Metrics – to fool or be fooled – that’s the question!

KPI’s should be about understanding what you need to improve to be better at meeting your Customer’s needs and desires. Designing a measurement framework, the metrics that go with that, and the cross-functional dashboards to ensure cross-silo understanding how improvement in one area effects another, should not be regarded lightly. At the same time putting together a Customer Experience Feedback Analytics team to keep tracking metrics, searching for new correlations and continuously increasing your understanding of what truly matters to Customers, as well as what you need to do about just that, I consider a must for every company.

Unfortunately, in the perception of many, KPI’s seem to exist only to please “the boss” or to show “the boss” how well one is doing. KPI’s or metrics are often not well designed, and are sometimes extremely well designed: Extremely well to suit an important purpose: Fool your Boss (e.g. for a bonus, for getting the money to launch that project you really want to do, or just to be able to not have to do anything).

Here are two examples of metrics that fit into that last category:

Pursuing your own desires, not your Customer’s:

A company understands that their customers desire a speedy turn-around time with regard to account-change-requests. They have asked their clients what they would consider a speedy turn-around time. On average the Customer has provided feedback that 10 business days would be fine. The manager therefore has put in place a metric: average turn-around time of account-change-requests. After a big ICT project (which they always wanted to do but did not have a sound business case for) they succeeded in getting it about right. Unfortunately Customer Satisfaction did not increase and the (complaint) volume in their Contact Center did not decrease either, it increased!

What happened: after analyzing the data on turn-around times it was discovered that the company has been successful in decreasing the turn-around time of requests, that were already being dealt with within 10 days before. They improved turning them around in 3 days. Great achievement, but clearly not in line with the desired outcome of their Customers. Worse even, the turn-around time of requests that were handled outside the 10 day limit, increased from 15 days to 18 days. A lot of money had been spend on reducing the average turn-around time (by system automation), only to find out it did not have any of the desired outcomes for the company. The manager is happy though, with a state of the art system and a good bonus for meeting the KPI-goals.

Little effort, maximum results

A company has analyzed that their Call Center First Contact Resolution-rate was too low, causing high levels of dissatisfaction among their Customers who contacted the Contact Center. They also analyzed that most of the repeat traffic occurred within 2 weeks after the first call. Hence the responsible contact center manager put in place a KPI to track and reduce the repeat volume that occurred within 2 weeks. After as little as one month they saw an increase in the new First Contact Resolution KPI and after 3 months they hit their target (95 % FCR). Unfortunately, and you feel it coming, dissatisfaction levels did not decrease, nor did call volume.

What happened: contact center management proved to be very effective. They implemented the new KPI all the way through to the level of Customer Services Representatives. They of course know exactly how to influence this, without structural improvements needed. The CSR’s made a great effort in managing expectations of the calling Customers: it will take at least 2 weeks before your requests will be dealt with. No improvements were made on the actual turn-around time of the Customer requests, hence all Customers kept calling back after the two weeks had passed. A good example of: little effort maximum result!

What kind of (bad) examples do you have to share? Or: how did changing the way you measured really improve understanding, what mattered for your Customers, for you? Please share your stories here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

To be a Value (Call) Center is not your choice…

Over the past years most companies have recognized the contact center or customer services center as an important touch-point between the company and its Customers. This insight has been mostly driven by the recognition or discovery of Customer Experience Management. I very much welcome the interest of Marketing (and Sales) for the call center environment as much as I do the attention for improvement of the Customer Experience.

The main strategy of call centers has been to develop itself from a cost to a value center. From a terminology perspective this works for me, but the practice, in my opinion, is mostly focused on single value creation or value extraction. Let me explain my thoughts:

The main elements of the cost to value-center strategy have been focusing around generating additional sales, through up- and/or cross-selling. Also customer retention calls (inbound or outbound) are a good example of the value that companies are trying to achieve through the Customer services touch-point. Some pro-active companies are aiming to improve the customer experience with things like welcome calls or any other form of courtesy calls (generating another sales-opportunity).

I’m a firm believer in the great opportunities for value creation there are on the customer services touch-point. I also see that, in lots of cases, after a promising first starting year, companies forget that value-creation is not only about extracting as much value possible out of the Customer into the company. Hence companies start increasing the sales-targets and more importantly, they start increasing the “sales-per-hour” target, which is just another productivity metric not aimed at customer value creation. Which leads me to the following statement:

Deployment of a Value Center strategy will only have a chance to meet the desired result if one can leave behind Cost Center methodologies and metrics.

Becoming a Value Center is not about choosing to upsell or cross-sell when you want it. Becoming a Value Center is also not something one can decide to be by itself. Let the Customer be the judge of how much value is created through the Customer Services Experience, let the customer decide if your Call Center is a Value Center.

Call Centers are an important touch-point in the Customer Experience. It is also not the only point a Customer will touch in its lifetime. The design , delivery and decision making aspects within the Call Center change if a company thinks and manages the contacts as part of a lifetime of Customer interactions. If one factors a longer term of interactions, then there is an emphasis on consistency and sustainability of the experience, not single contact value distraction.

Thus, to conclude, I believe the best way to go is not with a cost-centered, not with a profit-centered and not with a flawed value-centered approach. The best approach to Customer Services Call Centers is the Customer-centered approach.

Any thoughts? Please share them in the comments.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]