Learn How Your Contact Center Stacks Up, So Your Business Can Stand Out


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In the height of such economic uncertainty, competing for customer attention has become a top priority for a majority of companies, and gaining that competitive edge can make all the difference. Now more than ever is the time to ensure your company knows where it stands amongst competitors in the battle for customer satisfaction.

Although benchmarking can lead to a wealth of information, it can also lead to a wealth of inaccurate, useless data, causing you to lose customers in the long run.

Benchmarking is the process of continuously improving performance and innovation by systematically researching and adopting best practices, both internal and external to your organization. Benchmarking is the most reliable process to gain a full understanding of how your organization measures up against others in the industry. Not only can it help your organization stand out from the competition, it is a critical tool when measuring performance and improving ROI, while simultaneously keeping customers satisfied.

Benchmarking can be applied in a number of ways within contact centers, from setting operational performance goals to strategically setting annual planning and budgeting requirements, such as investment funding requests. Although benchmarking can lead to a wealth of information, it can also lead to a wealth of inaccurate, useless data, causing you to lose customers in the long run. Benchmarking results are only as good as the information at hand. And if the information is inaccurate, then the results are useless.

All too often I see organizations fall into a series of common pitfalls when it comes to benchmarking data.

  1. A lack of incorporated standard data definitions. What is or is not included in the calculation can completely change the score.
  2. Contact center metrics have multiple dimensions that need to be captured to ensure accuracy. If not, these data caveats will result in inaccurate data.
  3. If you know the source of your data, make it a goal to capture it in raw form, which will help avoid any bias.
  4. Metrics can be highly correlated. Consequently, it is important to look at all of the data to understand the underlying cause and affect relationships.

Customer service issues

Our organization recently worked with a major telecommunications company who did not have an accurate way of measuring customer satisfaction scores and call resolution results. Through industry measures they knew they were dead last in Customer Service ratings administered by third parties (i.e., JD Power). Unfortunately, their internal measures shared little correlation to the reporting of third parties.

Correctly, they intuitively knew this was causing a flight of unsatisfied customers to other competitors. This organization initially turned to us for help improving their customer satisfaction collection methodologies, but after just a few months we were empowered to conduct a full benchmark review to help them streamline and improve overall customer service.

The company was not using a consistent process for measurement, so there was no basic metric to record progress; therefore they were unable to work toward the goals they had set for themselves. In reality, there were producing unsatisfactory customer experiences and losing money in the process. When it comes to benchmarking, comparing processes is just as important, if not more, than the actual numbers.

When it comes to benchmarking, comparing processes is just as important, if not more, than the actual numbers.

After a comprehensive assessment, we were able to narrow the problems down to inconsistent customer experiences and weak goals, which resulted from lack of alignment in metric definitions. For example:

  • There was no agreement upon the process and customer experience during the “greeting phase” of the call.
  • There were no agreements on what constituted the proper time to transfer, under what circumstances and what an acceptable percentage of transferred calls was.
  • There was no agreement site to site and manager to manager on when to coach an agent and what to coach them on.
  • There was no process to use analysis to identify an issue as systemic allowing for escalation to the people that could change a bad process.
  • Customers called back multiple times out of frustration initially to get an answer to their problem. Eventually, customers learned they could “shop” for a better answer or adjustment.
  • When examining the actual agents, there was an extremely inconsistent standard hiring new agents. Minimal skill requirements varied from too hard, too loose or not as specific as they needed. This resulted in inconsistency in agent capabilities which only large amounts of “remedial training” could have overcome.

This did not mean that some good practices were not in place. The problem was that managers could do whatever they wished.

Benchmarking drives improvements

Once we implemented and measured their performance against standard metrics and compared procedures, they were able to ensure each contact center was compliant with the outlined improvement processes, including the ability to analyze and improve quality and customer satisfaction results. In addition, we significantly improved workforce management models, including forecasting, staffing and scheduling.

As a result of this effective benchmarking process, they experienced dramatic improvements not only in performance, but in a variety of areas:

  • Improved competitive position. Referencing third party surveys, within six months they have closed the gap to the next competitor by 50 percent and to the top performer by 45 percent.
  • Return on Investment on one key performance indicator was $66 million (Issue Resolution).
  • Operational gaps between conflicting requirements were exposed and eliminated.
  • Issue Resolution within 12 months reduced call volume by 13.2 percentage points, which allowed the company to reduce the number of call center agents.
  • Top box improvement of 16.5 percentage points in one year—28% improvement.
  • Bottom box reduction of 10 percentage points in one year.
  • Increased Issue Resolution from 66 percent to nearly 80 percent in one year.

Leading Telecommunications Company|

Many vendors and consultants offer benchmarking services, but in order to gain the maximum benefit, you must be smart and take a look at the basic elements. Ensure the data you are measuring is accurate and can be applied to your unique goals. When done right, benchmarking is a highly valued tool for measuring performance, and more importantly, allowing your business to satisfy its customers and grow.

Alton Martin
Alton Martin offers more than 25 years experience in the services industry, having played an instrumental role in laying the foundation of COPC Inc. Martin's input is sought as an industry expert. He has published articles for many trade journals and business magazines. He has spoken in global forums, such as UK Call Center Association.


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