Are Your Customer Care Metrics Customer-Centric?

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customer care metricsCustomer care metrics are a barometer of performance across a variety of customer interactions such as chat, text messages, email, social media and communities. Traditionally, these metrics have been cost-center oriented, intended to drive efficiency and productivity. CRM put another dimension on customer care metrics with profit-center orientation, intended to up-sell and cross-sell, increasing share of customers’ budget. Both of these orientations tend to be company-serving rather than customer-focused.

First contact resolution (FCR) was groundbreaking in the realization that customers’ judgment of performance is the ideal orientation. Likelihood to recommend and satisfaction with the customer care transaction are requested feedback from nearly every interaction these days, aimed at keeping a pulse on customers’ judgment of performance.

However, we may still need to re-think customer care metrics in use today if we want to adopt the ideal customers’ judgment orientation. It boils down to this:

  1. Customer experience is about the customers’ realities versus their expectations
  2. Customer experience is cumulative (holistic, history-informed, future-implied)

Let’s take a look at customer care metrics using these two fundamental truths.

A. Surveys:  Likelihood to recommend is more about the company’s interests than customers’. It can be an important overall metric, but it’s not a natural type of question you’d ask a friend or family member or acquaintance with whom you want to build a strong, long-lasting relationship. In a regular conversation with people in your life you probably ask something like: how well did this meet your expectations, what are your expectations, what could be better next time. Any of these could be drop-down lists or radio buttons with an “Other” write-in option. After that it may seem natural to ask about recommending.

These adjustments would help your survey get in-sync with the two fundamentals listed above. In any case, the degree of feedback requested should match the customer’s view of the importance of the interaction. My recommendation is to allow the customer to answer any or all of the above, without making any of them mandatory.

Satisfaction with the transaction/agent is germane to customer experience to the extent of the transaction’s role in the bigger picture of what the customer was trying to do in the first place. Most often, it’s certainly not the be-all end-all from the customer’s viewpoint. Offer the customer an opportunity to weigh-in on the issue they contacted customer care about, in addition to the transaction itself, and you’ll likely glean great insights about policies, processes, handoffs, business models and solution design.

Remember that the primary purpose of voice-of-customer is to run your whole business smarter than your competitors do. Allowing customers to tell you whatever they see fit, when, where and how they see fit is modernization of voice-of-customer to get in-sync with the two fundamentals of customer experience listed above. Automations such as text-mining, voice-mining, sentiment analysis, and intra-organizational communications now make it possible to generate high ROI on these feedback opportunities inherent to customer interactions.

B. Chat:  Customers expect chat agents and chatbots to quickly assess the customer context and access the needed information to solve their questions. Waiting and rephrasing are customer realities that may exceed their expectations. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Customer acknowledging that a provided solution is successful, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Customer wait time during chat

     • Customer requests for re-phrasing of questions and solutions

Text-mining applications can tabulate these metrics from recorded chat logs. If you know more about why your customers choose chat, make sure your metrics reflect the expectations and cumulative nature of the customer experience fundamentals.

C. Email:  Customers may use email when their time horizon for a solution is longer, or when they want to receive thorough instructions in writing, or when they’re too busy to call or chat. In any case there’s a window of opportunity deemed acceptable to the customer, and consequences when the reply misses the mark from the customer’s view. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Success acknowledgement from the question originator, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Incident turnaround time, by severity level and by customer-specified timing

     • Longest delay in queue

D. Text messaging:  Customers like texting for its flexibility and spontaneity which may be particularly appropriate for certain circumstances in a customer’s realities and expectations. You’ll want to measure effectiveness and efficiency from customers’ viewpoint. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Percentage of text message requests by repeat users

     • Percentage of customers acting on text message account alerts

     • Percentage of text message participants acknowledging solution as successful, or their use of the suggested solution

E. Social media:  Customers expect companies to be engage quickly and humbly to social media posts. They use social media to express themselves, learn from others, help others avoid pitfalls, and introduce others to good things. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Percentage of solutions acknowledged by recipient as successful, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Endorsement of solutions (such as number of shares, embeds, “Like” ratings, @replies, direct messages, comments, wall posts, third-party blog mentions)

     • Time from originator’s post to solution post

     • Originator’s sentiment changes after solution post

F. Communities:  Customers expect high quality, timely content from community members and administrators. Your metrics can monitor customers’ positive experiences and trust of the community as useful resource for their future needs. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Content rating

     • Endorsements (such as “Tell a Friend” or “Like” links)

     • Percentage of questions for which the originator acknowledged the answer, or used the suggested solution

     • Originator’s continued use in posting additional questions (unrelated to their first question)

     • Time from question post to answer post

     • Repeat visits

Conclusion:  Are you already using these metrics? If so, please share your views in the comments section below. If not, please experiment with these metrics to see whether they help you nurture relationship strength, brand differentiation, and customer lifetime value. That’s the promise of customer experience management, but we can only reap these business results when we are managing to them, with operational and selling objectives taking a secondary level of importance.

Image licensed to ClearAction Continuum by Shutterstock.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, unfortunately my clients do not use all these metrics, I think I should recommend them your article, they have a small business but the profit needs to be increased, you made a very useful and qualitative overview of the indicators that the will affect the profit. Thank you

  2. I’m glad you like these suggestions, Bill.

    In research I did preparing for this article, I could not find other recommendations for shaping customer care metrics around what customers care about! If readers come across any that I’ve overlooked, please let me know.

    Interestingly, metrics selection appears to be a vital management competency that is not fully understood by most managers. Here are some related articles:
    Metrics for Customer Experience Management
    Employee Engagement in Balanced Scorecards

    Lynn

  3. Hi Lynn, great ideas here.

    First comment – I noticed you left phone off the list. What would you add to the usual call center kpis?

    There is one metric I think, that while coming from the contact center perspective, actually focuses on the customer.

    AHT – Lowering AHT improves CCTR efficiency, and we intuitively know that it is better for the customer – no one wants to be on the phone for more than necessary.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Howard. For customer care by phone, customer wait time, cycle time to resolution (aka AHT, but maybe a bit nuanced), and no repetition of identifying info or problem statement, and no hand-offs to other parties are things customers care about.

    Hand-offs and repetition are management’s responsibility to get the right systems right: if a customer has to key-in or say their account number or any other identifying information, customers find it exasperating to have to say it again . . . as if they might have handed the phone to an impostor in the meantime; this counts for hand-offs to another agent/department. People expect your systems convey info they’ve already provided seamlessly. Repetition is asking for emotion ramp-up.

    Repetition of the problem statement indicates the agent wasn’t listening in the first place or didn’t clarify their assumptions at the beginning to make sure their on the same page with the customer.

    In any customer care, the customer appreciates efficiency and effectiveness of the service interaction, but mostly the customer cares about the reason they reached out in the first place. This seems to become obscured, and more needs to be initiated by customer care executives to educate non-customer-facing originators of contact reasons about customers’ expectations, interpretations, and consequences to both the customer and the business.

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