I’ve spent some of today with our sales teams going through all the different measures & KPIs that a contact centre typically uses.

Broadly I split the measurements into the seven different categories shown below (and I’ve added some examples in each category)

Cost – cost per contact for example

Quality – Customer satisfaction through NPS

Productivity – calls per day

Agent – agent turnover

Service Level – average speed to answer

Call Handling – average handle time

Sales – revenue

The sales teams found this a good clarification of terms that they’d heard but in some cases hadn’t fully understood the impact.  The big question they all asked after this session – “How can our headsets improve these measures?”  So here’s my thoughts on that.

The first thing I went through was – “What are the important measures to me?”  

As a user of contact centres:

Average speed to answer – I hate waiting on hold, or in a queue, makes me think that those companies don’t value my business (regardless of what their hold message states).

First Call Resolution – If a company promises something (to make something work, to deliver something), then I want that promise kept.  It really feels like broken promises if I have to get back in touch with that company so I want my call to be the only time I get in touch on this issue.

With my ‘business’ head on:

Cost per contact – I’d want to prioritise customer satisfaction first, but keep costs contained.  There are a lot of factors that go into this, so lets look at two

Agent turnover – not a direct contributor, but adds into recruitment and training costs

Average handle time – if the amount of time on a call can be reduced, then, as labour is the biggest cost of a contact centre you can directly reduce cost per contact.

The next step is – “What do headsets do?”

Noise canceling microphone.  This reduces the impact of background noise in a contact centre. This is important as it ensures the customer only hears the voice of the agent, rather than any other conversations.  This can leader to less mistakes, and less repetitions as the agents voice is heard clearly by the customer.  So, a headset with a good quality noise cancelling microphone can lead to shorter call times and reduced average handle time.

Protection against sudden sounds.  If you want to know the impact of sudden sounds, think of having a smoke alarm go off near your ear – very distressing to happen once, and enough to make you change jobs or even careers if it happens repeatedly.  By providing protection against these sounds, a headset can help minimise any potential damage to hearing.  This can directly reduce sickness time, and also in the long term in can reduce agent turnover as they are not exposed to these potentially debilitating sounds.

Enable three way conversations between customer, agent and subject matter expert. Contact centres are increasingly finding that the more complex calls they have to deal with now are needing the help of a subject matter expert to resolve.  A model way of engaging with subject experts is to find their status using Unified Communications, and then use a headset to enable a three-way conversation.  By involving the agent in this conversation, you are contributing to a constant learning path for the agent, reducing their frustration levels (as they can resolve even the most complex customer queries) and increasingly the likelihood of them staying in that role (reducing agent turnover).  By involving the expert, you can also directly improve first call resolution.

Wireless.  As above, more collaboration is needed to resolve increasingly complex customer queries.  If that collaboration is within a team that is local to you (in the same room), then a wireless headset that enables you to move around the room to consult with your team can increase the first call resolution by improving collaboration amongst your team.  Also, if the call can be completed whilst the agent is away from their desk, a wireless headset can enable the agent to answer the next call whilst they are returning to their desk – decreasing the average speed to answer.

Wireless (again!). Let take the model of technical product support as an example.  Usually, organisations that do this have an area set aside to mimic customer configurations for testing.  If the agent has a wireless headset, they can keep the customer on the call (rather than on hold, or calling them back) whilst they do the testing and give the customer the answer immediately.  This has the potential to improve first call resolution, and reduce hold time.  You may find that a downside of this is increased call time as the agent moves to a more interactive discussion with the customer rather than ring in with a problem, ring back with a solution model.

Improve audio clarity.  The role of an audio processor is to clean up the audio quality on a call.  Multiple networks, poor quality VoIP calls – these can lead to higher noise levels and degraded audio quality on calls.  The audio processor works to improve this by reducing the background noise levels that the agent hears.  It also selectively amplifies the frequencies that correspond to better intelligibility (those that make up fricative sounds if you were interested).  Both of these acts can lead to clearer audio, which leads to less mistakes and repetitions – and to shorter calls, reducing average handle time.  

The changes to your measurements aren’t likely to be earth-shatteringly large, sometimes though, the simple improvements that are literally under your nose, can make a significant difference to your business costs, or to the quality of service you offer your customers. You can download the attached white paper Why are measurements used in the contact centre for further reading.