Measuring Success In The Contact Center

March, 2014

A key process for growth in any business is that of measuring success against target. The challenge is to distill the vast sea of data into meaningful measures that can then prompt action.

A key process for growth in any business is that of measuring success against target. Armed with the right information, steps can be taken to improve processes and manage resources to achieve more.

While this is certainly true of the contact center, the challenge is to distill the vast sea of data generated by large contact volumes into meaningful measures that can then prompt action.

Let’s look at how face-to-face retail addresses this

If you were to buy almost anything in a British shop these days (supermarkets excluded), you would probably be asked “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Why? Because the store is trying to measure success. And why this question in particular? Because when researchers asked “What is the most likely reason for someone to be in your shop?” the top answer was that they were looking for something specific. If they find it, they are satisfied. Effectively, this is a face-to-face customer satisfaction survey. Note that the only way to measure satisfaction is to ask the customer directly. Although the question does not address many areas that can affect satisfaction – attitude of shop assistants, choice, quality vs. price, speed of service, length of checkout queue, etc – it does focus on the most likely affector of retail satisfaction: I found what I was looking for.

Note also that, being face-to-face, this ‘survey’ requires an answer. Therefore, the question has the added benefit of giving immediate feedback that can spur further action to avoid the consumer leaving unsatisfied.

In the contact center world, there have been several attempts to identify the simplest, most important measure of success, as in the face-to-face example above. Possibilities are:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)

There are differing views on which is the most important, but these possibilities could be seen as a hierarchy, the highest relying on those beneath and so on.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

At the highest level is the NPS; how likely is the customer to promote the brand to others? This is a useful measure for 3 main reasons:

  1. it helps to drive down the average cost of gaining a new customer, as this customer assists (unpaid!) in the promotion
  2. it implies that you have retained a current customer
  3. it avoids the potentially damaging impact of a dissatisfied customer

Sounds great, but as with our face-to-face example, NPS can only be measured by asking the customer a specific question: “How likely are you to recommend X?” And in a non-face-to-face environment, very few customers are willing to hang around and take a survey; in fact usually only those who are either very positive or very negative, giving quite a skewed measure of success. So, is there a better way to measure success, that doesn’t rely on consumer feedback?

Let’s look further and ask “What drives someone to be a promoter?” Simply, customer satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT tells us how satisfied the consumer was with your service. But this suffers from the same drawback as the NPS; it can only be measured by asking post-interaction questions. Let’s dig down further. Research has shown that one underlying measure that closely correlates to customer satisfaction is customer effort.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES tells us how much effort it took on the part of the customer to achieve their goal for the contact.

How can this be measured? Delving deeper into what exactly it is that affects how much effort the customer expends, at last we find a number of metrics that are within the contact center’s power to measure, regardless of consumer cooperation. If we can quantify this, steps can be taken to reduce customer effort and increase success.

Next time, we will look in more detail at the metrics and other factors that may be useful in scoring customer effort.

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