What Metrics Are You Using for Multichannel Support?

Businesses need to determine whether the call center metrics they use still fit the multichannel customer service model.

By Faith Ocampo

Multichannel customer support is no longer a trend. It has become the standard. By opening up multiple channels, most, if not all, businesses have widened the scope of the user experience they offer. Thus, the ways consumers interact with companies have become varied, unpredictable, and complex. And so has performance measurement.

The key performance indicators that worked for voice-only call centers, such as average handle time and first contact resolution, may not apply to multichannel services. These traditional metrics have a narrow, one-dimensional focus that are not able to encapsulate the dynamism of a multichannel contact center. If we continue using them, an accurate measure of success is unattainable.

Several factors must be considered in evaluating the customer experience across platforms. On a micro level, what are the specific standards of good customer service on social media? On email? On live chat? And on a macro level, how do we weave together several tools and assess whether they are operating harmoniously?

Three broad contact center metrics are necessary in measuring the quality of multichannel services: productivity, avoidable contacts, and seamless service.

Productivity: Whether in a uni-channel or multichannel center, agent productivity has always been an important metric. In the latter, however, there’s a more complex twist involved because agents must handle several customer support tools at once. Perhaps they switch back and forth between two chat windows and an email-based transaction. This leads to higher productivity, but managers must watch out for inefficient work distribution.

For instance, if agents are responding to Facebook comments, can they still be tasked with email transactions? It may be possible because a little delay in email replies is acceptable while social media comments require a much faster response. But what about agents who are engaged in a voice call? Will they still be expected to handle another channel?

Multichannel call centers need a robust, productivity-oriented routing system to maximize the individual performance of agents without compromising the quality of their work.

Avoidable Contact: This is largely similar to first-contact resolution. The only difference is that, in a multichannel contact center, a company’s capacity to solve problems is ideally made more powerful by several customer support tools. However, if there are too many repeat issues or, worse, repeat contacts, then something is wrong. It’s either a sign agents are not making the most of the platforms available or there’s a mismatch between the nature of the customers’ problem and the channel being using to solve it.

Agents must know when to transfer a transaction to another channel – considering the devices the customer owns and the type of issue to be addressed. For example, live chat is suitable for simple queries, but email is best for sending files such as product manuals. These must be considered when trying get to the core of a complaint.

Measuring avoidable contacts can identify training and resource needs as well as gaps in agent skills, which leads to enhancing the customer experience. Also, a contact center database that outlines the standard responses to common types of queries can be built by identifying the pain points in problem resolution.

Seamless Service: The result is often the most important component of performance measurement. Companies are going multichannel to provide a positive experience that satisfies the expectations of modern customers. This means the quality of customer support depends upon speed and smooth transitions between devices.

Therefore, aside from sufficient staffing and an organized transaction routing system, businesses must offer all possible means of customer service. Allowing customers to decide how they want to solve the issues they experience is the best gift they could get from companies. This is where self-service comes in.

Although there is a heated debate about its impact on human-mediated services, self-service is well loved by many customers. Those who are always on the go and have highly inconsistent schedules usually don’t find time to connect with customer service representatives. They appreciate knowing there is a do-it-yourself platform ready for them anytime. But like all other channels, this also requires evaluation. Measurement may be done through pop-up surveys, email, SMS outreach, or face-to-face interviews.

From these three broad call center metrics, you can identify the ones that are more specific to your business. You may even come up with your own key performance indicators, depending on your customer support goals and branding. Just remember the most important principle in delivering multichannel services: the customer experience must always be your highest priority.

Faith Ocampo is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything to do with digimarketing, technology, and social media. You may see her work at www.openaccessbpo.com, or follow her on www.facebook.com/faith.cmp for updates.

[From Connection MagazineJuly/August 2016]