It is really a question of metrics — ask your customers, they will tell you…
Who better to ask for insights about customer service than your own customers? These are the people in the trenches, the ones with the hard problems, and they are in the business of customer service after all, right? That is exactly what KANA did; asked our customers what matters to them. The results are consistent with other research, which is good as consistency is important (yes, the customers did say that as well). This quick post is not going to dive into all of the data, rather pick out some of the highlights and even some of the surprises. Actually let’s start there, with a surprise.
“Hurry up and get off of the phone, but make sure that you solve the problem on the first contact” To me that is like telling my teenage son to make sure the dinner dishes are squeaky clean, but they need to be done in 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Uh, mixed message maybe? I suppose there is an angle that says you can get things done quickly and make sure they are done right. But, unless all of the tools are in place the two are more often at odds than synergistic. We did hear this from KANA customers, Average Handle Time is a significant measure of the success customer service experiences. But, First Call Resolution is a very significant measure. This is a tough one to reconcile, I think we have some work to do here. The good news is that there are efficiency gains on the back end which can help. My question to you, does this finding surprise you?
In the end, it is about Customer Satisfaction
The message we received loud and clear is that the Customer Service Metric that is most important (had the most responses with “Very Significant”) is Customer Satisfaction. This aligns well with some earlier research that we conducted about 10 months ago. That is not to say this is necessarily the best metric, slight caution is advised (more on that in a moment). When asked what were the benefits received, increased customer satisfaction (24%) and meeting customer expectations (14%) are the top two answers.
When we conducted the research with independent firm thinkJar, principal Esteban Kolsky had this to say:
“I am certain that this is based on commonly held beliefs that meeting customers’ expectations, and increasing their satisfaction, are what drives customer retention; a myth that is being dismissed by recent research but as we can see, still being held as true.” It does not seem that Esteban is convinced of the importance of Customer Satisfaction. I do believe that satisfied customers are important, whether it directly ties to loyalty is debatable, and I am not sure we will come to resolution in one quick post.
If you consider another voice, Kate Leggett chimes in on choosing the right metrics:
“So where should you begin when choosing metrics? It’s best to start by understanding the value proposition of your company. For example, do you compete on customer experience, where satisfaction measures are of primary importance, or do you compete on cost, where efficiency and productivity measures are most important?
Once you understand your value proposition, choose the high-level KPIs that support your company’s objectives. These metrics are the ones that you will report to executive management and include overall cost, revenue, compliance, and satisfaction scores. Next, choose the operational metrics for your organization that link to each of these KPIs and support your brand. For example, if you compete on cost, handle time and speed of answer will become your primary metrics. However, if you are focused on maximizing customer lifetime value, first contact resolution will rise to the top.”
So, this from one customer seems to be a good approach to the problem, I like it!
“…the more we digitize the experience, the more we lose our personalized service. What’s really important to us as we implement this new technology is to figure out how to personalize the experience without that human interaction. We’re still trying to figure that out.” VP Customer Service Telecommunications Carrier
All organizations must make decisions to implement based on a balance between creating a winning situation for their own interests and benefits (whether financially biased by career and job preservation or pressured by perform by metrics driven by strategic goals) and a vested interest in serving customers and giving them value in exchange for remaining or becoming clients. It is within this goal of delivering a new channel while generating a win for both camps that most decisions are made.