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GUEST BLOG: Customer Service Management – It’s time to change the metrics

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Customer experience (CX) has become a priority for the vast majority of organisations – or has it?

With the large volumes of contact centre advisors still incentivised based on speed – typically the Average Handle Time (AHT) – CX goals are quite often unachievable.

Companies have two options: speed or quality. Get the customer off the phone or web chat as quickly as possible or deliver a business transformative level of customer service. You can’t have it both ways.

As Dino Forte, CEO, Ventrica, insists, if companies truly want to release the strategic CX objective, it is time to end the outdated focus on AHT and create a new culture that embeds quality, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy metrics within contact centre performance…

Quality versus Quantity

AHT has dominated contact centre measurement for decades. During the era of low cost, low value service delivery, measuring advisors purely based on the speed with which a customer interaction could be wrapped up, irrespective of the quality of service or value of the experience, was the priority. But that model has little place in the customer centric market of 2019. At a time when the quality of customer experience is often the only opportunity to achieve any level of customer differentiation, the way in which organisations engage with customers – via social media or email, phone or web chat – is now critical.

So why are so many companies – many of which cite a strong commitment to CX – still buying contact centre services on the basis of AHT? How can an advisor deliver the high quality experience required to meet customer expectations, to create a brand advocate or prompt recommendations via social media, when the focus is mostly on speed? The entire concept is counterintuitive and counter-productive – and yet despite top level ‘Customer Experience’ focused strategies, when it comes to assessing contact centre performance and purchasing outsourced contact centre services, too many companies are still firmly entrenched in an outdated, speed based culture.

Clearly performance has to be evaluated and assessed to ensure value for money and quality of contact centre operations – so how can organisations match contact centre deliverables to corporate CX goals?

Cultural Conflict

The dichotomy within contact centre services today is that not only is a speed focused model at odds with the stated CX focus, it is also at complete odds with the investment in a raft of metrics to measure the voice of the customer and customer experience across the business. From social media sentiment to routine customer surveys, according to Gartner, the four most common categories for CX metrics are quality, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy and it is embedding these measures within a contact centre culture that is key to achieving an environment that provides the right type of experience.

Of course, AHT still has a role to play. It is important to track traditional performance metrics, such as the number of dropped contacts, as well as contacts handled, to ensure basic operational processes are working correctly. Additionally, it’s useful from a resource planning perspective to help ensure staffing levels are calculated accurately and productivity levels are where they need to be. A spike in AHT can even provide an indication of an emerging problem within the business – such as a billing glitch – that requires rapid escalation. But it is no measure of quality or the company’s ability to deliver highly personalised services.

Companies need to be honest: what is the business delivering via a contact centre? If there is any focus on CX, on ensuring customers receive a personalised resolution, then using AHT to incentivise contact centre advisers is massively counter-intuitive. An individual measured solely on the speed with which every interaction is concluded is never going to have the time to listen to the customer, understand the problems or issues raised, or focus on the quality of the experience. The goal will be to wrap up calls or handle multiple web chats simultaneously to ensure the AHT metrics are hit – and that fundamentally undermines the basic concept of good customer experience.

Customer Experience Metrics

If companies are to ensure the corporate CX vision is delivered at the contact centre, the culture has to change. This means embracing innovative technologies that enable customers to easily and effectively self-serve, freeing up contact centre advisors to concentrate on the more complex customer issues. But it also means reconsidering advisor metrics; ensuring they are incentivised based on the quality of experience, first time resolution and customer voice; and providing the training required to enable individuals to make the transition towards a better quality interaction.

Essentially it means changing both processes and culture to ensure advisors become customer centric and that customers have timely access to the information or service required and, where possible, one touch resolution.

In addition to leveraging technology innovation to support self-service, achieving a CX focused culture may also demand changes to the recruitment model to ensure advisors match the profile and needs of the customers. While an AHT dominated model requires a vanilla approach to advisor recruitment, as soon as the focus shifts to CX it becomes essential to allocate individuals with the right skills to the job. From the high levels of empathy and great listening skills required by those primarily dealing with elderly and/or distressed individuals, to an inherent interest in fashion for an advisor working for a clothing company, great CX requires a far more tailored recruitment model.


Great service cannot be delivered by individuals focused solely on processing as many customer interactions as possible – the two requirements are completely at odds. Companies need to look hard at why they are still measuring contact centre services on such an outdated model: AHT typically ties in with low cost, low valueinteractions. So, with many more companies now realising the fundamental importance of providing great service, is it not now essential to rethink the way these services are delivered by embedding customer experience within the culture?


Do you provide Analytics Solutions to Call Centres? We want to hear from you!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Call Centres Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the customer care market – and in February we’re focussing on Analytics Solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help customer care industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Analytics Solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Gayle Buckland on

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Feb – Analytics
Mar – Call Centre Technology
Apr – Automated Customer Satisfaction
May – Social Media
Jun – Artificial Intelligence
Jul – Virtual Call/Contact Centres
Aug – Training & Development
Sep – Knowledge Management
Oct – Web Self Service/Chat
Nov – Display Boards
Dec – CRM

For more information on any of the above, contact Gayle Buckland on

RECOMMENDED: Call Centre Analytics – Mediahawk

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Established over 15 years ago, Mediahawk is at the forefront of call tracking analytics and attribution.

Call tracking allows your business to make data-driven decisions to optimise marketing and advertising investments; improve conversions and reduce spend; improve the customer journey and uncover opportunities for business growth.

Call tracking and attribution is the ability to link marketing activity directly to a phone call. Correctly attributing these together is key to getting a proper return on investment.

In a digital environment, it’s easy to measure and link the sources that drive live chat and form completions. With phone calls however, this is not the case. The challenge is that there’s a disconnect between the call and the demand generating activity, making it difficult to measure.

The solution is to use a mixture of static and dynamic phone numbers to see what activity works – and what doesn’t, to feed into a programme of continual improvement.

Static numbers are used to track typically offline marketing, such as flyers, printed adverts or brochures. Dynamic numbers work online and provide each visitor to your website a unique telephone number. This number works like a cookie, tracking visitor behaviour in the same way as other calls to action. Using dynamic numbers from Mediahawk provides you with insight into intelligence such as sources, pages or keywords driving calls, and more.

Using a combination of static and dynamic numbers will give you deep insight into which areas of your marketing mix are taking your business forward and where you’re getting the best marketing return – invaluable in any competitive marketplace.


Do you provide analytics for contact centres? We want to hear from you!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Call Centres Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the customer care market – and in Match we’re focussing on Analytics.

It’s all part of our new ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help customer care industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Analytics solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Carter on

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

March – Analytics

April – Call Centre Technology

May – Automated Customer Satisfaction

June – Social Media

July – Artificial Intelligence

August – Virtual Call/Contact Centres

September – Training & Development

October – Knowledge Management

November – Web Self Service/Chat

December – Display Boards

For more information on any of the above, contact Lisa Carter on

Ember Services

Demystifying Speech Analytics and BI for contact centres

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Effective change in your contact centre has to be based on hard evidence. That evidence lies buried within telephone conversations, emails and social media interactions.

Join Ember Services for lunch and learn about the key things you need to think about before implementing a speech analytics solution across multiple channels.

During the session we will cover:

  • The role of speech analytics
  • Top 5 tips to get started (or how to re-energise an existing solution)
  • Pitfalls to look out for
  • How to measure success

We will also be discussing a number of real life examples of how you can use insights gained from your customer interactions to improve your customer service operation.

Limited spaces – book your seat today!

Presenter Information:

Lee Mostari | Consulting Director of Managed Analytics

Lee joins Ember having led consulting functions with NICE Systems and Insight Now. He also worked on the client side with EE (formerly T-Mobile), where he was based in the UK, and for the T-Mobile International Group, holding a number of customer insight roles. Prior to T-Mobile, Lee worked for 12 years within the Santander Group, where he delivered customer-orientated projects that significantly improved the customer experience.


About Ember Services Managed Analytics Team

The role of Lee’s team is to identify actionable insights from customer contact and customer feedback interactions, by implementing speech and text analytics and utilising their extensive operational knowledge and proven best practices determined from their analytical work. Learn more here

Limited spaces – book your seat today!

The event is in association with Cloud 9 Business Analytics.