Dave Paulding, Interactive Intelligence's regional sales director for UK, Middle East and Africa says that companies should not be fooled by traditional contact centre performance metrics.
For most companies, the success of their contact centre is determined by key performance indicators (KPIs) such as reducing the time a customer spends in the queue, minimising call abandon rate to 2%, etc.
While it is important to measure these elements and get them right, companies need to guard against a false sense of security that their customers are satisfied. The contact centre performance metrics might be good-but customers can still have a bad experience.
The only way to truly determine your customers' satisfaction levels is by asking them. Automated post-call surveys are the most effective way to do this, and offer a real-time and realistic view of how they are feeling. Technology will soon be available that can gauge the mood of the customer, in spite of what they might be saying.
Some companies are reluctant to invest in post-call survey technology, but without some way of evaluating customers' satisfaction, it is impossible to know what they are thinking. In this economic climate, knowing this is critical as perception of service levels is a major reason that customers churn, and retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.
At the end of the day, contact centres are about people. It is a way that customers interact with and experience a company-often the primary way. Many companies are so focused on their contact centre technology that they forget this. The technology is important-vital in fact-but technology can only ever be an enabler. It is what people do with the technology that makes it powerful.
For example, when a customer calls a contact centre, it is critical that the agent is empowered with information to ensure that the customer gets what they want and has a good experience. The agent should be able to access the company's back-end technology system quickly and seamlessly so they can effectively answer the customer's query and solve his/her problem.
As important as having access to the latest technology is the agent's skills and training. An agent can be able to access all the information in the world, but without knowing how to use it, or without the skills to deal with the customer on the end of the phone, the technology is useless.
Equally important is for companies to offer numerous channels for customers to make contact. Some customers like to call and speak to an agent, while others prefer to resolve their issues on their own online. Either way, the contact centre needs to offer a consistent experience, regardless of how the customer chooses to interact.
Companies that get it right in the contact centre game are those that find the holy grail of balance between technological functionality and people skills. These companies invest in technology and training for their agents. Critically, they don't allow the contact centre's performance metrics to mask the underlying customer experience, and actively look for ways to improve customer satisfaction.