Living in a Measured World

A measured worldI just got a Fitbit for my birthday and set it up last weekend. So now when I go to the food truck to get my lunch, I make sure to pace back and forth while I wait for my burrito to get in a couple hundred extra steps. (Just ignore the burrito part, my new wristband friend…our little secret!) And before I got my Fitbit, I bought a Chevy Volt last Fall. So now, all my driving is measured against the lifetime miles per gallon. Needless to say, I’ve become a master of coasting and regenerative breaking!

With just a couple of small, but relevant examples, I am making the point that most of us already know.

You get what you measure

Once I start thinking about my steps, I start walking more – and once I’m measured against my mileage, I start driving differently and with a purpose. Without a doubt, measurements change behaviors across every aspect of life. And this got me thinking about how they change behavior in the contact center…and ultimately change the customer experience.

The perils of measurement – The 80/20 rule

If you measure too narrowly, you feed bad behavior. All the pacing around in the world won’t overcome the burrito lunch (although it was really good!) In contact centers, you often see something similar. Many call centers will focus on one simple metric. A good example is Average Speed of Answer and the 80/20 rule. Making sure 80%of calls are answered within 20 seconds. Others look at call duration – making sure every call is efficient. Or perhaps they are interested in automation. Can I get more and more calls managed through self-service? This typically delivers big savings to any call center.

Each of these has their obvious merits, but looking too closely at them can also have unintended consequences:

  • Following the 80/20 rule: If a contact center increases the number of agents who answer calls to minimize customer wait times, you eventually will get to a point where the people answering the calls are unable to actually help the customer – which was the intended goal. And within a minute or two, the customer finds themselves transferred to someone else to get the answer. What’s wrong with this picture? I think you already know, as we have all experienced it. Every single transfer KILLS customer satisfaction and dilutes the overall experience; much worse than if you make customers wait just a few more seconds during your busiest times.
  • Measuring call durations: Clearly, this is a good way to track agent efficiency, but you can end up with agents rushing customers off the phone or “accidentally” dropping calls just to make their timeframes. Yes, Comcast, AT&T – I mean you! Yet, take a look at Zappos, who measures agents based on the amount of time they spend with customers – regardless of whether they are on 50 calls or just one. An extreme example, of course, and perhaps the customer experience road less traveled, but noteworthy nonetheless.
  • Looking at automation rates: I’ve worked for IVR companies and I know that I am not the most popular guy in the room when I tell people I had a hand in bringing that amazing technology to market! Voice response can be effective – and self service is great, but if you push it too hard, you end up making life hell for your customers. And at the end of the day, that’s not worth any level of savings you might enjoy through increasing self-service.

I’m not saying it’s wrong…

All of this is not to say that these measurements are wrong, per se. All of them can be effective and all are valid – but companies need to consider the bigger picture when they look at their contact center’s performance. Businesses need to look across agent performance, queue management, and even gather insight into their customer’s journey to get the complete picture. That one metric won’t get you what you need. Here are some other key metrics that you also need to consider:

  • How quickly do you answer the phone?
  • How many calls are being transferred?
  • Who is transferring callers?
  • Which queues are getting bogged down?
  • Which agent groups are helping out with which queues?

These sorts of accumulative measurements are what makes a real difference in your contact center and customer relationships. To get some insight into how 8x8 views best practices for measuring contact center performance, take a look at our VCC Analytics and how our dashboards can help deliver the impactful, comprehensive insight you need to make a difference with your customers.

Again…you get what you measure. If you are truly measuring the full picture – what you will likely get is customer loyalty. After all, isn’t that the end game to a thriving business?


Max Ball


Max is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for 8x8 Virtual Contact Center. [...] Read More >