Prioritizing customer satisfaction starts with your call center and ends with higher revenue for your entire organization. Turns out, more than two-thirds of companies with growing revenue prioritize customer satisfaction, compared to only 49% of companies with stagnant or decreasing revenue.
But how do you know what takes top priority when it comes to improving customer satisfaction? These days, customers seem to want it all. They want fast service. And they want accurate service, too. They want answers to their problems now, but they also want jovial agents who know how to talk small.
Just last week, I had an agent tell me about her puppy who’s currently in his rebellious teenage years. I could tell she had a grin from ear to ear while talking about it, and it made me smile. Oh, and she also promptly solved my problem. That’s the kind of service modern customers expect every time.
So how can you possibly deliver on it? After all, most agents don’t have a cute puppy to soften the blow of a customer problem.
Turns out, what you measure in your contact center has the power to change your customer outcomes. The first step to improving something is to measure it. Focusing on metrics that impact your customer satisfaction in the biggest ways helps you find gaps and pains in your customer journey, so you can fix them.
5 Metrics to Understand then Improve Customer Satisfaction for Better ROI
1. Customer Effort Score
Last week our sales and marketing team had a chat with a team member from Centricity, one of our clients here at Sharpen. He sees the contact center moving from a transactional department to one that’s solutions-oriented and insight-driven. And to reach that next milestone in customer experience, Centricity is laser-focused on customer effort. They’re trying to understand how much effort their customers put in to solve a problem. And, they’re nailing down the tools they can use to better understand, then improve that level of effort.
Because customer effort predicts customer loyalty. Customers who have to put in a ton of effort, like repeating their issue over and over or reaching out three times for help, are the quickest to churn. In fact, 96% of customers have churned after a high-effort experience with a company.
Measuring CES helps you keep a watch on this dangerous trend. Often, it’s measured with a single question in a customer survey: “How easy was it for you to resolve your problem today?” You offer a scale from 1-10 for customers to rank the ease of their experience. Then, based on the surveys, you calculate an average “effort” score.
But truth be told, surveys alone can give you a narrow view of your customer experience. It’s easy for customers to be a bit dishonest, and it’s even easier to opt-out and not share feedback at all. So, in addition to asking your customers directly, dig into your behavioral data, too. Look at other metrics like your hold times, handle times, and active contact resolution to see how much time customers spend trying to solve a problem. And, keep a close eye on what metrics are indicators of customer churn. Does missing the mark on certain customer satisfaction metrics create more churn? And does hitting those metrics eliminate it? Dig into the behaviors of your customers to learn where they’re putting in the most effort in their journey (and how that effort impacts loyalty).
3. Transfer Rate
Transferring a customer to another department, agent, or supervisor is one of the top issues plaguing your customers’ satisfaction. That’s right. Customers cited a lack of agent empowerment as one of their main sources of customer rage in 2020. When an agent has to pass off interactions because they aren’t informed or don’t have the power to help, your customers’ satisfaction suffers.
Transfer rate not only signals issues for your customers but for your agents, too. When agents don’t feel empowered to help customers, it’s the biggest detractor from their experience at work. A high escalation rate tells you that your agents are missing the training or autonomy to problem-solve for customers without leadership intervention.
What’s more? This lack of empowerment often signals larger issues in your contact center that are sure to drive customer satisfaction (then ROI) down. About one-third of your time is consumed by handling escalations when agents transfer an interaction up the line. Wasting that kind of time, time that would be much better spent coaching your team and strategizing for a better CX, drains your contact center’s earning potential. And losing out on key revenue diminishes the returns your execs see on your contact center. Watch metrics like transfer rate so you can identify important gaps in your customer experience, then patch them for higher satisfaction.
Ask these 5 questions to understand how transfer rate impacts customer satisfaction:
- Did the customer reach out to the wrong department?
- Do my customers have clear instructions to reach out to my service team for help?
- Do my agents feel like they can offer unique solutions to customers even if I haven’t documented how to handle every customer question?
- Can my team solve issues without reaching out for my approval?
- Do my agents have access to the customer history and data they need to solve problems?
3. Active Contact Resolution
If a customer has to take time out of their day to contact your team, they want a solution. Yesterday. And every time a customer follows up on that issue, happiness falls off a cliff. In fact, there’s a 1:1 correlation between CSAT and First Call Resolution. For every 1% jump in FCR, there’s a 1% hike in CSAT that follows.
Historically, contact centers have viewed FCR from the customer’s perspective – measuring how many times a customer has to reach back out for help. But we advocate for a new spin on FCR, called Active Contact Resolution. ACR measures the percentage of your agent’s interactions that don’t require a customer to call back within a given time frame, like one, two or three days.
It measures each agent’s ability to solve the problem during their own interaction rather than gauging performance on the customers’ interaction history talking to a bunch of other agents.
Measure ACR in your contact center to get insights into customer satisfaction and customer effort. Keeping a watch on this KPI lets you understand customer behavior, and it also has concurrent benefits, too.
When you measure ACR, you get the insight you need to improve it. You learn where your team needs extra coaching and training to solve problems the first time around. You learn where you need to share more information with your team. And, you learn when you need to clarify instructions and resolutions for your customers.
All of this leg work will ultimately lower your interaction volume – keeping customers from reaching out a dozen times on the same issue. Lower interaction volumes mean fewer agent hours required, and higher returns that you can invest back into your customer experience.
4. Employee Well-Being
Some 80% of customers say your agents have the biggest impact on the customer experience – citing factors like knowledgeable, friendly, and fast help as top priorities during their customer journey. If your agents aren’t happy, your customers won’t be either.
Turns out, engaged employees are more productive, less stressed, and have lower turnover than employees who aren’t engaged at work. Keeping a pulse on agent engagement and your team’s overall well-being lets you ID ways to improve the agent experience (so they can improve your customer experience).
When you measure your agent’s well-being (then fix it), your customers and your bottom line see the benefit. Companies who work to actively engage employees have customer loyalty rates 233% higher than those who don’t.
Ask yourself these 4 questions to keep a pulse on employee well-being:
- How efficient, effective, and empowered are your agents?
- Are they engaged with their work?
- How satisfied are they in their roles?
- Are they empowered to hand out unique resolutions to customers?
Have regular 1:1 conversations on how agents feel about their roles, their peers, and their relationship with you. Then, dive deeper and talk about each agent’s growth and development, too. Statistics show a lack of growth leads to burnout and pushes your agents out the door. That brings expensive agent turnover costs and means your customers get less-seasoned help. It’s a losing situation all around.
5. Customer Lifetime Value
This is one of those metrics that doesn’t tell you about your customer satisfaction directly but rather explains the business benefits of happy customers. Customer Lifetime Value quantifies why keeping customers happy long-term is so important.
Happy customers have a lifetime value nearly 10x that of a one-time customer. Calculating this value helps your agents better understand how they impact the larger goals of your company: revenue growth. And, it gives your Ops leaders a picture of how the contact center adds even more value to the entire organization.
It can be a doozy to calculate, but here’s the basic equation.
Once you understand the impact of loyal customers, you can build a business plan to keep customers happy and invest in your customer experience. CLV helps you prioritize service in your organization and gives your execs a clear picture of the value your contact center delivers.