Every year, leading contact centre research firm ContactBabel releases The UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide.
The report dissects many aspects of CX in the UK, considering strategy, performance, operations, and technology.
Indeed, the analyst surveyed 218 senior CX and customer contact professionals between April and June 2022, alongside 1,000 UK consumers, to do precisely that.
As a result, ContactBabel – with the support of sponsors, including Enghouse Interactive – unlocked many thought-provoking insights.
Perhaps the most pertinent spotlight critical drivers of positive contact centre experiences.
What Drives an Excellent Contact Centre Experience?
Within the report, ContactBabel asked UK consumers: What are the top three most important factors to you when contacting an organisation by phone or digital channel?
Here are the results, with the various colours representing a specific age range.
While fascinating in isolation, these findings become more enlightening when contrasted with the graph below. Here, CX professionals rank the same criteria in terms of their perceived importance to the customer.
By comparing and contrasting these graphs, many discrepancies emerge. Highlighting one prominent example, Steve Morrell, Managing Director of ContactBabel, states:
“The research shows that having UK-based employees is far more important to customers than many businesses believe, especially in the eyes of the older generation.”
Alternatively, it seems that businesses perhaps place too great an emphasis on ensuring only one agent handles an issue, alongside channel choice.
Thankfully, however, when it comes to what matters most to consumers, everyone is on the same page: first-time resolution (FTR) and short wait times drive the best contact centre experiences.
First Time Resolution Quandaries
Almost 90 percent of consumers consider FTR a critical element of the customer experience, placing it in their top three most important “factors”. Meanwhile, 54 percent of businesses believe it is THE most significant element of the contact centre experience.
However, brands often struggle with FTR – sometimes referred to as FCR (first contact resolution) – for three reasons. Each may contribute to the metric’s decline, as evident in the chart below.
First, it isn’t easy to track. Yes, there are many methods of measuring it, including monitoring repeat contacts, asking customers if the agent resolved their issue, and running a quality assurance initiative. However, each has significant downsides.
Second, as few as seven percent of senior executives consider FTR their most critical CX metric. As such, few operations reward and incentivize the metric – instead turning to customer satisfaction (CSAT) or the net promoter score (NPS) as their North Star KPIs.
Morell pinpoints issues in this approach, stating:
NPS and CSAT denote the what, not the why. Why are customers satisfied? We must look at what drives these two metrics, not the headline figure. Maybe that is getting their issues dealt with the first time.
Finally, FTR is also tricky to benchmark. Why? Because the plethora of methods to measure the metric often make external benchmarking data unreliable. Nevertheless, internal FCR benchmarking does sometimes deliver actionable insights.
3 Best Practices to Boost First Time Resolution
Overcome the three quandaries above by following these FTR best practices.
1. Harness Analytics for FTR Calculations
According to ContactBabel’s study, CX professionals consider automated interaction analytics the best FTR measurement method, with 51 percent describing it as “very useful”.
Such a method detects the customer’s intent to see if it is the same as recent, previous interactions.
With this, contact centres can also surface insights, such as which contact reasons are causing the most callbacks. Then, they can take targeted actions to reduce FTR.
2. Assess Broken Journeys
After isolating the contact centre journeys that often result in repeat contacts, analyse the troublesome queries to find the root cause.
Hopefully, contact centres can isolate and fix the issue. Yet, if there is no easy solution, focus on providing agents with the necessary guidance to deliver the best possible customer outcomes.
3. Seize a Hold of Subject Matter Expertise
Swarming techniques connect the contact centre with subject matter experts (SMEs) across the enterprise, enabling agents to tap specialist insights and resolve more queries. UCaaS-CCaaS integrations – such as Microsoft Teams and Enghouse Interactive – allows this.
Also, asking SMEs to add and update content within the knowledge base is an excellent step to support agents with easy access to expert advice.
Astrid Pocklington, Head of Corporate Content & Communications at Enghouse Interactive, advocates such a tactic. She adds:
A well-managed knowledge management solution helps agents to provide consistent, quick, and correct answers.
Long Waiting Time Troubles
Typically, people are much happier standing in a physical queue than waiting in an IVR.
Why? Because in a shop, customers can see how big the queue is, how many service staff are offering their support, and how quickly the line is moving. As such, customers feel in control.
In the contact centre, this vanishes. ContactBabel research reveals this trend, as Morell states:
We asked customers: how long on your last call did you have to wait? Their perceptions were 23 times greater than the reality. It was unbelievable.
“People were thinking they were waiting for 12-15 minutes when, in fact, they were waiting for 45 seconds or a minute. And obviously, there’s going to be some elements of exaggeration there. But these perceptions are really off.”
Luckily, there are many tactics to make the queuing experience more engaging. These include offering real-time progress updates, suggesting callbacks, and reconsidering on-hold messaging.
Regarding the latter, contact centres can remove messages such as: “Why don’t you check our website?” After all, most of the time, customers have. As a result, such a statement may only serve to drive up their frustration.
Considering such ploys may result in a more engaging contact centre experience and is one of many ways to reduce call abandon rates.
Yet, as the research suggests, finding ways to lower wait times is the golden goose.
3 Best Practices to Lower Waiting Times
Wait times often exceed targets due to understaffing. As such, it is primarily a workforce management issue.
Nevertheless, as recruitment troubles persist, lowering wait times through savvy forecasting and scheduling alone is not an easy answer. Fortunately, the following tactics may also help.
1. Bolster Agent Support Content
Not only does bolstering agent support systems improve FTR, but it may also lower wait times. How? By cutting out repeat calls, lessening agent workloads, and reducing queues.
Moreover, when agents are well-supported, they often find resolutions quicker, lowering handling times and chopping queue times down further.
As such, swarming techniques and enhancing the knowledge base are often fruitful endeavours – while agent-assist technology may also prove a knight in shining armour.
2. Streamline Interactions with Automation
Contact centres can shave precious seconds off every call by automating everyday desktop processes, such as form-filling, launching applications, and copying and pasting information.
Yet, as automation use cases grow in sophistication, many more opportunities come to the fore.
Consider voicebots. They can interact with customers as they wait in the queue, taking customer information and passing it on to agents before each conversation.
As a result, agents access many insights pertinent to the customer’s query before they start the conversation. Such tactics may significantly lower wait times and improve the queue experience.
3. Assess Dead Air Time
Dead air time refers to moments of silence during calls, which denote possible points of confusion or hesitation, which break the flow of conversation.
Contact centres can uncover knowledge gaps that prolong conversations by inspecting these moments of silence with the help of speech analytics.
After addressing these, contact centres often experience drops in handling times, which help to lower waiting times. In addition, agents enjoy more pleasant, positive conversations.
Learn More About the Current State of CX
ContactBabel and Enghouse have many more fascinating insights to share, unpacking the current state of CX technology, investments, and strategies.
To deep-dive into this research, download ContactBabel’s report: The UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022-2023
Also, this guide looks at effective ways to reduce call centre abandonment and how to ramp up your service effectively: 7 Steps to Reduce Call Abandon Rates
Alternatively, for those wishing to take a closer look at any of the contact centre technologies referenced in this article, visit: enghouseinteractive.co.uk