Post-call surveys

What is Survey Calibration?

I have seen various claims that estimate the money lost to dead-end voice of the customer programs. The losses range from 60%-91% of all money that is invested – gone, lost, wasted. Considering the global dollars spent on voice of the customer programs is in the billions, the amount lost is staggering. In just about every report, one of the top 3 reasons given for the lack of return on voice of the customer programs is employee buy-in.

Survey Calibration Improves Employee Buy-in

Ownership is a vital factor in any improvement process. Since nobody sets out to fail, we have to assume that all voice of the customer programs exist with a focus on improving.

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All you have to do is listen to your customers

listen to the voice of your customersVoice of the Customer; a catch phrase commonly uttered in offices around the globe. But what does it mean exactly? Where does it come from? How does a business decipher constructive (and valuable) feedback from noise?  It is not uncommon to hear a manager say that you need to listen to the voice of the customer (VOC), but often that’s where the initiative stops.  Proclaiming the need to listen and actually listening are two very different things.  So is acting on the information heard.

One of our clients focused on turning such a proclamation into action and made some changes to the internal processes causing customer dissatisfaction.  The External Quality Monitoring program using a post-call survey methodology revealed that only 51.6% of their callers stated that their question or problem had been resolved on the first call.  With barely more than one out of every two calls yielding a resolution, FCR was obviously an extremely costly issue for them because repeat calls have direct and indirect costs.  It was definitely time to take action. Continue reading

The horror of customer experience consistency that misses the mark

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

Are your post-call surveys used for business intelligence or to beat up call center agents?

Are your post-call surveys considered to be business intelligence?  Let’s be honest, are we always ready for that honesty?  Or are you asking in such a way that you only get positive comments? Or to just beat up call center agents? 

What we’ve found is that most programs are destructive or met with apathy. The objective you want is to encourage the good, the bad and the ugly – this strategy will help you react to and solve issues with  your products and services.  For instance, a recent case was the discovery of a supply issue – not enough product to go around – which in turn was causing some negative online conversation surrounding the product.  The call center knew about the problem long before consumers started tweeting about it, but did not have a good process to disseminate the information.  Given how quickly people can express themselves online these days it becomes even more important to have a proactive process in place to not only deal with issues, but to equip your agents with the tools they need to address the consumers concerns about supply on the phone. Our client certainly does this now.  You hear, and you need to share your customer intelligence: Continue reading

Unreasonable expectation or true problem product?

Improving the customer experience or maintaining high levels of satisfaction is on every organization’s priority list (and if it’s not, it should be).  Analyzing customer comments left in post-call surveys will give you the reasons as to why a customer scored their experience with your company the way they did.  Sometimes, however, reading between-the-lines needs to be applied in order to uncover the real problem.  Maybe the problem is related to your customer’s expectations.  Managing customers’ expectations from the start could help prevent the unreasonable expectations seen in the comments below.

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Customer satisfaction can come in small packages

Customer satisfaction, like your customers, comes in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes you must go to great lengths to satisfy your customers and other times it’s the little things that make the experience a pleasant one.  Capturing the voice of the customer in post-call surveys shows more than the percentage of satisfaction, it also shows the customer’s satisfaction with emotion and personality.  Just like the comments below, some customers may find it a relief that they are able to communicate with your call center agents with ease, and some may be satisfied simply by the fact that the person on the other end of the line was handling their problem with a smile.  Big or small, your customers will tell you exactly what caused their satisfaction, and that is a very good thing. Continue reading

How long will you keep your customers waiting?

On average, Americans spend 45-62 minutes EVERY day waiting for something.  To me, it seems like that’s a low number when you think about waiting on a line, waiting for an elevator, waiting for a repair person, waiting to download something on a computer and countless other waiting activities.  Waiting takes a lot of one’s time.  And let’s face it; no one likes to ‘wait.’  If you are measuring the customer experience through post-call surveys, you reveal how your customers feel about waiting.  Some customer feedback can be highlighted as true knuggets to identify business process problems and some, well, are just knucklehead comments: Continue reading

Stop inconveniencing your customers

We consistently remind our business partners, the answer you seek is in the comments.  When brand satisfaction levels are consistently low, there is a reason.  The reason is expressed by your customers and you can hear it if you are listening.  Your customers will tell you if your processes are a problem, inconvenient or a royal PITA.  The comments below are the result of listening via post-call surveys and are true knuggets.  The organization listens to the problem experienced with the service they are providing.  It’s now up to the organization to put this data into action and make the change to improve the customer experience. Continue reading

Is there such thing as too much feedback from your customer?

During the customer experience measurement process, we ask customers to give an explanation as to why they scored an agent or the company in the way which they did.  These open ended comments provide true insight into the problem or pain the customer has experienced.  Sometimes that “true insight” is just a little ‘too true’ and we find ourselves hearing more information then we bargained for.  Comments like the ones below certainly make us scratch our heads and sometimes they make us laugh out loud.  Sometimes it’s just plain old outrageous feedback: Continue reading

Customer experience inconsistencies breed competitive shoppers

A major risk to any organization is inconsistency.  We know that customers have expectations and we assume they expect exceptional service.  But, first thing is first…the basic functions of the interactions with your organization need to be correct.  When customers experience a fundamental breakdown or inconsistency with an organization, the entire relationship is questioned.  Organizations must be consistent in all areas of the relationship with their customers, from correct billing transactions to post-sale customer service assistance.  Inconsistency will make otherwise happy (and “savable”) customers into competitive shoppers.  Our business partners seek the ‘knuggets’ of wisdom in their real-time post call surveys to reveal true customer pains that define risk to the organization. 

“The big problem I have is getting told different information by different customer service representatives.  The last representative I spoke with, who said her name was Sally, I wouldn’t let that lady try and take care of my dogs or my cat.  She is not a nice lady.”


“Sometimes when we have to call [the human resources help desk] several times regarding a particular situation we get different advice.  For instance in this particular case, I was first told that lactation breaks [during work hours] should be unpaid however we should allow the employee to lactate.  The employee then called human resources and was told that we had to allow her paid breaks for her to lactate. I feel this was not a good experience for either the employee or the manager.”


“I have not received my gift card so I can purchase a new phone. Therefore, I had to pay cash out of pocket. The card was supposedly shipped out of the 6th of this month. Today is the 26th. It’s been far too long. Apparently they have to send out a check now.  Now all my bills are backed up because of it. I have the potential of being homeless, and therefore losing my job. Thank you.”


Happy Monday!

Reap the Rewards of Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is something that is important to every organization.  We want to be the best, stand apart from our competition and retain our customers for a lifetime!  Capturing the voice of the customer in post-call surveys shows a lot more than a numeric value of the percentage of delight.  It also shows the customers’ satisfaction with real emotion and personality.

As we turn the calendar to a new month, it’s important to start off on the right foot with some positive reinforcement.  It’s a good best practice to share positive post-call survey comments with your call center agents.  Customer satisfaction comments, like the ones below, become an intrinsic motivator to maintain and increase employee productivity and customer service skills.

“I’m so extremely happy with the services you provide.  You guys have more patience with my dumb *ss than the law allows.”

“Her tone was cheerful and she was very willing to help.  I appreciated her attitude.  She left me with a pleasant taste in my mouth.”

“Thank you for making my most depressing life a little bit better with the service that you have given me.”

“Hello.  This is Bruce Lee, and I just wanted to tell you that the lady who did me today, oh, I shouldn’t say did me, she did a wonderful job, and I think she is extremely well put together for customer service.”

Happy Monday!

Are your Call Center Survey Questions Delivering the Wrong Answers?

Using biased post-call survey results is highly dangerous as operational and call center agent decisions will be based on flawed information. The following are some of the common pitfalls you may not have considered with your call center survey.

Biases and errors can arise from a variety of sources. Authors of literature on research methods and survey construction vary on the exact terms used and number of biases and errors to avoid, but it’s safe to say that there are a great many pitfalls and few safe roads when constructing survey questions. It is beyond the scope of this text to provide a comprehensive review of these, but some of those that are most likely to occur with question construction in a call center survey program will be discussed below.

Historically, in an effort to overcome the myopia stemming from sole reliance on internal quality monitoring scores, companies have turned to customer satisfaction post-call surveys to augment their understanding of the customers’ perception of the service delivery.

CTA-frost-and-sullivan-application-of-the-yearThe customer surveying effort is directed toward understanding and the questions are the elements that seek those answers. The questions are the core; the heart and soul of the survey. Although every aspect of the research requires careful planning and execution, the closest possible scrutiny must be reserved for the survey questions as they clearly are the most essential component. As Pamela Alreck and Robert Settle, authors of The Survey Research Handbook claimed, “Their performance [test questions] ordinarily has a more profound effect on the survey results than has any other single element of the survey,” Without valid, reliable questions, nothing of any use can be learned.

Have you Missed any of the Big 3?

Questions need to have at least three core characteristics: relevance, clarity and conciseness.

1.   Relevance means that each question must have purpose within the context of the survey and then be focused on that purpose.

2.  Clarity implies that each question must be clear as stated to all customers. Note that some words have different commonly understood meanings based on geography or demographics and customers rarely understand internal lingo.

3.  Conciseness implies brevity. Essentially say what is needed, all that is needed, and nothing more. In general, the longer the question, the more difficult the response task will be. Longer questions increase the likelihood of misunderstanding overall, while increasing the likelihood of forgetting the first part of the question by the time the customer hears the end.

Beyond relevance, clarity and conciseness, special attention needs to be taken with vocabulary and grammar.  Using customer verbiage is the key.  Items must be written at a sixth grade level, difficult to do, however, this must be considered.  Toward that end, it is important to use simple sentences. Complex, compound and compound-complex are the other sentence structure types. While occasionally it may be necessary to use a complex sentence construction, compound and complex-compound constructions must strictly be avoided. Not only are they too long and confusing, but they nearly always contain multiple ideas that truly require multiple questions in order to access the desired information.

While there are a multitude of elements that must be considered when constructing a customer satisfaction post-call survey program for your call center, when it comes to decreasing the opportunity for employees to disbelieve the results, the wrong questions will leave your heart and soul empty.

This post is part of the book, “Survey Pain Relief.”  Why do some survey programs thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of success? In “Survey Pain Relief,” renowned research scientists Dr. Jodie Monger and Dr. Debra Perkins, tackle numerous plaguing questions.  Inside, the doctors reveal the science and art of customer surveying and explain proven methods for creating successful customer satisfaction research programs.

“Survey Pain Relief” was written to remedy the $billions spent each year on survey programs that can be best described as survey malpractice.  These programs are all too often accepted as valid by the unskilled and unknowing.  Inside is your chance to gain knowledge and not be a victim of being lead by the blind.  For more information

Good customer service is comfort food!

Have you ever related a positive customer experience to your favorite comfort food? Being taken care of is very much like a favorite meal, worn sweatshirt or pair of jeans. It’s a hug from a loved company. And yes, customers actually feel it! Believe it or not, we receive customer comments in post-call surveys that not only make us laugh and make us feel good but also make us a bit hungry when they are related to food. It’s always nice to hear from happy customers even if the delivery of their feedback is unique.

“You got right to the point. You’re on the ball. You did a heck of a job. Have a great day. Keep smiling. Go out and get yourself a turkey sandwich.”

“Thank you for helping me. You are very, very helpful. You are, I am sure, absolutely beautiful. Your husband loves you. You are a great mom, and the neighbors think highly of your tuna casserole, and I am sure you are probably a Christian woman.”

“Your help was great. If we ever met, I’d take you out for a steak dinner…assuming you’re not a vegetarian. In which case, we could go wherever they serve whatever it is you eat.”

Happy Tuesday!

365 Days of Delivering Elite Customer Experiences in your Call Center: Customer-centric sweat and celebration

Throughout the years of raising my children, my wife and I have come to realize what truly motivates them.  All 3 of my kids, though different in their passions, hobbies, activities and personalities, share the same thread of an intrinsic motivator.  That thread is praise and recognition.  In my household, my children are not rewarded for good grades or pretty artwork, but rather are rewarded for the work effort.  We are more proud of the commitment, consistency, and discipline associated with what it takes to get the 100 on that spelling test.

We at CRM know that the power of commitment, consistency, and discipline associated with being customer-centric.   As such, we felt it was so important to take that same approach with our own customers.  Top-line organizations that have made a proven commitment and are disciplined to customer-centricity and consistently delivered elite performance throughout the year need to be recognized.  And with that, last year the Elite Customer Experience Awards were born.  In January of 2010, the award winners were finalized and on February 15, 2010, these award winners were announced to the world. 

About the Awards

This program is unlike any other.  The winning organizations were measured on outstanding customer satisfaction performance over the entire year!  For 365 days!  Awards were given in several categories including:  Utility Provider of the Year; Product Support Provider of the Year; Agent of the Year; Team of the Year; Outsourced Center of the Year; In-house Contact Center of the Year and the Elite Customer Experience Award.  These organizations excel at transforming customer experience analytics into action.  More than 230,000 real-time post-call customer satisfaction surveys were analyzed by a CRM expert on the research and client services team.  Some of the award winners’ highlights include:  16.7% reduction in repeat call volume; 5% reduction in customer attrition; reduced costs to acquire new customers; increased lifetime customer value and employee engagement.

The Buzz Around the Boom

Naturally, award winning companies were thrilled with the news that they had won such a prestigious honor.  We had expected this.  We expected they would be proud and happy to then praise their teams.  What we did not expect is the whirlwind of celebrations that would soon follow.  A few of our customers have thrown Awards Parties by way of a luncheon or a happy hour.  Announcements soared through the C-Suite in some organizations and some customers received praise directly from their CEOs.  One CFO sent an email to the entire organization (including the Board of Directors) singing praises of the call center’s performance, he stated, “… now can say that we are DEMONSTRABLY best!!”

Our very own CEO, Dr. Jodie Monger comments, “It is with great pleasure that I congratulate these organizations for their exemplary performance and excellence in customer care.  The frontline in leadership and management teams has engineered the service experience to be profitable for the organization, by highlighting the customer experience.  Each has leveraged the customer intelligence from their customers to earn these awards. CRM is proud to play its part in enabling the customers to speak.”

We Tip Our Hats to…

….the 2010 award winners and honorable mentions:

  • Elite Customer Experience Award – Otter Tail Power Company; Honorable Mention – Portland General Electric
  • Utility Provider of the Year – Otter Tail Power Company; Honorable Mention – Portland General Electric
  • Product Support Provider of the Year – HP Home and Home Office Store; Honorable Mention – Black & Decker
  • Agent of the Year – Joyce Sanders, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Honorable Mention – Tracey Forbin, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
  • Team of the Year – Mindy McDulin Team, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Honorable Mention – Damian Reiter Team, Otter Tail Power Company
  • Outsourced Contact Center of the Year – Michelin North America
  • In-house Contact Center of the Year – Michelin North America; Honorable Mention – Otter Tail Power Company

A look into 2011 and beyond…

With the announcement of the award winners to our entire customer base during the February Customer Insights to Action Meeting (CRM’s User Group), the competitive nature amongst the organizations began to stir up.  During monthly  meetings with our customers, we are finding a common thread:  all are striving to be an award winner in 2011.  We can only assume that our customers now have yet another reason to strive for customer-centricity….and that is, you guessed it, recognition and praise for their efforts.

~ Jim Rembach, Chief Spokesman

For more information: Elite Customer Experience Awards

The Effects of Excessive Hold Times on Your Customers

CTA-frost-and-sullivan-application-of-the-yearCall Center professionals know, placing customers on hold is a necessary evil.  It is either part of the call routing process or a way for the agent to get additional information needed to resolve the call issue, or both.  Most customers do not have such insight, but do however, know all too well the famous words, “Please hold for the next available representative.”  The voice of the customer was captured in these post-call surveys and these folks wanted you to know how they really feel about being placed on hold…

“Your patriotic hold music is delightful; thank you very much.  I enjoyed being put on hold.  Thank you.”

“I was a young man when I made the call originally. I am now an old man. I was holding on for a very, very long wait.”

“The representative was very knowledgeable.  I was actually brushing my teeth when she picked up because I was on hold for so long; I had her on speaker phone.  She was patient and waited for me to spit.  She was helpful with her answers.  Thank you.”

“This representative did not listen. He was asking questions that he was scripted and should ask, but he wasn’t understanding or processing the answer he received. I had to repeat myself many times and was still not heard. This representative got smarmy about his position towards the end of the call. He kept his calm, which was great. However, he was disrespectful and rude. He left me on hold for a very long period of time. He was not able to get a supervisor on the phone. He was not sincere. He was not sorry.”

Happy Monday!

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