Editor’s Note: This piece was originally written by Brian Cantor, Digital Director and Principal Analyst at CCW, for CCW and Talkdesk’s Special Report: Agent Performance.

When thinking about performance, customer management thought leaders have historically focused on the supposed trade-off between efficiency and customer centricity. A business, in their eyes, could either emphasize fast, transactional interactions or elaborate, emotionally driven conversations. It, essentially, had to choose between quick service and meaningful connections. Customers are unwilling to make that sacrifice.

They absolutely do expect speedy, frictionless interactions that produce resolutions on the first contact. CCW Digital’s recent consumer preferences survey confirms “first contact resolution,” “fast resolutions” and “low wait times” as three of the top five customer demands. Customers are not, however, merely looking for curt, impersonal service that “gets the job done.” They are also looking for engaging, personalized, high-quality interactions. They are looking for connections. Friendly, engaging conversations and highly knowledgeable agents also rank as top customer demands.

“Most commonly, agent performance is measured by a combination of traditional ‘efficiency’ metrics plus quality metrics like CSAT and NPS,” says Gadi Shamia. “One certainty is that agents are generally expected to offer more personalized, empathetic customer engagements than in the past.”

Customers want to move through the interaction process quickly, but they resent the sense of being “rushed off the phone.” They want to feel heard, understood and appreciated throughout the entire customer service journey. They want the business to design experiences that maximize value for customers.

Businesses must listen to their customers and design experiences that drive efficiency and customer centricity. Their approach to agent performance, moreover, must focus on maximizing customer value. Contrary to contact center convention, businesses should not be choosing between efficiency metrics like average handle time and “customer metrics” like Net Promoter Score. In many cases, the two are actually correlated.

Speedy interactions – as long as they do not come at the expense of quality – often increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. In doing so, they ultimately lead to more revenue.

To determine the appropriate performance management framework, organizations must consider the specific demands of their customers, the promise the brand is making to these customers, and the nature of the interactions that will be taking place. After evaluating these factors, the business can then determine the extent to which it should emphasize metrics related to speed, quality, accuracy, channel preference and resolution rate. Most, ultimately, will play some role in the performance scorecard. Most, after all, play some role in driving the universal performance priority: forming lucrative, meaningful relationships with customers.

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