The author of this post is located in the U.K.
Traditionally, to define and measure success, the call centre industry has relied upon efficiency metrics, such as Average Handle Time (AHT), developed to manage large volumes of voice calls. However, consumer preference for digital channels is already leading to a much greater focus on the customer experience, which has led to the adoption of qualitative measurements such as First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), as well as newer approaches like Customer Effort.
Most contact centre managers expect digital channels to overtake voice within a few years, so new approaches to measurement will be needed to ensure a consistent customer experience across all of the channels that customers are using, including web chat, social media and email. Traditional measures are no longer sufficient in this new environment.
Explore New Buying Options
The emergence of cloud technology platforms offers exciting new choices for brands. Cloud-based contact centres help lower costs, are designed to manage digital interactions alongside voice, and can open the door to a more integrated customer engagement strategy. Make the most of this opportunity, but do it right. Invite cloud providers to show you how their technology works. Find out about their business models. Talk to their customers. Ask about their product roadmap. The industry is changing rapidly and it’s likely the future customer experience winners will be the ones who get the technology choice right. There has never been a wider discrepancy between providers, or a greater range of choices, so it’s important you do your homework so you can make the right decision.
Flexibility and Scalability – A Plan for the Future
Take some time to step back and think about the capability you will need in the next five years, or even ten years. The one thing that’s clear is that flexibility and speed are going to be paramount. You might choose to adopt a hybrid approach in the short term so that you adopt cloud technologies at a pace that is right for your organisation. That way priority elements can be deployed first to help you create a business case for further investment. The important thing is that you consider how to invest in technology that not only meets today’s needs, but will also meet your customers’ future communications preferences.
Create a Multi-disciplinary Team
Do you know what systems other departments in your organisation are investigating or even investing in? The customer experience touches many departments so it is vital that both your thinking and your technology is joined up. It is time to tackle information silos and overcome the integration challenge. Involve your IT department and encourage organisation-wide collaboration by proactively instigating a multi-departmental team to specify the technology you need to deliver winning customer experiences that will make your CEO happy.
Focus on Customer Experience
By 2020, Forrester predicts that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. This focus on customer experience will lead to more sophisticated measurement approaches in the contact centre that look at outcomes alongside efficiency measures. The key to success will be finding ways to measure the effectiveness of digital channels alongside voice calls.
One of the key areas to watch is customer effort, which focusses on reducing barriers to successful resolution of a customer enquiry. The effortless experience is the central thesis of a new book of the same name authored by Dixon, Tomn and Delisi of CEB. It refers to a growing body of research showing that simply meeting customer expectations consistently can have a significant effect on customer loyalty.
Around 30 percent of all customers report spending a high level of effort to resolve their problem. Often by the time a customer makes a call to an agent they are already frustrated and ready to take out their anger on the next person they talk to. Switching from the web to the phone, having to re-explain an issue and having to repeatedly contact a company are three of the biggest causes of customer effort.
Most of these can be avoided if your contact centre is designed to resolve queries first time. But first it is really important to develop management information structures that allow you to identify causes of customer effort, or pain points in the overall customer journey.
Setting Service Levels Across All Channels
New cloud-based platforms will enable the adoption of unified communications in the contact centre which will allow service level agreements to be set, delivered and measured across all channels, enabling a faster, more effective response to email and real-time response like text and webchat.
More importantly, the adoption of unified communications will enable a 360-degree view of customer history, so agents are empowered to respond to contacts, and help resolve them quickly, regardless of the channel that is used. Similarly, reports will take into account successful outcomes across all channels and help identify causes of repeat contacts which is not only frustrating for the customer, but also leads to higher costs within the contact centre.
Understanding the customer journey should be an absolute priority in every contact centre. In the future, companies will adopt a more analytical approach to deliver a deeper and more enriched level of service, looking into customer needs and preferences, using both historical and real-time data from a variety of sources to deliver an effortless and personalised service.
Download our State of Customer Experience 2017 Report