The contact center customer experience is a critical differentiator for brands and can mean the difference between retaining a customer’s loyalty and losing business. In this article, we’ll dive into the ideal contact center customer experience, how your organization can measure and improve it, and actionable steps and tools to transform the customer experience.
What is contact center customer experience?
Contact center customer experience is what it sounds like – it is the overall experience a customer has when interacting with a contact center or BPO. And the ideal customer experience can take different forms. It can be a quick glimpse at an FAQ or knowledge base, or perhaps a short chat. It can also be a call with a brief hold time (if any) and a productive conversation with an empathetic, efficient, and knowledgeable agent. No matter the scenario, the ideal interaction meets that customer’s expectations – meaning it is brief, personalized, easy, and resolves the issue in a single interaction.
What is the importance of the contact center customer experience?
The contact center customer experience is a key differentiator for today’s brands – and expectations are high. Customers expect a seamless experience and quick resolution. Anything less can easily send that customer to a competitor – and once lost, that business is difficult to earn back. Conversely, a great experience will not only retain that customer but can also turn them into a brand advocate.
Below are seven actionable steps to boosting the customer experience at your contact center and BPO:
Continuously empower and train agents
When it comes to the contact center customer experience, agent training is a major factor. Agents should have ongoing training on products, services, compliance requirements, and internal systems. And develop agents’ soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and “people” skills, such as empathy. The more knowledgeable and empathetic the agent, and the more empowered they are to resolve inquiries, the more satisfactory that interaction will be for the customer.
Evaluate quality management processes
Quality assurance plays a major role in improving the contact center customer experience. But often, these processes are disconnected and tedious, and might not deliver the full value to operations teams that they otherwise could. Optimize your contact center customer experience with a connected, personalized, dynamic QA process with customizable evaluation forms, a robust feedback loop, and transparency.
Know your customers…
When a customer reaches out to the contact center, what does the agent know aside from their name and inquiry type? The more the agent knows about the customer (such as an interaction history and any repeat or ongoing issues) the better able they are to assist, and the more positive the experience.
…and understand their journey
When customers reach out to the contact center, what is their journey to resolution? How is the routing experience? When the customer reaches an agent, do they have to repeat information, and does the agent spend the needed time to resolve any complex issues? Understanding this helps operational managers determine areas of improvement, such as routing, agent training, and providing a simpler, personalized contact center customer experience.
Implement automation and artificial intelligence (AI)
This can include routing inquiries and providing basic information, such as in a chat for low-lift inquiries that require a general response or answer to a question. AI and automated options can free up human agent time for more complex customer issues and other escalations.
Ask for customer feedback
Provide a brief survey offered at the end of a call, or through a link after a chat. You might also deliver that survey via text, social media DM, or email. Ask about aspects such as agent knowledge and skill, if the issue was resolved, the overall rating of their experience, and how likely they are to recommend the company based on that interaction.
Enhance the employee experience
A great customer experience starts with a great employee experience – and motivated and engaged agents will deliver a better customer experience. Taking a holistic, employee-centric approach and providing learning and progression paths, as well as collaborative opportunities, well-being checks, and an overall positive culture can greatly improve the employee experience and in turn, the contact center customer experience.
Measuring and improving the contact center customer experience helps health metrics but discovering opportunities and new tools that can help keep metrics on an upward trend. Below are a few KPIs we recommend for effectively measuring the contact center customer experience:
Customer Effort Score (CES) measures the ease with which customers were able to interact with contact center agents and resolve their inquiries. This is usually rated on a scale of 1-10, a lower score indicates a better experience.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a common KPI and indicates the overall level of customer satisfaction with their interaction. Customers typically rate the agent’s knowledge, professionalism, and general helpfulness.
First Contact Resolution (FCR) F is the percentage of customer inquiries resolved during the first contact. A high FCR score is an indication that customers are able to have their issues resolved during that single contact, which can increase satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) indicates the likelihood that a customer would recommend the company to others. Rated on a scale of 0-10, scores of 9 or 10 indicate a high chance of recommendation, while scores between 0 and 6 signal a detractor.
Customer Retention Rate is the percentage of customers who stay with a company after their first contact center interaction. A high rate indicates that customers are largely satisfied.
Customer Churn Rate measures the percentage of customers who stop patronizing a company after their first interaction. A high churn rate indicates that improvements are needed.
Once you’ve implemented and benchmarked your KPIs, monitor the related metrics and look for what needs improvement. Below are a few recommendations to help action the essential steps we covered:
Keep agents updated and proficient when it comes to product, service, system, and regulatory compliance updates with microlearning. Microlearning supplements formal training within the flow of work with bite-size learning materials and helps fight the forgetting curve. This helps agents learn and retain that knowledge across the employee lifecycle and no matter the learning initiative, such as onboarding, upskilling, and cross-skilling.
Leverage generative AI for frontline training
Training on updates around products, services, internal systems, and compliance requirements is essential to the contact center customer experience. With generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, admins can quickly and efficiently create frontline training materials, at scale, delivering the needed items for an improved content center customer experience.
Gamify the employee experience
Gamification is the application of game mechanics (such as leaderboards, levels, badges, points, and rewards and recognition). This strategy keeps employees motivated by tapping into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in turn helps employees engaged and focused on their goals, which translates into higher performance and an elevated contact center customer experience.
Create a collaborative, learning-focused environment
Enable employees to perform at their best and deliver an exceptional contact customer experience by creating a culture of learning with personalized, ongoing learning and development opportunities and clear career pathways. Also enable social sharing, such as employee contributions, where employees share their best on-the-job advice, such as tips on handling an irate customer, and how to finish post-call paperwork a little faster.
The future of the contact center customer experience is automated and personalized – and is being shaped now with the rise of new technology to help meet the anticipated increase in customer expectations.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently being used in features such as chatbots. Tomorrow’s chatbots will be even more sophisticated and deliver a much more personalized customer experience on a wider range of inquiries. The use of knowledge bases and FAQs as part of automated self-service channels is also on the rise, allowing customers to resolve issues on their own (and quickly) without having to interact with an agent.
Meet Centrical – #1 Gamification-based Performance Experience Platform
For over a decade, Centrical has partnered with contact centers and BPOs across the globe to help shape the customer experience by building motivated, engaged, and high-performing frontline teams. Our Performance eXperience platform includes elements such as AI-powered microlearning, augmented coaching, and real-time performance insights to keep employees well-trained and aligned with their goals. AI and advanced gamification bring these elements together and drive long-term motivation and engagement – and in turn, improve the contact center customer experience. Centrical customers have experienced solid results, including:
We invite you to learn more about Centrical’s Employee Experience Methodology by downloading our definitive guide.
Watch the Centrical platform in action with a quick preview.
Customer expectations are rising – and so are the stakes for providing a positive contact center customer experience. By measuring customer experience and a few key takeaways: