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Rick Cook Building Better Call Center Metrics with CRM

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 By Rick Cook

Numbers are the life blood of contact centers, customer care centers and call centers. Most call centers of any size depend heavily on performance metrics to measure how efficiently they are running and how well they are meeting the company's and the customers' needs.

But while call center software produces a slew of metrics, most of them are very low level. The paradox of these measurements is that while they’re useful for managing the call center, they don’t do much to advance the customer relationship or further the purpose of the call center.

The 360 Degree Customer View

To properly serve customers requires a 360 degree view of the customer history and relationship and by its nature call center software rarely provides such visibility. What’s more, many of the operational metrics produced by call center software are inward facing. The number of calls offered (NCO), Average Calls Per Hour (ACH) and similar metrics are concerned with how well the customer service representatives (CSR) operate but they don’t relate, except indirectly, to the customer experience, much less the customer’s overall satisfaction with the company.

CRM software systems on the other hand are designed to integrate and merge data from many disparate sources into a shared and central system of record and deliver a real-time, holistic view of the customer relationship to contact center agents or other customer facing staff.

A holistic view of a single customer relationship, as well as visibility into customers grouped by region, type, affinity or other segmentation, permits call centers to track key performance indicators and operational metrics which are much more customer relevant and more in alignment with the company's market, revenue and customer strategy objectives. Giving the CSR the customer’s complete history for example, not only provides opportunities to better satisfy the customer, it can also substantially reduce the average time per call because the customer doesn't have to bring the CSR up to speed on purchase history, outstanding incidents or prior interactions.

In fact, taking a 360 degree view of your customers with customer relationship management software can help in producing better versions of some conventional call center metrics. One example is First Call Resolution Rate (FCRR). FCRR is the percentage of customer calls which are resolved successfully in the first interaction. It’s an important factor in customer satisfaction – so much so it’s sometimes used as a stand-in for customer satisfaction. FCRR also helps determine if technology and processes are operating efficiently.

The problem with FCRR as a conventional call center metric is that it’s very hard to measure accurately, especially in the case of a recurring problem that doesn’t occur frequently. This is especially true when the customer contact involves multiple channels, some of which may not be handled by the call center, such as email or paper mail. Some companies track it manually by comparing network call data and system data relating to process history. This can work but it is time consuming and not necessarily accurate.

This typical business process scenario can be automated and improved by combining CRM system data with call center data and using the complete view of the customer’s contact with the company, not just the call center. This makes it easy to determine if the customer’s problem really was solved on the first call, or if the customer reverted to another communication method or escalated the case by, for example, writing a letter or contacting a sales person directly.

In the event multiple interactions are necessary or multiple resources are assigned to a case, holistic views provided by CRM solutions can help prevent “call center hell” whereby the customer has to run through the same series of questions and test actions every time he or she calls – no matter how many times the customer calls with the same problem.

How Easy Is It To Achieve Holistic Customer Information?

How easy it is to attain this kind of 360 degree view depends on the customer management software you’re using and how deep you want to get. If you are using a call center software module in your CRM system to manage your call center, such as Oracle's Siebel Contact Center Anywhere, the integration and consolidation of information is straightforward. However, trade-offs exist, as in this example, CRM call center monitoring tends to be more limited, especially for centers with a large number of agents or CSRs. Most companies with significantly sized call centers use a combination of call center and customer management software to support their CSRs and customers rather than just stand-alone software modules in their CRM application. The good news about call center software is that the programs are becoming more CRM-like in collecting data. The bad news is that in general they don't collect the same quality of data that a more sophisticated CRM system collects; nor are they as well designed in making that data easily consumable for the customer service representative.

However some call center software is designed to make it easy to import data from popular CRM applications. A third alternative is leveraging specialized call center software from companies such as Five9, which provides a contact center software as a service (SaaS) solution that integrates call center systems with CRM software.

In general the more detailed information you want to use to build key performance indicators and call center metrics, the more comprehensive the system integration becomes. This is especially true if you are constructing elaborate composite metrics that draw detailed data from the CRM software and the call center system and combine it in unique ways. In these cases the most common approach is to use the call center software to collect information and then merge it to the CRM application whereby the performance metrics, customer analytics and specialized data mining tools are far more advanced. End

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Comments (2) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Sonia Roody
  Ahh, yes. Performance metrics is the lifeblood of call centers. Using the best software is one of the factors to achieve a smooth-flowing call center performance.

Guest harwood
  Contact center performance measurement seems to evolve along three phases. First, contact centers operate without metrics. This of course results in poor performance and operations generally further degrade over time. Then in a subsequent phase contact centers will either adopt too many metrics (being a bit overzealous) or simply choose to track and monitor the easy metrics (often those that are available within their CRM or call center software systems). These two approaches result in the obvious problems. Finally, contact centers will figure out the few metrics that matter most, and will be on their way to sustained improvements.


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While call center software solutions produce a slew of metrics, most of these performance indicators are very low level. The paradox of these measurements is that while they’re useful for managing the call center, they don’t do much to advance the customer relationship or further the purpose of the call center.


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