“Customer experience is the next competitive battleground,” says Jerry Gregoire, former Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Dell Computer Corporation.
Your competitors may copy your products. And they may beat you on price. But a better customer experience is hard to mimic. Delivering an outstanding customer experience is the way to acquire and keep customers, and grow your business.
If improving your customer experience is a top priority for your contact center, then you need to get a handle on your customer experience metrics. These metrics are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that tell you how loyal or how satisfied your customers are with your brand.
The most popular customer experience metrics are Net Promoter Score®, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Effort Score. Use these four steps to make your customer experience metrics boost your call center’s performance.
Step 1: Use customer journey maps to visualize your customers’ experience
One of the quickest ways to improve your customers’ experience is to start seeing your brand from their point of view. Put yourself in your customers’ slippers, and see your business from their perspective.
One way to gain this new perspective is by creating customer journey maps. Customer journey maps, also called user journey maps, visually depict your customers’ interactions with your brand. These maps typically begin with their call to your contact center and end with their issue being resolved.
Customer journey maps are a vital tool for contact centers because they help you take a strategic approach to better understanding your caller’s expectations — and how well you meet them. These maps are crucial for optimizing your call center customers’ experience.
A typical call center customer journey map for a technical support call will include these steps:
- Customer contacts call center
- Customer is greeted by IVR
- Customer supplies reason for call
- IVR routes caller to appropriate agent
- Agent uses questions to diagnose customer’s issue
- Agent resolves customer issue or escalates it to next tier
- Call ends
As you can imagine, there are all sorts of questions you should ask about each step your callers take along this simplified customer journey. For example, how long is the wait time? How much information does your IVR ask the caller to supply? How informed is the agent who handles the call? Does the agent invite the caller to answer a survey? How does the caller feel after the interaction?
This mapping exercise helps your call center develop a deeper understanding of the multiple steps your customers take when reaching out to you to buy a product, pay a bill, upgrade a service or resolve an issue. It helps you spot gaps, uncover weaknesses, and see where you need to improve your processes.
Customer journey maps ensure that your call center takes the right steps each time to resolve issues and deliver the best customer experience you can. They help you optimize the complete customer journey from beginning through purchase and retention.
Step 2: Align key metrics to each stage of the customer journey
After you have mapped out your customer’s journey, assign metrics to each stage of the journey. Measure your success at helping callers with each stage of the journey, as well as moving to the next stage efficiently, and ultimately reaching their “destination,” whether that is a sale or a resolution to their issue.
Each stage of the customer journey has its own unique metrics. Key metrics to assign to the start of the journey are Speed of Answer and Time in Queue. Further along the journey, you’ll want to measure Handle Time and Call Transfer Rates.
Toward the end of the journey, you need to measure First Call Resolution Rates and Abandon Rates. And, finally, once your callers have completed their journey, you should measure Customer Satisfaction, typically presented as a score.
Once you have assigned these key metrics along the customer journey, start monitoring and analyzing them.
If your Speed of Answer times are unacceptably long, you may have a problem with call routing, scheduling or training. If your Call Transfer Rates are too high, you may need to examine alternatives to live calls, such as automation and self-service options. You may even need to improve agent training or tweak your internal processes.
Step 3: Understand the metrics that measure customer experience
Yes, customer experience is something you can measure. You can’t measure it with quite the same level of specificity as you can when measuring abandonment rates and average wait times, but you can nevertheless measure how satisfied your customers are with the level of service you deliver at your contact center.
The three most common customer satisfaction metrics are Net Promoter Score®, Customer Satisfaction Score and Customer Effort Score.
Net Promoter Score
Net Promoter Score, or NPS, measures customer experience and predicts business growth. This proven metric transformed the business world globally and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs.
You calculate your Net Promoter Score by asking callers a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” You invite callers to give their answer as a number from zero to 10, with zero being least likely to recommend and 10 being most likely.
The Net Promoter Score assigns callers into one of three buckets:
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fueling growth.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth by spreading negative word-of-mouth.
Subtracting your contact center’s percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).
Customer Satisfaction Score
The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) indicates a customer’s level of satisfaction with your call center’s service. It typically measures a customer’s satisfaction with a particular product, transaction or interaction.
Customer Satisfaction Scores are expressed as a percentage. You calculate this score by dividing the total number of positive responses by the total number of responses, and multiplying by 100. This results in your CSAT percent.
For example, if your contact center has 749 positive responses out of a total of 948 responses, your CSAT score is 79%. In other words, 79% of your callers are satisfied with their experience with your call center.
Customer Effort Score
Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer experience metric that indicates how easy it is for customers to do business with your brand. It is typically calculated with a CES survey conducted after a call, and is expressed as a score from one to five. A score of one is low effort, while a score of five is high effort.
Your CES survey asks callers to rate your call center on how much effort it takes to complete a transaction, resolve a support issue, or otherwise interact with your company.
An interaction with a score of four or higher is considered high effort. In other words, the customer says dealing with your business requires them to jump through hoops to reach a resolution. Issues that generate high effort scores include:
- Customers being transferred to multiple departments to resolve an issue
- Customers needing to make multiple contacts to your call center
- Customers having to switch from email to phone and finally to social media before getting their issue resolved
Step 4: Measure the impact of customer behavior on business KPIs, outcomes and revenue
The fourth and final step in using customer experience metrics to boost your call center’s performance is to step back far enough from the trees to see the forest. You must take your eyes off individual metrics and KPIs to see how your customer experience metrics are harming or helping your business goals, business outcomes and profitability.
For example, if you look carefully enough, you will likely find a correlation between low First Call Resolution rates, poor Customer Service Scores, and high Customer Churn Rates (not to mention high Agent Attrition Rates).
In the area of customer experience metrics and measurement, you soon discover that a customer’s experience at each step on their journey affects how far they get on that journey, and affects how they feel when they finally reach their destination.
Since the goal of your business is to acquire and retain loyal customers, and to generate an acceptable profit each year, you must always look at your customer experience metrics as a means to an end, and never as an end in themselves.
You measure Speed of Answer and Call Transfer Rates and Customer Satisfaction not to fill an empty cell in a quarterly spreadsheet, but to move your business ahead in revenue and profitability, one customer — and one call — at a time.
If Jerry Gregoire of Dell is correct, that is, if customer experience is the next competitive battleground, then you need some ammunition in your arsenal. That ammunition is call center metrics that tell you how loyal or satisfied your customers are with your brand.
Start by creating customer journey maps that visualize the customer experience. Then, align your key metrics to each stage of the customer journey. Next, understand the metrics that measure customer experience. Finally, measure the impact of customer behavior on business KPIs, outcomes and revenue. You will boost your customer experience and improve your call center’s performance at the same time.
That’s what victory looks like.