Customer experience (CX) has become a priority for the vast majority of organisations or has it?
Average Handle Time (AHT) has dominated contact centre measurement for decades. During the era of low cost, low value service delivery, measuring advisors purely based on how quickly a customer interaction could be wrapped up, regardless of the quality of service or value of the experience, was the priority.
But that model has little place in the customer centric market of 2019. At a time when the quality of customer experience is often the only opportunity to achieve any level of customer satisfaction, the way in which organisations engage with customers is now critical.
So why are so many companies, many of which declare a strong commitment to CX still buying contact centre services on the basis of AHT?
The dichotomy within contact centre services today is that not only is it a speed focused model at odds with the stated CX focus, it is also at complete odds with the investment in a raft of metrics to measure the voice of the customer and customer experience across the business.
AHT does, however, still have a role to play. It is important to track traditional performance metrics, such as the number of dropped contacts, as well as contacts handled, to ensure basic operational processes are working correctly. But it is no measure of quality or the company’s ability to deliver highly personalised services.
If companies are to ensure the corporate CX vision is delivered at the contact centre, the culture has to change. This means embracing innovative technologies that enable customers to easily and effectively self-serve, freeing up contact centre advisors to concentrate on the more complex customer issues. But it also means reconsidering advisor metrics; ensuring they are incentivised based on the quality of experience, first time resolution and customer voice; and providing the training required to enable individuals to make the transition towards a better quality interaction.
Essentially it means changing both processes and culture to ensure advisors become customer centric and that customers have timely access to the information or service required and, where possible, one touch resolution.
Filling the CX skills gap
While an AHT dominated model requires a vanilla approach to advisor recruitment, as soon as the focus shifts to CX it becomes essential to allocate individuals with the right skills to the job. From the high levels of empathy and great listening skills required by those primarily dealing with elderly and/or distressed individuals, to an inherent interest in fashion for an advisor working for a clothing company, great CX requires a far more tailored recruitment model.
Great service cannot be delivered by individuals focused solely on processing as many customer interactions as possible, the two requirements are completely at odds. Companies need to look hard at why they are still measuring contact centre services on such an outdated model: AHT typically ties in with low cost, low value interactions.
So, with many more companies now realising the fundamental importance of providing great service, it is now essential to rethink the way these services are delivered by embedding customer experience within the culture.