Contact Center Strategies, Part 3: Quality and Performance Management

Most consumers intuitively recognize the value in a great customer experience. They want to interact with brands that deliver it, and they recommend those brands to their friends and family.

ContactBabel’s new study, “The US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide 2016,” addresses how customer satisfaction has evolved in recent years to become the No. 1 indicator of success for contact centers. As such, improving this metric should be a part of your contact center strategy for 2017, along with other items, some of which I’ve already covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

The study states that customer satisfaction consistently ranks even more important than increasing revenues or decreasing costs. Historically, though, contact center success was measured more in terms of efficiency, e.g., call throughput, average handle time, calls per hour and the like. Part of a stellar customer experience still hinges on that metric, especially as it applies to the amount of time customers spend in the queue, and whether inquiries are addressed by Communicators quickly and decisively.

Nowadays, this applies equally to any telephony or Web-based self-service, or other pre-call activity such as customer authentication.

Forty-two percent of ContactBabel survey respondents gave customer satisfaction top billing when asked which areas of their contact center they consider most in need of improvement. Yet, 30 percent selected productivity and efficiency as a priority. Unfortunately, this indicates that the years and dollars that the contact center industry has invested in cutting unnecessary costs and time to serve customers has not paid off substantially.

So, what are the next steps contact center decision makers can take to work out quality and performance issues that still exist?

First of all, know that the study reveals that most respondents feel that their contact center quality assurance (QA) is very effective in terms of Communicator performance, with only 10 percent saying it is ineffective. Yet, across the nine QA areas, including providing customer insight for other areas within the organization and driving customer experience improvements, results were lukewarm. As such, ContactBabel concludes that QA is currently used far more effectively as a tool for Communicator productivity and skill than as a driver for strategic business improvements. In other words, there is a major disconnect between correlating QA with customer feedback.

The greatest challenge to managing performance and quality is reported to be caused by insufficient time to analyze and use data, with 83 percent of respondents calling it a problem in some form and 37 percent labeling it a major problem. This was particularly relevant for medium to large operations. The second-greatest challenge was identified as a lack of skilled personnel to both coach/train and to get the most out of the QA solution.

This suggests that a greater level of automated analysis and insight is required from quality and performance solutions. E-learning could also help relieve the strain on resources produced by traditional forms of one-to-one and/or mass coaching.

Here are some additional steps, as I promised above, to help your contact center thrive in the age of the customer:

Implement multidisciplinary customer experience strategies: Transform operations to deliver high-value, personalized experiences. Customers will reward companies that anticipate their individual needs and turn away from those that require them to repeat basic information at every touchpoint.

Operate at the speed of disruptors: Accept that disruption is now normal and will accelerate going forward. Invest in a culture that will fuel a more agile market response. Leadership structures may need to change to win in a customer-led, digital space.

Become technology-savvy: Organizations that develop digital expertise—not just a digital façade—will differentiate themselves from less-savvy rivals. Plus, focus on big data and analytics as a competitive asset to help you deliver personalized services across all digital channels.

The more you obsess about quality and performance improvements that lead to greater customer satisfaction, and the faster you respond to market disruptions, the better off you’ll be in 2017 and beyond.