call center agents

Avoid the Hazards within the Quality Process

Dr. Jodie answers all your customer experience questionsWhen I think about hazards in the quality process in contact centers I think back to when I was in school and the teacher broke the class into groups for a project. If you’re like me, you inevitably ended up doing the lion’s share of the assignment (to make sure it was done right!), only to have the laziest group member step up and take the credit. Or no one in the group did the same amount of work and everyone got the same grade. Sadly, this sort of thing still happens to adults when our performance isn’t always evaluated correctly or fairly.

The quality process in contact centers is fraught with the possibility of unfairness. A highly visible hazard is common with post-call IVR surveys because of the easy occurrence to link scores to the wrong contact center agent. Callers are instructed to evaluate the last agent but they decide to rate the first agent or the one from yesterday or last week. In these cases, it’s not the agent that’s taking the credit for themselves like my lazy group member, but instead it’s the customer assigning an evaluation that was intended for someone else. Continue reading

Why Managing the Customer Experience is Like Herding Cats

herding cats is futilePreviously published on ICMI

Some of the best television commercials that have ever aired have been debuted during the Super Bowl.

Yee Haw

One of my favorites is an advertisement that aired in the year 2000 for Electronic Data Systems (EDS), now part of HP. The ‘Cat Herders’ commercial visually documents the extraordinary courage, effort, and gratification of being a Cat (not cattle) Herder. You can easily see what it was like to live the dream of driving those short hairs into town while not losing a single one…ain’t a feeling like it in the world. Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s easy.

The commercial attempts to convey a message in a funny (belly-laughing) way. The message is that EDS can help to make the complexities of your business easier and will Continue reading

Will automating the transfer to post-call IVR surveys prevent agents from cheating?

“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. 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

Why selling in service contact centers fails and how to fix it

pie chart about sales percentagesWhen 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 only angry people participate in post-call IVR surveys

“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

Web Experience Survey Mistake #1 – Trying to Measure WAY too much!

long web experience survey mistake customer experience intelligenceMy 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

Customer Relationship Metrics’ Most Comical Contact Center Stories

funny customer experiencesSometimes 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!

Post-call IVR surveys: the key to call center process improvement

post call IVR surveying the key to process improvementThe 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

The Best of Knuggets and Knuckleheads: Post-call IVR Surveys

best of knuggets and knuckleheads - post call ivr surveysYou 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

Crafting the perfect Call Center Manager

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

Post-call surveys are pointless if your agents synthesize the results

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 score vs. letting the customer rate the agent honestly. Continue reading

Are your siloed call center processes increasing customer effort?

siloed processes trap agents, leading to churn over timeWhen 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? Continue reading

Are unneccessary calls hiking up customer experience dysfunction?

customer experience dysfunction starts with incomplete communication processesWhat 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

How high is your Dysfunction Index?

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

What are you teaching your children about customer experience respect?

customer experience consumerisim respectAre 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

Experts Read Here!
"CRM Metrics blog has lots of great content...I had all but given up on reading blogs but found this one to be full of insights and fresh ideas/perspectives."
Joe Outlaw, Principal Contact Center Analyst, Frost & Sullivan
Join Joe and Others

Join the Crowd

Resource Library

Watch Latest Videos