Spring Training: What baseball can teach us about metrics

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More than any other sport, baseball is fixated on metrics. And in business, contact centers are similarly obsessed with collecting data and measuring performance. But as Moneyball showed us, data can only provide knowledge when it is the right data and when it is analyzed properly.

I would start by saying that maybe we aren’t measuring the right things.

Here are some of the most popular or traditional contact center metrics:

  • Service Level: The ability to provide a service to a customer within a preset threshold of time. It is usually reported as the percentage of calls a contact center endeavors to answer within a specific period. For example, the common industry standard of 80/20 means that 80% of calls are to be answered within 20 seconds.
  • Average Handle Time: The average amount of time spent on each transaction (including post-contact processing). This is a popular measure of individual agent performance and contact center efficiency. Average Handle Time simply averages the amount of time spent helping customers over a specific number of contacts.
  • Adherence: Schedule adherence determines whether agents are working the amount of time they are scheduled to work. Adherence is measured by taking the total amount of time a contact center agent is available to work and dividing it by the time they are scheduled to work, expressed as a percentage. This metric is used to analyze how staff works within their schedule and determine how efficiently they are spending their time. Adherence should take into consideration activities like post-contact processing, and completing contact reports.
  • Abandonment: Indicates the number of callers that hang up before they can be connected to an agent. No one enjoys being stuck in queue, and customers only have so much patience before they hang up and take their complaints or business elsewhere.

These metrics may be interesting and sometimes important, but they can also be misleading and are far from the key indicators that you need to understand if you are to meet and exceed your personal, departmental, and corporate goals.

So what matters? Customer satisfaction is arguably the most critical factor to maintaining a profitable and growing customer base, expanding markets, gaining competitive advantage, and then keeping it.

The problem is that customer satisfaction measurement has been the responsibility of marketing departments that view it as an annual project. In today’s fast-moving world, customer satisfaction has to be measured TRANSACTIONALLY—as the measurable event happens.
Why does this matter? According to Gartner:

  • 96% of customers who experience bad customer service don’t report it, and 91% of those customers take their business elsewhere
  • A dissatisfied customer will tell over 10 other people — including many prospective customers — of their bad experience and with the expansion of social media this metric is drastically increasing.
  • It typically costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, and is 10 times more difficult.
  • Just a 10% increase in customer retention typically increases profits by 30%.
  • The probability of re-selling to an existing customer is 60-70%; while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.

So if it is so important, where do we begin?

We recommend a simple but powerful 3-question survey.

It starts with the Net Promoter Score, a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix. It is based on the fundamental perspective that customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

“How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point scale and are categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will likely keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings and pressures, potential future losses.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your NPS, take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors (NPS = % of Promoters - % of Detractors).
The other two questions we recommend are about first-call resolution and overall satisfaction:

  • Was your situation resolved on your first call with us?
  • How would you rate your overall satisfaction with this transaction?

These three simple questions provide a powerful view into your company’s performance through your customer’s eyes. Combined with the more traditional metrics, contact center managers have a complete 360-degree view into performance and are better able to make and evaluate decisions.

A final (but very important) note: To really do this right, you need to ask these same three questions across communication channels: after phone calls, after web chats, etc. Otherwise, you’ll have to work too hard to figure out if you are having a problem in a single channel, or with an underlying service, product, or process.

Just like Spring Training, every season is a new start. Maybe this is the time to look seriously at streamlining your metrics so that you know who’s ready for the majors and who needs some additional batting practice. To see how easy it is to do this with ServicePattern, sign up for our ServicePattern 101 webinar.


About David

Branching customer surveys with chat When in Rome

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