There’s no doubt that consistent and impressive customer experience provides a competitive advantage and improves customer loyalty.
And the key to impressive customer experience? Achieving satisfactory resolution on the first contact. Here’s how:
- Contact centre agents have the training and skill set to assist the customer immediately
- The customer is not transferred to someone else, forcing them to repeat the validation process or their issue again
- Agents have instant access to relevant customer data and internal knowledge bases so the customer is not kept waiting while they flounder to find the right information
“Sounds fine in theory,” we hear you say, “but surely this must be challenging to implement, would blow out average call time and increase operational costs?”
Fortunately, not. A recent study has found that good customer service doesn’t necessarily drive up costs.
How a bank reduced costs by improving customer service
Gallup, the global performance-management group, spent two years working with a major bank in Mexico. What it found was that the workgroups with the highest customer service scores had a lower average call handle time and higher first-call resolution rate than other groups.
Within the top performing groups, the length of the average call dropped 6.1% and first-call resolution rates increased by nearly 13% compared to other lower performing workgroups.
While shorter calls save on labour costs, taking more time with callers to ensure first-call resolution reduced the number of return calls to the contact centre, saving on overall operating costs.
The metrics that matter
In most Contact Centres, the metrics that usually receive the most scrutiny are those relating to costs; average handling time, adherence to schedule, service level / response time, etc. While these are very important, it can also be argued that shifting the focus to customer-based metrics has a positive effect on cost containment. Here’s why.
- Asking call centre employees to focus on increasing customer satisfaction may not only encourage them to provide exceptional customer service but also motivate them to solve customers’ problems during the first call, thus reducing the overall number of calls.
- Achieving first time resolution can reduce overall labour costs by 30%, based on the premise that 30% of calls are repeat calls.
- There is a strong correlation between Customer Experience Index (CXi) and loyalty, which means that companies with higher CXi scores tend to have more customers who will buy from them again, who won’t take their business elsewhere, and who will recommend them to a friend (Forrester, 2013).
- Forrester calculates that a 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in revenue.
3 key things you can do to provide consistently better customer service
1. Empower your team to resolve common issues
Successful resolution can sometimes depend on a team member’s decision ability, i.e.: the level at which they are empowered to take action on behalf of the customer, without the need to confer with a supervisor.
Keep in mind, however, that ensuring team members have some decision-making power requires more than a workflow process. It requires provision of procedures that they can access quickly, and training so that they know the scope and limits.
Regular review of common customer questions and requirements would be the starting point for developing a procedure knowledge base.
2. Reduce quality performance variances
Consistency of quality performance is important when it comes to delivering customer experience. You are only as good as your last contact.
It doesn’t matter that a customer was ecstatic with the experience and result during the first three calls, if the fourth contact was stressful and left them frustrated. That’s what they’ll remember, and possibly even broadcast on social media.
As more and more organisations experiment with offshoring to reduce costs, consistency is more important than ever.
Maintaining consistency involves setting standards, monitoring call recordings and wrap results, providing procedural guidelines, and delivering ongoing training. If management proactively encourages consistent quality, then team members will focus on it.
3. Give your team the right tools
Providing Contact Centre teams with technology that makes every interaction easier not only improves productivity, but has a big impact on customer satisfaction because calls are handled with a lot more efficiency.
- IVR can speed up call routing and the caller validation process.
- Unified desktops integrated with your back-end systems can simplify and accelerate the display of customer data and procedures.
- Multi-channel functionality can keep customers engaged via text and email while on the call.
The right technology is integral to improving and delivering consistent, quality customer experience.
Shifting the strategic and operational focus away from cost containment, to becoming totally committed to building a customer centric organisation, has the paradoxical effect of actually improving revenue, and reducing costs.
Customer churn rates reduce, repeat and referral business improves, and staff turnover declines through increased job satisfaction.
We believe these are the KPIs you need to monitor most closely, and recognise.