Contact centres are the public face of most business-to-consumer organisations. So how you run it can make all the difference between a customer telling all their friends how great your company is, or tweeting about your terrible levels of service.
It’s not surprising, then, that many companies are investigating how to balance the two priorities – some may say conflicting ones – of customer experience and business efficiency.
On the customer experience side, the simplistic solution is to employ more customer service staff, train them all to the max, and let them take as long as they need to answer customer queries. Sounds fine in principle, but just watch your costs soar, as more staff use their expensive training to take more time resolving fewer queries.
In contrast, on the efficiency side the temptation is to minimise your costs by constantly driving down average handling time (AHT) to unsustainable levels. But this just dooms customers to rushed, uncaring and unresolved conversations with staff.
The practical solution, of course, lies somewhere between these two extremes – but finding precisely where that balance lies is the trick. You need to find the optimum intersection between AHT targets, first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction (CSAT). The only way you can do that is by subtly changing the mix, and then constantly measuring the impact of your decisions.
That’s where satisfaction survey tools come in – dynamic, easy-to-use ways of measuring CSAT and FCR at agent-level and process-level. An ideal way to measure the impact of your investments in process-change and operational strategy.
But don’t forget, in these uncertain times you can’t afford to limit your attention to the humble telephone. What about your website, chat and social media channels? Channels that increasing numbers of customers are resorting to with their questions and complaints, or to make transactions? It’s just as important to design a satisfying experience for your digital customers as it is to ensure a smooth phone call.
Again, smart customer surveys and ways of measuring customer outcomes are the answer. You need to find out how positively or negatively customers rate their experiences and, by natural extension, their perceptions of your company as a whole.
Remember, knowledge is power, so if you need to know how happy your customers are – and, crucially, how you could make them even happier – don’t be afraid to ask them!