CRM metrics: Why it's time to get innovative

Justin Robbins, Manager of Training and Development, ICMI

In contact centers, CRM metrics are everywhere; if it moves, we measure it.

We've established systems and processes for tracking the ebb and flow of contact volume; every agent task is monitored and reported; dashboards, scorecards and analysis are generated constantly; and statistics change by the second. Requests for information often result in a fire hose of percentages and pie charts. What do we accomplish with this approach? More data than we know what to do with and a desire to throw our hands up in defeat.

Our need for information and the ability to obtain it much more easily, quickly and frequently have crippled our ability to use it effectively. We've forgotten which metrics deserve our time and how to implement a system to track them. If we can't identify which metrics affect customer experience and how, we engage in a destructive cycle of wasting time and resources. This begs the following questions: How can we break the cycle and improve our CRM system to get valuable information? And how do we ensure that we're using this information to drive change and improvement?

Metrics to move your organization

It begins with simplicity. If we were to look at our reports and processes, the ways in which we communicate information, and the goals that we target, can we identify the waste? Can we review information we've captured and determine which metrics we've used in meaningful ways versus data we've done nothing with? A great starting point is to sort out which metrics are the "must measures" for contact centers. These include first-contact resolution, service-level and response time, adherence to schedule, forecasting accuracy, self-service accessibility, contact quality, and customer satisfaction. While we should measure additional factors, these metrics are absolute essentials.

Once we've determined what to measure, we need to establish where the real value of CRM metrics lies, why these metrics matter and how we'll recognize success. While there are numerous metrics we can measure, not all should be. We need to recognize early on that not all metrics matter to everyone in the organization, and the value of certain metrics varies by department. In order for these metrics to drive success, we must share relevance with each stakeholder, including agents, supervisors and CEOs. It is our responsibility to hold people accountable only in their zone of influence, and then to use metrics to provide the appropriate tools to achieve those objectives. If the metrics we gather don't contribute to the efficiency of contact centers and can't be correlated to greater objectives, why bother measuring them?

More information on CRM metrics

Is customer satisfaction a CRM metric?

What are some frequently used call center metrics?

Customer satisfaction feedback is a good example of interdepartmental collaboration based on business intelligence collected by the contact center. This metric can be leveraged in many ways within the contact center, including with agent performance, training and process improvement. As a result, call center leadership can forget about the value this information provides for other teams. In a contact center I worked in, we shared customer comments with marketers and invited them to listen to service calls. These armed marketers with insight into trends and customer sentiment without their having to invest in market research to reveal the same information.

The last component of achieving success with CRM metrics is identifying what achievement looks like. Just reaching a quota isn't achievement, just as the ability to mark off a checkbox doesn't indicate a job well done. We sometimes get caught in the false perception that our jobs are task-based. But achievement and success with a metric come only once we identify the goal or objective that it affects. We need to evaluate which behaviors contribute to achieving the goal and provide training and tools to drive the desired behavior. If you want your business to achieve future growth, it isn't as easy as hitting your numbers each month. It is an absolute must, for every metric you measure, to provide this end-to-end insight.

Gathering meaningful, results-oriented metrics enables organizations to execute initiatives, identify opportunities for revenue growth and deliver a quality of service that exceeds customer expectations. So gathering meaningful metrics -- and using them to measure your key business goals -- are key steps in the right direction.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: New contact center metrics recommended to fit new customer channels or view the full guide: A guide to call center metrics

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