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Today’s connected customers expect to resolve their inquiry or problem on the first contact effortlessly, regardless of what contact channel(s) they choose to use. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, customers expect to be able to resolve their inquiry or problem in one contact regardless of the contact channel they choose to use or the complexity of the inquiry or problem. SQM research shows that 93% of customers using the call center channel and 72% of customers using the website channel expect to be able to resolve their inquiry or problem in one contact. Customers’ expectations to resolve any inquiry or problem using any contact channel they choose is a huge challenge for organizations to meet.
There is much debate on what the best metrics are for measuring, benchmarking, and improving a contact channel and/or an omni-channel customer experience (CX) for resolving an inquiry or problem. Many contact center managers think internal metrics such as web analytics, service level, hold time, call transfer, call length, channel completion rate, repeat contact, and quality assurance are essential metrics for improving CX. Interestingly, the above internal metrics are used more commonly than the external Voice of the Customer (VoC) survey metrics for trying to improve CX. SQM agrees that these internal metrics can be helpful for improving CX, but the metrics that matter the most for improving CX for resolving an inquiry or problem are the external VoC survey metrics. After all, the customer should be the judge of their own experience. The majority of organizations measure CX at the enterprise level and for the call center channel using a customer survey process. However, in most cases, organizations do not conduct surveys for measuring customers’ experiences using other core contact channels (e.g., web self-service, IVR self-service, chat, email, omni-channel) to resolve an inquiry or problem.
It has been SQM’s experience that organizations conducting post-contact surveys on customers’ experiences trying to resolve an inquiry or problem are more likely to improve CX than organizations using only internal metrics. In fact, 70% of SQM clients improved One Contact Resolution (OCR), First Contact Resolution (FCR), and Customer Satisfaction (Csat) because they conducted post-contact customer surveys for core contact channels. It is difficult to improve CX if an organization does not conduct surveys to measure and benchmark CX using core contact channels and omni-channel for resolving an inquiry or problem.
Best practices for measuring and improving customers’ experiences using core contact channels for resolving an inquiry or problem are to:
The Top 10 customer experience metrics apply to any industry and contact channels used by customers to resolve an inquiry or problem. The Top 10 CX Metrics are based on SQM’s experience of measuring and benchmarking leading North American organizations since 1996 as well as surveying over 5 million customers who used a contact channel. SQM’s Top 10 CX Metrics provide valuable insights on customers’ experiences when using a contact channel or multiple contact channels to resolve an inquiry or problem and on an organization’s overall CX performance.
Figure 1 shows the Top 10 CX Metrics. These metrics are split up into three main areas: Contact Channel CX Metrics, Omni-Channel CX Metrics, and Enterprise-Wide CX Metrics. The contact channel CX metrics and omni-channel CX metrics are primarily used for measuring a customer’s contact channel experience, whereas the enterprise-wide CX metrics are most often used for measuring a customer’s overall experience with an organization. Typically, enterprise-wide CX metrics are based on customer perception surveys. However, enterprise-wide CX metrics can also be based on post-contact customer transaction surveys. Using enterprise-wide CX metrics based on a customer’s experience using a contact channel or omni-channel can provide valuable insights on how contact channels and omni-channel delivery is impacting the organizations’ overall CX.
Figure 1: Top 10 CX Metrics
The Top 10 CX Metrics are not ranked in order of importance because they all provide valuable CX insights. However, there are pros and cons associated with each one of these metrics. For example, Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is useful for understanding company brand and a customer’s willingness to recommend an organization, however, the NPS® metric is not as useful for making CX improvements as other CX metrics. Conversely, FCR focuses on whether or not a customer had their inquiry or problem resolved in one contact which provides excellent insights into what CX improvements are needed. However, this CX metric does not represent the customer’s entire enterprise-wide experience. Thus, NPS® provides unique insights into customer referrals, while FCR provides excellent insights into CX improvements.
There is much debate on what the right metrics are for measuring a customer’s experience when using a contact channel or multiple contact channels for resolving an inquiry or problem, and which metrics to focus on when measuring enterprise-wide CX performance. Again, it is important to emphasize that of these Top 10 CX Metrics there is no single metric that can measure all aspects of a customer’s experience. Therefore, it is essential to use all 10 or multiple metrics for measuring and managing CX. Figure 2 illustrates the cascading perspective of the Top 10 CX Leading and Lagging Metrics. As shown, the leading CX metrics (i.e., contact resolution, FCR, OCR, Contact Channel Csat, Customer Emotion Experience, Seamless Experience, and Omni-Channel Experience) have an impact on the performance of the lagging CX metrics (i.e., CX Greatness, Net Promoter Score®, and Net Retention Index). Consequently, when leading CX metric performances are high or low, so too are the performances of the lagging CX metrics.
Figure 2: Top 10 CX Leading and Lagging Metrics
Contact Resolution is based on a customer’s inquiry or problem being resolved. It might take two or more contacts to be resolved, but it was resolved. The benchmark average for contact resolution is 88%. The majority of organizations do not know whether or not they actually resolved the customer's inquiry or problem. It is assumed that if the customer does not call back, then their inquiry or problem is resolved. However, for unresolved contacts in the best-case scenario, it might be that the customer chooses to use a different channel to resolve their inquiry or problem. In the worst-case scenario, the customer may have gone to another organization. Therefore, it is essential to measure contact resolution by contact channel.
First Contact Resolution (FCR) is based on the percentage of customers who resolved their inquiry or problem on their first contact using a specific contact channel, such as a call center, web self-service, IVR self-service, email, or chat. FCR does not take into consideration whether or not other contact channels were used. The term ‘contact’ can be replaced with the specific contact channel (e.g., ‘first call resolution, ‘first email resolution’, ‘first web self-service resolution’, or ‘first IVR self-service resolution’). Many SQM clients consider FCR to be their most important CX metric for measuring and managing CX. The benchmark average for FCR is 72%. This means that nearly one-third of customers have to contact the contact center again to resolve their inquiry or problem, which, for most organizations, represents a considerable opportunity to improve.
One Contact Resolution (OCR) is based on a customer resolving their inquiry or problem on the first contact using only one contact channel. In other words, not having to use another contact channel prior to, during, or after using the single contact channel. The benchmark average for OCR is 62%. When you ask customers what is most important to them when they use a contact channel – a clear majority of them will say they want to resolve their inquiry or problem on the first contact using only one contact channel. Given that customers want their inquiry or problem resolved on the first contact using one contact channel, the OCR metric is perfect for measuring whether or not the customer received that experience. An important distinction between FCR and OCR is that FCR only considers the usage of an individual contact channel and OCR factors in the usage of multiple contact channels for resolving an inquiry or problem.
Contact Channel Csat is based on a customer’s experience trying to resolve an inquiry or problem. The benchmark average for contact channel Csat very satisfied (top box response) is 77%. Csat has been the most widely used and understood CX metric of all the VoC metrics. Perhaps the popularity of Csat is due to the fact that it has been used for many years. At SQM, we recommend measuring Csat at the individual contact channel level as well as at the enterprise-wide level. SQM uses a 4-point satisfaction scale with “very satisfied” anchoring the highest point of the scale and “very dissatisfied” anchoring the lowest point of the scale. For Csat, SQM uses the top box response for benchmarking purposes because anything less than Csat top box response represents an opportunity for improvement.
Customer Emotion Experience (CEE) is based on the customers who felt their entire experience was perfect for resolving an inquiry or problem, which is a relatively new measurement practice. At SQM, we use a 5-point customer emotion experience scale with “perfect” anchoring the highest point of the scale and “totally unacceptable” anchoring the lowest point of the scale. Interestingly, SQM’s benchmarking research shows that for the CEE metric, 39% of customers felt their experience trying to resolve an inquiry or problem was a perfect (top box response) experience. For customers who described their emotion experience as perfect, the Net Promoter Score® was 79%. Clearly, providing customers with a perfect emotion experience has a substantial positive impact on customers’ likelihood to recommend an organization to others.
SQM research shows that 37% of customers use two or more contact channels simultaneously to resolve the same inquiry or problem, and 20% of customers who used a call center did so because a self-service contact channel failed. Furthermore, the majority of North American organizations do not know how to measure CX for those customers who used two or more contact channels to resolve the same inquiry or problem. As a result, SQM is often asked, “What is the best way to measure CX for those customers who used two or more contact channels to resolve the same inquiry or problem?” We recommend using the seamless and omni-channel experience metrics.
Seamless Experience is based on a customer who had a seamless experience when using multiple contact channels to resolve the same inquiry or problem. In other words, seamless experience is when a customer uses two or more contact channels for resolving the same inquiry or problem and is able to pick up from where they left off in the previous channel without having to start over from the beginning. The benchmark average for seamless experience is 51%.
Omni-Channel Experience is defined as the percentage of customers who had a seamless experience and are overall very satisfied (top box response) with their entire experience using multiple contact channels to resolve the same inquiry or problem. The benchmark average for omni-channel experience is 33%. This low CX percentage and high multi-channel usage for resolving the same inquiry or problem suggests that improving the omni-channel experience is critical.
As previously mentioned, enterprise-wide CX metrics are typically used as a global metric in describing the customer's enterprise-wide experience. Typically, enterprise-wide CX metrics are measured using a perception survey method. However, it is not uncommon for enterprise-wide CX metrics to be measured using transaction surveys to understand how a customer's experience using a contact channel and/or omni-channel impacted their overall view of the organization.
CX Greatness is based on the customer’s overall experience with the organization. Customer CX Greatness ratings are based on a perception survey method and represent the sum of their experiences with an organization or can be based on a transaction survey method to measure customers’ experiences using a contact channel or omni-channel. The benchmark average for CX Greatness (top box “great” rating response) is 53% for customers who used a contact channel. Based on CX using a contact channel, only 5% of SQM clients have a CX Greatness rating of 65% or higher, which we consider world class performance level. Many organizations are providing good CX but strive to provide great CX at the world class level. In order to go from good to great CX, it is essential to measure CX Greatness on an ongoing basis to understand performance trends and improvement opportunities. The CX Greatness metric is easy to communicate internally to executives and front-line staff and is a metric that people can rally behind.
Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is widely used by many leading North American companies and, in many cases, is the most critical metric they use for measuring CX and understanding the impact that CX has on customers’ likelihood to recommend the organization to others. The NPS® benchmark average is 41% for customers who used a contact channel. On average, contact centers’ management groups manage or share ownership of six contact channels and, as a result, are responsible for CX on most, if not all interactions a customer has with an organization. Therefore, contact centers have a significant impact on customers referring the organization to others and whether or not they continue to do business with an organization.
Net Retention Index (NRI) is an important metric because it measures customers’ likelihood to continue to do business with the organization. The NRI benchmark average is 60% for customers who used a contact channel. It has long been SQM’s belief that customer retention should be one of the main purposes of the contact center, especially when you consider that, in many cases, a contact center is the last line of defense to stop a customer from defecting. Customer retention means that customers are not leaving the organization as a result of their contact center experience. By retaining customers, the contact center protects the organization’s greatest asset – its customers. Astonishingly, the majority of contact center managers either have no idea, or do not measure, whether or not they have retained customers as a result of their contact center experience and, therefore, have no idea of the organization’s resulting revenue loss. Unresolved contacts are a leading indicator of customers defecting to competitors. Furthermore, for the average contact center, with nearly one-third of customer contacts not being resolved on the first contact, it is no wonder that customers just want their contact resolved.
SQM is often asked, “What are the world class performance targets for the Top 10 CX Metrics?” The answer to this question is based on our top 5% best performing organizations for delivering world class CX. The contact channel world class CX performance targets are applicable to all core (e.g., call center, web self-service, IVR self-service, chat, email) contact channels. The following are the Top 10 CX world class performance targets:
Contact Channel CX Metrics:
Omni-Channel CX Metrics:
Enterprise-Wide CX Metrics:
Note: Csat uses a 4-point scale, CX Greatness and Customer Emotion Experience use 5-point scales, Net Promoter Score® and Net Retention Index use 11-point scales
Although there are many CX metrics that provide different valuable insights, SQM recommends using only a few of those metrics to create accountability from the CSR to the senior VP level. Typical metrics used to create accountability at the CSR level are Call Resolution, CEE, and Csat. At the middle management level (e.g., supervisor, manager, director), typical metrics used to create accountability are FCR, CEE, and Csat. At the senior management level (e.g., VP, SVP), typical metrics used to create accountability are FCR, OCR, Contact/Omni-Channel Csat, CX Greatness, Net Promoter Score®, and Net Retention Index.
Another common question asked of SQM is, “Are these Top 10 CX Metrics and corresponding world class performance targets only for contact centers that handle simple issues (e.g., retail), or can they also be used for contact centers that handle complex issues (e.g., insurance, financial, or telco)?” It has been SQM’s experience that contact centers that handle complex contacts have been able to achieve these world class performance targets. Customers do not judge their contact channel experience based on the complexity of the inquiry or problem; rather, they judge their experience based on whether or not their issue was resolved, preferably in the first channel used and in one contact. As a result, SQM is of the opinion that these targets apply to all contact centers, whether they handle simple or complex issues.
If you are interested in learning more about The Top 10 CX Metrics for improving your customer CX Greatness rating, and increasing customer referrals and retention, please contact SQM.
If you liked this article, you can learn more about the author Mike Desmarais, and SQM Group.