By Anna Convery
In the eyes of the c-level enterprise executive, contact centers and customer service operations are increasingly more strategic areas for driving revenue performance and increasing the maximum lifetime value of the customer. Enterprises place greater emphasis on building world-class customer experience and companies also evaluate how to measure success and differentiate themselves from competitors.
As technology continues to drive these businesses, many companies explore ways to get ahead of customer expectations and use technology to analyze customer interactions as a means to adapt their people, processes, and technology to proactively change the way their customers interact with their companies. Others continue to rely more on traditional metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) and other contact center statistics like average handle time, first call resolution, and average speed of answer, to measure customer sentiment or service levels.
Driving Customer Experience Impact
What is your customer experience game plan? Are your executives leading the way with enterprise-wide initiatives focused on improving customer experience and driving growth in contact center revenue generation? How can business intelligence (BI) impact your company’s customer experience? Here are a few points of insight to consider when applying BI that drives customer experience impact.
If you’re tasked with building or overhauling your customer experience program, it’s critical to make sure that everyone within your organization is on the same page. Customer experience can mean many different things to different people, so it’s critical to establish a baseline understanding and agreement. This also helps establish expectations and open lines of communication that reach beyond the contact center.
Customer experience is an aggregation of all of the service interactions and transactions that a consumer has with a company that provides goods or services. It is a continuum that begins at the point of vendor-customer attraction—advertising, attainment—and matures as the consumer interacts with the vendor throughout the lifecycle of the relationship.
Today’s enterprises are evolving their businesses at record speed as technology creates a vast network of connected, tech-savvy consumers with high expectations for service. Because technology affords the consumer with a “shop from anyone, anywhere, and in any way that you desire”mindset, it’s challenging to acquire, attain, and grow the customer base by price or promotion alone. Today’s companies understand the need to differentiate their service experience to drive greater customer loyalty and increase average revenue per customer.
Every transaction and interaction is a critical point on the customer journey. In today’s omni-channel world, this can mean contacting a vendor or service provider using a mobile application, Web self-service portal, online chat, email, or telephone. Regardless of the channel, today’s organizations must have an understanding of how a customer is interacting, what channels they are using, and how successful the outcome.
Just as the customer experience definition has morphed over the years, so have the methods to measure service experiences. Early customer satisfaction metrics were gathered via printed surveys, then email surveys, interactive voice response (IVR) surveys, and now mobile surveys. There is also a tremendous amount of research related to customer satisfaction studies and metrics that help organizations understand more about their customers and the factors that influence purchases. Organizations today can use any combination of metrics to measure customer experience. While many companies still hold fast to the more traditional contact center metrics, others have transitioned to net promoter scores (NPS) as the de facto standard for measuring customer sentiment.
CSAT covers a broad spectrum of data points, but typically this information is collected via post-call, email, or Web-based surveys. These surveys are intended to capture a customer’s level of satisfaction with regard to their service experience or interaction. The customer rates their satisfaction level on a scale—typically three to five points—from Very Satisfied, the highest score; to Very Dissatisfied, the lowest score.
One downfall to CSAT measurement is that those customers who fall within the middle range of the scale—Somewhat Satisfied or Somewhat Dissatisfied—often don’t complete surveys. This means data can be skewed by the extreme ends of the scale—and only those who are highly satisfied or highly dissatisfied provide feedback about the experience. There are also other facets—such as good value—quality and quantity for the price—that are not factored into the CSAT equation.
While companies increasingly understand the connection between CSAT and NPS, and customer acquisition, loyalty, and repurchase rates, there is still a lack of actionable information to make changes that will improve these metrics.
NPS has become one of the more popular methods to benchmark customer experience. Also referred to as “the ultimate question,” NPS is based on the premise that happy customers—those whose expectations have been exceeded during an interaction—are more likely to recommend a product or service to others. “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely would you be to recommend Company ABC to a friend or colleague?”
Responders are split into three categories:
• 9-10 – Promoters
• 7-8 – Passive
• 0-6 – Detractors
The NPS is a simple calculation of the percentage of detractors subtracted from the percentage or promoters. Any score over zero is a good start and the top businesses in the world would be happy with a score over 50. While NPS provides a simple, one-question methodology to collect customer sentiment, concerns have been raised that agreeing you are ‘likely to recommend’ does not infer that you have or will recommend and therefore might not be a good predictor of future performance.
The newest metric gaining popularity is the Customer Effort Score (CES). The CES is derived from asking a simple question, how much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?
Introduced in 2008 by CEB, this practice is a result of extensive research that suggests that once a customer has received a satisfactory experience, there is a nominal increase in loyalty by wowing them even further. In fact, real uplift in loyalty comes from having a very poor customer experience to having one that meets expectations. The best way of increasing an experience up to satisfactory, according to the research, is to remove as many of the barriers as possible from the customer’s path.
Typical obstacles in a customer’s path might include a complicated IVR, multiple calls to the contact center to resolve an issue, unnecessary transfers between departments, escalating issues across multiple channels—from social to email to phone to resolve an issue, and a lack of knowledge about the customer.
One of the advantages of customer effort is that it can be measured across multiple steps of a customer’s journey. If a customer expects a transaction to take little effort, and it’s more cumbersome or time consuming than originally expected, you are at risk. There are a number of companies today using CES to identify moments across the customer journey to measure those events in terms of time, emotional, and cognitive effort in order to drive change that impacts the overall customer experience.
Using CES as a baseline for better understanding the customer journey, companies evaluate their core customer service processes across their omni-channel landscapes. Identifying overly complex processes, redundant, or repetitive activities, these companies leverage technology to integrate disparate systems to simplify activities,making it easier for the customer to do business. Another in-house initiative is focuses on improving the customer service agent’s desktop by delivering a 360-degree customer view. Instead of working in multiple, disconnected applications, companies deploy intelligent agile desktop solutions that populate key customer data into a single view for faster access to information the customer needs.
Another emerging trend for customer service organizations is using CES to become more predictive in regards to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Using technology that taps into customer relationship management applications, order and fulfillment applications, or other customer-centric data, these organizations build robust intelligent guidance solutions that prompt agents to promote contextually relevant offers that are more attractive to the customer. By simplifying this promotion process, the company is making it easier for the customer by seamlessly adding the additional product to the order for a more lucrative sales transaction.
Customer experience measurement and analysis is evolving at a rapid pace. As technology continues to manifest greater visibility into transactions that take place across the enterprise, organizations are making significant strides in delivering world-class customer experiences. The key to creating a stellar customer experience is to have data that enables your organization to initiate change that will have the most impact from a cost savings standpoint, as well as from a revenue generation perspective.SW
Anna Convery is the chief marketing officer and EVP of strategy for OpenSpan, where she oversees the company’s global market development and strategic growth. Convery has more than 25 years’ experience in enterprise technology, helping Fortune 500 companies drive operational and financial excellence leveraging technology innovation to deliver world-class customer experience.
Feb2016, Software Magazine