The Contact Center Balancing Act: Customer Satisfaction or Profitability
April 14, 2011
By Linda Dobel
, TMCnet Contributor
Ask yourself a critical question: What is more important to my business, customer satisfaction or the bottom line? Like most businesspeople, your answer is probably something along the lines of, “They’re equally important. One cannot exist without the other.”
And so it goes. Having a healthy bottom line ensures that your business continues to exist to serve customers and keeping your customers happy ensures that your business continues to exist. Balance, therefore, is obviously what’s needed. Performance metrics, which measure a business’s activities and subsequent performance, can help achieve that balance.
According to Wikipedia, “Developing performance metrics usually follows a process of:
- Establishing critical processes/customer requirements,
- Developing measures,
- Establishing targets which the results can be scored against.”
Using contact center tools and technologies, five core contact center performance metrics can be adjusted to meet the balance between customer satisfaction and profitability.
- Abandonment Rate: A good place to start is with abandonment rate. How long can your callers stand being left in queue before they decide to hang up, maybe call the competition instead? Queue management will go a long way to help you keep abandonment rates down. Skills-based routing in addition to queue management will do an even better job of ensuring that callers reach the appropriate agent, thus increasing the likelihood of sales to keep the bottom line strong.
- Average Speed of Answer (ASA): You’ve established that reducing abandonment rate is key to sustained profitability, so to add more armor to your arsenal, consider how your IVR contributes to your average speed of answer metrics. Combined with queue management and skills-based routing, a simplified IVR will facilitate quicker answer times.
- Re-evaluate Your IVR Strategy: Not only does a simplified IVR aid ASA, it will also increase customer satisfaction. Consider issues such as, Can your callers opt out to speak with an agent at any time? Are you overloading your callers with too much information with the IVR application? Does your IVR application make your callers feel like they are trapped in a maze? All of these factors contribute to call abandonment and lost revenue.
- Average Handling Time (AHT): It stands to reason that the less time agents take to handle each customer issue, the more callers they can attend to. This is where contact center technology shines. By utilizing an integrated, on-demand CRM application, for example, AHT can dramatically improve. Its screen-pop functionality alone will make your agents more knowledgeable, more professional and more productive while simultaneously kicking up customer satisfaction. Another way to improve AHT is to use call recording as an aid in training to demonstrate areas where call handling can be more productive.
- First Call Resolution (FCR): Now that you have shored up the issues of call abandon, ASA and AHT, its time to make sure that once the agent and caller are connected the caller’s reason for calling is addressed and resolved on that call. Your CRM application along with training can assist with this metric. And achieving first call resolution cuts your costs in half every time it happens.
Taken together all of these steps and the appropriate technologies can transform your business’s customer relation management from one of “either or” or to one that is balanced and provides top-notch customer satisfaction and a strong bottom line. Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Chris DiMarco