In my past 30 years in the contact center industry at organizations such as 8×8, Genesys, IBM, and RingCentral, I’ve watched the same movie over and over and over again. Too many contact centers are laboring under the tyranny of being a cost center with schizophrenic goals of making customers happy while “doing more with less.”
This incessant focus on cost savings leads to a reliance on KPIs that oversteer on automation rates and average handle time (AHT), making contact centers “break bad” (for lack of a better term). You get what you measure, and all too often, we measure the wrong things.
For example, Cigna measured its reps on AHT and aggressively worked to drive handle times down. The result?
The costs of customer callbacks and increased agent recruitment and onboarding are much higher than any savings gained through shorter calls. All of that is before you get to the costs of the significant impact on customer satisfaction that these issues will surely drive. Companies that are too focused on expense management and that don’t invest in the customer experience are going to find themselves falling ever further behind their competition, with poor customer outcomes and expensive rework and recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, companies are increasing their investments in customer service; in fact, 66% of service providers report that clients are pausing or cutting down investments toward marketing, demand generation, and advertising, while 62% of their clients are growing their investments toward customer service. Without the right approach, many of these investments will fail over the long run.
This is not a technology change
More and more, customer relationships are the key competitive battleground, and poor customer experience (CX) can quickly damage your brand's reputation. Once customers are disappointed with a brand, only 18% will keep their business with the brand, and only 15% will recommend the brand to friends and family.
The path to differentiating customer experiences is not some massive digital transformation. The path to transformative customer engagement is a series of small, cost-effective steps that add to a significantly better customer experience, each with its solid ROI and benefit to the bottom line.
Contact centers need to look beyond narrow KPIs related to cost containment and take a broad look at the economics of running the contact center.
We all owe it to our customers, organizations, and ourselves to look at contact centers through the right lens to provide the best, most cost-effective service.
The original article by Max Ball, principal analyst at Forrester, is here.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/BrianAJackson