Improving Customer Service Experiences through Business Intelligence and Employee Satisfaction

Jeremy Whyte

Customer Feedback Is Critical

Today’s customer is offered a variety of ways to provide feedback regarding the customer experience with products or services. Leading companies use this customer input to continually enhance service delivery to improve the customer experience. In order to drive continual customer service improvements, companies need to focus on four areas regarding the customer feedback process: 1) capturing customer feedback, 2) storing customer feedback, 3) analyzing customer feedback and 4) acting on customer feedback.

Customer feedback around good customer service experiences can be obtained through a variety of channels, such as Web- and phone-based surveys, online chat sessions, e-mails and phone-based support. Companies specializing in the Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) space offer leading-edge solutions to efficiently capture, report and distribute actionable results collected through these channels.

The many different methods by which customer feedback is captured require companies to integrate all sources of customer feedback. Lack of integration of the various sources can hinder improvement efforts for a variety of reasons:

  • Multiple internal departments may be collecting, reporting and acting on customer feedback and using separate channels in a siloed way.
  • Customer comments—the qualitative, unstructured data—may not be analyzed in a timely and complete manner…and sometimes not at all.
  • Customer experience and sentiment, as expressed through online chat, e-mail and phone, may not be properly integrated with structured data.

Integrating Customer Feedback Will Empower Your Business

Conflicting messages from different sources may hinder the ability of managers and executives to formulate appropriate business decisions. With a variety of channels available for customers to provide feedback, and given the importance of providing superior service in a down economy to help optimize retention and position for future growth, the importance of integrating customer feedback collected across multiple channels is more important than ever.

An emerging theme over the past decade has been using business intelligence and analytics solutions to store, report, analyze and distribute role-based feedback to employees empowered to take action. These solutions enable companies to combine feedback collected across multiple channels—and by multiple sources—and report results through the common business intelligence and analytics solution already in use within the company. Customer feedback collected through surveys, e-mails, phone calls, online chat and other channels can be combined into a single instance, integrating both structured and unstructured data into a central platform and enabling companies to extract maximum insight from the information collected in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Harnessing the Voice of the Customer

Leveraging a common platform to report and distribute information via role-based dashboards and e-mail notification systems also increases internal user acceptance and adoption of the customer feedback received, increasing actionability and further internalizing the importance of harnessing the voice of the customer to drive customer-centric improvements. Companies also see the added benefit of common security and data management and enable a single point of maintenance for reduced cost of administration and ownership versus non-integrated point solutions.

Integrating both the structured and unstructured data into a single platform enables companies to extract greater value from their multiple customer feedback collection methods. Companies can more effectively, and confidently, assess customer perceptions, identify early warning indicators, drill into root-cause analysis and understand customer sentiment that may indicate future intentions and behaviors. The combined insight drives growth and increases business alignment by providing a comprehensive view into the drivers impacting service experiences, enabling companies to filter out the "noise" and act on the right issues that will address the root causes of dissatisfaction.

Capturing Storing and Analyzing Multi-Channel Feedback

With a common business intelligence and analytics solution in place to report financial and operational performance and measures necessary to run the business, an immediate opportunity is presented to automatically link customer feedback to operational and financial metrics for greater insight. For example, data around internal operations can be directly linked to customer service experiences, increasing segmentation capabilities and enabling management to identify best practices with the company. This data can be used to drive internal operational improvements in agent efficiency, service management and speed of service delivery. Benefits such as reduced call handling time and increased resolution rates yield improvements in customer satisfaction and financial performance due to decreases in costs per call and volume. Ultimately, by merging operational and attitudinal data, companies can begin to manage and improve the customer experience using operational metrics.

But while capturing, storing and analyzing multi-channel feedback helps to prioritize improvement opportunities that will positively impact a customer’s service experience, providing superior service does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, the customer satisfaction level of customer-facing employees is directly related to their ability—as they perceive it—to provide the superior service that customers demand of them.

Customer Satisfaction Comes From Employee Satisfaction

Studies have demonstrated a connection between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. In their 1997 book The Service Profit Chain, James Heskett and his colleagues at the Harvard Business School showed that customers’ perception of service quality is a direct result of their interactions with customer-facing employees. For employees, this means that there is a direct link between their actual ability to provide superior service, their perception of that ability and the shared satisfaction that results for them and their customers. In companies that invest in employee service capability, therefore, a typical virtuous circle will ensue:

  • Employees who are provided the appropriate information, resources and tools to serve customers better will be more likely to be successful at their jobs, and thus remain there.
  • These longer-tenured employees will, through increased customer contact and ongoing training, further improve their ability to better serve customers.
  • That improved ability will increase customer satisfaction, customer loyalty—and customer appreciation for the employees themselves.
  • Tracking these results, loyalty-driven companies will continue to invest in training, reward their most effective customer-facing employees, and thus further strengthen the virtuous circle of employee-customer satisfaction.

Employee Loyalty Inspires Customer Service Excellence

Increasing customer satisfaction with service experiences is a function of employee satisfaction itself. Therefore, to optimize customer satisfaction with service experiences, companies must also invest in attracting, acquiring and retaining satisfied, loyal employees that possess the ability to deliver exceptional service to the customer throughout the customer lifecycle.

Integrating customer feedback across multiple touchpoints spanning the service experience and combining with operational and financial data contained in a single system empowers companies to make better business decisions impacting the customer experience and driving company growth. Companies can refine resource allocation and invest in the key areas impacting customer satisfaction, perceptions and behavior. At the same time, through human capital management, companies can more effectively provide employees with the resources, tools and programs necessary to be successful. The combined approach impacts the service delivery system as customers benefit from the higher levels of service provided by more knowledgeable, engaged employees. Effectively leveraging the insight gained from an integrated feedback program also enables companies to benefit through reduced operational costs. As a result, many companies are now refocusing their efforts around providing superior customer service and betting those enhanced experiences will help withstand the current economic climate while positioning the company for future growth.