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Customer Contact Centers: Three Current Trends

Big Data Calls for Big JudgmentEach year CEB Customer Contact releases updated cost, quality and productivity benchmarks (for CEB Customer Contact members).  Collected from hundreds of contact centers around the globe, nearly 80 benchmarks span everything from cost per contact to occupancy rates to first contact resolution rates by channel.

Many members use the benchmarking portal to compare their metrics to others, prioritize projects and investments, insert ready-made data points into presentations.

We track internal data on which benchmarks get the most click and, in the first month, the top five most clicked on benchmarks have been, in order of popularity:

  1. Total Cost Per Live Contact
  2. Customer Effort Score for Phone Channel
  3. Talk Time
  4. Total Cost Per Call
  5. First Contact Resolution Rate for Phone Channel

What the List Means

This list highlights some interesting trends about the state of the customer contact function.

  1. Efficiency and productivity are still top of mind: Three of the five top metrics focus on major cost drivers – total cost per live contact (includes phone, web chat and e-mail), talk time (a major component of a live phone contact) and total cost per call.  It’s clear that many service leaders want to see how their costs compare to gauge the opportunity to reduce cost per contact. While service organizations should maximize efficiencies when possible, we warn against doing so without the long view in mind.  Shortening talk time but inadvertently reducing first contact resolution rates will both increase costs and lead to more customer frustration and churn.

    We’ve discovered many successful companies are increasingly de-emphasizing adherence-based metrics like Average Handle Time among their frontline – instead focusing on quality-based goals like issue resolution or customer effort (that also serve to keep costs in check).

  2. Customer effort is on the rise: As the second most clicked on metric, all indication is that many service leaders now measure effort (as reducing customer effort is the most valuable thing the service organization can do) and want to compare their results to their peers.

    A poll we ran a couple of years ago said that 61% of the membership measured effort in some form, with another 24% saying they planned to start measuring effort within the year – so customer effort measurement is certainly popular.  Check out our updated Customer Effort Score findings if you are currently or considering measuring effort in your own organization.

  3. The phone channel rules: The two quality-based metrics on this list – Customer Effort Score and First Contact Resolution – are for the phone channel. Often the channel that gets the lion’s share of service leader’s focus, and it’s interesting that leaders track both the more objective side of the experience (so, did you get your issue resolved without having to re-contact the company) and the more subjective side (and, how much effort was it for you to get resolution).

    Phone continues to comprise the bulk of your contact volume – and we’ve uncovered the rep skills required to improve both issue resolution and customer effort – but don’t forget about the rising self-service channels.  Especially web self-service as it’s increasingly the first port of call for many customers – and a chance to resolve issues at a lower cost to the company and with lower effort for the customer.

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