We think about spring cleaning our homes, offices, cars and anywhere else we have spent a lot of time during the long and often gloomy winter days. And now that spring has sprung we see flowers in bloom, hear birds singing once again, and look forward to spending time learning about our new contact center software and solutions.
According to research recently conducted by my company, Saddletree Research, in conjunction with the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at The University of Southern Mississippi, spring 2016 will be a time of renewal and refreshment in the contact center as well. At the end of 2015 we interviewed 121 customer service professionals with the objective of understanding what issues were top-of-mind among contact center executives heading into the new year. We presented our subjects with an extensive list of potential contact center issues for 2016 and asked them to choose all that they felt applied to them. Since participants were allowed to select more than one response, total responses will be greater than 100 percent. The top five issues are illustrated in the graph below.
Topping the list of potential issues for 2016 was the creation of a customer experience optimization strategy. More of our participants chose this particular issue than any other, with revising or revisiting key performance indicator (KPI) metrics falling a few percentage points behind. If you look at the second through fifth selections while keeping in mind the issue at the top of the heap; i.e., customer experience optimization, the big picture starts to take shape. Traditional performance metrics, for example, typically focus on agent time-and-motion management rather than on ensuring an optimal customer experience. So, measuring the time it takes an agent to get one customer off the phone so he or she can get on with the next customer call probably won’t encourage an agent to take whatever time might be necessary to ensure a smooth customer communication culminating in first call resolution.
Increasing the home agent workforce broadens the geographic reach of human resources efforts, positively impacting the customer experience. Workforce turnover issues continue to be a problem for the contact center industry and undoubtedly confound any contact center’s efforts to provide an optimal customer experience.
After presenting the list of potential issues to our research participants and asking them to choose all that apply, we presented the same list to them again but this time we asked them to choose only one response. We asked them to choose the one issue that was the most important to them going into 2016. Their responses are illustrated below.
When asked to choose only one major issue, replacing or upgrading older technology solutions was identified by the majority of our study participants. Again, this makes absolute sense given the overall drive to create or improve the customer’s experience. It’s tough to provide a 2016-style customer experience when you’re using circa early-2000s or older technology.
I recently participated in a webinar in which we discussed the process of migrating to an updated workforce optimization (WFO) solution suite. At one point in the discussion we polled audience members regarding the average age of their contact center technology solutions. The result of the audience poll was both surprising and enlightening. I encourage you to watch a replay of the webinar and compare your professional experiences with those of your peers.
In the years to come, I believe that 2016 will be remembered as the year of the technology refresh. As the creation and management of a customer experience optimization strategy continues to evolve as a high priority in the majority of U.S. contact centers, it stands to reason that investments will have to be made in updated technology solutions. As our research project results clearly indicate, it’s time for a spring cleaning in the contact center.