2 minutes on…The danger of focusing on key performance indicators in isolation
Hopefully now most of the contact centre industry has started to see the danger in chasing isolated metrics and the often counterproductive outcomes this can cause. Over the years, contact centre managers have been guilty of measuring what’s easy or readily available to them rather than focusing on what truly drives business value. This is often no fault of the manager themselves as they try to conform to legacy targets with little or no time to challenge them.
Let’s consider some typical scenarios…
Many organisations continue to chase the 80/20 calls answered service-level target. Very few centres reach this mark and yet it persists. Driven, we believe, by senior management’s desire to have one number to focus their efforts on. Most centres genuinely believe that achievement of this service-level target is key to delivering customer satisfaction, but in realty we see that relaxing these numbers hardly affects customer satisfaction at all. Just a small dip in First Contact Resolution (FCR) or employee engagement, however, sends customer satisfaction through the floor.
Let’s imagine you are achieving this ‘holy grail’ of service: are we really saying we would be happy if 10% of calls were still abandoned due to ineffective resourcing for call peaks? Hopefully not.
Over the years we have witnessed planning and resource managers chasing an Average Speed of Answer (ASA) after a bad morning’s performance by cancelling all ‘off system time’ for the rest of day, all to achieve the ASA of 20secs. This would have a limited impact on the overall customer experience, but would undoubtedly demotivate the workforce – something that has a detrimental effect in the long term. In this particular example, a far better approach would be to keep an eye on three metrics holistically to ensure a more balanced performance.
We are also seeing a growing trend towards streamlining the number of metrics that make up organisational scorecards to add clarity and focus.
Many organisations have done this to good effect and in principal this is a great idea, as it drives all contact centre staff to a common goal and is hopefully aligned to the strategic objective of the business. The downside however can be that there will inevitably be a shift away from the metrics that have been deemed less important. One outcome we have observed is that when an emphasis has been placed on reaching FCR and quality targets this can result in higher AHT, more cost and a less efficient workforce in terms of calls handled per day.
The point is, without operations having a clear understanding of all metrics that make up the running of contact centres, be it efficiency, quality or people measures then you will never be able to deliver a truly world class service. As with all things, it is about finding the right balance that will deliver against the end goal for your operation. If you pull leavers to increase quality, then efficiency measures will often take a hit. Likewise if you burn out staff in order to hit SLAs then expect to see absence and attrition increase. Having a blanket ban on overtime would remove cost from your centre, but impact your ability to deal with peaks in volume or staffing issues.
The power of linking data
Consider this example: Depending on your focus, you may consider Bob’s excessive AHT as a negative driver of extra cost or you could see him as a customer champion always going that extra mile on his calls. Either way, without the ability to look deeper at his results and considering other factors like customer satisfaction, it would be difficult to decide on an appropriate course of action. As we can see above, when adding in a customer measure we can actually see that Bob is scored low for product knowledge, which may explain the extra call duration. But what we do know is customers are not satisfied with Bob’s approach, so corrective action is needed immediately.
Having a blinkered view and looking at metrics in isolation may result in you achieving your set objective, but what is the potential long term fall-out and cost of that? We are not suggesting that you need to throw out the rule book entirely, but ask yourself whether or not what you are measuring day-to-day is truly giving you the biggest bang for your buck. Do we need to challenge our reality and consider the impact chasing isolated metrics has on our long term employee and customer loyalty and the value we bring back to the business?
It’s a brave thing to do but as we all know managers accept the status quo, leaders challenge it!