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agent tenure customer satisfaction customer experience consistenciesHave you ever been disappointed going to a restaurant based on a friend’s recommendation but the great food and service they raved about, and you expected, was just the opposite? I don’t know what’s worse, having the bad experience or lying to your friend so their feelings are not hurt.

Unfortunately, the same disappointment happens in contact centers too – customer experience inconsistency is the bane of our existence! In a perfect world the customers call in, reach a knowledgeable agent, and have their issue resolved promptly and professionally. Done. But, there is no worry in that. It’s the not-so-perfect world that we fear – the customers who have the opposite, disappointing and unexpected experience.

Are you one of the rare breed that consistently delivers a quality customer experience each and every time? If so, it means you’ve figured out something your competitors have missed. I often uncover problems using customer experience analytics for my clients. Many of the recommendations I provide are in pursuit of eliminating customer experience inconsistency issues. One particular area I monitor is agent burnout. I am able to quantitatively determine when burnout starts to occur with agents, so they can intervene before it is too late. I find that each center has a different month of tenure at which point performance begins to diminish. Would it surprise you to know that performance can begin to erode when an agent has been on the job for less than a year? Using your “agent expiration date” as a guideline, when and how are you reaching out to your agents to keep them motivated and focused on delivering an unforgettable experience for your customers you can try the following:

  1. Promote agents approaching their expiration date (peak performance on the curve) to have more responsibility as team leaders or escalation agents. Some agents stagnate because they’re bored. Assign them to handle escalated calls or put them on a path to be a team lead and watch them step up to the challenge!
  2. Ask agents reaching the peak performance to respond to service alerts. Every survey project Customer Relationship Metrics manages includes (customized) triggers that immediately alert the contact center management staff to an at-risk customer experience. Engage the peaking performance agents with researching the case histories and following up with these customers.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly they integrate this new information into their call handling and how vocal they become in communicating what they’ve learned to their peers on the contact center floor.
  3. Show agents how they contribute to the larger company picture.  The contact center is the heartbeat of many organizations and the positive customer experiences delivered there often impact the entire organization at all levels ­— share that information with your agents! Understanding how their daily efforts contribute to the bottom line of the organization and how their hard work changes the way the contact center is viewed by the organization at large can be the boost that some agents need to continue improving! It’s more than just the granularity of one call, their calls per day and per week, but it’s easy to only see the granular.
  4. Create a mechanism for upward flow of feedback. Create a mechanism by which employees can openly (and without fear of repercussions) provide feedback to management and about management. If you do not have a company culture in which this type of open interaction is likely, consider having quarterly feedback sessions in which an independent moderator (perhaps an individual from another part of the organization) collects and disseminates agent feedback or the responsibility of reporting on the outcome of these sessions is rotated among agents.

Now that you’ve dealt with your agent expiration situation, are you leveraging customer experience insights captured by post-call IVR surveys to quantitatively understand what is making your customers happy or not? Or are you just reporting scores? For top performing organizations, surveys are one of the single most important tools in gauging customer experience satisfaction and they leverage them on a continuous basis.

CTA-frost-and-sullivan-application-of-the-yearI have not met many award-winning contact center leaders with poor performing post-call IVR survey programs. This voice of the customer tool provides a critical component in gathering knowledge about the customer experience and managing that experience for a positive outcome. With the insights captured from customer comments and data we collect in each survey, we score each agent and work toward overall performance improvement for the contact center. It’s not only about agents:  better practices in post-call IVR surveys provide the opportunity to collect customers’ rating of various elements that contribute to better customer experiences. If you are going to try this on your own, get our eBook, 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys, and our accompanying blog posts that go over all of the common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. If you aren’t using post-call IVR surveys in your contact center, why not?

A final safeguard to prevent service inconsistency comes from understanding what is going on inside all of those voice conversations. A speech analytics program can be used to uncover underlying service issues with your processes, people, and operations. In the past it was too easy for a contact center manager to become fixated on a customer or agent issue, a process issue or an IVR issue. Many speech analytics tools make this problem worse. So make sure you can review the entire call flow holistically. You want speech analytics from recorded calls captured from inception to disconnect in one stream.  You do not have enough time or resources to be chasing smoke. Dial-to-disconnect speech analytics allows an entire call, from IVR to agent 1, to agent 2, etc. to be structured into information that is interpreted for the purpose of measurement and performance improvement. Often invisible, this information is recorded and scored through dial-to-disconnect speech analytics to become actionable insights that will effectively be used to create better customer experiences.

I have also never met any award-winning leader that doesn’t attest to the fact that there is room to improve the consistency of the customer experience delivered by their contact center. It’s not uncommon to be unsure about what you should do first. When this happens, ask for help.

Now is the time to take advantage of 20+ years designing custom customer experience programs for contact centers just like yours.  Contact us today for a free assessment.

About Dr. Jodie Monger

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics and a pioneer in voice of the customer research for the contact center industry. Before creating CRMetrics, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.

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