“Do you think it’s a good idea to transfer upset customers from the survey to supervisors?” is a question that was included in the 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys eBook and self-assessment. The eBook and self-assessment includes diagnostic questions for you to uncover weaknesses in your post-call IVR survey program or implement a new program that is not loaded with mistakes that others have made. Now is the time to take advantage of the compilation of problems I have come across in the 20 years since inventing post-call IVR surveying in contact centers.
Why is this a problem?
I know what you’re thinking; who wouldn’t prefer to have their issue dealt with right away compared to when somebody ‘gets around to’ returning their call, right? In this world of instant information, that would tend to be the common choice, however, let’s think about the big picture and ramifications of executing that from a human and business perspective. Continue reading “Do you think it’s a good idea to transfer upset customers from the survey to supervisors?” »
Recently two highly-publicized customer expectations lawsuits have been in the news; one for Anheuser-Busch misrepresenting the alcohol content in a variety of its beers and the other with Subway’s foot-long sandwiches for coming up short. In both cases the customer expectations were clearly set and advertised (Subway’s $5 foot-long sandwich deal and Anheuser-Busch light beers with the alcohol content of higher calorie brands). In both cases, expectations were so blatantly under-served that customer dissatisfaction went through the roof, the customer experience went in the toilet, and now both brands are dealing with multimillion dollar lawsuits and a serious image problem.
I bet your parents are like mine and love to share their call center experiences because they feel close to you when they deal in your world. It turns out that my mother has been dealing with a banking issue for some time now and has been assigned an agent to call directly. At first she thought she was fortunate to have a direct contact in a sea of 1-800 numbers and endless mazes of automated services but as she’s telling me about this, it’s clear that it’s anything but great.
We all can see that the bank is trying to provide a better customer experience by building a one-on-one relationship but my mother cannot understand why she’s in a silo where no one else in the bank can offer much assistance. Her agent is currently on vacation and no one else in the bank can help because her customer record hasn’t been updated with progress notes. She is unable to resolve the banking issue with another agent and is not happy with the idea of waiting until her agent returns. We can see how the bank is in desperate need of several process improvements but we are not “normal” customers. In their effort to satisfy, they have actually caused much dissatisfaction for everyone who falls into this coverage gap. Continue reading “Are your customer processes built on good intentions but fail operationally?” »
I was asking myself these questions as I read about Target Corporation opening stores on Thanksgiving evening instead of Friday morning. Then, I started to think about my years in the contact center industry (and one contact center I worked in) and how over the past few decades the hours of operation have continued to increase. First it was a longer work day, then it was a half-day on Saturday, then it was all-day Saturday, and half-day on Sunday, and finally 7 days a week. Continue reading “Do contact centers hate families or LOVE Black Friday more?” »
Do the fast approaching holidays fill you with dread at the thought of crowded malls packed with shoppers and incompetent, temporary store employees? The HayGroup predicts that approximately 75% of retailers will experience an increase of holiday sales this year. Given the prediction of a good shopping season, it’s almost a certainty that we will have some customer service challenges. Continue reading “How will increased holiday sales impact an ever-widening customer service gap?” »
We live in an age of instant gratification and that most definitely applies to customer service. We expect good service when and how we want it, 24/7. An immediate tweet back. A fellow Facebook fan sending across a helpful link. We have gotten used to speed and come to expect it, nay demand it, sometimes at the expense of good, complete customer service. In a nutshell, we in the customer service business have created a monster that is scary (and hiding under our beds!). Continue reading “Is social customer service spoiling us?” »
Too many customers are gaining fame by attacking companies because their unrealistic customer expectations were not met. The fires are fueled by our unquenchable thirst for sensational news stories so these irate customers show up on our TVs lamenting about how they’ve been wronged (in their minds) and how the big, bad company should pay. Don’t we all take pause and listen? Facebook campaigns sprout up overnight calling for the ousting of the company head in question, and tens of thousands of uninformed folks hop on the bandwagon. Before you know it, a single disgruntled customer making a fuss about a return policy is quickly splashed across all the major news stations, papers and Internet.
Does anyone stop to think that maybe this one customer is totally full of it? Do they consider that these company policies and rules are in place for a reason whether or not you feel like following them? The media sure does make it more difficult for brands and companies because they want ratings. When the media makes customers famous by sensationalizing their situations, it makes it impossible for good companies to not give in to the unreasonable demands. The media is holding businesses hostage. Continue reading “When customer service terrorists strike!” »
Anyone that’s successful in business can tell you that what sets them apart from their competition is excellent customer service. We all know this but the challenge is execution. I recently made a purchase from what I thought was a small, local business only to find out they are the biggest distributor in my state. I thought they were small because someone always answered the phone when I called and my orders were filled and delivered next day. I had no idea how big the company is because I always feel like I was their only customer. Guess what? There are hundreds of stores with similar products, but I will continue to purchase from and be a brand advocate for this particular company because of their stellar customer service.
Part of this company’s success comes from listening to the voice of their customers (VOC). Customers across all industries want value and knowledgeable, caring sales people, and companies that stand behind and service the products they sell. The companies that fall by the wayside are those that talk about listening to their customers rather than acting on the information.
My clients know their customers better than the competition knows their customers. The analysis is applied, the effect measured, re-evaluated and so on. They are driven to delicately balance what their customers want with the company’s profitability. They work to tailor their messaging and products to specific customer needs so they lead in overall customer satisfaction and brand recognition. You have seen it – those that fail to listen to the voice of the customer are quickly forgotten. Continue reading “Excellent customer service wins brand advocacy.” »
Does your organization have customers with different expectations than they should? How does that happen when your company should be setting proper expectations? But, as you know, there are often gaps between what they think and what we think they should think. The gaps often yield dissatisfied customers, high customer effort and more customer complaints than you’d like to get.
Recently I had the experience of being in one of these “gaps” when I needed some pest prevention work done to my home. I jumped through several hoops, both financially (large upfront sum) and physically (items in my yard had to be removed prior to the work starting). I had prepared myself for the money and the preparation to my yard and reasonably expected the work to start promptly. I did not expect there to be further complications once the work got underway. After all, my expectations were formed by the contract we signed.
I knew I was deep into an aforementioned gap when I was met with harassing phone calls from the billing department asking for payment – yes, the payment that had been made upfront. Then, my property was damaged (they knocked the fence down completely) and the necessary repairs were to be paid by me. How is that fair? I did research, partnered with a reputable company, and specifically outlined the payment and the work order upfront only to be met with continued frustration and costs.
Your business and your products vary from this example but the impact of misaligned customer expectations is universal. Expectations are often set at the point of sale and you are left to best manage the gap between your customer and the company. The outcome is the key because negative customer sentiment only serves to damage your brand. Continue reading “Do your customers fall into the ‘expectations gap’?” »
It’s that time of year again when nearly every news program highlights the ‘must-have’ gifts for this holiday season. One of these items is on the list to Santa and after quite a few sold-out stores I found the $49.99 thing. It was hard to tell the quality based on how it was packaged, but I bought it anyway in the name of Santa and jingle bells.
As the elf, I need to assemble the gifts before wrapping so it would be ready to go on Christmas morning. Honestly, I was shocked at how flimsy the parts were on this must-have item. It also requires the more expensive D-batteries. So here I am with this cheapo thing that cost 50 bucks and will have a higher than average cost to operate which made me think about all those articles we’ve written this year about poor product quality, un-met customer expectations and the simple fact that things aren’t made to last. Remember the toys of our youth? My mom still has my Etch A Sketch and it works just as well as it did when I was 10. Believe me, that was a long time ago.
Our expectations for products have skyrocketed as our budgets have become tighter while the products we’re buying have never been more cheaply made. Will we as service providers be able to work effectively within this gap? How are you preparing your team for the widening product quality gap in 2012, especially what’s coming your way in post-holiday January? Continue reading “Will Santa bring You good stuff or that plastic piece of junk?” »
At the end of October 2011, Customer Relationship Metrics published its quarterly Real-time Customer Experience Benchmarking Report to business partners. One of the more interesting findings that emerged from analysis of the benchmarking data was a relatively unexplained spike in problem-related calls to contact centers that provide support to the automotive, appliance, and electronics industries after the point of sale. The percentage of calls in which the customer is calling because of a (perceived) problem is a Key Indicator about the customer experience and operational costs for our business partners, especially in benchmarking, because it speaks to the relative level of challenge inherent in the calls handled by the call center, and therefore the call center’s opportunity to perform, delight, resolve, and retain customers during that time period. An increase of the magnitude seen in the figure below represents a significant “hardening” in doing business for our partners.
Analysis of unstructured customer comments in the Survey Calibration process revealed two primary drivers to this trend:
- Economic hardship is causing customers to seek to repair instead of replace products.
- There is a growing perception on the part of customers that things are no longer “made to last.” Continue reading “Customers are demanding greater product quality in tough times.” »
Plain and simple, things aren’t built to last for a lifetime. There’s a reason your grandparents had the same car for 20 years and your parents still use the refrigerator from your childhood. But now we are faced with product life spans that are much shorter and we are holding them up to an expectation that was one day accurate. Expectations are colliding with the reality of products that have been manufactured to be less dependable, even disposable. I’d wager that you face this misalignment every day.
How does this shift in product quality affect the call center and its agents? Because consumers’ wallets are tighter they are less likely to replace a faulty or failing product like they might have in the past. Instead they are flooding the call center with repair calls, warranty questions, and replacement requests. Instead of accepting that a blender isn’t meant to last more than five years, they’ve raised their expectations. You can feel this attitude in your organization where now they expect a $30 household appliance to last decades because they need it to last that long. Continue reading “Handling unrealistic customer experiences is on the rise for call center agents.” »