Evolving Contact Centers Call for Changing Metrics, New Tools
No matter the length of a call with a contact center, if the customer’s happy and has a tangible result at the end, who cares, right?

Fifty minutes or five -- does it matter anymore?

Meeting Success with New Tools

Changes to the metrics contact centers use to establish success is one way we see the industry evolving today.

Another? The slate of new tools contact centers use to get their jobs done efficiently and with the customer in mind -- i.e., voice, video, e-mail, chat, web, social media and mobility.

The industry needs to adapt, according to the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Workforce Optimization. Companies are investing in their contact centers to help improve the front lines that keep customers happy, the latest report said, as they focus on providing more choices in the previously somewhat restricted landscape.

Bye Old Metrics, Hello New

How big is time spent with customers today? Not as big as it once was as a metric, according to one contact center provider.

“One of the things we’re really finding with contact centers is people are slowly starting to realize that many of the metrics used to consider value are not the right metrics you should be looking at,” said Matthew Lautz, CIO and president of CorvisaCloud. “Who cares if the call took 40 minutes vs. four? If the customer is happy…”

Call resolution results are far more important, Lautz told CMSWire, than measurements like “average talk time,” which he called “completely useless.”

Contact centers should be focused, Lautz said, on analytics that provide a “whole picture” and “force you to make educated decisions based on that data.”

Cost, Relationship, Experience

Where else are contact centers evolving?

One industry insider sees changing technological advancements as the latest in what he calls a 30-year paradigm shift in the customer care environment.

John Hernandez, vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration Business Applications, calls these changes “waves of innovation” in cost, relationship and experience.

“The cost wave is all about optimizing the cost and processes associated with providing customer service, whereas the relationship wave focuses on adjusting service levels, resources and channels in response to the customer’s identity and context,” Hernandez told CMSWire.

customer experience, Evolving Contact Centers Call for Changing Metrics, New Tools

from style-photography.de (Shutterstock)

The best contact centers, Hernandez said, provide a consistent, branded and contextual experience across all media and channels. “Providing context is critical,” he added.

Hernandez cited the example of a consumer who interacts with a mobile application, performs self-service IVR (interactive voice response) and then needs agent assistance.

“In order to provide optimal customer support -- the first time -- the agent should have immediate access to pertinent caller information such as their location, account status, history with the company, and any associated actions they may have taken through the web or self-service,” Hernandez said.

Going to the Cloud

Although we haven’t seen a true surge of cloud investments in contact centers from vendors lately, such as Oracle’s in March, Hernandez cited expansion into the cloud as a growing trend for the call center market.

CorvisaCloud’s Lautz seconds this, saying many organizations are recruiting work-from-home contact center agents that need to do their jobs from a cloud-based environment. It was only about five years ago, he said, where 100% of the workforce was on-premises.

“The relative benefits of OPEX versus CAPEX spending models have been well-understood for years,” Hernandez said, “but it's only fairly recently that businesses have been able to enjoy the full set of modern contact center capabilities via the cloud.”

The Future of Contact Centers

As for the future of contact centers, we see these trends continuing. However, in a vendor-heavy space, it won’t be about the greatest solutions, but rather, the most efficient, well-trained agents that leave customers happy at the end of a call -- no matter how long it took.

As the Customer Contact Association reported last year -- it will ultimately take agents who are customer advocates. 

“They can’t be focusing on the wrong data,” Lautz said of contact centers. “They need to change the entire context and how they think about it.”

Image in the opening paragraph from Pavel Ignatov (Shutterstock).