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First published on LinkedIn on September 27, 2021

two employees talking in a Transcom office

What are the most typical measurements in the customer service environment? I’m thinking about Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), First Response Time (FRT), First Contact Resolution (FCR), and Average Handle Time (AHT).

What is the problem with all these measures? They are all commonly used throughout contact centers and other customer service processes all over the world - including in Transcom - but I think that as an industry we should be thinking beyond these metrics because they are measuring operational processes and not the true relationship between the customer and brand.

Let’s consider an example. How about AHT? The emphasis is on resolving the customer’s issue as quickly as possible. Combine that with FCR and you are telling your team that they need to get the customer off the line as fast as possible with the solution to their problem.

On the surface this sounds OK. We are asking the team to give the customer the correct information quickly… nothing wrong with that right? But what if the customer needs empathy and help and focusing time and attention is the best way to deliver a caring service?

What if the customer is calling their life insurance company to ask how to make a claim after their partner died last week? Should the agent be hurrying the customer to get off the line as quickly as possible so they can process another call?

The transactional nature of most of these measures means that we are stuck in a world where the assumption is that the customer has a problem that has to be solved - or they want to make a complaint.

It’s true that contact centers used to be designed this way because there was a very linear customer journey that involved a customer hearing about a product, then finding more information, then buying it, and only then potentially calling the brand for assistance. They would almost always call after a purchase with a question.

That’s why so many metrics focus on giving the right answer or dealing with the problem quickly, but let’s think about how long the customer journey is today and the type of brand interactions that are possible.

  • Contacting SAS on Twitter to ask about movie choices
  • Contacting VW on WhatsApp to ask about a classic car meetup
  • Contacting Nike on Facebook to ask for running advice
  • Contacting Carrefour on Instagram to ask about soup recipes
  • Contacting Nissan to ask if they can describe how to drive a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle a long distance

All these interactions are more like conversations inside a relationship. The person asking about the classic car meet up is probably an existing VW customer. The person asking SAS about movies is probably a regular traveler. The runner wouldn’t be asking Nike for advice if they were not already using Nike shoes. The supermarket shopper visiting Carrefour would not be asking for tips unless they planned to visit the store. The Nissan example is a potential customer asking for advice as they gather information and decide on a purchase.

Can you see the difference? Customers are contacting brands long before a purchase as a part of their information gathering and research. They are all staying in touch and talking to their favorite airline, hotel, cinema, or sports company long after a purchase. 

We need to be thinking about customer interactions in these terms, as engagement inside a long relationship. Therefore it might be difficult to measure the value of many of these engagements if we just apply traditional transactional metrics. Is there really an ROI to talking about movies on a flight with an existing customer?

Of course there is. This is how we can build real value into the brand to customer relationship. The real question is, how do we measure value when the relationship may last for decades? I’m working on some ideas and I will share a few in a future article, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the idea that our CX metrics are generally all wrong.

Let me know what you think. How would you begin to measure value in a long-term customer relationship? Please leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

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