Reality Of The Customer Experience
By Marlene Rosati, Eyretel Inc.
Contact center reporting has traditionally focused on simple measurements
of agent efficiency, such as talk times, wrap times and idle times. The data
to create these reports are easily accessible from ACDs and predictive
dialers, and although manually compiling the information and presenting it
in understandable reports can often be a tedious and labor-intensive
process, the easy access of the information has led call center management
to place a disproportionate value on these agent-centric efficiency reports.
Missing from this type of report is the effectiveness side of the equation,
which highlights both the customer-centric view of the overall customer
experience as well as integration of contact center efficiency with overall
Customer interaction analysis technology has evolved so that contact
centers can now run an operation that aligns its measurements with the
organization's business goals, focus on improving customers' experiences
and still keep productivity up and costs down. True ROI comes from
delivering the best customer experience possible with the ability to improve
all areas of the business based on sophisticated, closed-loop data capture,
and analysis from the gold mine of actionable information found in the
Measuring Effectiveness And Quality
At the most basic level, measuring efficiency is agent-centric and
delivers interaction optimization; measuring effectiveness is
customer-centric and delivers business optimization. In a world where costs
must be kept in check, too often productivity goals can get in the way of
efforts to optimize customers' experiences. When contact centers focus
only on agent-centric measurements, other indicators of business success
such as customer satisfaction and loyalty, or upsell success and closure
rates, might be ignored.
Business performance data are scattered across multiple systems within
the contact center. Because these data have traditionally been difficult to
collate, interdependencies among key metrics are not recognized, tracked or
managed. As a result, it is almost impossible to evaluate the real business
costs and benefits of decisions made within the contact center.
By correlating both hard and soft metrics, managers can identify which
agents are best at meeting quantitative goals and providing superior
customer service at the same time. For instance, by comparing talk time with
first call resolution, you can identify agents who excel at solving the
customer's problems in the briefest amount of time ' key candidates for
best practices modeling. At the same time, you can identify those agents who
take the most time to achieve call resolution and earmark them for more
training (see Figure 1).
Similarly, when a decision is made to increase productivity, it can often
adversely affect quality, as in the case of mandating a restriction on talk
times. One undesired effect would be a reduction in customer satisfaction,
but unless the contact center is measuring both, no one will recognize the
link. On the flip side, recording customer satisfaction surveys immediately
after a call is finished and including these scores on the agent's score
card gives a more exact overall picture of the agent's capabilities.
Measuring effectiveness and quality is just as important as measuring
efficiency and quantity. Business objectives should become the bottom line
in deciding who, what, where and when to measure, i.e., what key performance
indicators (KPIs) are important for the contact center. Then data capture,
consolidation, analysis and reporting can become a closed-loop process that
benefits everyone when the information is distributed to the entire
organization and the customers' experiences are improved.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The Who, What, Where And When Of
To ensure success, any performance management system must incorporate
metrics that are appropriate and relevant. These measures include subjective
metrics, such as evaluation scores and call outcomes, as well as more
traditional quantitative metrics such as call handling times and number of
transfers. Users can balance multiple objectives by understanding how
different metrics are interrelated. When monitoring KPIs, the effect of new
training programs, improved customer-facing processes and tailored product
offerings quickly becomes clear.
With the right KPIs and analysis technology, contact centers can
understand not only what happens in the call center, but also why it
happens. The ability to roll up, drill down or drill across data at any
level ' including listening to the actual call recordings underlying the
data ' gives an unparalleled opportunity to understand reality from the
customer's perspective. Detailed analysis can include drilling down
through different levels of the organization, across time for trend analysis
or comparing departments or product lines against each other. A data mart
that includes recorded customer interactions delivers a full understanding
of what is happening in the contact center and helps pinpoint the best
opportunities for management action.
A few examples of KPIs from different data sources that can provide
extremely useful information can be found above in Table 1.
|Talk time vs.
|ACD, predictive dialer and CRM/ desktop application
Use this KPI to determine
the relationship between talk time and call resolution. Resolution could
be a closed sale, a promise to pay (collections) or a completed work
ticket in a help desk or customer care environment. Benchmark those
agents with the lowest talk times and highest resolution rates. Record
these agents' calls for "best practices" training.
|Quality monitoring scores vs. customer satisfaction scores
||Quality monitoring application, customer satisfaction surveys
This KPI can help you
identify areas of subjectivity in your quality monitoring process. Use
it to identify supervisors that consistently score agent quality out of
alignment with customer feedback. Use the recorded calls to identify
training opportunities for agents and supervisors and to create more
objective scoring forms.
|Call resolution vs. agent pay
||ACD, CRM/desktop apps, payroll software
This KPI can help you
determine whether your best-paid agents are really your best performers.
Use this KPI to create incentive plans that balance tenure with
productivity and quality.
|Calls per hour
||Predictive dialer, ACD
Simply mandating agents
handle more calls within each hour may reduce revenue results or
customer satisfaction, so the goal for this KPI should be to balance
productivity (number of calls) with quality (accomplishing objectives).
Current Technology For Complex Data Analysis
Traditional query and reporting tools tell only a part of the story and
cannot achieve sophisticated analysis. New central performance management
systems can integrate data from different sources and incorporate metrics
that are directly relevant to key business objectives. These systems can
then distribute the critical business intelligence captured by the contact
center to all areas of the organization.
Until now, contact center managers have spent precious time each week
compiling performance statistics rather than coaching agents. Today's
technology eliminates the need to manually gather performance data, instead
providing on-demand or on-schedule data import from identified sources,
without any human interaction. Performance management systems allow for
different KPI configurations and goals for different workgroups or contact
center divisions, enabling everyone to be measured using the right metrics
and goals. Score cards provide a clear summary of performance in relation to
When researching a performance management system, be sure it can:
- Provide KPIs that reflect the needs and goals of the business,
- Share information quickly and cost-effectively across the entire
- Use score cards to provide an intuitive summary of performance,
- Identify performance against user-defined goals,
- Drill down through the data to uncover what happens in the contact
center and then drill across to understand why it happens, and
- Link recorded calls directly to performance statistics.
Contact Center Analytics Benefit The Entire Organization
The potential of the information gathered in the contact center is
extraordinary. Are there business processes that limit agents' ability to
provide customers with superior service? Are there technology issues that
result in long idle times between calls? Are there training needs that, if
met, could boost quality across large groups of agents? This information
exists within the contact center and analysis identifies where and how to
improve business processes, enhance the quality of the customer experience
and impact the bottom line.
Executives can better understand why customers choose to leave the
company, product managers can listen to actual customer opinions about their
product, win-back teams can become more effective and trainers can build
their programs based on real interactions between agents and customers.
Causes of variations in customer satisfaction and customer retention rates
can be better understood.
Departmental managers in sales, marketing and finance can see the impact
of new programs, campaigns and trend performance. Recorded customer feedback
can provide the development team with important information for future
When agents can see individual, team and corporate performance against
goals, they are more likely to perceive their roles as a critical component
to the organization's success.
Contact centers no longer need to be perceived as a back room where money
flows out and nothing of value comes in. They contain a gold mine of
insights into the organization and its customers' experiences with the
company, and by acting on those insights, the contact center can be
transformed from a cost center into a value center.
Marlene Rosati is director of marketing for Eyretel Inc., a provider
of voice and data recording, quality monitoring and analysis systems
designed to support and enhance customer experience management (CEM).
To The May 2002 Table Of Contents ]
Quality Monitoring The
By Oscar A. Alban, Witness
As call centers have evolved into multi-media contact centers, companies
have invested a wealth of time, resources and dollars building a true
multichannel business strategy. The ability to achieve consistently high
service standards across these media ' including the telephone, Web chat
and e-mail ' has led organizations to rethink the training as well as the
processes they have put in place to equip their staff for success. Now,
however, a powerful, around-the-clock, easy-to-access channel is taking
companies to a new level in the world of e-business. As a service channel,
the Web has been in place for some time in the majority of organizations,
but has never been fully leveraged for its ability to cut costs, increase
revenue and serve as a one-stop-shop. It's one that many have been forced
to avoid while focusing on other evolving channels such as chat and e-mail.
However, it holds great opportunities for those who can use it to their
sales, marketing and service advantage ' especially in the areas of
increased revenue and reduced costs. Web self-service continues to emerge as
the most cost-effective customer touch point available today, averaging
$0.35 per contact.
Today, more and more customers want to 'help themselves' to research
and gather information, find answers to their questions and purchase goods
and services. Increased traffic to this channel has caught most
organizations' attention as customers flock to the Web to 'serve
themselves.' As a growing phenomenon, the Web holds enormous
opportunities. In fact, analysts predict the number of individuals seeking
online customer service will more than double, approaching 70 million, by
Quality Monitoring At The Next Level
In essence, organizations must embrace the concept of 'many channels,
one customer.' Consumers have a choice in how they wish to do business and
companies must be prepared to meet their expectations. This need is already
realized by many forward-thinking organizations. In fact, a recent Yankee
Group study indicated that companies consider the deployment of Web-based
self-service options a crucial priority in their future customer care plans.
The report cited 47 percent of contact center managers ranked Web
self-service as their top budget priority in 2002.
Due to increased competition and the fact that consumers can easily click
a competitor's Web site to fulfill their needs, companies must place a
renewed focus on the power of the Web. Consumer push, along with the
competitive nature of business, has made it an imperative for organizations
to have a Web presence ' and a strong one at that. For some, the pressures
to implement a site quickly have overshadowed taking the time to really
think out their e-business goals and the measurements necessary to ensure
those lofty metrics were achieved. What for some may have started out as
having a simple online presence has now evolved into a source that is
expected to house vast loads of consumer information, service options and
sales capabilities. Not all companies are using this powerful resource to
its fullest potential ' and many don't even know how to implement needed
change. Most don't have an understanding of how their site is perceived
and used by consumers ' the true influencers that can drive their revenue
and significantly lower their costs by simply 'serving themselves.'
Those in call centers have faced this challenge in the past and many have
successfully countered it by implementing a quality monitoring program to
evaluate not only agent performance ' the ability to meet customer needs,
demonstrate product/service knowledge and upsell/cross-sell to drive revenue
' but also to gauge the impact and effectiveness of the business processes
that have been set up, and how well their technology resources, such as
their CRM system, are being utilized. Capturing and analyzing actual
customer interactions has proven its value in the contact center. Now,
companies are seeking to extend that very same success to the Web.
While Web initiatives have historically been a function of the IT and
marketing departments, increasingly, contact centers are taking the lead in
managing the self-service revenue channel to ensure the Web serves as a
profitable, consistent service media. Typically, calls initiated through
toll-free numbers and Web-based 'contact me' requests are routed to the
contact center, making it the logical choice for management of this touch
point. Who better knows the answers to consumers' most frequently asked
questions than those fielding the customer requests directly? This alone
makes those in the contact center the best-equipped resources to help
companies determine what FAQs in scripts, as well as on the Web, should look
like. By applying the call center quality monitoring principles to a Web
environment, companies can extend consistency and quality of service to all
channels. Just as with telephone calls, organizations can now use advanced
technology to capture and review samples of actual customer experiences to
identify clear steps for improving Web effectiveness. Taking the guesswork
out of how visitors interact on a site, companies can improve service
through better self-help, as well as focus on keeping site design and
performance on track.
Capturing samples of customers navigating the Web and then graphically
replaying them can proactively identify and enhance the customer
self-service experience. Using quality monitoring and its key functionality,
such as advanced 'business rules' recording, companies can predetermine
the types of contacts they wish to capture on their sites, and then measure
how well they're performing against customer and business-focused goals,
as well as consistency standards. In some cases, that may be recording all
interactions that result in the sale of a new product or particular
campaign. In others, a company may wish to capture all contacts that result
in the selection of the 'call me' button ' an action that is defined
by consumers' frustration and driven by the inability to find the
information they need ' or the point at which a consumer abandons his or
her loaded shopping cart. In this instance, however, the price of the once
cost-effective self-service interaction has now skyrocketed to the most
costly medium: communication with a live agent by telephone. Moving forward,
companies can avoid this scenario by simply capturing samples of what their
visitors are trying to achieve, and then taking the actions needed in
advance to ensure potential obstacles, roadblocks and difficulties are
Quality monitoring for Web self-service is designed to help eliminate the
speculation around what consumers are trying to do by showing how they're
actually doing it. With a view of how visitors interact with a site, contact
center and enterprise management can find out firsthand:
- How well customers navigated the site,
- What information they were looking for and how easy it was to find,
- Whether the site housed the right content in the right place,
- How easy it was to receive service, locate/update information, fill
out an application or make a payment,
- How well the checkout process worked,
- When, where and why error messages occurred, as well as broken Web
- What actions led consumers to abandon their shopping carts, and
- What sequence of events led them to click the 'call me' button, in
lieu of continuing to serve themselves.
Eliminating Web Self-Service Speculation
Companies engaged in e-business initiatives already have access to Web
metrics that provide quantitative assessments for measuring Web
effectiveness, such as the number of clicks a site receives. However, to
truly enhance the customer experience and ensure the Web is an easy-to-use,
profitable medium, companies need much more analysis. What pages did
customers visit? What information were they looking for? Which products did
they select? In what order did all of these movements on the Web take place?
Did their Web user experiences flow well from a design, content and
navigation perspective? Is this channel proving to be a profitable medium
for the organization, as well as an easy medium for consumers to track
information, receive service assistance and purchase products? All of this
information serves as a form of intelligence that helps an organization
react in a positive manner to consumers' buying patterns. Existing
software provides little perspective into visitor intent, end user behavior
and visual flow ' which is where Web self-service monitoring really comes
Clickstream analysis through Web tools offers some basic and important
reporting. It does not, however, get to the heart of the customer's
experience. Web activity statistics and the ability to drill down and replay
a visitor's experience offer two different sets of data and insight. By
monitoring a company's Web site and storing recorded samples of visitors'
sessions, contact center management can gain perspective into the content,
navigation, purchasing and IT requirements needed to ensure a successful
customer experience. Coupled with advanced monitoring technology that
enables the contact center to share this insight with other departments in
the organization, the contact center can work in tandem with IT, marketing,
product development and engineering, for example, to make necessary
adjustments, as well as enable them to see customer experiences firsthand.
Measuring self-service effectiveness helps companies eliminate the
speculation surrounding what their customers are trying to accomplish.
Companies need a targeted solution for evaluating Web site customer
satisfaction, a critical component of Web site effectiveness. Recorded
customer interactions can reveal consumer intentions as they show what
visitors were trying to do when they called the telephone number provided,
selected the 'call me' button, initiated a Web chat, sent an e-mail or
abandoned a shopping cart. As Web initiatives evolve, measurements must
follow suit to include qualitative assessments pinpointing the customer
experience. This evolution intersects quantitative data with observed user
behavior gathered through qualitative means.
In addition to meeting customer needs on the Web, companies stand to
benefit significantly from an effective site and e-business strategy. Moving
potential telephone calls to Web self-service results in an average savings
of $5 per contact when compared to telephone contacts. Web self-service
interactions average about $0.35 per contact, whereas a call to a live agent
averages $5.50, with the range spanning to up to $40 per call.
For consumers who can't find what they need when serving themselves
online, the result to a company can be damaging, equating to lost revenue.
Worse yet, customers could become so frustrated that they opt to have their
sales/service needs handled through another vendor's site or center. In
the end, Web-based customer self-service offers tremendous potential for
companies to build customer satisfaction.
In an age when the competition is only a click away, the time to start
taking action to implement and improve self-service channels into the
customer service function is now. Capturing real-life Web visitor scenarios
can not only strengthen the end user experience by fine-tuning site design,
navigation, content and ease-of use, it also can drive company revenue,
decrease operational costs and heighten customer loyalty and repeat
business. To have an effective, efficient and, above all, user-friendly
encounter is unique ' but very attainable.
Oscar A. Alban serves as principal, market consultant for Witness Systems, a global provider of
multimedia customer interaction recording, performance analysis and
e-learning management software that enables companies to optimize their
To The May 2002 Table Of Contents ]