Over the last two weeks, I’ve covered how to communicate the results of your call center to both the Executive Management and to the Operations Team. Today we will turn our focus to the Supervisors and Agents in your call center. Again, it’s important that each group gets the proper information to perform to the best of its ability.
Reports for Supervisors and Agents
Managing a team of contact center agents requires a combination of quantitative and qualitative customer feedback to measure, track, compare and motivate. And the shorter the lag time between a call and the availability of the customer’s feedback, the better!
The availability of real-time data expedites a supervisor’s ability to identify trends in performance, provide feedback to agents and conduct service recoveries for defective service experiences.
Customer Comment Report
Customers are in a unique position to motivate agents through their positive comments. The knowledge that a customer was impacted by a service experience to the point where he/she would take the time to make it known, is often more effective than any praise given by a peer or supervisor. Conversely, a customer’s comment could also shed light on sub-par scores. It is the complement of this qualitative feedback to the quantitative data that allows for a holistic approach to the customer experience.
Since customers are not able to see and have never met the agents they interact with, they create a mental image of what this person must be like using expectations and prior experience as a guide. Consumers categorize others because it makes their lives simpler and provides a feeling of control. Callers, therefore, will know (or think they know) how to approach a situation in which they are dealing with people they don’t know because they have already categorized it. They begin with a prototype in mind of what the agent should be like and how the interaction should go. When an agent fits the prototype, and even goes beyond the customer’s expectations, then Wow Factor feedback is collected:
- “The young man who helped me was courteous and quite knowledgeable of the ways of the company. In fact, if I ever needed anything in the future I would be tempted to call back and repeatedly call back until I received him. I would even like to have him over for dinner. Maybe even some beer and watch some baseball.”
- “I found him to be intelligent, quick on the uptake, very pleasant, agreeable and had a sense of humor. That’s rare among bankers.”
- “Sharon was outstanding. She deserves some additional compensation. This is not one of her relatives. Thank you.”
- “I was very impressed with the service that I got today over the phone. There is no way we will ever leave you unless somebody really, really screws something up bad.”
This also takes a negative direction when the agent does not fit into the prototype.
- “Your customer service needs to do customer service. When they can’t help you or refuse to help you, they follow up with the question: What more can they do to help? Well they haven’t done anything to begin with. A bunch of Cretins.”
- “This rep treated me like I was stupid. I didn’t appreciate it. You should never treat a customer like they are stupid, even if they are.”
- “Your reps are the least informed, ill-equipped and most ignorant people I’ve ever run into. This bank is the perfect advertisement for any other bank.”
We have all suspected that satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction in one’s life role may be transferred into other life roles, like an agent taking a bad day out on a customer and vice versa. Frustration or dissatisfaction with a product/service may actually be the result of the consumer feeling frustrated in life roles other than the consumer role. Agents must not only manage the delivery, they must also detect and manage the issue for the caller — all with the company’s best interest at the forefront.
- “Thank you for making my depressing life a little bit better with the service that you have given me.”
- “The representative was very courteous and kind. I appreciate her. The only problem I’ve ever had is that our former banker had an affair with my husband. We divorced and now they’re married. So, in that area I’m not satisfied with the services the bank has provided.”
Customers also expect to be treated in a manner consistent with their role as the customer in the interaction. Research shows that consumers evaluate service institutions and personnel positively when the personnel treat them as individuals who have specific needs to be met by the service interaction. If agents do not, customers will let you know.
- “The representative was very efficient and this is true to your company’s form. Every time that I have called customer service I have gotten excellent service and today was no different.”
- “It took four phone calls to get a pink slip. I’ve paid the car off. I deserve the pink slip. The first call I made said I would get it in 10 days; it’s now been 6 weeks. This phone call said it was mailed yesterday. Somehow I doubt that, but we’ll see. If I don’t get it, I’ll call you back. I don’t mind. I’m retired. I’ve got nothing to do but call you folks until I get what I want.”
- “You can return my calls, which you don’t do. I’ve asked to talk to a supervisor a few times. I haven’t gotten a supervisor to give me a call so why should you ask me to waste my time on this survey when you won’t have a supervisor call me. I think that’s pretty rude. You can call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I doubt I’ll hear from you but it would be really nice if I did and it would make my day and might change my perception on how I’ve been treated.”
Why be concerned with the research behind customer comments? Well, it’s a component of increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty and creating a positive word of mouth. If you can better understand your customers, you can create a better environment for the service interaction. You can also educate your agents and use this information as a training opportunity for them to garner a better understanding of consumer comments. After all, customers do say the darnest things.
Real-Time Performance Dashboards
By viewing the real-time dashboard below, a supervisor could quickly surmise that today’s call resolution and call satisfaction statistics are trending below the month’s average. The supervisor now has a goal for the day, as well as a minute-by-minute indicator of his/her success in impacting these key metrics.
The availability of real-time data also allows supervisors the opportunity to recover customers who have 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
Many call centers have inadequate processes in place to capture, nevermind address, a failure in customer experiences. The process, and its timeliness, leaves too many customer relationships exposed. Service recovery should protect the exposed asset during the call experience (whether that exposure was a direct result of Agent behavior or caused by the organization’s process). Is recovery of the relationship even possible? It is unlikely if you do not know about it, as only about 5 percent to 10 percent of customers choose to complain to the company . More likely, it results in negative word of mouth (market damage) and the discontinued use of your products and services. A lost customer is an easy, low-cost-to-acquire new customer for a competitor AND is customer value lost to your organization.
Components that facilitate timely notification of dissatisfaction enhance service recovery. By instituting a real-time survey, the amount of saved customer relationships will increase not only customer satisfaction, but have a direct link to an increase in customer loyalty. An immediate alert of a failed experience tells an important story. Is there a common issue with a particular agent? Ineffective behavior can be quickly addressed, minimizing the ongoing negative impact for the agent and the organization. Is there a common process issue? Caller dissatisfaction may be rooted in a new policy or procedure. Identify and change the procedure or identify and provide an effective Agent response to common aspects of customer dissatisfaction. Extrapolate the findings from the service recovery group and leverage this within your organization.
A real-time alert feature delivers significant value by proactively responding to callers who experienced difficulty with an interaction and are leaving the interaction dissatisfied. The EQM program contains a systematic approach to capture the reason for the customer-defined failure (people, process, or technology classifications) to highlight patterns for the organization. Without a framework, proving the effect of a process issue, for example, is more difficult.
We included the dashboard with this post because it communicates to center management the critical elements that must be chronically monitored and managed.
To wrap up this series next week, we’ll recap these three groups and introduce some interesting powers of persuasion to help you when communicating the results.
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 http://www.surveypainrelief.com/
1. Boshoff (1999). Journal of Service Research, 1, (1), p 236-249
2. Blodgett, Wakefield and Barnes (1995). Journal of Services Marketing, 9, (4), p 31-42
3. Smith and Bolton (1998). Journal of Service Research, 1, (1), p 65-81
4. Tax and Brown (1998). Sloan Management Review, 40, (1), p 75-88
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