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Five key benchmarking measurements for contact center success

Last Modified: 20/12/2017

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With the increasing amount of internal performance data available, companies need to identify the right benchmarks to ensure success. With 82.5% of companies recognising that customer experience will help put them ahead of their competition, companies need to ensure their focus is on benchmarks that can improve customer experience.

There are many different customer experience benchmarks that organisations need to be aware of, and it’s important to regularly benchmark these customer experience criteria to ensure that you are consistently delivering great customer experience.  

Here are five key benchmarks that contact centers should address in order to improve customer experience.

Average handle time

The average handle time (AHT) is the average time that a contact center agent spends on a call. The AHT can be affected by a number of issues, including slow computer systems, engaging with a caller to resolve their issue, poorly trained contact center staff, customers being on hold or the amount of time it takes to resolve the customer’s problem.

Rowan University understood the importance of AHT and implemented a study that aimed to improve their own support desk systems. Two methods were tested to see which one would be more effective at reducing average handle time. The first method reassigned tickets and resulted in an increase of 16% for resolved tickets, and a decrease in 8% of AHT. The second method was implemented by hiring three more support desk specialists, and improved resolved tickets by 4% and resulted in an a 22% decrease of AHT.

This study highlights how taking steps to reduce AHT allows a customer service agent to help more customers. Unfortunately, a downside to AHT is that contact agents may start to focus on reducing their AHT and sacrifice good customer service in favour of speed. 

Organisations will need to identify a healthy balance between reducing AHT and delivering a great customer experience, depending on the company’s individual needs.

CSAT

The Customer Satisfaction Attribution score (CSAT) is a commonly used metric that asks a customer to provide a score based on their satisfaction with your business, product or service. A company’s overall CSAT score is then based on the average of your customer’s ratings. The scale that is used to measure can vary. Some companies use a 1-3 rating, others a 1-5 or 1-10, or a scale from Very unsatisfied to Very satisfied, depending on their needs. It’s important to note a wider range is not necessarily more accurate, and that there are various factors that can influence how a specific customer might score a company, including cultural values. 

By implementing CSAT surveys, either immediately after the customer service agent has ended the call or later via email, you are able to track the customer experience. You can ask for general feedback, or get specific in order to identify problematic areas. It’s also important to track customer satisfaction to avoid any potential backlash from angry customers on social media that could potentially damage you or your client’s brand.

eNPS

The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a variant of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which was originally designed to measure customer loyalty. It does this by asking how likely a customer is to recommend a company to a friend or relative.

The eNPS shifts the focus of this system away from customers and onto employees. It's used to measure employee engagement with the company, as well as employee loyalty. The eNPS asks how likely are you to recommend the company you work for as a place to work, and asks employees to choose a value between zero and 10. Like the NPS system, the eNPS system then uses these values to split employees into three categories: promoters, passives and detractors. A promoter will recommend your company as a great place to work. Passives are the fence sitters who don't necessarily love your company, but would not be described as very loyal either. Detractors are unlikely to recommend anyone work at your company.

This system provides you with two major benefits:

  1. By identifying the level of employee commitment, you can take any steps necessary to increase employee commitment to the organisation, you can lower turnover costs
  2. Highlights how highly committed employees increase customer satisfaction, which in turn positively affects profits and growth

A Canadian company named Miovision was able to turn around how their employees viewed their company using the eNPS system. When their employees were first surveyed about their levels of satisfaction, eNPS ended up scoring far lower than expected with a score of 20. They took steps to address their employees issues and improve their levels of satisfaction. Just over a year later they had almost tripled their score, ending up with a 59. A win for both the company and their much happier employees.

CES

The Customer Effort Score (CES) is used to measure how much effort a customer has to put into acquiring a service or resolving an issue. It was introduced in 2010 and quickly gained popularity as an alternative to NPS.

The CES works by allowing a customer to assign a rating between ‘Strongly Disagree’ and ‘Strongly Agree’. A low score means customers are not putting a lot of effort into acquiring a service or resolving an issue. If the score is high, it means customers are putting in a lot of effort into either acquiring a service or resolving an issue, and the company needs to reduce it. All companies should aim to make every interaction with their business as easy and as convenient as possible.

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A 2013 study by Henley Business School aimed to assess whether Customer Effort was a useful metric, or if it was just another marketing tool. The research found that CES was a good indicator of customer loyalty, and that it was an important metric to benchmark because customers who had experienced high levels of difficulty were more likely to defect to a competitor.

Reliant was one organisation that understood the impact of customer effort and took steps to reduce it. A dedicated customer experience management team was tasked with handling this problem. The team identified three main steps that needed to be taken:

  • remove the talk-time metric
  • increase focus on the "emotional" side of customer interactions
  • identify strategies to actively address future customer needs

It took a while for the changes to take effect, but when they did Reliant was able to reduce their Customer Effort Score to 26% below the industry average. The Texas Public Utility Commission also awarded them the highest rating achievable for consumer complaints after they took customer effort to heart.

Customer sentiment

Sentiment analysis is the automated process of analysing text or a voice recording to identify the feelings being conveyed. Sentiment analysis can automatically gather information on a variety of topics, including what people think about a specific brand, its products or services. This can then be used to identify and address problems, some of which the organisation may not have been aware of.

The blog post Step-By-Step Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Visualizing United Airlines’ PR Crisis highlights how sentiment analysis systems can be used to quickly track customers’ positive or negative feelings towards your brand without asking them to complete a survey. You can use these systems to keep track of customer sentiment online, and if negative sentiment is on the rise, you can take steps to identify the cause and resolve it before trust in your brand is damaged.

This study also shows how sentiment analysis can be used to understand what your customers think of you, relative to your competition. In this case, sentiment analysis was used to compare what BMW, Mercedes and Audi customers thought of each of the companies on Twitter. One thousand tweets were selected for each company. After a sentiment analysis was done, it turned out that BMW was the least popular brand with a positive rating of 72%. Mercedes was in the middle with a positive rating of 79%, and Audi was leading the way with a positive rating of 83%.

In relation to contact centers, sentiment analysis can be used to automatically monitor how your customers and contact center agents interact. This eliminates the need to manually assess a small sample of communication between your customers and a specific agent, which may not even be an accurate representation of that agent's interactions. If a problematic trend is identified, steps can be taken to improve the agent’s service, which in turn increases customer satisfaction.

AHT, CSAT, eNPS, CES, and customer sentiment are all vital benchmarks that can help you achieve success in your contact center, but they are only a few of the important benchmarks you need to look at. Merchants’ latest benchmarking report reveals more about benchmarking and how it can assist you in growing your contact center: