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Do you remember when your school teachers 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 Program 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 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 “Avoid the Hazards within the Quality Process” »
Real-time post call IVR survey alerts are a must, because where within your customer experience engineering plans do you meet head-on the failed service experiences? Is it only after multiple complaints? Is it only after your company president shows up in the contact center? Is it after you are on the 5:00 news? Do you ignore the ones that are not loud? Do you make an attempt to gain back loyalty points that were lost during a failed call experience?
Callers make judgments about your entire organization based on their interaction with your contact center agents. Why is it so important to focus on the recovery of customers who had a dissatisfying service experience? Although the caller may not have been satisfied with the service experience in general, satisfaction with the service recovery experience is significantly related to their intention to repurchase (Boshoff, 1999). Continue reading “Real-time IVR Post-call Survey Alerts are a MUST” »
When you have a sinus condition, you wouldn’t go to see a chiropractor. While a chiropractor is talented when it comes to matters of the spine, he doesn’t have the skills needed to solve your sinus problem. An ear, nose and throat physician is perfect for your situation. When it comes to the Voice of the Customer (VoC), a term that describes the process of capturing customer expectations and preferences, a Market Research approach and a Customer Experience approach are different specialties just as a chiropractor and an ENT. Continue reading “Voice of the customer specialties” »
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?” »
With Facebook pages and Twitter handles and this, that and the other, is anyone even picking up the phone anymore to be served by one of your agents? You bet they are and what callers experience has been affected by your Social CRM.
Recently, I had to deal with a return and some customer service issues of my own so I called into the call center. After nearly 10 minutes on hold I was finally connected with a call center agent that immediately made it clear that he didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t know how to assist me. I was given a scripted, mediocre response and directed to the web site, but not before he made an insulting comment that I should have started there in the first place. Seriously!
Social CRM has its place and certainly is a fast-growing service channel, but that doesn’t mean that we diminish the focus on customer service. If you have ill-equipped, sassy agents answering calls to quickly direct people to serve themselves online, it’s likely that you are pushing disgruntled customers to voice themselves publicly on your Facebook and Twitter pages. The result makes them a customer service nightmare for your agents monitoring your Social CRM. Continue reading “How is Social CRM impacting your traditional customer service channels?” »
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?” »
For the first time some stores got a jump on ‘Black Friday’ by opening on Thursday evening (Thanksgiving). After the leftovers from the turkey dinner were put away, I decided to venture out to see how this plan was going to work. What was I thinking?!?
Did you assume that the expansion of the Black Friday deals was due to the massive demand for goods on the biggest shopping day of the year? Was this a solution to lessen the pressure on their sales staff as well as the wait time for eager buyers? Was this an event that would improve the customer experience?
There were still long lines and delays (who saw that coming?) and I was met with disgruntled staff members that were long on attitude and short on customer service. Naturally I’m wondering about the cost to get these so-called deals. If this was the store’s attempt to create a better customer service experience by opening early, I’d say that it backfired. The loyal Black Friday shoppers were now flooding the stores the night before to avoid the risk of a picked over selection come early Friday morning. And don’t forget the sales staff which was equally overwhelmed at the sheer volume of customers and chaos, not to mention pulling an all-nighter while fighting the effects of tryptophan. How will this madness in the retail stores affect the call center customer experience? Continue reading “Was this an attempt to improve the Black Friday customer experience or not?” »
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.” »
You are probably like me and my friends. We are always quick to share a new find: a doctor, a handyman, a great new boutique, an app or even a recipe. Recently I referred a friend to a garage that I’ve used for years for car repairs and maintenance. She wasn’t very happy when she called a few days later saying the receptionist was rude, the simple repair took the shop more than two days to finish and the mechanic left stains and garbage inside her vehicle. I was truly shocked because I’ve always had a very positive experience.
In our world of call centers, inconsistency is the horror that we cast over our customers. Many customers call in, reach a knowledgeable agent and have their issue resolved promptly and professionally. It’s the other group we fear – the ones who have the opposite, scary experience!
Being an organization that consistently delivers a quality customer experience each and every time means you’ve figured out something your competitors have missed. Are you checking in with your tenured agents to determine job satisfaction on a regular basis? Do you have a customer experience insights that are captured using post-call surveys to analyze what is making your customers happy or not at the moment of truth? Have you implemented speech analytics to uncover hidden issues within your processes? Do you have what you need to create customer experience consistency in your call center? Continue reading “The horror of customer experience consistency that misses the mark.” »
I recently had to call the post office’s customer service number regarding a change of address form that got screwed up. Monday I waited on hold for 15 minutes and finally hung up. Tuesday, the same deal. I finally physically went down to my local post office on Wednesday to deal with the mess in person. And there I waited in line for 20 minutes before finally getting it sorted out. There was one (!!!) person working at the post office window to deal with the many, many disgruntled people there. It sure makes it easy to see why they lose money each and every day they operate.
While I understand the reality of our economy, it’s too simple to say ‘cut headcount’. Most financial people making the decision to cut headcount are not very skilled or intelligent. They are not capable of looking at the entire picture. They are simply making quick cost savings in the short run, without considering their long-term savings and growth potential. Who ultimately pays the price for cuts in personnel? First the customers pay, then the company. Your once loyal product advocates get cast aside in the name of smaller overhead and a more manageable bottom line. So what’s the solution? How can you reevaluate your business AND the needs of your customers to come to a more appropriate cost savings solution than just slashing headcount? Continue reading “When you cut headcount is your customer experience bleeding?” »
How did we get to the point where the Federal Government plans a hostile takeover of one-sixth of the American economy? Consumers abused their benefits and the providers pushed back to control costs and now insurance providers have secured their very own circle in Hell alongside stock brokers, bankers, ambulance-chasers and telemarketing lawyers. The clues of what was coming were there and we all should have seen it coming.
According to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2006, only 18% of Americans are satisfied with the total cost of healthcare and only 44% of Americans are satisfied with the quality of healthcare in America. Another study conducted by Gallup between 2006 and 2008 found that “the United States maintains the third-highest GDP per capita ($48,000) of all OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. However, the relative wealth of the U.S. economy does not necessarily translate into confidence in national healthcare systems. ”
So consumers are unhappy and providers take up the “us versus them” stance and don’t pay attention to the customer experience and resulting satisfaction. And when I say do not pay attention, I mean that it’s not effectively quantified and if it is, the management TO the feedback is flawed. And now we have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 to address the NOISE in the marketplace. Do you remember how satisfied the Bell Telephone customers were prior to the government stepping in (and breaking up Ma and Pa)? Lily Tomlin as an telephone operator said, “We don’t care! We don’t have to! We’re the phone company!” Do you remember how much noise was heard from customers about their utility? How’s that de-regulation working out? It doesn’t work to be arrogant and not listen to customers with the hope that the noise will not bring negative attention. Continue reading “The Role of Call Centers in bringing about Obamacare” »
What’s the big secret? You sold me. Someone wanted to buy me, so there! Now that you have me, why are you trying to hide from me? Why would you put customer relationships at risk; not to mention the immense pressure on your call center agents to field the angry customer calls when we figure it out?
My home alarm company practices the avoidance principle as a customer service strategy by burying their customer service numbers so deep that no one can find them. When I got around to updating my billing information with my home security system, I went to their web site to find the customer service number. The home security section on the site had vanished without explanation. My auto-payments are still being debited and my alarm system still appears to be monitored. What gives?
After an hour of searching the internet, I discover that a competitor has taken over their home security division. I finally found the customer service number on the competitor’s (er, my new service company) web site, and by the time I made it to a live customer service agent I was told they couldn’t find my information because the data merge had not been completed. They did give me an alternate number to call, but it’s too little too late. I was never told about the merge, never given a new service number to call, never told how the merge might affect my service or the contract I had with my former company. You can imagine the conversation with the contact center agent. Continue reading “Emerging customer retention model: hide your contact center information.” »
As much as 80% of all customer interactions in North America take place via contact centers. So needless to say since, Customer Relationship Metrics is a Call Center Business Intelligence services provider we have an abundance of insights into bad customer experiences (since angry customers speak up loudly). But don’t forget, good customer experiences are being delivered every day. Just recently one of our clients showed me a written testimonial one of their customers sent in. The customer went on and on how shocked she was that a company of their size had treated her with such individualized care and concern. Not only was her service issue resolved, but she said she would forever be a brand advocate for our client’s company. What more could you ask for? And moreover why don’t we hear more testimonials like this? Continue reading “Are customer testimonials abundant in your call center?” »
One of the best things to do if you want to be one of the customer experience leaders is listen. This requires that you pay attention to trends, you try new social media channels and most important you effectively listen to your customers. Through actively engaging customers in dynamic conversations (and then quantifying this data) about their needs, over time, you can proactively cause those customer relationships to grow and evolve making your customers brand advocates. What your customers want (the how, what, when and how often), contributes to how your customers view your call center, your company, your brand and your products. While there are many drivers to business today, the leaders in customer experience management are using analytics to improve their decision making. Why? Because, just when you think you have your customers pegged, their needs change, their standards are raised even higher and you must go back and re-evaluate your products and services.
What analytics (Newbies: this is more than surveying we are talking about here) are you using to stay connected to your customers needs? What should you be doing to raise customer satisfaction? Can you afford to ignore your customers? These customers were heard and will surely be customers for life!
“The new 3-in-1 printer is everything I need! I’m so glad you made a compact and affordable option for home offices.”
“I really appreciated you providing a direct customer service number with my appliance. I had some issues operating it and it was so nice to get to a call center agent directly and not go through an IVR phone system.”
I recently had a small issue with Verizon that I wasn’t able to resolve on the web site. Not a big deal. But when clicked on ‘Contact Us’ and then ‘By Phone’, instead of giving me the phone number, I was met with a pop-up window that said: “We’re sorry…we are not able to process your request.” Great, if you are going to hide the number you need to cough it up when we follow the clicking path to get it! Is this a new call avoidance tactic that I missed? Now my small problem is bigger. Understandably miffed, I relayed this story to a co-worker who had just called Verizon a week prior and had a completely different experience. She said she got right through to a knowledgeable call center agent and after the billing issues were resolved was transferred to another live agent in service to get the phone line checked. She even said how surprised she was that a company so big had such good customer service, while I on the other hand, couldn’t even locate a number to call. Do you worry about the consistency of the customer service experience? Are you protecting your brand by having a uniform calibration process and parameters for evaluating service?
While collecting scores and customer comments for analysis as part of our External Quality Monitoring (EQM) managed services we uncover significantly more than ratings about contact center agents. See what I mean:
“I tried calling your service number and each time it rang once and disconnected me. Talk about poor customer satisfaction.”
“I usually get right to a contact center agent whenever I have service issues but this time when I called I was on hold for 30 minutes. I got so frustrated I finally hung up. What gives?”
“Every time I order from your company my package is delivered quickly but this time it took almost a month and it was damaged. I don’t know what’s going on with your customer service.”
“Last week I was told by Kevin that I would get a form in the mail to request my refund. I didn’t get the form so I called today and was told by Susanne that I am not eligible for a refund and she’s not sure why Kevin told me that I was.”