CX Insight Magazine

July 2022

The Changing Face of Contact Center KPIs

Exploring new ways to better highlight the efficiency of operations

by Execs In The Know

Running a contact center successfully requires knowing where you stand against performance targets. How else would you know where you are winning and where you are losing? Great customer experience (CX) leaders know that key performance indicators (KPIs) run the world at work! We need them to keep score! Leaders have many metrics that serve as KPIs to provide critical insights to operations. We always want to get better, so we need to know and understand our current performance as well as our strengths and opportunities. Many of the standard metrics focus on cost, productivity, quality — all highlighting the efficiency of operations.

Although cost-focused metrics are important, many companies now see brand representation and revenue generation — instead of or in addition to cost reduction — as part of the contact center mission. Many believe in CX as the great differentiator, and effectiveness metrics that are more focused on overall experience and revenue generation have moved to the forefront for some leading brands.

In addition, dramatic shifts in the way we work, as well as changing customer expectations, are causing leaders to take a hard look at KPIs and measure success in new and/or expanded ways. Employee experience (EX) is center stage, and measuring how employees feel is more important than ever. Let’s examine some emerging metrics and get you thinking about your scorecard to ensure it is aligned with your CX mission and leading trends for both customers and employees. Although these may not be new metrics, they are measures that are gaining relevance and popularity in today’s environment.

Trending Customer Metrics

Customer metrics can help us understand our performance from the outside in. These measures reveal how customers perceive their experience and can offer insight into their future intentions. Customer feedback is a gift that often shines a light on the path to improvement. In addition to understanding how customers feel about their experience, many organizations are looking at the success of these interactions in a timelier manner.

Let’s consider resolution and satisfaction. Forrester predicts that “contact centers with a myopic goal of cost reduction risk high turnover, demoralized agents, and poor customer interactions.” They see a shift from agent-owned efficiency metrics to a focus on resolution and customer satisfaction. CX leaders that incentivize agents to pay more attention to effectiveness measures often see an increase in these important customer metrics. Looking at how well customer issues are resolved in combination with how satisfied customers are is a great overall indicator of customer success, and should be more widely adopted.

Another important and often underused metric is customer effort score. Measuring how easy or difficult getting an issue resolved or a question answered is gaining popularity on contact center scorecards. Gartner believes that “customer effort is the strongest driver of customer loyalty — or disloyalty.” Although increasing loyalty is a good thing, perhaps a bigger opportunity is keeping customers from becoming disloyal. Many believe effort is an indicator of a customer’s future actions, and tracking this metric can lead to increased spend. When combined with other KPIs, such as repeat contacts and transfers, organizations can identify high-effort journeys and take steps to improve these experiences.

Technology is also helping organizations uncover journeys that are less than satisfying to customers, and real-time sentiment analysis and response is a great example of this. Companies are using artificial intelligence-based tools to measure the emotional journey in real-time, identifying and extracting subjective information from calls, chats, and social channels to flag poor interactions and offer on-the-spot responses. After pinpointing the exact issue, these tools can offer ways to improve the interaction, either from the customer’s perspective, the agent’s perspective, or both. For example, when a customer has an angry voice tone, the tool can detect it and offer the agent anger-diffusion techniques in real time to change the trajectory of the interaction. Sharing this insight with agents and prompting them with ways to capitalize on the positive and right the negative can improve the CX.

Enhancing Employee Metrics

Speaking of employees, several newer metrics that help improve the employee experience are gaining traction on scorecards. Employee KPIs are equally as important to the business and should be considered, particularly in light of the challenging labor market and staffing obstacles. These KPIs can help make agents happier and stabilize turnover, which is perhaps the biggest threat to many contact centers.

Much like customer effort, employee effort is an important metric to track, understand, and act on. This measure is a customized metric that complements the customer effort score. It measures how difficult it is for employees to conduct key tasks related to doing their jobs well, particularly tasks that are performed again and again. Tracking employee effort can reveal opportunities to improve process, training, and/or technology. This measure can be an excellent indicator of employee satisfaction and loyalty, which may be more important than ever in the current environment.

Akin to the customer sentiment metric but pointed inward, real-time sentiment analysis and response for employees is increasingly important. Technology can also measure how agents feel during contacts. When showing signs of frustration, anger, or uncertainty, a trigger alerts supervisors to intervene with motivation or help for the agent. Imagine the impact of a real-time support network for agents, as well as customers interacting with the employee in need.

Another metric that is increasingly pointed inward is Net Promoter Score (NPS), called eNPS for employees. Like its customer equivalent, this metric measures likelihood to recommend. One school of thought is to keep it sharp with the standard NPS question customized for employees: “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or family as a place to work?” Many believe the classic “likelihood to recommend” question is the best predictor of retention. But, according to Bain, a second question can yield even more information as the best predictor of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. The second question is typically a variant: “Please indicate your level of agreement with the statement, ‘My job inspires me‘.” With so much pressure on employee experience and retention, this metric is one to strongly consider adding to your scorecard.

Finally, as organizations look for additional ways to grow the business and generate new revenue, contact centers are an important part of that strategy. To measure the effectiveness of this, revenue per interaction is a key metric that aligns with the revenue-generating function. This KPI attaches a quantifiable measure to employee behavior of selling during a contact. It can be tracked at the center, team, and individual levels with ample opportunities for gamification and incentives, making it doubly rewarding for the agents.

Updating your scorecard

Our dynamic environment should prompt you to take a fresh look at your KPIs. CX leaders need to realize the importance of adopting metrics that measure progress toward delivering on the strategic mission. Is your organization tracking metrics that help you understand if interactions are effective at bringing the brand promise to life, humanizing interactions, increasing revenue, and improving employee experience and retention? If not, spend some time determining how you can change this.

And don’t be intimidated by the prospect of change. When looking to revamp KPIs, many organizations struggle with having perfect data and reporting capabilities. But starting with what you have and working toward the ideal should be a considered path. Create a team to help define the calculation and reporting based on what’s available as a starting point. Then identify ways to work toward a refined calculation over time. Starting with what you have is a good start!

Tracking CX and EX metrics is the best way to understand how your operations are performing and where there is a need for focused improvement, particularly when you create a balanced scorecard of efficiency and effectiveness measures. The world has changed dramatically, as have customer, employee, and business expectations. Taking the time to educate yourself, analyze existing KPIs, and look for opportunities to add metrics that paint a more well-rounded picture of operations is time well spent. A refreshed suite of KPIs can help modernize your operations and offer more value to the business, while also improving the experience of your customers and employees.


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