Call centre to experience centre – where to start

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The first stage of the process to turn a contact centre into an experience centre is to understand the ‘status quo’—where the operation is now relative to the customer’s expectations and brand perceptions. Many contact centres remain focused on pure efficiency with key performance indicators like Cost Per Contact (CPC). Some have evolved to include effectiveness metrics that include metrics around sales and First Contact Resolution.

The goal is not to replace those important areas of focus but instead to build on them—to take efficiency and effectiveness to the next level by focusing on delivering customer experiences that drive real customer value. When we think about gathering customer experience insights in the contact centre, we need to look at the operational efficiency, the performance effectiveness and the customer experience relative to the brand purpose and the brand promise. If your organisation has a contact centre, it should be at the heart of delivering a branded customer experience across channels.

To take the initial ‘insights step’, the brand must first be modelled to understand how customers perceive the brand and what they expect from it. The customers’ brand perceptions can then be viewed in comparison to how the business thinks the brand is perceived—because the two are not always the same.

There is no point in attempting to turn a contact centre into an experience centre if the customers’ expectations of the brand are very different from how the business thinks the brand should be perceived. This first step is both essential and critical. It requires very careful research that includes internal focus groups, customer surveys, customer focus groups, etc.

The efficiency analysis is particularly critical because many contact centres resource the operation based on traditional Erlang C models. The Erlang C model is not inherently inaccurate, but it does drive behaviours that stifle customer experience. Contact centres, especially those with Workforce Management (WFM) systems, tend to reduce their human resources to the absolute minimum required, based on the various mathematical models limiting the opportunities for engagement activities, in-contact experience development, etc.

If agents are over-occupied, they can’t engage themselves in creating a memorable experience. Over time this overoccupancy will lead to emotional burn-out and the unintended consequence of trying to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible to meet performance targets regardless of whether the customer’s question has been answered.

On the other hand, if people are under-occupied then the business is wasting resources and the agents will have low energy and productivity levels. So, efficiency insights are about ensuring that the operation is adequately resourced, that operational metrics are brand -and experience- aligned, and that staff have adequate opportunity to deliver the desired experience without wasting resources. It is, in effect, an experiential model that sits on top of the traditional Erlang C-type models.

The effectiveness analysis looks at the impact of the operation on customers and on the business. Customer feedback, NPS data, CSAT scores, along with employee satisfaction results and business impact results such as sales, retention and advocacy, are all considered and evaluated. Perhaps the most important part of the effectiveness audit is the customer interaction quality evaluation. This is where customer interactions are analysed in great detail and the results are regressed against customer behaviours to identify the attributes of those interactions that have the biggest impact on future customer behaviours (such as advocacy, retention and sales).

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