Last month I wrote about the importance of metrics.  Metrics drive behavior. You probably know the famous Peter Drucker comment – “What gets measured gets managed.”  I’ve seen it proven true time and again.  If you focus on NPS scores, they go up. Whether customers are actually happier is a different question. But by focusing on any measure – NPS, AHT, or the amount of time spent on breaks – you can make a marked improvement on that measure.  It’s just not certain that you’ll also improve the overall business.

But there’s a less-common Drucker quote that I’m an even bigger fan of.  “The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer.”  That’s what you really need to measure.  Are your efforts in the contact center bringing in new customers and retaining them?  Or are you chasing them away?

Getting and keeping customers trumps every other number: AHT, FCR, etc. Think of these like measuring hits in a baseball game.  They’re good indicators, but ultimately they don’t really matter.

I still remember the 1988 playoffs when my Cubbies outhit San Francisco, but still lost four games to one.  I suppose it was nice that we had more hits.  But that was scant consolation after we were sent home, missing the World Series AGAIN. (Yes, I’m still bitter.)

It’s the same with your metrics.  While it’s certainly important to improve your First Call Resolution, this is only an indicator.  The most important question is whether you are getting and keeping more customers.

Jeannie Bliss has been arguing about the need to track lost customers for over a decade. But it’s seldom measured.  That needs to change.

Are customers who interact with your contact center more likely to remain a customer, or to leave at their first opportunity?  The CEB has some data, and it’s not pretty.  According to their cross-industry research, customers who interact with the contact center are 3.93 more likely to become less loyal after interacting with your call center than they are to become more loyal.  That’s a lot of unhappy customers.

We all love the service recovery paradox – the belief that we can build more loyal customers through superior service transactions.  And we may have been able to do that once.  But not anymore.

Other CEB statistics give us a hint as to why this is true.  According to their data, 58% of your customers tried to solve their problems on your website first, but were unable to.  And 59% of those customers are annoyed at having to call you.  Which means that over 1/3 of your customers start off your calls as annoyed.  You’re in a hole before you even begin.

I’ve run across a lot of conflicting data on how your customers want to contact you.  One study says “Millennials hate to call, and prefer to chat.” Another argues “Millennials like the phone just as much as other generations.”

Here’s the truth.  Nobody really wants to call you, text you, email you, or mind-meld with you.  They want their problems solved quickly.

So, what are you to do?

It’s time to get out of your silo.  The answer isn’t in improving your script.  The answer is in partnering with your business partners to solve your customers’ problems before they call you.  Take a week, and every time a customer contacts you, ask if they have tried any other methods to solve the problem before contacting you.  Keep these records. And use this to drive action.

If 58% of your customers have tried to use your website before calling you, find out where they’re going. Then put all of your efforts into getting this fixed.

This will allow you to keep far more customers than any improvement in your First Call Resolution. Because you’ll have improved your 0CR – your Zero Call Resolution. And that’s one of the best ways to get and keep customers.