Improve your Customer Experience by measuring the right stuff

In my previous blog, I talked about the Customer Satisfaction score as the main metric for service organisations and contact centres; but, what other metrics should a service organisation really be focusing on to help improve customer experience?

Understand what your customers contact you about

In my view, the single most important metric a service organisation can measure is Customer Demand; that is, gain a deep understanding of why your customers are making contact in the first place. There are many reasons contact is made, but they can be categorised in two ways: they can be either Value Demand or Failure Demand. To really level up your customer experience you need to be very clear on how many enquires you receive from your customers because something went wrong (failure demand) and how many enquiries you receive that your customer service team was built to handle (value demand)1.

An easy to understand example of failure demand is when you have to call your broadband provider because the bill has incorrect charges; and an example of value demand is when you make contact to upgrade your Internet plan. The Value/Failure ratio will give you a good indication of how broken your service organisation or contact centre is from a Customer Experience point of view.

You may be surprised (or not) that failure demand can account for as many as 80% of all enquires in some service organisations. Understanding your Customer Demand is the first step in eliminating failure and increasing the value offered to your customers.

Another important metric to understand is the time that it takes to resolve a customer enquiry from when they first contact the organisation. This metric will help you understand how well the contact centre or customer service team is working with the rest of the business. On many occasions, customer enquiries will need to be passed to other departments (IT, Sales, Marketing, Finance, etc…). The speed at which this enquiry flows back and forth through the organisation is an excellent indication of your Customer Experience “health”.

Is there a place for more traditional measures?

If you ask most Contact Centre managers, they will be able to tell you how many enquiries their Contact Centre receives; but most of them would not be able to tell you how many of these calls can be stopped from coming into the organisation.

They will also be able to tell you what the average handle time (AHT) is, the Service Levels of the Contact Centre (% of calls answered in a given time) and many other traditional contact centre metrics (speed to answer, abandoned calls, etc…).  All of these traditional metrics focus on the performance of the Contact Centre in complete isolation from the rest of the organisation. So, is there any value in using traditional metrics? In my view, very little. These metrics will only tell you if your contact centre is meeting its basic requirement, that is, answering calls in a reasonable timeframe. You can liken this to measuring sales reps for the number of appointments they make in a month. You’ll end up with a number but not one that means much in terms of customer experience.

Why do service organisations keep measuring these things?

There are two reasons for this. The first, is that a very small number of organisations develop a system that starts with the customer. They organise themselves as functions completely separated from each other where each one measures things that only matter to them: i.e. marketing measure number of subscribers, sales - the number of products sold, customer care – the number of calls answered or amount of time per conversation, the credit team - the number of credits outstanding, HR - the number of new recruits, etc…

But customers don’t see organisations as a number of separate functions. They see the organisation as a whole. So ask yourself, how many of the metrics listed above matter to customers? How many matter to you as a customer of a service organisation?

The second reason is because it is easier. It is much simpler to measure the things that you can control and harder to break those silos and talk and interact with other parts of the business for your customers’ sake.

A better way…

There is a better way to use metrics in a Contact Centre or Customer Service team that would not only improve the engagement and happiness of the team; but also be an invaluable source of information for the rest of the company. Share with your team the definitions of Value and Failure Demand and let them qualify each call as one or the other. Use the wrap up codes they probably already have to capture this and remove any other meaningless and demotivating metrics.

Report monthly on those numbers, rank the main reasons for failure demand and set up a continuous improvement framework within the Contact Centre and with the rest of the business to truly transform and improve the experience of your customer. Your customers and your customer service team will thank you for it.

1 John Seddon, 2003, Freedom from Command and Control, Vanguard Education

Written by:  Eduardo Nofuentes

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