Imagine if you’re a student and you’re in a class that has no rubric. Your assignments aren’t given any grade throughout the entire semester. And then, on the last day of class, you’re suddenly given a grade — D. I’m sorry… HOW did I get a D?!
You went through the entire semester thinking you were hunky-dory and then got a low letter grade! That wouldn’t be fair. How do you know how you’re performing unless you have some kind of measurement.
Now, think of what this could look like in your workplace. You’re doing your job, thinking everything is great. Then, you get pulled into a meeting and confronted with a laundry list of things you’re doing wrong. Where did this come from?
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We all like to know how we’re measuring up – in fact, knowing expectations (and how we’re tracking toward them) is critical to our performance at work. We like to know how we’re doing compared to our co-workers, so we can see where we can perform better. But, we can’t know how we compare without some kind of standard — a grade scale, a rubric, a metric.
Setting a Standard
Metrics in the workplace are incredibly helpful. They set a score, using data, to help us understand how our day-to-day actions affect the rest of company operations. They allow us to set goals and track them as we go. According to Gallup’s Re-Engineering Performance Management research, measurement is a positive pillar for developing employees. It holds them accountable and helps you give good, specific recognition.
Gallup also found employees who think their manager holds them accountable for performance are 2.5x more likely to be engaged in their job. And, employees who feel recognized are half as likely as those who don’t to say they’ll quit in the next year.
Metrics motivate, create feedback channels, and provide employees with clarity in their work.
But, with the internal benefits, how do you know your metrics lead to better customer outcomes? How can you tell if you’re setting the right goals and performing competitively for your customers?
Getting benchmark data for your own contact center, then working to improve against those metrics, is crucial to better serving customers. But, it’s important to keep your direct competition in mind when looking at call center metrics & industry standards, too. If a customer can call your competitor and get help from a live agent in 30 seconds, but it takes your team five minutes to answer a call, who do you think the customer will prefer?
So, how do you, as a contact center team, measure up to the rest of your industry?
Let’s take a look at three popular contact center metrics to see how we can answer some of these questions.
Industry Standards: How do you Stack Up Against Your Peers?
1. Customer Satisfaction
What’s more important than keeping your customers satisfied? When customer satisfaction is poor, sales and revenue suffer, too. Your job leading the frontline is to keep customers happy and encourage loyalty (along with 237 other tasks). But, with customer expectations shifting each year, the demand to keep up only grows.
“Customers are smarter than ever, as they understand what good – even great – customer service looks and feels like. They no longer compare you to a competitor, but to the best experience they have had with anyone. Brands that deliver an excellent service experience set the bar higher for everyone.”– Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert
Customers are raising expectations for quality service. In fact, up to 88% of customer service professionals say customers have higher expectations than in the past. As your competitors shift to reach customer expectations, they pull the bar higher for the rest of customer service teams in their call center metrics & industry standards.
But as companies try to keep up with the rising expectations, most still fall short.
Overall U.S. customer satisfaction is declining, falling to a score of 75.7 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index at the end of 2019. How do you match up? Are you giving C-grade customer service? And if so, how can you boost happiness?
How to Boost your CSAT Score:
First, get together with every department that serves your customer journey and ID where pain points live for your customers. This lightens the burden often placed solely on your team for keeping customers happy. If customers hold onto bitterness from the sales process, sometimes there’s little to nothing your team can do to regain that trust. Work with other teams to be proactive and address known gaps ahead of time.
Within your team, find areas where you’re dropping the ball. Invest in agents who need more training. Are they up-to-speed on product and service changes? Do they need coaching on de-escalating tough conversations with customers? Or, maybe your service lacks a personal touch.
Find ways to improve your customer journey — whether through automation, smoother omnichannel support, or a better IVR. Wherever you can, get ahead of your customers’ expectations.
Check out our step-by-step 90-day plan to boost your contact center’s CSAT scores so you can exceed the industry standard.
2. First Contact Resolution
We’ve all been there: on hold with a customer service line for an hour, passed from one department to the next, describing your problem over and over, wondering if anyone will actually help you.
People are impatient when they want help. It doesn’t matter if they’re calling their bank, cable company, or service desk. They want a resolution to their problem or an answer to their question, right then and there! First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a metric directly linked to your customer satisfaction scores. It measures the percentage of customer inquiries resolved in a single interaction with your company. For example, if you resolve a customer inquiry in a single chat, phone conversation, or email ticket, your FCR rate increases.
Call Centre Helper says generally, the industry benchmark for FCR is between 70 and 75%. Although, due to the varying channels used by different teams, it can be tricky to identify a single percentage. Regardless, working to improve FCR means improving CSAT, too.
How to Boost your First Contact Resolution Rate:
Your FCR score relies heavily on your agents’ product and service knowledge and how empowered they feel. How can you make it easier for agents to answer customers in one interaction? Provide your agents with the tools, information and empowerment to do what it takes.
If you don’t have a coaching program in place with your agents, start here. Give your team feedback, encourage questions, and learn to help them better. Establish times for learning and development regularly (like in 1:1s), so your agents are up-to-date on product education and professional development.
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Often, FCR slips through the cracks when the first person to pick up the phone or respond to the email isn’t the best person for the job. Connect customers to the most appropriate agent using skills-based routing in your contact center. This IDs customer problems and passes them through to the most appropriate agent.
Maybe your customer has a question about billing. Skills-based routing sends them directly to the billing department, or the agent who is in charge of helping with payment. Through better routing for your customer inquiries, you help reduce escalations and transfers needed to handle a customer’s query.
When you grant your agents the tools they need to succeed, they’ll be more empowered to help customers without giving customers the run-around.
3. Wait Time
I’ll be honest. I’ve never wanted to have to reach out to customer service. It’s merely another task on the to-do list so I make sure I get that refund, or report that one bug to fix. For most consumers out there, the moment they realize they can’t fix an issue on their own is a moment of dread. Why?
Historically, the most frustrating aspect of dealing with customer service is that it’s time-consuming. In fact, there’s even a website dedicated to housing complaints about long hold times and poor customer service. Most of these complaints and reviews are about being left on hold for as long as 3 to 4 hours! (Hint: putting customers on hold for that long shouldn’t be in your call center metrics & industry standards playbook).
Want to care for your customers better and see better satisfaction scores? Help your customers efficiently. Don’t leave emails unanswered for several hours or days. Don’t allow agents to avoid calls, leaving a running queue of inquiries.
That’s a pretty impressive industry standard to take into account. Customers want a response in under five minutes (and in only seconds for live chat). And, that time will only decrease as we see more automation and self-service tools.
It’s worth considering that, as bots and AI take care of simpler inquiries faster, your agents will be freed up to handle more complex problems with your customers. This may mean that your AHT, or Average Handle Time, actually increases. Your agents will be empowered to put the necessary time to handle problems in just one interaction, instead of feeling the pressure to race the clock.
How to Decrease Long Wait Times:
Provide agents with the best tools to help ease the burden of a long call queue. Some of the primary ways you can decrease long wait times is with simplified tools, well-crafted self-service portals, and a contact center platform that gives agents what they need, in one place.
Watch Now: High-quality omnichannel service can make all the difference in long wait times for your customers. Find out how you can improve your customer and agent experience through omnichannel systems.
Sit down with your team and review processes. Where are they slowed down? Are the transitions between channels clunky? Maybe your knowledge base is outdated and therefore, not very useful to your agents or your customers. How integrated is your CRM into your contact center platform? Perhaps your agents waste time digging up customer information.
Any process or tech that limits your agents leaves customers waiting somewhere down the line. Invest in your agents and tools, so your team can work with greater efficiency.
Knowing How you Measure up
Tracking how you compare to your peers in the industry gives you a template to craft new goals for your team. Metrics in your call center help you set guidelines for each agent’s performance. Improve overall agent and customer experiences by setting reasonable wins for your team. Use your industry standards as a rubric to map out success this year.