If there’s one call center metric that destroys the quality of the customer experience, it’s the call time report. I can’t think of another report, outside of accounting reports (sorry accounting folks, it’s not for me), that I find less useful for me as a manager to determine quality. The reason why I can’t stand the call time report is because call time reports offers no indication on the quality of service. Too much time in call center and customer service management is wasted on the call time report.
Let’s face it. Long calls, don’t necessarily mean bad service, I’ve seen superstar customer support people spend hours on the phone with a customer resolving a customer issue. This is a good thing, we need to encourage engagement in our teams and taking the time needed to solve the problem. I’ve also seen the other hand where individuals not confortable with an issue will take much longer than needed to solve the problem, resulting in longer phone calls, not necessarily better quality.
For a Great Customer Experience, Measure Quality, Not Call Time
Traditional customer service call center metrics are terrible. Call center metrics today are too focused on usage of equipment and not on helping customers. That’s probably why customer service today is measured in customer satisfaction and not customer loyalty. Zappos, the online retailer, has a reputation for awesome quality customer service and customer loyalty, without resorting to your traditional call center metrics.
There are only 4 quality metrics questions you ever need to ask your customers. Evan Hamilton, at UserVoice, reveals the secret metric Zappos uses for quality customer service. Zappos doesn’t measure call times, in fact, they often tout stories about 6-hour support calls and referrals to competitor sites when they were out of stock of an item and some people look down on them for that. Or the dismiss it saying that it only works for Zappos. If you are focused on calls times and discuss that with your team members, you’re not focused on the quality of the customer experience. Fortunately, real customer service, customer-focused metrics aren’t hard.
The 4 customer experience quality metrics questions you ever need to ask (call time is not one).
Customer-focused metrics are the gateway to creating a quality customer experience. Customers are looking for quality and problems solving, not a specific amount of time on the phone. Successful quality customer service is about creating great quality customer experiences where customers come away with a renewed sense of value from working with you, looking forward to work with you again, and willing and wanting to share about you with everyone they know. You don’t get that from a call time report. You can find how effectively you’re doing this by focusing metrics around these 4 key questions, notice that call time is not included in any of these:
- Question 1: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to recommend Zappos to a friend or family member?
- Question 2: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to request the person you spoke with again?
- Question 3: On a scale from 1 – 10: How likely would you be to recommend this person to a friend or co-worker?
- Question 4: On a scale from 1 – 10: If you owned your own business, how likely would you be to try and hire the person you spoke with?
Focus on quality metrics for customer experience, but don’t throw out the call time report and other metrics. They can still be valuable.
Traditional call center metrics are valuable, in the right context. Call center metrics are part of the key to quality customer service. Since great customer service and awesome customer experiences involve having team members available to work with customers, that’s where traditional metrics comes in, they give you an idea of where you need to staff people. But traditional call center call time reports should rarely be used with employees since they don’t give a full scope of the quality of service being done. Instead, customer service and call center managers can implement the following practices for utilizing call time reports:
- Review long-term call times (over 1 month is best since shorter times lend to inaccurate information).
- Get average call times for your entire team (compare only employees working similar shift hours).
- For team members with statistically significant higher call times, review longer phone calls and look for potential issues causing slower service responses.
- Incorporate findings into your on-going regular individual employee training, but not specifically pointing out that the training is being done because of longer call times.
Why? Because you don’t want to have discourage employees from taking the time to help customers. You’re only addressing long call times if there is a legitimate need to address it. Good service is not a legitimate reason. That’s what you hope for. The next time you see the call time report, take a minute and think about what it really means. There’s a lot of good service taking place in those precious minutes.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts what call center metrics you use to measure the quality of the customer experience.
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