By Tim Moynihan
Technical glitches, even minor ones, can have an enormous impact on customer experience. To illustrate this point, one major service provider that handles four million calls through its call center each month faced a Quality of Experience (QoE) nightmare when it realized that 19 percent of the call center’s calls – or 760,000 calls per month – were not utilizing the service provider’s IP backbone. Instead, the calls were going back out to the PSTN upon transfer. The result? Voice quality for these calls was so bad that customers were forced to hang up and call back.
Seven hundred and sixty thousand is a lot of frustrated customers in one month!
To address the problem, the service provider implemented an automated testing and measurement solution, which helped the company determine that the wrong routing rules were being used. Though the situation was resolved, it was not without ramifications to brand sentiment towards customer service. With proper testing and monitoring implemented from the start, these problems might have been preempted and avoided altogether.
Unfortunately, today’s contact centers are extremely complex, featuring multiple communication channels, self-service applications, routing schemes, agent groups, and vendor equipment. Often companies may not even know there is an issue until it has been reported by a customer. Frustrated customers today have no problem taking their business elsewhere, and they’re likely to tell others about their experience. A complaint that years ago would have been aired to a small circle of family and friends can now easily reach thousands (or maybe even millions) via social media.
To better understand customer experience, it is important to track certain key performance indicators (KPIs). By closely monitoring these KPIs in real-time, companies can spot service degradations and possibly preempt their impact on end users. Five important KPIs to watch are:
- Call Blockage Rate: Used by most contact centers today, the call blockage rate measures how well customers can access services. When solutions are not working properly or the contact center cannot handle the volume of customer inquiries, calls are not answered. A high blockage rate has an immediate and negative effect on customer satisfaction.
- Call Abandonment Rate: High abandonment rates indicate application problems, incorrect routing latencies in back-end communications, or inefficient management of customer service resources. These conditions result in frustrated customers who are unable to get their problems fixed in an efficient and timely manner.
- Voice Quality of Service: Poor voice quality reflects badly on any company. When customers and agents cannot understand each other and are forced to continuously repeat themselves, it also leads to an increase in call length. In extreme cases, customers will hang up and try again. Either way, these delays and wasted time can be expensive to both customer loyalty and overall cost per call.
- Repeat Calls: This is a measurement of how many times a customer contacts the company before his or her issue is corrected. A variety of technical issues can lead to higher repeat call rates, such as improper routing, long queue lines, and dropped calls. This KPI, known as First Call Resolution (FCR), also reflects how successfully agents are able to satisfy customers the first time.
- Mean Time to Diagnose: Pinpointing the cause of problems in today’s complex environments can be difficult. Decreasing the mean time to diagnose is essential for limiting the negative impact on customers. Additionally, it drives considerable cost savings for the organization, as support man-hours can add up quickly.
No one wants to lose a customer because of a technical glitch. Fortunately, a new breed of performance monitoring solutions has emerged that can provide an end-to-end view of KPI performance across the entire contact center. More than just tracking how well the bits and bytes are floating through the network, these tools assess application performance, service quality, system delays, and related factors in order to provide a true picture of customer experience. End-to-end performance monitoring simplifies KPI reporting and enables companies to more efficiently isolate, drill into, and diagnose issues, thereby reducing their negative impact.
In the end, customers do not care how hard it is to manage complex contact center environments. They just want great service whenever – and however – they contact you.
Tim Moynihan is vice president of marketing at Empirix.
[From Connection Magazine – June 2012]