There’s no denying that good customer service plays a major role in business success. In today’s multichannel environment, it’s more critical than ever to provide customers with a personalized and seamless experience. For many, that means interaction with another human. In fact, even with an array of self-service options available, Forrester reported that 45percent of buyers require person-to-person contact.

And yet, according to a recent survey, only 30 percent of customer service professionals think their company provides sufficient resources for them to effectively do their job. Why are we experiencing this glaring chasm that separates the results companies want and the means they are using to get there (or not to get there, as the case appears to be)?

Outdated customer service metrics

To succeed in customer service, you want to get customers answers as quickly as possible. It was from this theory that Average Handle Time (AHT) sprung. Shorter AHT means customers are getting their answers faster, right?

Well, as it turns out, that’s not exactly true. In fact, AHT has achieved the opposite effect as its original intent.

When the goal is to make calls shorter, the question becomes, “How can we get customers off the phone quickly?” The majority of the answers to that question hurt the business:

  • Cut customers short
  • Don’t take the time to fully answer customers’ questions
  • Don’t spend time on additional selling opportunities
  • Skip any follow-up
  • Transfer questions so you don’t have to have a long conversation with a customer
  • Don’t take the time to teach customers how to solve their own problems

There are more answers along those lines, but you get the picture.

The truth of the matter is that it’s time to rethink the service aspect of customer service departments. That means starting with the goals, which should be more along the line of solving customer problems, empowering customers with additional knowledge, and possibly even upselling now happy and loyal customers.

There are many metrics that can be used to achieve those goals, including Customer Experience Score (CES), First Call Resolution (FCR) and more. AHT still is valuable from a capacity planning/scheduling perspective, but it needs to be woven in with other KPIs that emphasize customer satisfaction and customer influence.

It’s time for contact centers to make the move to improve customer experience, not simply shove customers off the phone as quickly as possible.

Outdated customer service technology

Contact center technology has changed drastically in the past decade. No longer is it enough to simply provide a phone number. Increased online access, social marketing, mobile technology, visual chat and more have to be integrated in a single contact center.

Visual engagement technologies like cobrowsing and screen sharing are effective in creating a one-to-one connection between customer service and customers. In fact, the survey referenced above revealed that:

  • 52 percent of customer service employees who worked for companies that had cobrowsing or screen sharing technologies reported better understanding of customer issues
  • 38 percent stated cobrowsing and screen sharing technologies improved customer satisfaction

It’s high time for a change

Introducing change in the contact center is no doubt a challenge but the benefits are well worth it. Customers expect the “service’ in customer service. Staying in the past can hurt profits, loyalty, reputation and more. It’s time to take a step back to redefine metrics and incorporate new technologies that align your business with modern customer requirements.

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