Why Customer Experience is Like Sex in High School

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Why Customer Experience is Like Sex in High School

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Everybody’s talking about it.

Many boast about their escapades and their appeal. Some of it is rumor, hearsay, and hush hush.

We stare in awe and idolize the exploits of the people we look up to and shy away from the focus being turned on our own shortcomings.

No, I’m not talking about sex — I’m talking about customer experience.

What does customer experience have to do with sex?

Actually, there’s a lot under these covers…

Let me explain.

Everybody says they’re doing it – and it’s so exhilarating.

Just like sex in high-school, customer experience has gone wild.

Isn’t it odd how so many pretend they’re an expert? Buzzwords and rumors abound … stories about CEX attracting more customers by this provocative and alluring secret that only Victoria knows. (doesn’t she work in marketing?!).

Most importantly, the transparency isn’t see-through because nobody is willing to admit that they don’t really know what they’re doing, or (oh, my goodness!) have never done it themselves. Many are protective of joining intimate conversations because they don’t want to expose that they don’t even know what customer experience is!

Let’s start with a definition of Customer Experience.

I really like the definition from Mike Wittenstein, managing Partner of Story Miners®: “Customer Experience is the sum of everything your brand does FOR customers minus everything your business processes does TO them. It’s all about how the experience makes them feel.”

Customer Experience is all about emotion. Fears, aspirations, perceptions, cognitive, subconscious – all of this needs to be undressed for the full pleasures of Customer Experience to be…well…experienced.

Now that we’ve explained it, let’s be honest.

You don’t know Customer Experience, do you? Maybe you did something once — a small, unsatisfying and inconclusive experiment, not so sure it will be better next time, but you’re not doing Customer Experience on a regular basis … right?

Very few people will confess this because they feel like they’re the only ones not doing it. Everyone knows that Customer Experience is desperately needed to grow business today — so who wants to admit that they’re the only ones who aren’t doing it?

Well, you can relax

It turns out that nobody has the right to expose your truths. You are not the only one – what a relief, right?

Hardly anyone is really doing it…

Everybody’s talking about it, but that doesn’t mean everybody’s actually doing it.

The real thing is that many of the exploits that you hear about are fueled by a vivid imagination, rather than experience; only a very small proportion of the talkers are actually habitually doing the things that they boast about.

And that’s okay – maybe you aren’t ready

To do Customer Experience right, you don’t just need to test different positions or processes. You need to measure results immediately. Post-call IVR surveys allow you to capture the raw emotion of the contact center experience. These are the results that are rooted in emotion. And you need to link the customer emotion to people that serve them.

It’s time to stop using delayed methods that capture insights later. It’s almost impossible to understand emotion when the thrill has gone away.

It’s also time to stop general results because the ownership to make changes will not be internalized and acted upon.

Let’s explain why with a short example:

  • Contact Center A: The post-call IVR survey was linked to a specific contact center agent
  • Contact Center B: The post-call IVR survey WAS NOT linked to a specific contact center agent
  • Goal: Reduce repeat calls – increase First Call Resolution (FCR), when the emotions are fresh

You’d think that there would not be much difference between the two, right? They are both immediate post-interaction surveys.


While we expected to find positive performance improvement by measuring, there were no guarantees.  Whatever conclusions were made would be driven and supported by the customers’ survey responses.

For more specifics, these were two financial services contact centers in this study.  Both contact centers averaged about 30,000 calls per month.  Each center had roughly the same amount of agents answering calls.

Everybody can do it

Each caller had an equal opportunity to participate in a post-call IVR survey.

In “Contact Center A” the culture absorbed the fact that each contact is a customer relationship that needs to be managed collectively and each agent plays a part in the collective.

In “Contact Center B”, they chose not collect agent-level data. They did not experience the team-focused effort.  The anonymity of the contact center agents in “Contact Center B” perpetuated their “not my problem” attitude with respect to overall center performance and caller satisfaction.

Are you believing this?

Right about now your head may be filled with all of those stories you’ve been told about how to do this and do that with post-call IVR surveys. After 20 years of doing this – I’ve heard a lot of BS.

Just remember, many boast about their escapades and their appeal. Some of it is rumor, hearsay, and hush hush. Beware of the masters of the one-night stand? Are they capable of a long-term relationship?

The objective of this study

The objective was to either support or refute the impacts of agent accountabilities on FCR performance. Could agent ownership drive the goal to lower FCR? Previous to this research, neither had the data collection methods implemented that were used for this study.

The project was designed to use the same data collection method with the same survey script for both contact centers.

This baseline of performance was established as part of the analysis and reporting process after the first month’s data and then progress was tracked.

After six months the results were in

We examined the caller evaluations and measured FCR rates over a continuous six-month period.  As the study progressed and agent-level feedback was collected by “Contact Center A”, the results for this metric were dramatic.

“Contact Center A” not only experienced reduced operating expenses from the decline in repeat calls, but also proved a higher ROI for training and coaching.

“Contact Center B” is unable to realize the type of return on training as “Contact Center A” and saw increased cost.

Thus, connecting post-call IVR surveys directly to the agent delivers far reaching benefits. Here we focused only on direct costs…the impact on loyalty and increased revenues are significantly higher.

Further analysis for each center by CRM highlighted the additional (and substantial) financial impact of the numbers and quantified the subsequent effect on caller satisfaction and customer loyalty. FCR significantly impacts more than operational cost.

I need to get naked

One important factor to getting agents to perform better from post-call surveys is trust. You know what happens when you don’t have their trust.

So to be transparent with you, we conducted Survey Calibration on the post-call IVR surveys collected for “Contact Center A”.

Just as in your internal quality monitoring program (iQM), you conduct calibration for accuracy and fairness, so must you for your customers’ quality monitoring.

Learn more at: www.SurveyCalibration.com.

I saw fireworks

That little decision (was not so little) to institute agent-level scorecards (when the emotions are fresh) and accountabilities had massive results:

“Contact Center A” experienced:

  • Greater improvement in FCR
  • Greater reductions in operating expenses
  • Reduced headcount requirements
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased caller satisfaction
  • Lower cost per call
  • Increases in training and coaching ROI
  • Higher VoC program ROI

Empowerment is more than a buzzword. It’s liberating.

Contact Center “A” in this study has an organizational culture which permitted contact center agents to participate in the performance management process. And you can capture this for yourself.

That’s okay — it’s a lot of information to take in

Even if you’ve been thinking about customer experience for a while (and have even tried a few experiments), you might be wondering one thing: how to truly take advantage of this opportunity.

That’s where External Quality Monitoring (eQM) comes in — it’s similar in concept to your internal quality monitoring (iQM) but the customer grades the call using post-call IVR surveys instead of your monitoring form.

You can build it for all types of surveys, including templates for financial services, utilities, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, and technical support.

This is your chance to leverage customer emotions (with agent accountabilities) to make sure that you’re incrementally advancing towards your strategic goals!

Okay, over to you …

So enough peeking through the window…are you ready to be the customer experience idol that people look up to? Then start with your own eQM Launch Kit now!


About the Author: Jim Rembach was the high school “big shy guy”. Enough said. Now he is on a lifelong mission to help call center operations thrive. Check out his free report – MAXIMUM Agent Performance: The Astonishing Truth for Contact Center Leaders

About Jim Rembach

Jim Rembach is a panel expert with the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and an SVP for Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM). Jim spent many years in contact center operations and leverages this to help others. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence (EQ) practitioner and frequently quoted industry expert. Call Jim at 336-288-8226 if you need help with customer-centric enhancements.

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By | 2017-01-11T11:34:18+00:00 January 11th, 2017|Customer Experience, IVR Post-call Surveys|0 Comments