Are your customers happy with their experience of your company? How do you know? Measuring customer experience is crucial to avoid losing business, but there is a level of science involved.
Relying on informal customer feedback to contact centre agents is a dangerous game, because it doesn't always give you the whole picture. In many cases, customers who have had a bad experience with your company may simply leave without even telling you why. A Customer Experience Impact Report from RightNow technologies found that almost 9 in every 10 customers will begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience – and you probably won't even see them go.
Measure it to manage it
One of the most important steps when laying out a strategy for assessing customer satisfaction is to understand what you are measuring. Several key performance indicators can contribute to a better picture of customer satisfaction.
One of the most important is first contact resolution (FCR). This indicates the percentage of calls in which an agent completely resolves a customer's issue without having to transfer them or call them back later.
Service level and average time in queue are two other metrics that can contribute to customer satisfaction. The first relates to the percentage of calls answered within a set time. The second is the flipside of this, looking at the average time that a caller waits in a queue before being dealt with by an agent.
This is linked to average abandonment rate, which is the percentage of customers that hang up before reaching an agent. Another, average handling time, looks at the time window between when the agent first answers the call, and when they disconnect.
Reading these metrics is more complex than it may appear at first. Many of them depend on each other to provide an overall means of measurement, but looking at an individual metric on its own can be misleading. For example, your average handle time may be stellar, but if that's because agents are accidentally hanging up on customers, then you have a problem.
Ask for feedback
Post-call surveys can be an auxiliary tool to help you deepen your understanding of the customer experience. These can be useful, because whereas analytics from incoming calls can give you a contact centre-centric view of the customer experience, surveys give you information straight from the source. They can help you differentiate between the perceived quality of experience that a customer is getting, versus their expectations.
These can be handled in several ways. Email surveys are useful because they give a customer the chance to complete a survey at their leisure. This can also be a drawback, because two things tend to happen as time unfolds after a customer call: firstly, the customer may begin to forget the details of the call, and how it was handled. Secondly, they may simply lose impetus to complete the survey, as other things get in the way.
The second option is an outbound call, which can be placed quickly after the customer session, and can even be handled directly by another agent rather than via an automated IVR system. However, these must be used judiciously, because they can be intrusive
Post-call IVR is a more immediate way to handle customer surveys. Customers can take these surveys quickly using the IVR system, as soon as the session is complete. It is important to streamline these to avoid making them too complex and time consuming, though.
Of course, contact centres are moving beyond mere phone calls today. With a variety of channels available to many customers, including SMS, social media, and web chat, customer satisfaction is becoming more complex to measure. How can we grapple with this extra information?
The savvy contact centre will see this as an opportunity, rather than a threat. The upside of all these channels is that they are quantifiable – even more so, perhaps, than traditional phone calls. Social media channels can be mined for clear feedback on how customers view the most recent experiences with the company. Digital communications channels such as SMS and web chat can be used to steer customers to online survey forms immediately after the event.
Take action based on what you find
None of this information will be of much use to accompany unless it is actioned. The most effective contact centre managers will use customer satisfaction data to make decisions that will help to refine customer experiences.
This can be done in various ways. Results can be fed back to agents, which can dramatically improve FCR counts. If very positive customer satisfaction data can be linked to particular agents, then contact centre managers may benefit from exploring how these agents' behaviour differs to others, and replicating it throughout the contact centre workforce.
This also feeds into agent engagement. The more satisfied agents are as employees of the company, the more likely they are to engage customers effectively and give them a good experience. Evaluating employees on knowledge, while also recognising performance in customer engagement, can go a long way towards improving the customer experience.
There may be a science to measuring customer satisfaction, but the rewards can be great. Stopping customers from leaving by understanding where to invest in contact centre improvements can save money in the long run. After all, it costs far more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Find out more about the digital customer experience from Orange Business Services.
Simon Tooley has over 30 years experience within the communications industry and is currently a Business Development Manager at Orange Business Services, predominantly within the Customer Experience domain of Orange Application for Business (OAB). He has worked at Orange for over 12 years in various roles as Senior Consultant, Sales Specialist and Business Development specifically focusing on Unified Communications, Customer Experience and Cloud services. He has worked for a number of other large Service Providers and Communication companies such as GEC, BT, Global Crossing (Level3), Energis as well as Tesco. Outside of work he enjoys travelling, dancing, hiking and sporting activities.