Medallia Experience 21: How to Improve Contact Center Performance Under Pressure

Medallia Experience 21: How to Improve Contact Center Performance Under Pressure

As digital-first customers become more reliant on frontline agents for support, speakers at Medallia Experience 21 talked about an urgent goal: improve contact center performance.

If improving contact center performance wasn’t already one of your primary objectives this year, industry leaders at Medallia Experience 21 made it clear that it should be. As digital and hybrid customer journeys have become the norm, contact centers are now the focal point for customer support. And with the global pandemic stripping most brands and customers of traditional in-person engagements, contact center ticket volumes skyrocketed.

  • up to an 800% call volume increase in enterprise contact center
  • 68% increase in escalations
  • 34% increase in hold times
  • 50% increase in difficult calls

While the majority of contact center agents were forced to work at home, this surge in contact center interactions has led to two major implications, said Sarika Khanna, Medallia’s EVP and Chief Product Officer, during her product innovation keynote.

“There is now a huge untapped source of business insights from speech and digital interaction data from contact centers where your customers are telling you what they expect out of your product, how they want to be served, and where you can improve,” she said. “Second, your contact center agents are now the frontline representation of your brand. It is vital that you coach individuals in your contact center to be high performing and representative of your brand for the best experience.”

Develop a customer experience management program

Speakers throughout the three-day virtual event talked about these two key priorities and the opportunity brands now have to tap into these insights and use them to improve agent performance and the overall customer experience.

Unlock insights from every interaction and surface issues at scale

While there is more data around every customer and agent interaction than ever before, many contact centers aren’t equipped to easily collect, interpret, and act on the insights. Legacy and siloed technology has made it difficult to understand why customers are calling or chatting.

The traditional method for understanding contact center interactions has been based on sampling calls at random, transcribing and assessing them, and then acting on the information. The process can be slow, tedious and ultimately, ineffective.

“I don’t see how the modern CX team can be successful, frankly, over the long-term without advanced analytics and TA (text analytics) sentiment,” said Bill Staikos, the former Head of Customer Experience at Freddie Mac, who joined Medallia as SVP, Industry Solutions, after the event. ”It’s about surfacing what’s working well and what’s not working well and getting that into the hands of stakeholders across the business, and taking those insights and doing something positive.”

With more sophisticated technology today, contact centers can capture 100% of all customer and agent interactions and quickly make sense of the information and take action in near real time.

During the event’s opening keynote session Christian Schmidt, Head of Customer Experience at Volvo, called the insights coming from the company’s customer care unit “gold.” 

“We’re capturing what is said through text and voice, but also what is being done, so basically categorizing conversations and behaviors so we can make sense out of it all,” he said.

By unlocking insights from every interaction, companies can anticipate and respond to customer pain points proactively within the contact center, but also use those insights to improve self-service options and the omnichannel customer experience.

Speech analytics “help us put our customer’s voice on surround sound across the business,” said Staikos.

Create a culture of continuous improvement in customer and agent satisfaction

To improve contact center performance, your approach should always circle back to supporting and enabling frontline agents. While onboarding, training, and procedures lay the foundation for a successful agent, it takes continual coaching and data-driven feedback to elevate agents and the customer experience. With many agents still working remotely as a result of the pandemic and the changing workplace, coaching has become even more challenging.

Hosting a session about the power of contact centers and digital, Rachel Lane, a Solution Principal at Medallia, emphasized that “there’s no replacement for human conversation, one-to-one or one-to-many coaching, and that ongoing stability that team leaders can provide to those frontline agents.” 

But it’s not enough to just remind agents of best practices, successful contact centers empower agents with near real-time coaching and access to survey data and customer experience metrics in the moment, not days later.

“Everyone has access to the same issue,” said Priscilla Escobar, a Vice President at State Farm Insurance, during a session with Forrester at Experience 21. “Our specialists appreciate that they can be provided with objective information to see the direct impact they are having on customers and the customer experience.” 

Linking near real-time feedback directly to specific agents and engagements can reinforce positive habits and outcomes. Plus, tracking and showing agents’ impacts on customer experience metrics provides motivation for frontline staff, Escobar added.

Beyond providing agents access to those insights, well-timed coaching focused on building relationships with customers is crucial to driving contact center performance, said Leanna Nazzisi, Birchbox, Senior Manager of Customer Operations and Communications.

“From the QA perspective, we built out really robust scoreboards with a couple different categories,” she said, adding that it can “retrain the agents to stop what they’re doing and slow down. It’s OK to have multi-touch tickets. It’s OK to have longer calls. It’s OK to solve less than what you did last year. The focus is the relationship with the customer.”

As contact centers continue to face high call volumes, strengthening the relationships between frontline agents and customers has become mission critical. 

What the future of contact centers holds

From rising call volumes to remote agents, contact centers are facing more challenges than ever. Digital disruption has changed how businesses serve their customers and employees. 

While there is data around every customer and agent interaction, contact centers have long struggled to unlock insights from those interactions and act on them in a timely and effective fashion. Technology is now beginning to change that.

“The notion of what a contact center is has been upended, as the very word ‘center’ is no longer relevant,” said Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch during his opening keynote. “Centralized command and control service operations were developed based on rigid and inefficient legacy technology constraints. A cloud supported, distributed, servicing model is more agile and resilient than the old way because we have the technology today to do it right.”

For More Insights into Improving Contact Center Performance, Watch These 3 Sessions:

You can watch more recorded sessions of Experience 21 on demand