voice of the customer
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.
We all strive to improve customer experience in our organizations but one thing is for certain, change is hard. Positive customer experience process improvement is achieved through a variety of ways: external quality monitoring programs that uncover hidden issues, working through high customer experience dysfunction issues to streamline internal processes, and organizing mounds of customer experience Big Data to better service your customers’ needs are just a few. We selected some of our favorite stories below to show you some of the ways you can improve customer experience processes in your business. Do you find these stories helpful? We’d love to hear your feedback directly. Please tweet me at @jodiemonger. Enjoy!
Services for homeowners are intertwined. What part of each dollar for your product or service is needed to fund a company’s dysfunction? This is a very serious question! Continue reading “Profiting from Customer Experience Process Improvements.” »
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” »
I have recently overheard discussions around creative ways to improve a company’s customer satisfaction ratings from their External Quality Monitoring program using a post-call survey methodology. “How can we break that 95%+ glass ceiling in customer satisfaction ratings?” “Why couldn’t the agent ask the customer at the end of each call if they have done enough for them to give them a top box rating?” Sure, it sounds straightforward. In theory, the agent would know before they hung up if they had provided the level of customer service and answered the questions that the customer wanted them to or if they needed to do more before ending the call. They could fix the problem right then and there, right? If only it were that simple. While this concept sounds like an uncomplicated fix – ask and you shall receive – it may be anything but. “Be careful what you wish for” might be more applicable to this scenario than anyone realizes. Continue reading “Are you earning that high post-call survey score?” »
Culture. A popular buzz word across corporate America; but what does it mean and why is it so important? Hofstede, Namenwirth and Weber defined culture as “A system of values and norms that are shared among a group of people and that when taken together constitute a design for living.” Based on their definition, in order to be successful, you need to start with the core foundation of the enterprise – the office culture.
Take a minute and think back to a time (whether at work or in your personal life) when you walked into a room and could immediately feel the tension in the air. Now think of a different scenario when you walked into a room of people who were smiling, interacting with one another, possibly even laughing. Which room would you rather be in? Continue reading “How much does office culture affect customer satisfaction?” »
Voice 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.
Customer experience analytics clarified a common theme from the callers who reported that their issue had not been resolved on the call. Callers frequently stated that they had to call back to check on the status of the application because the agent they had spoken with did not have a way to check. “Wait and see and call back” is not a good answer for these callers. How can this information about an issue that increases the customer effort be alleviated within the internal process(es)? After taking a hard look at the outcome of this internal process from the customers’ perspective, a strategy was developed to dedicate a specific team of representatives to support the call center agents behind the scenes. Frontline agents could not have access to the needed information but this support team had the resources to review a caller’s application, claim and status. The agent can now provide the information needed to the caller upon request and eliminate the need for many customer repeat calls. Continue reading “All you have to do is listen to your customers.” »
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.” »
Customer sentiment and text analytics are all the rage these days, as organizations aim to differentiate themselves from the competition with the only thing they have left: service. These activities can make the difference between an organization that thrives and one that crumbles against the competition. But in order to experience the values and gains, a significant investment in both people and technology is needed. Text and sentiment analysis is not a case of buy it and good stuff will automatically happen. A human—-a highly skilled and intelligent one at that—must “teach” the technology what to look for, and not just once, but on an ongoing basis.
Even text analytics on a smaller scale, involving customer satisfaction and voice of the customer survey comments, can be a time-consuming task. But the risks of not analyzing customer comments are immense, ranging from failure to recognize business/product/service opportunities, to making key decisions based on incomplete information. As I often say in my results review meetings with business partners, the quantitative (numeric) data we capture tells us what happened in the past, and can be used to predict what might happen in the future. Where the numeric data is less precise is in helping us understand that “why” behind the “what.” That’s where the qualitative (comments) data is invaluable! And while I suspect that companies understand this statement, failure to capitalize on customer comments is one of the top three failures in most all customer experience programs.
Below are two of an endless number of examples of the type of intelligence that would have been lost if customer comments were not analyzed and mined.
Quantitative insight: Perceived value of the contact center was below our set target for the fifth month in a row.
Qualitative insights: 20 percent of all negative comments about the call center have nothing to do with the call center! These complaints are being generated by negative experiences customers have with other departments (underwriting, claims, pre-authorization). Another 12.37 percent of negative comments are being generated by a combination of technology issues and poor customer service (customers being immediately hung up on by agents). However, the remainder of all negative comments is directly within the call center’s control to improve (starred items), 33.89 percent of which are agent behavioral issues.
Risk associated with not mining customer comments: The call center has become the most important place where customer sentiment is captured. However, if relevant business insights are not discovered and shared with other departments (underwriting, claims, pre-authorization, technology), the organization is committing competitive suicide by “killing” these departments of an opportunity to improve, and “killing” the organization from elevating its service differentiation and brand strength. That is just dumb. Continue reading “What top three failures in your customer experience program are killing you?” »
In business we frequently see a very reactive approach when it comes to customer complaints or comments. If someone tweets something about a product problem you may tweet them back to try and resolve it on a singular level. But shouldn’t you proactively tweet out a solution to your followers that may be experiencing the same issue but haven’t yet come to you with their comments?
Have you seen the proactive push versus the reaction to customer comments? Think about the mega super store that had a typo in the discount of their weekly coupon. They of course realized the mistake as soon as the coupon was printed in the paper because angry customers were calling the company’s call center to say that they were turned away.
Do damage control with those calling, of course, but it doesn’t end with instructing your agents about how to handle the affected callers. Take the negative customer sentiment and be proactive with a strategy to generate positive sentiment. Alert the frequent shoppers of the company with an email about the error, tweet about the issue and push the explanation and resolution out through social media channels. Continue reading “Do you have a social media strategy to nowhere?” »
I was setting up my electricity for my new house and the provider offered to connect me to a third party that could coordinate my move and offer me discounts at home improvement stores. How convenient! The third party compared rates of the two local TV/Phone/Internet providers so I was able to also schedule those services to be hooked up. I was identified as someone in the midst of a move and the utility added value to our relationship. This partnership saved me an additional call to set up my entertainment services and, before the call was over, I had several Home Depot coupons waiting in my Inbox.
We are all looking for ways to cross-sell and to up-sell when we talk to our customers. Thinking like a customer helps to increase revenue through partnering. It is important to bundle a logical, related service or product. If you’re selling home appliances and you have a customer that’s ordering several appliances, your call center agent could ask if they are remodeling their kitchen. Would it then be fair to connect them with a design firm to assist in their remodel? It’s acceptable to do a few follow-up questions (maybe they are a DIYer) to see if they would like coupons or a consultation with a home improvement store. But, attempting to sell a PC is not. Knowing your customer and thinking about logical, related products and services will not only increase your revenue and enhances your corporate partnerships, but you may just gain a loyal customer for life!
See the intelligence that can be captured from customer experience. Continue reading “Selling for service improves customer experiences in contact centers.” »
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?” »
We’re taught from a young age to ‘love thy neighbor’, to be a conscientious citizen, to do the right thing. But often what we find is that some call centers aren’t equipped to deal with help from customers. They have a very strong culture overly focused on cost reduction (speed) and have processes to follow, and if there is no process for your request…they’re lost.
For instance, I recently received a call from a colleague who had phoned his local electric company about a severed wire he saw dangling over his neighbor’s house. He said he called for three days in a row to try and get someone from the electric company to come out to deal with the wire. The agents told him, they were clueless as to what to do or who to transfer him to since the problem wasn’t specific to his property. Did he have an account or claim number? No. Was the electric out in his own house? No. But the message he received was very clear; agents are doing what they are told to do and when a concerned neighbor or customer calls in with something out of the ordinary that is beyond their regular scripts and call topics, they freeze.
The deployment of smart meters has generated a tidal wave of data for utilities to manage and beyond the initial data storage challenge, there exist real questions about how to use and share this information with consumers. In an article published on smartgridnews.com back in 2009, Jack Danahy estimated that 140 million smart meters installed over a period of 10 years would generate 100 petabytes (1 quadrillion bytes) of information. That’s a lot of data and the effort to store this data is a wasted exercise if the analysis is never used to better project consumer demand and to help consumers better manage their consumption.
One of the utilities that Customer Relationship Metrics supports recently decided to make use of the data they were gathering, and for very good reason. According to OPOWER, an energy efficiency and Smart Grid software company, consumers who receive data about their electricity usage reduced their energy consumption by 1.8% (which, according to the EDF could curb CO2 emissions by 8.9 million metric tons annually). This utility mailed customers a snapshot of their electricity usage compared to the usage of other customers in their immediate area, along with tips on how to decrease energy usage. A company proactively informing customers how to use less of their product!!! What’s not to love? Apparently a lot. Customers who were notified that their electricity usage was comparatively high began contacting the utility’s call center in droves, complaining of over-charging, bad meter-readings and malfunctioning meters. The call center and its agents were unprepared for both the volume of calls and the negative response to the letter. And I was as surprised as everyone for the backlash. Continue reading “How to deliver bad news to ‘smart’ customers.” »
I think the expression I use most frequently is, “cheap can be expensive”. Sometimes when you’re out scouring for a deal you lose sight of that fact that good service is often rolled into the cost of a name brand. What you may save on the initial price of an off-brand item may cost you big in the long run. This philosophy transfers from our individual consumer situation to our business life as well (think build it versus buy, as an example).
An important element of consumer behavior is the level of engagement that a customer has with a product or company. When I’m in the process of making a pricey purchasing decision, I read the consumer reports, I survey my friends and family, and I look at the brand with the best track record for service and support. If I do have a problem with my new T.V. or exercise equipment or whatever it is, I want to know that when I call about it my problem is going to be addressed quickly and efficiently to get me back up and running with the least amount of hassle. I mean, after all, my time is expensive too and I take that into account when I’m making purchasing decisions. I’m willing to forgive any bumps along the way of my name-brand purchases because I know they’ll meet my expectations of service and support. This train of thought defines brand loyalty.
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.