The Most Important Customer Service KPI You Might Not Be Measuring

The Most Important Customer Service KPI You Might Not Be Measuring.

Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California. Real California cheese.

It was a marketing campaign that had a hold on Wisconsin. Plump, beautiful dairy cows roamed the sunny California hills joyously gossiping about the terrible conditions in far away, snow-ridden lands. How could a miserable cow — beaten down by harsh winds, berated by an unsupportive farmhand, trapped by the confines of cow-hood — be expected to produce delicious cheese?

The same question applies to customer service agents; how can miserable customer service agents be expected to produce great customer service? Sure, a harsh environment can produce tough skin, a desirable characteristic in the customer service industry, but tough skin is not the end goal. Having tough skin doesn’t make customer service better, friendlier or faster — it just ensures every day doesn’t end in a puddle of tears. Huh, what a goal.

Happy customer service agents make happy customers

Happy Cows Make Great Cheese

While cows are not the ideal spirit animal for most people, the analogy is simple. Happier customer service agents (cows) make happier customers (great cheese). In a digital age where everything can be measured to a T, agent satisfaction can often be surpassed for more easily quantifiable KPIs like first response time and resolution time. But are those really the metrics that matter the most? Does an agent who copies and pastes “sorry, please send an email to” deserve a bonus just because they have the shortest first response time? Probably not. So how to do it then? Glance around the room to tally smiles and frowns? Not exactly.

— Recommended for YouWebcast: Build a Powerful Network and Accelerate your Growth

What’s Measured Improves

You can only know where you’re going if you know where you’ve come from. While measuring agent satisfaction is no easy task, companies noted for their excellent customer service like Zappos have set forth a series of standards. The famous “8 hour Zappos customer service call” demonstrates that customer journey time alone is not the most important KPI. Here are two measurable approaches to customer service KPIs that consider quality and happiness, not just speed.

  • Measure time spent with customer, not average resolution time

Customer service agents are the frontline of your business. They are the people who actually interact with customers and have the unique opportunity to deliver a brand promise and identity on a personal level. That means overall time spent with customers should be rewarded, not punished. If a customer has a back and forth conversation on Twitter that takes 15 tweets, not 1, and results in a happy customer – retweet at the ready – this is a success.

Define a benchmark for what percentage of an agent’s time is desirable to be spent working directly with customers (active chat window, time on a phone call, quality and length of a social thread) and encourage agents to go beyond a simple resolution. Emphasize that they won’t be penalized for a longer customer journey.

  • Define and reward “wow” moments  

Customer service is all too often viewed as a cost and not an opportunity. No customer raves about the average service they had. They rave about that time when Don went to the ends of the earth to make sure they got a hold of those blue suede shoes before they flew off the shelf. What did Don do differently to make this “wow” moment happen? It wasn’t just about him doing his job, it was about creating Personal Emotional Connections which Zappos defines with the following questions:

–> Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?

–> Did they keep the rapport going after the customer responded to their attempt?

–> Did they address unstated needs?

–> Did they provide a “wow experience?”

How to Increase Agent Happiness

You’re off to a good start with these two approaches to measuring agent happiness, but how do you get happy agents in the first place? It’s not as simple as putting cows in the warm, grassy hills of California (remember, this was a 90s, pre-drought campaign), but it is as simple as empowering agents with choices and technology.

  • Build relationships over time

Flat white? *raises eyebrows and smiles*

I love a morning that starts off like this. I go to my regular coffee shop not only because they make the best coffee in town, but because they know me and we have a relationship. Sure, it’s a simple exchange, but my barista knows that I don’t like to shoot the shit before being properly caffeinated and I want a flat white 99% of the time.

The same thing applies to digital relationships. Being remembered makes customers feel good and remembering people makes agents’ work meaningful. They get to see progress overtime. The best relationships are built on shared experiences – moments you get to recall together. Using a CRM system that routes customer requests to the most relevant customer service agent allows for relationship building overtime.

  • Make work interesting

Most kids grow up dreaming of being an astronaut, actor, or in my case, professional card maker. Very few grow up thinking they want to work at a contact center. New customer service channels, like Facebook and Twitter, are changing this. Social customer care is an exciting opportunity with potential for a deeper understanding of the business. This function relates to marketing, public relations and process improvement.  Encourage agents to identify work that interests them and provide opportunities for them to develop in that area. Social customer service might be the secret to keeping agents on the verge of burnout – and recruiting a new wave of millennial talent.

  • Give them technology that works

Nothing kills my soul quite like slow technology. It induces those Office Space let-me-go-bash-my-computer-in-a-field moments that are more than just counter productive in a work environment. Customer service agents are usually the ones to get shafted on the technology front. Marketing has powerful analytics and publishing tools. Sales have CRM technology. Customer service? Do they need more than a headset? Yes!

Don’t add the frustration of bad technology to the already testing job of a customer service agent. Give agents the technology they need to do their job, and do it well. They gain valuable skills and return the favor with efficiency and sense of purpose.

Opportunity to Market, Not Overhead Cost

If you leave this article with one takeaway here it is: treat customer service like an opportunity to market your product or service, not as a necessary cost of doing business. This approach elevates the status of the customer service agent and moves them closer to becoming those happy California cows who produce great cheese. Sorry Wisconsin, we don’t want your sour milk.

Want to know more about developing happy customer service agents? Download this T-Mobile case study to learn why they  thinks it’s important to give agents room to be themselves.

Who should own the customer journey? | (Econsultancy: Understanding the Customer Journey: More Than Just Online)

Who should own the customer journey? | Econsultancy.

Published 4 May, 2015 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Social Media Manager at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

All marketers know that managing and optimising the customer journey is important, but who is in charge of it at your organisation?

Does anyone own the customer journey? And if not, who should take responsibility?

Success is very much dependent on getting this right by defining clear governance, roles and responsibilities, and ensuring there is a high degree of collaboration internally.

This is one of the themes investigated in our new report, Understanding the Customer Journey: More Than Just Online, published in association with ResponseTap.

The research shows that companies are five times more likely to identify marketers as being in the driving seat than any other teams, such as customer insight, sales or customer support.

Agencies are even more likely to point to marketers, with nearly three in five (58%) saying that customer journey ownership falls under their remit.

Which single department is primarily responsible for owning the customer journey within your / your clients’ organisation(s)?

It’s a group effort

Though marketers generally take responsibility for the customer journey, it’s obviously not a solo effort.

When it comes to contributing to an organisation’s understanding of the customer journey, behind marketing (70%) there’s a fairly even split between the other teams, with customer service support (43%), sales (42%) and analytics (39%) being among the biggest contributors.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, for B2B respondents, sales is the second most likely department to contribute to this.

Which business departments within your / your clients’ organisation(s) contribute to your understanding of the customer journey?

More often than not, organisations are fraught with a myopic culture: it’s all about optimising individual touchpoints and not the end-to-end experience.

Having this rather narrow focus sometimes distorts reality to the point that companies think they are delivering an outstanding experience when customers actually see it as mediocre at best.

Only by getting cross-functional teams together to identify pain points and come up with solutions as a group can organisations drive change.

Multichannel journey

The research shows that digital marketing and ecommerce teams are twice as likely to drive initiatives aimed at understanding the customer journey as their traditional or offline counterparts.

In an ideal world this would be more of a collaborative effort, but that’s clearly not the case as less than a third (31%) of responding organisations indicated that there’s an even mixture between the two.

Delving deeper into the data revealed that digital-focused respondents (either exclusively or mainly) are significantly more likely to say that digital teams are chiefly responsible for optimising customer journeys – 66% and 49% respectively compared to only 12% of those who are not focused on digital.

Which part of your business (or your clients’ businesses) is chiefly responsible for driving initiatives aimed at understanding the customer journey?

Common barriers

According to a McKinsey report, the number of digital touchpoints on the path to purchase is increasing by a fifth annually.

It stands to reason, therefore, that just over a third of company respondents (35%) cited the complexity of CX/number of touchpoints as a key barrier to understanding the customer journey.

Silos are also a common problem, both in terms of disparate data sets (32%) and the organisational structure (28%).

What are the greatest barriers preventing your organisation (or your clients) from gaining a better understanding of the customer journey?


Keeping the customer experience simple in the digital age: Keeping adaptable and agile ! (Source: CMO Australia)

Keeping the customer experience simple in the digital age – CMO Australia.

As big data, cloud-based platforms and wearables infiltrate the ecommerce space, the pressure is on retailers to focus on what really makes the customer experience simple, seamless and relevant.

Speaking at the Online Retailer and Ecommerce Expo in Sydney, three experts discussed the challenges facing the retail industry in a digital age, as well as what really drives a cohesive end-to-end customer journey.

“While brands are having a customer journey, at Salesforce we’re trying to integrate the same journeys as well,” Salesforce head of product marketing, Derek Laney, said. “It’s the intersection between these things that is really getting interesting with technologies.”

From a technology perspective, Melbourne IT Group chief sales officer, Cath Hogson-Croker, predicted migrating data and keeping that data flow for its customers would be one of the biggest challenges going forward. One of the biggest challenges, she said, is ensuring the customer experience is end-to-end.

“Integrating the data and customer view is one of our biggest challenges as a business,” she said. “We also see that with many of our customers who are moving in the online space, and are working in social in particular.”

Australia Post head of ecommerce business, Marc Gauci, claimed partnership is what really counts when it comes to keeping business seamless in the digital age.

“The key thing we’re finding is that merchants and retailers want to partner with us, as opposed to just buying our service,” he said. “This also highlights how selecting the right freight company from the side of the inventory value chain and the e-commerce chain is absolutely important. Having the knowledge of every stage is critical to gaining and keeping that customer.”

Creating a cohesive and seamless experience

In a recent study Salesforce study, The State of Marketing 2015, marketers were asked about how they created the customer journey and ways technology make the process easier.

“Respondents put the mobile application first and said that’s the one thing that is helping them create this cohesion across the physical and digital space,” Laney said. “The second thing was CRM, and the third was analytics. Investment in those three key areas is where we’re seeing our customers bridge that gap to create a cohesive customer journey.”

For Hogson-Croker, one of the elements getting the way of seamless and cohesive customer journeys is having too much choice.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the right choice,” she said. “So keeping it simple, and being very defined and focused from a customer perspective is the most important thing. It’s something that gets lost when you’re trying to do so much. You get caught in the day-to-day and then you lose focus on what you’re trying to achieve and how to keep focus in driving those relationships across those mediums.

“Just look at social and all the ways you can interact via all the different streams and channels,” she added. “You could easily spread yourself way too thin and be less successful.”

Gauci said having the right technology offering is about ensuring you provide a brilliant user experience that integrates seamlessly.

“It’s important you build your technology offerings and not de-compromise your user experience,” he said. “Just to keep their customer engaged throughout the whole journey.”

Keeping adaptable and agile

With the digital age being so curiosity driven, panellists agreed customers are no longer afraid to explore and test new thing.

“There are great new capabilities where you can use data to inform buying decisions across platforms,” Laney said. “You can take CRM data and test a whole bunch of acquisition campaigns – it is something you can do that’s cloud-based at an incremental cost, it’s not a massive six-month investment. And if it doesn’t work, you can move and try something else.”

Hogson-Croker said testing and failing is all part of keeping agile and innovative as a business moving forward.

“It all sounds like a scary concept but at the same time we’re in such a fabulous industry that is so innovative, and moving at such a rapid pace, that it’s OK to go test and then go change,” she said.

Integrating wearables into the customer journey

Thanks largely to the launch of Apple Watch, wearables are gaining more consumer traction and opening yet another channel for interaction with consumers. The challenge for retailers is how to integrate new technology with the customer experience without getting too caught up in the hype.

Gauci predicted the proliferation of big data and how to use it will be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to wearables.

“Wearables don’t just open up commerce opportunities but also the data we’re going to see,” he said. “The challenge is whether that can be harnessed to something quite useful from these technologies to then feed that back into the store.”

Salesforce is already partnering with vendors in the Internet of Things space and is looking to support those trying to build products. This could be partnering with the Apple Watch, or trying new retail enablement trying to do location identity in-store, Laney said.

“Identity and location are key promises for retail in terms of what you can do with the space,” he said. “At the moment, it is about getting hold of a platform that enables you to test. Then it’s looking at some of the players owning the identity piece – whether they be Facebook or Apple. “From there, it’s thinking of the next generation of loyalty programs and how you get the opt in, but also how you get something on the phone or app that is enabling you to have that conversation.”

Hogson-Croker warned brands not to forget to get the basics of the technology right.

“Some of us are still struggling as online businesses to get our mobile, relationships and one-to-one customer view right,” she said. “You can quickly get caught up in the shimmer of something interesting and fabulous, but if you don’t have the basics right as a technology driven business, then you’re going to be in trouble.”

Consumer journey and online search (Interview of Rob Griffin – YP National)

YP National.

Today’s consumer journey is almost always kicked off with an online search. And it doesn’t end there — consumers use search to find reviews, compare prices and locate a business near them. This reliance on search gives marketers a unique opportunity to connect with consumers in a meaningful way throughout the decision process.

Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of interviews with search experts to explore the opportunities and challenges for brands in the ever-evolving world of search marketing.

Our first interview is with Rob Griffin. Rob spent the past decade building search marketing teams and product solutions for Havas Media clients worldwide. He possesses a unique global perspective on the next wave of advancements and challenges we should expect for search in the years ahead.

Rob recently brought his transformative expertise back to North America, joining Havas Media’s U.S. management team as EVP of Futures & Innovation.

He spoke with T.S. Kelly and Henry Hall of The Media Strategist about his perspectives on local search and the future of SEM.

While keeping close watch on the dramatic changes happening within local, data, programmatic, etc., what are some of the trends you’re witnessing in the search arena?

To be clear, innovation in SEM is a vital part of my new role. Despite the many ways consumer search is evolving via local, mobile, etc., in the 10 years since I launched the first search department at Havas, the three fundamental reasons why people use search remain unchanged – discovery, immersion and navigation.

1. Discovery — I want to discover something new
2. Immersion — I want to immerse myself in that topic
3. Navigation — Using search as a primary navigation tool

What has changed is how consumers search. Google and a few others still largely own the navigation piece. Much of the discovery and immersion activity, however, has fragmented, splintering off into niche, app-based environments. Our internal numbers show it; depending on the platform or category, over 40% of search activity takes place outside the major search engines.

What does search fragmentation look like from the consumer’s point of view?

Let’s consider John Doe, passionate wine enthusiast, who constantly seeks out new varietals and labels. John starts the discovery process in his favorite wine app, shifting to Facebook for wines friends are discussing and then Twitter to hear from the experts. He revisits his wine app, heads over to Amazon for pricing options, and later utilizes YP for local shopping options. John may even access Expedia for travel ideas to visit the vineyard itself.

All this time, John is continuously shifting focus, ‘zigzagging’ back and forth between immersion and navigation. Google or another general search engine may be somewhere in the zigzag, but typically just playing the navigational role.Consumer journey

That’s a quite a bit of jumping around. How does all this ‘zigzagging’ consumer behavior impact the local search marketer’s planning process?

‘Zigzagging’ creates fragmentation, disjointed and frequently disconnected user experiences, an anathema to attribution and related ad tech in our space. It comes down to two critical SEM challenges, with regard to local – attribution and integrated planning tools.

Attribution. In a ‘zigzag’ consumer scenario, general search engines such as Google lose some ‘connective tissue’ to specialized apps such as local search, maps, etc., living outside of search domains. When consumers go back to Google (for navigation), relevant mid-funnel search activity will be absent. It’s hard to rely on existing attribution models if they’re missing key touchpoints of the consumer zigzag.

 Integrated Planning Tools. Simply, we need more holistic management for all forms of search. Search marketers have lots of tools – Kenshoo, Marin, etc., are OK with Google, Facebook, etc.  However, none offer clearance into search activity inside specialized app environments. Even useful location-specific services like YP — I’d love them further integrated in relation to all other SEM activity.

What would it mean to marketers if the industry could better address these issues?

I could offer dozens of possible applications if attribution could incorporate more apps activity and related tools could better integrate the planning and results. However, bottom line is the bottom line; my SEM teams would not only spend time and investment across more apps and more specialized tools, we would likely have a more holistic view on how to better utilize local for our brands, YP included.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Rob — coming next week.