Customer Satisfaction in Action: What the Best Contact Centers do with C-Sat Data



Greg Levine
02/23/2011

Finding fresh water in the middle of the desert doesn’t help you – unless you drink it.

It’s the same thing with obtaining timely customer data and direct feedback via a C-Sat surveying process: It won’t help your business – or your customers – unless you actually "take it in" and absorb it. The aim of the best C-Sat initiatives is not merely to measure C-Sat, but to better it – to spot trends and uncover opportunities that can lead to continuous improvement and customer advocacy.

Top contact centers carefully analyze C-Sat data and customers’ comments and suggestions on a regular basis, and, importantly, act on the key findings. Here are several examples of how these centers use information gathered during the C-Sat measurement process to enhance service and avoid hate crimes against them.

They set up service alerts to quickly "recover" customers.This is one of the simplest and most impactful C-Sat measurement/management practices shared by leading contact centers. In these centers, whenever a customer – while completing a post-contact survey – compares their experience unfavorably to a root canal procedure without Novocain, an alert is immediately sent to a manager, supervisor or quality assurance team member. This person either contacts the disgruntled customer him or herself within a couple of hours or less, or has a recovery specialist do so. Either way, the goal is to quickly uncover specifically what went wrong during the interaction in question, and what can be done to regain the customer’s favor and keep them from forming a riot squad via Twitter.

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Many customers will tell you that the mere act of being contacted personally regarding their recent dissatisfaction is often enough to make them forget how angry your company made them. Of course, sometimes more is required – such as a free offer or upgrade – to repair the damage and sustain a positive relationship with the customer, who may be considering seeing other people.

It’s not them. It’s you.

I’ve seen numerous contact centers – typically larger ones – that have an entire dedicated service recovery team in place. Of course, if you require a team that spends everyday doing nothing but contacting unhappy customers, perhaps your center is terrible.

They capture individual customer preferences to provide more personalized service and sales. I typically avoid using the hackneyed term "CRM", but that’s really what this is all about. C-Sat surveys supply the center with a wealth of customer trends and specific preferences, and the best contact centers are careful not to let such invaluable data slip through their fingers.

After a customer completes a post-contact survey, top centers update the customer’s profile or account with any relevant notes/preferences so that agents who interact with the customer in the future can kiss their butt and cater the products and services they offer to that particular customer’s needs and expectations.

Even more importantly, leading contact centers share key data and customer trends with other departments – e.g, Marketing, Sales, and Product & Development – in exchange for better parking spaces.

They uncovering gaps in training and other processes.Whenever a customer expresses significant dissatisfaction, rarely can the blame be placed squarely on the shoulders of the agent who handled the contact. True, there are some agents who are just plain mean and/or grossly incompetent, but that is still the fault of the center for hiring such freaks in the first place. But usually when a customer is livid over their latest interaction, it has more to do with problems in the training that agents receive or the information they have available to them, and less to do with agents being sociopaths.

What frustrates a customer more than anything is when the issue they contacted the center about is not resolved during the first or second interaction with the company. Lack of first- and second-contact resolution is very often a result of insufficient training (the agent hasn’t been shown how to fix the problem/handle the issue) or poorly designed workflows/knowledge bases (the agent doesn’t have quick access to the information they need to fix the problem/handle the issue).

Customers also get very frustrated over poor accessibility to an agent – e.g., having to wait in queue until they grow a full beard or until the Cubs win a pennant; getting hopelessly lost in the IVR system; getting routed to a tech support nerd when what they need is a warm fuzzy hug from a customer service softy. Again, none of these problems have to do with the agent who (eventually) handles the contact going out of their way to provide bad service. No, they all have to do with poor processes and systems.

The best contact centers, via in-depth root-cause analysis of C-Sat findings, are able to pinpoint gaps in training and real-time communications, problems with information systems and workflows, and issues with workforce management, IVR menus, call routing, web self-service application function/design, as well as other processes/systems. Once they pinpoint such problems and shortcomings, they up their antidepressant dosage, lie to senior management about the extent of the problems, and work quickly and diligently to make reparations.

Hand the Reins to Your Customers

It’s not enough to be a self-assured contact center; you need to be customer-centric, as well. Confidence in your contact center’s capabilities and the belief that you are performing at optimum levels is all well and good, but in the end it’s how your customers feel about your company and the service it provides that matters. Period.

Don’t tell your customers how great your service is; let them tell you. Otherwise they will soon be telling everybody else how great it is not.

To read more, download Greg's book, Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact, here.

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