Do you think it’s a good idea to transfer upset customers from the survey to supervisors?

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Do you think it’s a good idea to transfer upset customers from the survey to supervisors?

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“Do you think it’s a good idea to transfer upset customers from the survey to supervisors?” is a question that was included in the 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys eBook and self-assessment. The eBook and self-assessment includes diagnostic questions for you to uncover weaknesses in your post-call IVR survey program or implement a new program that is not loaded with mistakes that others have made. Now is the time to take advantage of the compilation of problems I have come across in the 20 years since inventing post-call IVR surveying in contact centers.

Why is this a problem?

I know what you’re thinking; who wouldn’t prefer to have their issue dealt with right away compared to when somebody ‘gets around to’ returning their call, right? In this world of instant information, that would tend to be the common choice, however, let’s think about the big picture and ramifications of executing that from a human and business perspective.

For example, a customer calls your contact center upset about the warranty on the product they purchased nearly three years ago. During the course of their conversation with the agent it becomes clear to the customer that they are not going to be able to exchange their product for another one as they expected because the product only has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. The customer proclaims (possibly repeatedly) that they want an exception to the one-year warranty because they don’t use the product often and therefore didn’t have a full year of use prior to the malfunction. After much deliberation, the agent and the customer agree to disagree and the call comes to an end with the customer felling like they have been wronged. Haven’t we all been there? The customer is connected to the post-call IVR survey to rate their satisfaction with the experience.

Based purely on his unrealistic expectations, the customer gives low ratings. The post-call IVR survey system was programmed to ask the customer if they want to speak to a supervisor when a low score is detected. Sounds like a good idea right? Let’s see. So the upset customer accepts the invitation and is transferred to a supervisor queue. But no supervisor is available and their irritation level increases. So they wait on hold, with blood boiling, and after several minutes are finally connected with a supervisor. The supervisor answers the phone and blindly enters the conversation with a highly irritated customer.

Now remember the supervisor has no knowledge of the call with the agent so they must ask the customer, “tell me your issue” again. So the upset customer now has to retell the entire story about being cheated and since they were already upset, retelling the story makes them escalate to an even higher level of anger. We have all been there too. Think about this boomerang. Isn’t the whole purpose of transferring upset customers directly to a supervisor to rectify or at least reduce the pain of a poor customer experience? Was that accomplished? Do you think it’s a good idea to send an upset human being through this agony?  Do you think this call will be a lot longer because the supervisor is trying to investigate and calm an upset customer while not having any insight into the conversation with the agent?

For a minute though let’s pretend that you are still entertaining the idea of transferring the upset customer from the survey to a supervisor. Think about the potential effect on staffing and operations costs. In a large call center it’s not uncommon to have 15,000 – 20,000 customers complete surveys throughout the month. Even if only 5% of them result in an escalated transfer, that is still 750 – 1,000 blind calls to supervisors each month. Remember that these are upset customers so the calls are going to be rather lengthy as the customer now relays the details of not only why they called in the first place, but likely the play-by-play of how the first 10+ minute call went with the contact center agent they spoke to prior to completing the survey. How much is that going to affect the bottom line if you now have to staff supervisors to be essentially ready and waiting to take an escalated survey call at any time? How is that cost productive? Just imagine the time that this is going to take away from the teams of agents that they are supposed to be supervising.

The Solution

customers-grade-the-callsIt would be better for all parties involved if you programmed into your technology and process an investigation and calming down delay using an alert email. The email alert can be sent to a specified group of either senior agents or supervisors and contain not only the customer contact information, the scores from the survey and the comments left by the customer, but also a reference number so a thorough review of the call could be conducted prior to calling a customer back. By having the ability to review the situation, the supervisor would be able to speak intelligently about the customer’s specific issue which instills more confidence from the consumer. The customer will have had some time to calm down and no longer have to face the frustration of telling their story yet again which often fuels their dissatisfaction with the experience. And importantly, since both parties are abreast of the issue the length of the call will be substantially reduced; a real win-win in this circumstance.

The reduction in the amount of time spent talking to upset customers coupled with the ability to set specific times during the day to return the calls enables supervisors to focus on the fundamental task of managing their team. No additional supervisors will have to be hired specifically to staff for potential escalated calls which will ultimately improve productivity and reduce operations costs. Most importantly though, the customer will be left with a more positive ending to their customer service experience because they spoke with an informed supervisor that was able to speak knowledgably without wasting their time which will ultimately yield higher customer satisfaction scores in the future. Wasn’t that the whole purpose of your voice of the customer program in the first place?

So as you see, this is a classic case of technology creating a bigger problem when applied incorrectly. If your post-call IVR survey process can include an automatic transfer of upset customers to a supervisor, don’t use it. If you do, be ready for that boomerang to smack you right in the face.

About Vicki Nihart

Six Sigma certified and more than 15 years experience in contact center operations. Vicki leverages contact center operations subject matter expertise and deep analytic capabilities to support clients and build relationships. Analyzing and interpreting data is a passion she converts into purpose.

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