call center agents
“Do you agree automating the process for callers to participate in post-call IVR surveys will prevent agents from cheating?” 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 problems in your program that I have come across since inventing post-call IVR surveying in contact centers 20 years ago. Many of the misunderstandings have become false truths, and this question is part of a topic that is widely misunderstood.
Why is this a problem?
Automated is not the same as fool-proof. Dictionary.com defines automated: to apply the principles of automation to a mechanical process, industry, office, etc. Nowhere in that definition does it state that doing so will create a perfect, fool-proof process. In this case, automated means customers answering ‘yes’ they would like to participate in a survey when prompted by the IVR at the start of the call will then be transferred to complete the survey once the agent disconnects. Sounds fool-proof and simple enough, right? Not so much. Continue reading “Will automating the transfer to post-call IVR surveys prevent agents from cheating?” »
When you think of a typical salesperson what comes to mind? Do you immediately conjure up visions of multi-colored flags, ‘zero-money down’ signs, and some sleaze-bag car salesman telling you to buy the over-priced lemon of your dreams? The term, salesperson, quickly makes us imagine this derogatory image, something that we do not want to be associated with as our career label.
Let me challenge your normal reaction to the word ‘salesperson’ with one of my favorite quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson, “Everyone lives by selling something.” Think about that for a moment. When you’re at the hair salon and he or she is discussing the option for highlights or the hair care products, this hairdresser is selling, right? If you are a marketer you’re hoping to ‘sell’ your audience with your subject line and convince them to open your email and look at your message. And even as a parent, you are ‘selling’ your six-year old on those healthy green beans (or at least trying to). But I bet if you asked that hairdresser, marketer or parent if they worked in sales their answers would be a resounding “No”. In fact, only one in nine people in the US are designated as being in sales, but most everyone is. Continue reading “Why selling in service contact centers fails and how to fix it.” »
“Do you think only angry people participate in post-call IVR surveys?” is one of the 26 questions included in the ebook 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys (there is a bonus question included). The e-book and self-assessment includes diagnostic questions, like this one, to uncover many of the common mistakes people make in their post-call IVR survey programs. I never thought that after inventing post-call IVR surveys I would have to spend so much effort to overcome the misinformation that abounds about them. Please share the ebook with your colleagues so they can learn from the mistakes of others.
Why thinking this a problem?
If you think only angry people participate in post-call IVR surveys you would be terribly mistaken. And if you had a post-call IVR survey program where this happened, it is direct evidence of a massive program design flaw. It was unintentionally built to capture only the angry. Continue reading “Why only angry people participate in post-call IVR surveys” »
My bank sent me a survey invitation after I logged into my account to review my mortgage. I was happy to click on the survey link to discuss my satisfaction with the online experience. After about 6 minutes of clicking through the pages of questions, I had to give up. Time to respond to the survey would take longer than the time I spent on the website.
Given my occupation and obsessive desire to measure customer experiences, I probably stuck with this survey longer than many other customers. Do not try to get all of your customer experience intelligence all at once from one customer experience survey. This is difficult to remember when everyone in the organization has a need for customer intelligence. Continue reading “Web Experience Survey Mistake #1 – Trying to Measure WAY too much!” »
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from the serious, so let’s look back at some of our funniest stories. Wild, 10+ hour customer experience calls, dissatisfied customers completely destroying brick-and-mortar stores, customer service terrorists going on multi-social channel rants — these are just some of our most shockingly true and amusing stories, and we hope you agree. They just have to make you laugh (what else can you do). Do you have a customer experience story or an outlandish customer comment that is laugh-out-loud ridiculous like those below? Tweet us @crmetrics and tell us all about it!
- Man destroys T-Mobile store with fire extinguisher - In Manchester, England a T-Mobile customer learned he would not get a refund. He chose not to take his case to social media, instead he destroyed the store and used a fire extinguisher to spray the place. Continue reading “Customer Relationship Metrics’ Most Comical Contact Center Stories” »
The only effective way to capture the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is through post-call IVR surveys, where results are able to tap into the genuine experiences customers have with a product or service. The knowledge shared by the customer, and thereby gained and analyzed by the company, can lead to powerful change for the future improvement of the business. When executed well, post-call IVR surveys are the single greatest tool at determining customer pain and propelling businesses toward positive customer experience process improvement.
Most call center managers can agree that post-call IVR surveying is important, but many surveys fail in practice, first with the types of questions asked, and second with the length of the survey. Remember our discussion of market researchers versus customer experience analysts? Continue reading “Post-call IVR surveys: the key to call center process improvement” »
You know that capturing post-call customer feedback is critical to your business. It allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of the customer, uncover problem products, agent issues, service faults and organizational barriers. Additionally, it reveals the positive in what is working, who is performing at high levels and quantifies how the customer experience translates into customer satisfaction and loyalty. If you are not getting these things, you are missing it. You may think that your customers are inconvenienced by being asked to participate in a post-call IVR survey. If done correctly, they will not be.
As you know, Customer Relationship Metrics conducts free Customer Insights to Action assessments on post-call IVR survey programs. Many of those who take advantage of this service do so because their current customer experience measurement program is not yielding information that can be used for driving process improvements inside the contact center and for the enterprise. Continue reading “The Best of Knuggets and Knuckleheads: Post-call IVR Surveys” »
If you could create the perfect call center manager, what would he or she look like? Specifically, what traits or management styles would s/he have? What attitudes or knowledge would s/he bring to the table? While you find some of your perfect traits during the interview process, it is difficult to find all of the attributes of a winning call center manager in one single candidate. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the best of all the call center managers we’ve seen over the years and build the perfect prototype? Continue reading “Crafting the perfect Call Center Manager.” »
Little kids get in trouble all the time, and when they’re ready to come clean they’ll often make parents promise not to get mad before they spill beans. Wanting to ensure mom and dad’s response is not unlike an agent asking for a top score on a post-call survey from a customer they just helped on a service call. But be careful, because engineering and massaging customer experience data creates bigger problems than stealing a candy bar or pushing down a sibling and confessing to a parent.
There’s a big difference between a call center agent asking a customer if they’ve answered all their questions at the end of a customer service call and asking if they transfer that customer to a post-call survey if that customer would give them a nine or a 10 rating on their call performance, i.e. massaging customer behavior. By planting the seed in the customer’s mind about the rating they should give the call center agent, they end up engineering a customer experience vs. letting the customer rate the agent honestly. Continue reading “Post-call surveys are pointless if your agents synthesize the results.” »
When people find out what I do for a living they inevitably tell me about some awful customer experience they’ve had and ask if I can ‘fix that company’. From my perspective as a consumer, I can certainly empathize with their bad customer experience, but as a call center professional I understand the common missteps call centers make that unknowingly lead to these negative customer experiences.
Imagine that you want to purchase a home theater projector online. You review the choices, pick it out, put everything you need into your cart and when you try to place the order, your credit card is declined. Now you call customer service hoping to save all of the work you just invested. The big help is that declines are usually due to daily credit card spending limitations, and to call the issuing bank. After clearing up the confusion with the bank and calling customer service again to place the order, the operator tells you all the sales reps are busy, and you need to call back to process the order. When you ask the operator why she can’t place the order for you, you are told that she does not have access to the necessary screens to key in the order. Insert your screaming or crying here because we consumers can only take so much frustration. Do they win when they break our spirit?
These common problems are painful to both sides. Customer effort shoots through the roof they are forced to jump through hoop after hoop just to spend their money with you. It’s too easy to abandon the sale. You know what’s next: jilted customers voice their frustrations through social media and publicly share their negative customer experience with your brand, swaying potential customers to your competitors. On the other side, the agents are heavily rooted in siloed call center processes and are incapable of resolving simple customer issues because of lack of access to necessary knowledge or software. Guess what? The agents leave you too. Continue reading “Are your siloed call center processes increasing customer effort?” »
What are your callers thinking about when they spend minute after minute on hold to speak to an agent? Probably among the thoughts would be ‘what’s taking so long’? Studies show that up to half of all customer service calls are unnecessarily placed due to high organizational dysfunction. A communication misstep within the customer service chain inevitably triggers a customer call to figure out what has happened with their order or shipment, for example. These unnecessary calls tie up valuable agent time, run up call center operation costs, increase customer effort and create an overall negative customer experience.
I recently placed an order online but never received an order confirmation. Usually I get a prompt confirmation email that includes the order number and an estimated ship date, but this time I didn’t. Of course, my credit card was charged but without my order number or my confirmation I had to call customer service to ensure my order was actually placed. My not-so-helpful customer service agent said I had two options: wait to see if the order arrives or to reverse my credit card charges with my bank and place the order a second time. Something as simple as a missing order confirmation email had increased my customer effort score through the roof. Continue reading “Are unneccessary calls hiking up customer experience dysfunction?” »
Services for homeowners are intertwined. I need a phone line for my alarm system to be monitored properly. What happens when the alarm system cannot connect to the phone and neither the phone service company nor the alarm company will cop to the issue or help me resolve it? The alarm company says it’s a phone issue, the phone company says it’s an alarm issue and the result is one frustrated customer with nowhere to turn for resolution. We are all paying for your dysfunction. What part of each dollar for your product or service is needed to fund your company’s dysfunction? This is a serious question that I am asking you!
The alarm company’s call center agent didn’t have access to the needed data, or the skills to help me troubleshoot the problem. I am paying toward the existence of the call center but there isn’t a process in place to help the agents in a situation like this. And while the phone company was able to connect me to a tech over the phone to help me troubleshoot the problem, it took over an hour before he asked to call me on my home phone line to test to see if the line was working. Geez, how much did that cost because no one asked that question in the beginning? Cha-ching to the Dysfunction Index money because the highly scripted agent didn’t use common sense to simply place a call to the phone line to check it. Continue reading “How high is your Dysfunction Index?” »
Are you teaching your children to be good consumers? Not to be consumers of a lot of things but to BE a good consumer? You practice the art of leading by example at the office in your role as a manager but are you mindful what the little ones are watching at home? I’d say that most of us in the service industry try to be good consumers because we understand being on the receiving end of pleasantness or ugliness.
Here we are at the end of 2011 with a whole bunch of people who haven’t learned to be good consumers; who haven’t been taught. There are tens of millions of people in the service industry – we have the numbers to do things differently, to lead by example and to show our children that those serving us deserve respect and the chance to earn the right to keep it. Continue reading “What are you teaching your children about customer experience respect?” »
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.” »