There’s a really smart new post up on No Jitter from consultant Jon Arnold, entitled, “Managing CX from the Inside Out.” “CX” of course stands for “customer experience,” and Jon’s post makes some insightful points based on survey data that Genesys recently presented.
The most noteworthy data has to do with different enterprise constituencies’ perceptions of the most important factors in the contact center. The Genesys survey found that IT execs believe “professionalism/friendliness” is most important. Seems reasonable; after all, that agent is the “face” of your company. On the other hand, marketing execs ranked “trustworthiness of the business” at number one. Also hard to argue with.
But the folks closest to the customers—customer care execs and the consumers themselves—both cited a different metric: first contact resolution, or FCR.
Jon has some great insights about what this difference in perceptions means in terms of how the organization addresses the CX challenge, and one of his main points is: “An omnichannel solution can do great things, and AI holds tremendous promise, but this isn’t a technology challenge.” Instead, he argues, it’s about getting the various constituencies to understand what they need to accomplish in order to provide that top-notch CX.
The Genesys survey results reminded me of a perspective that I came across a few years ago, that’s summed up in this Harvard Business Review article: “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” The bottom line here is that people on the business side all want the customer to love their company; the customer, on the other hand, mostly wants the company to do its job and then, basically, go away. The agents know this, and really when most of us think like consumers instead of industry people, we know it too.
It’s interesting to contrast Jon’s post with another No Jitter piece from this week, “Do Agents Need to Be Scheduled?” by analyst Dave Michels. Dave basically argues that contact centers could use the Uber model for relationships between agents and the business, with the contact center system “summoning” independent-contractor agents to a contact session via a process similar to the way you secure an Uber ride. So Dave is essentially starting from the opposite premise from Jon’s: That CX is a technology challenge, one that can be solved by optimizing contact routing among a base of agents that extends beyond the traditional workforce.
So who’s right? To answer that question, it makes sense to go back to the survey: The most important metric is FCR, so which model is likely to get calls resolved on the first try?
I’m going to cop out and say that Jon is definitely right, but Dave might be right too. Clearly the IT and marketing execs need to do a better job understanding what their customers, and those closest to the customers, already understand about CX: That it’s not a technology issue, it’s an organizational issue. And it’s not about the customer’s feelings so much as it’s about the customer’s time.
But if FCR is the paramount concern of the customers and their nearest advocates, then Dave’s proposal could be part of a successful formula. If a contact center could engage a low-skill population (in terms of training level, not necessarily in absolute “skill” terms) to handle the most basic inquiries (as one commenter to Dave’s piece suggests), then maybe that frees up budget to pay more for higher-skilled/trained agents who can resolve more of the highly-challenging contacts on the first try. Presumably your “auxiliary” agent workforce is deployed on customers who are closer to being candidates for self-service but simply refuse to use that channel.
I can’t imagine an enterprise moving fully to Dave’s Uber-fied model of an agent workforce. I think that if you want employees to represent your company well, you’ve got to demonstrate a level of investment in them, which the Uber model doesn’t promote. Most enterprises couldn’t afford to fully train the surplus of people they’d need to have in their total population of agents. Furthermore, the basic skill sets are different: Everyone already knows how to drive; not everyone knows how to take an incorrect charge off a credit card.
But the idea of an Uber-like component of contact center staffing is worth considering, and is certainly one that, like Uber itself, would depend on innovative technology.