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Everything you do should contribute to operational excellence

and how do you convert improvements into actionable steps towards operational excellence?

Improvements can be related to marketing, sales, development or HR. But a thing that all improvements should have in common is contributing to building successful operational excellence. Now, you’re probably thinking, “theory sounds nice, but how do I convert this into actionable steps towards operational excellence?”

To answer this question, let’s discuss the aspect of operational excellence in detail. Our industry experts shine their light on this topic.

What is Operational Excellence exactly?

It’s a term so broad that it is hard to define as one single concept. Operational excellence is described as a philosophy that contains problem-solving abilities and strong leadership as the key to permanent improvement.

Operational excellence can mean different things. For some industries, it can mean a high number of sales. For others, excellent delivery and well taught logistics.

For contact centers, it can encompass the agent performance and cost-effective strategies.

It is vital to understand operational excellence means something different for everyone and it is up to the organization to define the terms in their company.

In the contact center world, a cost-effective approach can be part of the operational excellence, because long handling time can contribute to not only financial costs but also lower customer satisfaction rate. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor KPIs such as: handling time, calls per agent, cost per call, talk time, among others.

SLA-Should you use it?

When talking about a cost-effective approach, the SLA, or Service Level Agreement, is one metric that comes to mind, because it used to be the only metric that mattered. SLA has been used extensively for measuring the efficiency and customer satisfaction of a contact center. In other words, how helpful you are towards the customers. This metric is universally acknowledged as the 80/20 rule or answering 80% of the customer calls in the first 20 seconds.

Unfortunately, SLA gives no details about a client’s satisfaction level; it merely represents the speed of answering the call.

So, did you help the customer in that answered time? No one knows. Not according to the SLA, anyway.

In fact, focusing on a good SLA might actually do the opposite for your company and decrease customer satisfaction and ultimately, the operational excellence. Why? The agent is only focused on answering the customer’s request in those 20 seconds (according to. the 80/20 rule) and not focused on the performance. Our experts gave an example:

Imagine you’re an agent at a contact center. Customer X calls and is immediately placed on hold. You and your colleague agents are busy with other customers that called before this one call came through.

The 20 seconds have passed, and still no one takes the call. Customer X keeps waiting in the line.

You finish the ongoing call with a customer and want to take Customer X’s call. However, the phone rings again and a new customer, let’s call him Customer Y, is waiting in line now.

According to the SLA rule, Customer X’s call cannot promote and improve the SLA of the company anymore, because the 20 seconds have already passed. However, the new customer is still in the 20 seconds timespan of answering.

What does SLA say then? Exactly. Answer to Customer Y. Leave Customer X on hold because his call already reduced the SLA percentage. But with customer Y, you still have a chance.

And here you have it. This is a simple example of why SLA does not measure customer satisfaction and not even agent performance; it merely measures how fast you answer the phone. And relying on improving SLA, you might favour a rapid service over a good one.

If not SLA, then what?

To measure the actual performance and customer satisfaction, you can use NPS (Net Promoter Score), a management tool used to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is usually comprised of feedback on the last call with a customer about the helpfulness of the agent. This provides a more accurate and direct analysis of the customer’s opinion on the service they just received. Moreover, it can also be tracked and measured to observe the company’s progress throughout time in the customer satisfaction area.

What is then, the most cost-efficient way to deliver a service? And to reach operational excellence?

Cost efficiency is one of the most desired outcomes. Everyone is searching for it. But cost efficiency has changed from its original meaning of only financial expenses and short-term period activity. It is a long-term journey with more than monetary implications.

And although SLA might bring temporary cost reliefs, in the long term it might damage customer relationships. NPS can also become costly because the cost per call might rise. However, rapid service and excellent customer satisfaction can be achieved by focusing on solving the problem the first time. So, a KPI such as First Call Resolution (Call Success Rate) can give you much more detail into the actual operational excellence of your company.

What’s the optimal solution then?   The best of both worlds.

No one has a strict recipe for operational excellence, and every company is different. Since customer service has become a Unique Selling Point, it is not perceived as a burden anymore. Therefore, it is vital to provide qualitative services, especially now, as customers value brand relationships more than ever.

Here is a list of KPIs and their impact, to serve as examples and guidelines:

·      Cost per Call-> essential for cost efficiency in the short term

·      Handling time-> can provide insight into how long it takes to solve a problem or help a customer (multiple derivations and calculations are customised from this KPI)

·      CSSR (Call Setup Success Rate)->can contribute to the overall image of customer satisfaction

·      Average sales/agent-> can provide internal information about agent prosperity

·      Call volume-> also internal situation explainer

Notice that KPIs are used not only to monitor external performance towards the customers, but also the internal performance of agents. Therefore, carefully chosen KPI, that match organisational values and help achieve set goals.

It is ultimately up to you to arrange these “helpers” because who knows better what suits a contact center than a contact center manager?

Our help?

We designed CardboardCX- The KPI displayer for contact centers

CardboardCX uses KPIs directly from the connected system. It allows you to have all your desired KPIs displayed in realtime in a single dashboard.

Our product is mainly focused on the contact center space and provides in-depth indicators for the industry. You can choose from a variety of KPIs and display them on any screen, at any time.

Moreover, it also provides the option to display calculated values, such as combining service level percentages and timeframes and showing a weighted average service level percentage over the chosen period.  

Any questions? Send us a message.

Written by

Patricia

Intern

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