Global Contact Center Leaders Weigh In On What Matters

Kathleen Peterson Rants & Raves by Kathleen Peterson

Contact Centers around the world are tackling the ever-changing landscape of customer expectations. So every little bit helps to keep current on how that landscape is shifting. Deloitte recently published its 2017 Global Contact Center Survey. This is the kind of stuff I love! It is so interesting to learn what global Contact Center leaders/executives see as trending and whether we as Contact Center professionals agree.

The report is fascinating in its totality; I highly recommend using it to ignite conversations around the survey findings within your organization. I find it always beneficial to gather and discuss ideas/concepts independent of ongoing activities and initiatives.

One concept that must remain top of mind is Customer Experience and this survey found that it continues to grow in importance at the executive level. I have written tons on the subject of making sure that Customer Experience attributes and elements are clearly identified. This survey offers a hierarchy of Customer Experience attributes that serve well as a tool to evaluate your own operation in terms of these findings.

Here is the survey question I will address: How will customers prioritize the following attributes in future interactions with your Contact Center? The objective of this question is to identify what Customer Care attributes to focus on to optimize the time, energy, and budget dollars invested. I must confess to being a bit surprised by the findings; but the more I thought about it the more I recognized the trends.

Here are survey responses in order of those ranked as HIGHEST priority.

Accuracy and Quality of Information Provided – 66%

All of us as consumers value accuracy and quality of information. Of course, this is what we assume the first time we interact with a company. Companies lose consumer confidence when responses to inquiries turn out to be inaccurate, incomplete, or of low quality. Lack of accuracy and quality also tend to generate increased loads due to additional attempts to resolve the issues via calls or other contact channels.

This becomes an outstanding place on which to focus. Solving information accuracy and quality issues will take you through many portions of the customer journey and your operational infrastructure to identify weaknesses. This provides the ability to eliminate internal processes that corrupt information accuracy and quality.

Ease of Interaction – 62%

MAKE IT EASY has been on the radar for quite some time now. Both the interaction and the transaction must be easy for the consumer. Effortless is another adjective that has been used; in some organizations there is a measurement for the effort the customer must put forth to complete a transaction. These experience attributes are not related specifically to phone calls. However, when ease fails on alternative channels (e.g., promo code doesn’t work on the website) it is the Contact Center that steps in to provide fulfillment. That is of course if the consumer didn’t simply abandon!

The Contact Center is in the unique position to provide feedback regarding the ease of interactions by identifying obstacles and working toward their elimination. It is also important to recognize when to align process improvement activities to strategic drivers such as ease. Contact Center leaders need to contextualize improvement and/or investment recommendations in strategic drivers like ease and accuracy to improve funding rates.

Access to the Contact Center – 50%

Access refers to the ability to simply get into the Contact Center; clearly this means response time, but also includes operating hours and the availability of various channels of access. Traditionally, we think voice, email, and web. Now I see the biggest access challenge as mobile! Applications, mobile friendly interfaces, and TEXT must be on the radar. The next generation consumer prefers access to services via their preferred “digital device.” And let’s face it; they don’t even consider their phones as phones!

It is important to keep in mind that voice contacts are not dead by any stretch of the imagination. They are requisite for dealing with complex interactions; according to this Deloitte survey both volume and complexity are on the rise in today’s Contact Centers.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) – 46%

First Contact Resolution was a hot topic for a few years but has recently slipped a bit into the weeds. It is obvious that it is important to the consumer, but FCR is equally important to the organization as it forces a look at obstacles to FCR. A weakness in some organizations is that FCR is launched as a measure of the frontline agent, instead of first validating that it is even possible within the current infrastructure! Frontline agents are rarely, if ever, the actual cause of FCR failures; processes and cross-functional relationships are where these obstacles are typically found. If you’re not looking in the right place, FCR will continue to elude the Contact Center and the Consumer Experience.

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I have to confess that I was surprised that these final four survey responses are at the LOW end of HIGH importance (another reason why I love this stuff). We must all be in the business of challenging our own assumptions. When we challenge everything, including ourselves, we let go of certainty and embrace our curiosity!

Following through on Commitment – 26%

All of us as consumers recognize the importance of follow through; lack of follow through is both irritating and brand damaging. Maybe this response is ranked among the lowest because those surveyed believe it is a “defacto” reality. Even the most lost leader must recognize that if we say we are going to do something it is critical that it be done on operational, organizational, and individual levels. Contact disposition codes and quality monitoring assist in identifying when, where, and with whom follow through does not occur.

Empathy Provided During Interaction – 23%

Certainly empathy is an important human emotion and a critical element of Emotional Intelligence. So I don’t believe that this finding suggests that empathy at the human level is unimportant. I believe that it just sits behind the more practical elements of accuracy, quality, etc. In fact, accuracy, ease, access, and FCR may in fact be empathic actions that enhance the experience whereas the lack of them damages the experience for both consumer and the Contact Center. For these environments, empathy is expressed by, “I’m sorry but I’m only authorized to apologize.”

Personalization of Interaction – 21%

Here is another surprise, particularly when we consider all the dollars invested in CRM for the very purpose of personalization. I view the Contact Center’s need for personalization as the ability to provide the front line with the consumer’s engagement history across all channels and all activities (e.g., booking appointments, purchasing/returning/inquiring about products/services). This I believe to be critical. A consumer may be happy that you know their name, but if you know nothing else about them little has really been done to enhance their experience.

As consumers we don’t necessarily bring the same expectations to booking a hotel room as we would to interacting with a financial advisor or a physician’s office. So as we interpret survey findings, we must keep in mind our unique attributes and constituents.

Innovation Technology Features – 11%

Apparently fancy features are not high on the list for responders and rightfully so. I have seen far too many chaotic Contact Centers with leaders, generally inexperienced, believing that some whiz bang application will solve a problem for their consumers or their staff (without a clear set of requirements that actually captures the needs of the business).

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My message to you … focus on stabilizing your operation to deliver on the top three attributes – accuracy, ease, and access. The components of these are critical to the achievement of the others, and ultimately, to the Customer Experience. ¬†Share this report with your entire Contact Center; discuss it in huddles and bring the team together with a topic relevant to all involved in Contact Center leadership. Make it fun! There’s lots of information to consider!