service companies look at the numbers from an outside perspective, he said. Apple, for example, has its managers look only at the results of the previous day’s customer satisfaction surveys. If the hold times are too long, if issues aren’t resolved, it will all be reflected in the surveys.

“The customers don’t care about the numbers -- they care [whether] their problems are resolved,” Montgomery said.

And if their problems aren’t resolved, he suggested techniques to get customers to sit up and take notice. Instead of trying to smooth over a problem by offering your customer a gift card to your establishment, offer her a gift card to your competitor’s establishment.

When they use that gift card, even though it’s at your competitor, they’ll be thinking of you, he said.

And don’t forget to treat your employees well, Montgomery said, pointing out that 60% occupancy is often a good measure for employee happiness and satisfaction -- they are busy but not overworked.

If your employees are happy, they will deliver better results, he said.

Don’t stop measuring

Montgomery said he doesn’t recommend that companies stop measuring and using metrics, but they need to think about and use them in a different way.

“If you measure it, it’s about how you manage it,” he said.

And when a call goes bad, you should ask yourself two questions: What can we do differently to avoid this kind of call in the future? Should anyone else in the organization hear this call?

Just those two simple questions can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness, Montgomery said.

He once again reminded the group at the session that metrics are useful, but that they are not everything. Listen to your customers, he urged, and use what they think to improve your techniques.

“You have the most powerful voice of the customer -- it’s their voice.”

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