Measuring and Assessing the Customer Experience - The MERLYN Way
Kathy Egan, Manager of Customer Support Services at MERLYN Showering and CCMA board member, discusses some of the key strategies that contact centres need to consider to improve the customer experience. Kathy and the team at Merlyn are no strangers to CX excellence, having won the prestigious contact centre of the year award in 2020.
The future of Customer Experience is ambient and as an organisation our thinking culture is – how do we make our customers lives easier and easier each day? How do you measure and access the experience your customer has with you to understand if you are easy to do business with or, considered exceptional to do business with and, how agile are you to react to it? This is the challenge that we continue to work on.
To measure success, we measure both the operational measures of how fast and easy customers can get through to us, but also the journey that they experience when they get through to us, and is this journey the same and consistent across our multiple channels?
Measuring Transactional Service
Our transactional service is to a large extent much easier to measure.
How fast are we answering our calls, what is our AHT and what is our abandon rate? What was the turnaround time on complaints?
What we found in accessing our customer experience is that we did away with targets that meant nothing to our customers as for e.g. 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds and later amended to 95% of calls answered in 30 seconds target.
However, how could we deliver an experience when we were not aiming for exceptional?
We now challenge ourselves to think how we can answer 100% of calls in 30 secs/20 secs and 5 secs to our customers.
This thinking is driving a whole different level of behaviours from our team and ensures that they are focused on the experience of the customer being answered rather than a list of calls in a queue.
It forced us to look both at resources and at a deeper level where inefficiencies were happening, either because of knowledge needed or further coaching and sometimes changing beliefs about what service is.
It has to permeate your culture starting from the top down and has to embody the principle of ownership so that it is every individual’s responsibility as well as team leads and managers.
This is the same for any channel – phone, e-mail, web chat etc.
Your first assessment of the customer experience is how fast they can access you or get connected with whatever channel they are using – even if this is a BOT/AI channel.
If you fail on this part, you have not measured the first stage of your customer experience.
The same is true for e- mail/web chats/message which are commonly used channels also.
When a customer presses the send button their experience starts from there, regardless of channel, they require an instant response.
It is finding the most efficient way as an organisation to do this. We measure each channel the same way - strive for 100% response within 30 seconds. Having a target of 100% within 20 seconds fundamentally changes our internal view of what great service is. Our thinking is that our initial response has to be as fast as accessing YouTube etc.
The next stage of accessing the experience is what happens when the customer has started their journey with your organisation.
Is it a first-time resolution answer to the customer and does this effectively close the experience out in a positive way for the customer?
We measure this stage of the journey by checking each transaction to see did we get 5 stars for no effort being undertaken by the customer to get their needs addressed.
We also measure if they have had to access omni-channels to resolve their experience. If you concentrate on all the touchpoints that a customer can access you through, then you must apply measures to each of these to understand the whole journey that your customer is experiencing and whether any of these touchpoints is your weakest link.
We apply relentless focus to working through our Customer Effort and CSAT scores and our Journey NPS.
We also ensure that our Customer Effort Score questions reflect the whole journey and not just a partial one. This is one of the biggest learnings that as an organisation we have worked through, ensuring that we are consistent across all channels that the customer interacts with us on and that you measure the experience on each.
Working the two measurements together ensures you will make changes in your organisation as the answers you get will focus you on where the experience gaps are.
For us, it allowed us insights into changing product instructions that were marginally wrong or not user-friendly, it showed us that web chat was not just an after sales service but a real channel for any of our various customer segments.
It also showed the breakdown between different channels and where customers had to repeat themselves through different channels. It shows the quality of responses and learnings needed from the same.
We focus on our negative scores, where we give our customers an opportunity to tell us what the issue was and we then learn a wealth of information from what has gone wrong. This is the most valuable feedback and has allowed us to make so many small changes that all add up to changing the customer experience.
There is only one measure of customer experience – it is only through the eyes of the customer. You can only measure and access the experience if you are getting feedback directly from your customer and combining that with your operational measures.
While we are a small company (23 in our contact centre), we have found that by applying these principles we are making service a differentiator as to why customers do business with us. It is a constant learning curve and one that we must continue to challenge ourselves with in order to enhance our service levels to our customers. As with the majority of companies, we had to change our working practices during COVID-19 in that the majority of staff worked from home but we did not allow this to change any aspect of how we measure success.
At MERLYN our promise is to be with you on every step of your MERLYN journey from end to end. We have a genuine commitment to service and to finding a solution for you which is why MERLYN’s customer service team are double award winning. Our specialised team’s philosophy is to make everything easy for you and we will respond immediately to any request you might have. We strive everyday to make excellence a habit.