Customer service trumps call centre efficiency

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on April 2, 2010

Call centres that rate call efficiency over customer service do so at their peril, according to a survey by Panviva, which found that the call centre performance metrics currently used by many companies are skewed toward internal efficiency rather than customer service scores.

The survey of 54 contact centres found that, while internal efficiency measures were well monitored through multiple metrics, external effectiveness in terms of customer service received less attention. In particular, despite 65% of contact centre staff saying that that 'first call resolution' (FCR) is what customers want, only 35% both measure and then report the figure to their Board.

"Customers want to be connected quickly to an agent who is able to resolve their query right away," explained Oke Eleazu, vice president for the Institute of Customer Service (ICS). "Companies that want their contact centres to deliver a good customer experience must measure FCR rates, and those that do not measure it risk losing touch with customer perceptions and damaging their brands."

Although 81% of contact centres said they do ask their customers whether or not they are satisfied, Eleazu is convinced that this single question is much too broad a measurement, and that measuring the frequency of first contact resolution provides a much more measurable and relevant performance indicator.

"Measuring customer satisfaction is great, but many traditional measures are nebulous and imprecise and they can make it difficult to know what to focus improvement initiatives on," said Eleazu. "With FCR you have an actionable measure; you can work on people, processes and technologies to improve the situation, and you can quickly and accurately observe and report on the effectiveness of those actions."

But improving FCR is a challenging goal in its own right. As forward-thinking companies introduce self service solutions to help answer customers' simple questions, the queries that reach customer service representatives are naturally the more complex ones. But customers still want their queries answered appropriately in the first contact.

One solution suggested by Panviva is to implement a Business Process Guidance (BPG) system. "With contact centres consolidating, they require agents to have a broad knowledge base. But agents cannot be experts in every product and service and can sometimes struggle to resolve complex customer enquiries in the crucial first contact," explained David Frenkel, CEO for Panviva. "Agents need easy real time access to detailed knowledge, often hidden in existing system investments. In fact, what they need is a system that can steer them through that process."

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