Service Level and Customer Retention: Don’t Give Up!


“Because simplicity seems easy we believe it is easy to achieve.
When it is not easy to achieve we give up too quickly.”

(Edward de Bono, 1998, Simplicity)

When it comes to contact centre key performance indicators (KPI), Edward de Bono’s observation could not be truer. Staff often find themselves working towards performance measures that are meaningless beyond the walls of the contact centre; system generated measures that reflect little of the purpose of the organisation in which they serve.

Unfortunately, the root cause for this outcome is usually a lack of tenacity from those that lead those centres to solve the challenge of measuring an individual’s contribution to the outcome of a customer interaction in a manner that directly aligns that outcome with the organisation’s strategic goals.

Consider the common Customer Interaction Strategic objective of customer retention. As with personal relationships, customers remain loyal to those organisations that respect them. And respect is demonstrated by listening carefully to the customer, and delivering what they want. On this basis, each individual’s contribution to the customer retention strategic objective can be measured by the respect they demonstrate towards customers.

The greater the customer respect demonstrated, the greater the customer loyalty.

Of course, the degree and manner of respect demonstrated by staff will be constrained by the resources available to them. However, we still have everything needed to define a meaningful and simple contact centre KPI.

Customer Retention KPI: Demonstrated Customer Respect within Available Resources

But now we get to the challenging part of the equation. How much respect must we show a customer in order to make them loyal to our organisation? And what behaviours do we need to exhibit in order to demonstrate this level of respect?

Ironically, there are a multitude of contact centre practices and technologies available to measure demonstrated respect; measures of wait times, measures of interaction content, measures of resolution success, measures of product and service perceived value. But, the investigative and analytical skills to determine how much respect is enough respect is so often poorly applied.

When using Service Level as a Customer Retention KPI for contact centre managers, you need to know what length of wait time in queue is considered respectful by the customer, and what contribution this demonstration of respect has on the customer’s loyalty. Seemingly arbitrary measure becomes meaningful when the consequences of meeting or not meeting their targets are understood. Imagine if we established that:

Customers who consistently need to wait in our phone queues for more than 60 seconds are 5% more inclined to seek or accept a competitor’s service than those customers who consistently need to wait less than 60 seconds in our phone queues.

If you could demonstrate this relationship:

  • What difference would understanding this relationship make to your centre’s performance?
  • How would staff perception of their contribution to the organisation change?
  • How will attitudes of the wider organisation change towards the contact centre’s pursuit of grade of service targets?

Customer retention is a simple organisational objective. Grade of Service is a simple measurement tool. But all too often we give up on establishing the relationship between objective and measure because it’s not easy to do, and in doing so lose the benefit of both.

When faced with the challenge of setting contact centre KPI and establishing their relationship to wider objectives, don’t give up once the going gets tough. Remember the difference these relationships will make to the success of your contact centre, and remember you can always seek the assistance of industry expertise from a partner like QPC when help is needed.

Jason Metcalfe
, QPC Solutions Manager