In this age of social media, sound bytes and ADHD, people love quick and catchy stats. Unfortunately, in the contact center and customer care space, there seem to be only a handful of snazzy stats in circulation. The same ones just keep getting regurgitated over and over (yes, that’s redundant), especially on Twitter.
This is perplexing considering how dynamic customer care is and how much contact centers have evolved. It’s actually worse than perplexing – it’s depressing. Every time I see someone tweeting the old chestnut , “Satisfied customers tell only 3 people about their experience, while dissatisfied customers tell 8-10 people” (or some variation of this), a part of my soul dies. I even wept a little just now while typing that stat.
Rather than just complain about the lack of statistical variety being promoted by self-proclaimed customer experience experts in the Twittersphere, I aim to remedy the situation. Following are several fresh and captivating stats about customer care and contact centers that I believe you and everybody else will feel compelled to talk and tweet about:
- 86% of customers would be willing to pay more for better customer service. 100% of contact center managers would be willing to pay more for even mediocre customer service.
- 70% of contact centers list Average Handle Time among their key performance metrics at the agent level. Of those centers, 100% need a clue.
- Only 17% of contact centers really mean it when they say “Your call is very important to us”. Of the remaining centers, 38% feel “Your call is somewhat important to us”, 24% feel “It’s surprising how unimportant your call is to us”, and 21% feel “It’s hilarious that you are still holding for a live agent.”
- 73% of contact center managers claim to know how to accurately measure First-Call Resolution. The remaining 27% of managers are telling the truth.
- Engaged customer service agents are 35% more likely to provide a positive customer experience than are customer service agents who are already married.
- The top three criteria contact center managers consider when selecting work-at-home agents are: 1) Past performance; 2) ability to work independently; and 3) body odor.
- Every time a caller must provide his/her name and account number to an agent after having just provided that exact same information via the IVR system, a puppy dies.
- 97% of contact center agents fantasize daily about sending a hungry Bengal tiger to the home of abusive callers. The remaining 3% of agents fantasize daily about sending a hungry Siberian Tiger.
- 81% of contact center agents are empowered to do exactly what their managers and supervisors tell them.
- Each year, over 150 customer care professionals die from overexposure to acronyms.
- 50% of managers feel their contact center is highly unprepared to handle social customer care; the remaining 50% do too.
- The three people that satisfied customers tell about their experience are Sue Johnson, Dave Winthrop, and Bud Carter. All three are tired of hearing about these experiences.
- 42% of contact center managers say they will not hire an agent applicant unless said applicant has a pulse and/or can work at least one weekend shift a month.
- Four out of five agents represent 80% of all agents. In contrast, the remaining agents represent only 20% of all agents.
- The average agent-to-supervisor ratio in contact centers is 20:1. The odds that this is enough to provide agents with the coaching and support they need to succeed is 2000:1.
- 100% of managers destined for greatness and wealth purchase a copy of the Full Contact e-book. 0% of managers understand why the author of said e-book looks so angry and aggressive in the photo on the book cover.
In an effort to gain recognition and respect, too many struggling contact centers try to bite off more than they can chew – implementing performance goals that they have as much chance of meeting as I do of being crowned Miss America.
I often encourage managers of poorly performing contact centers to stop reaching for the stars and to instead just concentrate on not sucking. You have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run a world-class operation.
With that in mind, below are some key performance objectives that managers of sub-par centers might want to consider implementing to help earn some quick wins, build some confidence among staff, and quit drinking so much in the morning.
Contact Resolution. Don't worry about first-contact resolution (FCR) right now. True, resolving customer issues on the first contact has a big impact on customer satisfaction, agent engagement and operational costs, but chances are your center just isn't yet ready to achieve a lofty FCR objective. Instead focus on a more feasible and less intimidating metric – fifth-contact resolution (5CR).
Studies have shown that it is easier to fully resolve customer issues on the fifth try than it is to do so on the first, second, third or fourth try. Research has also revealed that centers that are able to resolve customer issues within five contacts report higher customer satisfaction, agent retention and cost savings than do centers that don't resolve customer issues until the sixth, seventh or eighth contact.
Service Level. Don't set your center and agents up for failure by shooting for an ambitious service level objective of answering 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds, or some similar challenging goal. It's much wiser to start out with the following, more palatable service level objective: 80% of calls answered… period. The number of seconds that it takes to do so should not be a major concern at this point – that will come later, assuming customers don’t burn your center to the ground in the meantime.
Adherence to Schedule. Most contact centers focus too much on whether or not agents are in their seat at the right times. Your center will be much more likely to meet/exceed its adherence objective if you don't emphasize the "in your seat" and the "at the right times" parts so much. Instead, go a little easier on your staff by explaining the importance of them at least trying to stay within city limits during their shift. Agents will greatly appreciate the fact that you recognize how challenging and restrictive their job can be, and, as a result, will strive to meet the new objective you have set forth. Or not.
Contact Quality. When it comes to assuring quality in struggling contact centers, the emphasis should be less on agents achieving high monitoring scores and more on whether or not the person rating the call throws up. When no vomiting occurs, be sure to praise the agent publicly, and consider grooming him or her for a supervisory role. If, however, vomiting does occur during a call evaluation – and it will – provide the agent with positive and nurturing pointers on how he or she could have made the interaction with the customer less nauseating to the person evaluating it.
If you follow all the suggestions and recommendations provided here in this blog post, I guarantee that your contact center will move from being absolutely abysmal to being just a little pitiful in no time. Best of luck!
For performance measurement and management tactics that are even MORE practical than those highlighted here, be sure to check out Greg’s critically acclaimed ebook, Full Contact: Contact Center Practices & Strategies that Make an Impact.
Few metrics have made contact center managers drool like first-call resolution has. And with good reason: FCR has been shown to have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, operational costs and employee morale. So we’re looking at a metric trifecta – a measurement that is both qualitative and quantitative, and that is also engaging for agents.
Unfortunately, FCR is also one of the most misconstrued and mis-measured metrics in the contact center. Many managers get so caught up in the potential benefits that FCR can bring, they simply add it to the center’s scorecard and start tracking it haphazardly – without really grasping some key concepts or taking the customer’s perspective into full consideration.
To avoid the typical FCR pitfalls that doom many a contact center and customer relationship, it’s critical to understand the following:
Accurately measuring FCR takes work. This metric is not easily captured and calculated. You can’t just rely on callback tracking technology, as some customers may not call back even if their issue wasn’t resolved. For instance, they might instead contact the center via another channel (e.g., email, chat) or perhaps even defect to the competition out of frustration. Nor can you just have your quality monitoring folks decide if a call has been resolved (though that doesn’t stop many centers from doing this to gauge FCR); it has to be measured from the customer’s perspective. And while asking customers about issue resolution via post-contact surveys is highly recommended, that method alone isn’t sufficient for accurately tracking FCR either, as sometimes a caller might think their issue was resolved during a call, but then the agent or somebody else doesn’t follow through with what needs to be done to complete the resolution, resulting in a later callback.
The best way to track FCR is to use a combination of the aforementioned methods, and to then just hope you are catching the metric at enough angles to get close to what your actual FCR rate is. That’s a lot of work to still be unsure, but the good news (sort of) is…
...Customers don’t actually care if you know how to measure FCR – they simply want you to ACHIEVE it. It’s important the managers don’t get so obsessed with measurement of FCR that they forget to focus on what processes and practices actually drive FCR improvement. Who cares if you are doing a bang up job of tracking FCR if all the reports show that your rate never goes up. Top contact centers worry less about numbers and more about positive customer experiences, and thus embrace such FCR improvement tactics as:
-Providing agents with the training and resources to quickly and effectively resolve contacts.
-Ensuring that there are no conflicting performance objectives hindering customer-centricity and
FCR achievement (like rigid AHT goals).
-Mastering skills-based routing so that callers get sent to the right agent with the skill-set to handle
-Building agent incentives around FCR goal achievement.
-Empowering agents to make improvements to FCR-related processes.
A high FCR rate isn’t always something to cheer about. Even if your center effectively measures FCR, and your reports consistently show a rate in the 90%-95% range, don’t assume you are an FCR rock star. While rates that high can be legit, more often than not they are inflated by simple “slam dunk” inquiries that the call center could have avoided entirely by providing (and effectively promoting) strong self-service options (e.g., speech-enabled IVR; dynamic web self-service tools.) A potent self-service strategy not only can save the company mucho dinero, many customers prefer self-service when it comes to basic transactions and inquiries.
A high FCR rate doesn’t always account for the amount of effort expended or pain endured by the customer. Sometimes an issue may get resolved on the first call, but not before the customer considered suicide while stuck in a IVR hell only to get transferred to an agent who, while equipped with the answer required, was not equipped with much courtesy or professionalism. That’s why no FCR initiative is complete without solid Quality monitoring and C-Sat measurement practices in place. They are key to ensuring calls are resolved AND relationships are cultivated.