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Top Metrics To Benchmark Customer Contact Success in 2021

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Brooke Lynch

Contact center news, customer experience, CX trends, call center challenges

As we’ve adopted a new digital reality, customer behavior and expectations have seen a noticeable shift. The way we measure an exceptional experience today is vastly different than what we envisioned 10 years ago. 

With this, it becomes necessary to consistently reassess our established metrics to understand what an excellent customer experience currently looks like. By identifying these key determinants, we can successfully deliver quality interactions to promote loyal brand advocates.

CCW Digital’s latest Market Study highlights these new benchmarks for customer contact performance and outlines leading metrics top companies are focusing on to improve their customer experience in 2021.

However, before specifying which indicators led the category, it’s important to recognize the underlying significance of these performance metrics to indicate what matters most to an organization. CCW Digital Principal Analyst Brian Cantor notes that metrics establish the culture and mindset of an operation. They symbolize more than an objective grade or rank, and they should not be reduced to reflect the overall success of a customer service team. 

Additionally, prioritizing conventional efficiency metrics may not always equate to success in the eye of the customer.  While there will always be operational value in measurements like average handle time, they need to be strengthened by more qualitative measurements to uncover a greater picture of the overall brand experience. By expanding our view of critical metrics, we can gain a more granular view of the customer journey and optimize agent performance.


Benchmarking Success In 2021

CCW research found that an overwhelming majority of companies ranked first contact resolution and customer satisfaction as the most important metrics to their organization. These indicators were of the highest concern for 75% of contact centers.

Analyst Brian Cantor notes that these statistics reflect the dual efficiency and effectiveness of the first contact resolution measurement. However, he notes that CSAT may not directly indicate efficiency, but rather the scope of a contact center’s overall strengths and weaknesses. With this, he furthers his argument by stating that a low CSAT score may infer a quality concern, but an excellent score does not redeem a company of any quality problems.

His point is interesting because many assume a high level of customer satisfaction should be more than enough cause for celebration. However, just because the customer feels fulfilled overall, does not mean their end-to-end journey was flawless. This is where companies must recognize the limits of certain metrics, and avoid casting them as the only indicator of success.

Although they were not the principal metrics, other top measurements included time to resolution at 53%, customer effort at 47%, and customer retention rates tied with 47%.

Least Valuable Metrics

On the opposite spectrum, the metrics with the least support included call deflection, downtime, and transfer rate.

While they did still receive some approval, it’s interesting that a value like call deflection would be ignored. With digital now pushing business models and companies seeing consistently high call volumes, one would think this measurement would be a contributing factor in establishing efficiency. Additionally, to further this argument, Brian Cantor notes that CCW’s Digital’s Future of the Contact Center study ranked digital optimization as a top priority. 

Because it does not assess the content of the conversation between agent and customer, downtime may not seem like the most exciting metric in the “era of customer centricity.” It does, however, have ample relevance amid the rise of remote work. At-home agents do not necessarily use the same equipment or have access to the same caliber of Internet, which means the risk of outages and reliability issues are greater than ever. And insofar as customers think less of brands when they encounter frequent outages and gaps in service, the cost of not measuring (and alleviating) connection issues can be significant.

Further, new research found that customers are highly skeptical about companies utilizing ‘unusually high call volume’ messaging during periods of heightened demand. If customers cannot access an agent, for any reason, it can be damaging to a brand’s overall reputation. And while it may be unavoidable at times, it’s still a metric companies should evaluate when considering their overall customer sentiment and brand perception.

Lastly, we know transfer rates are entirely valuable and work to identify glaring pain points in the customer journey -- so it seems surprising that this metric isn’t currently prioritized. Brian Cantor notes that CCW Digital’s Consumer Preferences Survey identified “multiple transfers” as one of the most common and problematic experiential pain points. Additionally, with the current focus on implementing a truly omnichannel experience, it’s interesting that this metric is underutilized. It represents a productive counterpart to better understand scores like customer effort by unpacking the source of a frustrating and complex interaction.

However, while these scores did not receive top marks -- they still work to paint a larger picture of the overall customer experience. By incorporating a wide range of critical metrics, companies can begin to optimize their end-to-end customer journey.

To learn more about new metrics in the contact center, check out CCW Digital’s latest Market Study New Benchmarks For Customer Contact Performance.