In the earliest decades of the contact center, “metrics” were pretty basic. Average handle time stood as the all-important measure of success or failure, and even that took some effort to track. PSTN calls – which were about 90 percent of customer support – were reasonably difficult to obtain, and usually required the intervention of the IT department or even the telecom provider. At the time, nobody even bothered to ask whether average handle time was a good measure of success: after all, it only measures how long agents are on the phone, not how well the customer interaction turned out or how happy or unhappy the customer was when he hung up.
Today, thanks to more modern contact center solutions, cloud and hosted delivery and digital “dashboards” for supervisors and managers, companies have far more information – most of it in real time – to help them calculate metrics. Not only that, contact centers looking for improved quality can break away from the rigid average handle time model and actually track some metrics that measure the quality of customer support.
A recent blog post by customer support software solutions provider Team Support (News - Alert) outlines some of these twenty-first century metrics for better customer support. These include first response time, or how much time elapses between the moment your customers reach out to when they are first helped; overall problem resolution time, or how long the entire transaction (including multiple contacts, if necessary) takes to resolve; and abandonment rates, or customers who give up before they are even helped by a service agent.
“The amount of time that elapses between the moments your customers reach out to when they are first helped needs to be as low as possible,” wrote Team Support. “Customers don't like waiting for a solution to their problems because it usually means putting whatever they're doing on hold.”
They also don’t like being transferred, told to call another number or assured that “someone will get back to them” only to have to call back again because no one ever followed up. Metrics need to be more than hard numbers regarding transaction times and durations: they also need to ensure they are measuring calls and other contacts that were successfully resolved, and able to flag transactions that were not. Abandon rates are the most alarming numbers to see spike: it means customers don’t care enough to try to get in touch anymore and are almost certainly taking their business elsewhere.
“Abandonment rates are often linked to long first response times. When you track this metric, you can see at what point in the process customers decide to end communication,” wrote Team Support, which emphasized that by studying where abandonment typically happens, companies can quickly identify their worse process roadblocks.
According to Amar Zagorica writing for Buffer App, tracking the right metrics provides a view of customer satisfaction with support that is honest and free of any influencers. By using the metrics that measure quality rather than quantity, companies can be sure they are operating the contact center for the benefits of their customers and not the convenience of managers, agents or executives.
Edited by Maurice Nagle