Why do we ignore the contact centre metrics that really matter?
In today’s contact centres we measure advisors more than just about any other role across any sector. But do we ever stop to think about what it is that we’re measuring – and more importantly, what we’re not?
Today’s customer service advisor role must be one of the most heavily monitored and analysed jobs in the world. At any given time, contact centre managers know exactly when advisors should be working, how many calls they are handling, whether service levels are being met, and whether their people are saying the right things to customers.
As an industry we continue to manage advisor performance at every available opportunity, and that’s reflected in familiar metrics such as Average Handle Times, Transfer Rates, Average Agent Hold Times and First Contact Resolution. Typically, these metrics are internally-focused and exist to track and improve contact centre productivity. And while Customer Effort Scores have increasingly been used to identify areas of potential friction in customer journeys, the emphasis has always been on optimising customer journeys so that they work better for brands and their customers.
There’s also another metric – Advisor Retention Rate – that contact centres also monitor carefully, but are typically less keen on sharing. Given that the cost of recruiting and training new advisors is already high (and set to get even higher this year as wages rise), any reductions in this metric – even percentage points – can have huge cost implications. That’s particularly the case with average attrition levels across UK contact centres now sitting at just over 20%. Advisor attrition has increasingly come under the spotlight as low unemployment and discussions around the ‘great resignation’ movement combine to make managing contact centre attrition even harder.
Too many organisations still treat advisor turnover as just another cost associated with running their contact centres. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that, as an industry, we rarely monitor or keep track of those issues that we know to be important contributing factors behind attrition. While CX leaders always talk about how people are their #1 asset, many advisors are still faced with a working environment that is characterised by poor supporting technology, frustrating gaps in customer journeys, limited empowerment and often incohesive feedback.
Automation is fundamentally changing the nature of the contact centre advisor role
Advisors also know that the brands they work for are heavily invested in prioritising digital transformation, and looking for ways to improve efficiency and customer engagement by accelerating the adoption of automation and AI technologies. These initiatives have proved great at automating simple processes and fielding routine customer questions. However, this shift has also fundamentally changed the nature of today’s contact centre advisor role.
Instead of handling a mix of interactions and tasks throughout a typical day, advisors are increasingly being left to field only the more complex, urgent and emotional customer conversations. This sustained workload is placing huge pressures on your advisors, making the advisor role more difficult than ever, increasing frustration and inevitably contributing to an increase in attrition.
So, it’s perhaps surprising that the mix of contact centre management metrics that go to make up balanced scorecards are rarely focused on tracking and improving processes that might actually help advisors to do their jobs better. What would actually help them to be more productive? What could enable them to feel more empowered? What systems could provide them with better access to the data and insights that would allow them to serve their customers better? Advisors almost certainly know what it is that they need to do a better job. Unfortunately, very few get asked this question.
Providing advisors with the support they need to remain engaged
Our industry should also be doing much more to acknowledge the key role that advisor mental health and wellbeing plays in delivering excellent customer service. If we continue to overlook our advisors’ mental health, then organisations are failing to provide the rounded support that they need to continue delivering high quality customer experiences. And because we don’t tend to monitor advisor wellbeing on a regular basis, then we shouldn’t be surprised that so many advisors end up being frustrated and frequently depressed - with a significant proportion feeling the need to quit their roles.
With annual advisor attrition effectively now costing a 500-seat contact centre approaching £1m to replace and train colleagues that have left, it clearly makes sense for contact centre management to provide their advisors with the support they need to remain engaged.
That’s why at Sabio we’re committed to helping brands gain a deeper understanding of the added or unseen pressures that advisors now face due to changed processes, working practices and digital transformation.
Solutions such as our Sabio Service Advisor Mental Health and Wellbeing offering can play a key role in helping contact centre management to better understand issues around advisor wellness, emotions and stresses. It also allows them to identify how positive boosts can impact the advisor day, as well as focus in on those issues or processes that might be failing advisors - so that you can resolve them much more quickly.
Well-being starts in the workplace
We believe that a key goal for contact centre management in 2022 should be to make the health and wellbeing of your people a key priority. Even the smallest improvements in contact centre advisor well-being can translate into a positive impact, unlocking measurable improvements in advisor absence and attrition. And because happier advisors inevitably lead to happier customers, everybody wins!