Speech voice of the customer

How Co-op created an award-winning Voice of the Customer programme

16th Apr 2018
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Co-op's Voice of the Customer programme has not only delivered financial success but has had industry-recognition at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards. So why is it so successful?

The Co-op is a British consumer co-operative with a diverse family of retail businesses including food retail, electrical retail, financial services, insurance services, legal services and funeral care.

It is owned by more than 4 million active members. The brand was founded on a set of principles grounded in doing fair and better business. People across the business demonstrate their commitment to these values in everything they do, and that includes in the contact centre.

The Co-op Member and Customer Service 60 seat contact centre in Manchester recently embarked on a three year strategy of Building Service Excellence, founded on four pillars: people, management, value and insight. The latter focused on turning their one million plus customer conversations per year into insights that could help shape a better Co-op through a Voice of the Customer programme.

Claire Carroll, head of member and customer services, explains: “We wanted our Voice of the Customer programme to look both outwardly and inwardly. We wanted to use the insights from customer interactions to help improve overall customer propositions instore. And inwardly, we were looking to use the customer feedback to improve the quality of service delivered by the contact centre and increase the value that we add to the business.”

Co-op was looking for a solution to work alongside the existing Salesforce CRM that would enable CSAT to become the team’s lead KPI for stakeholder and adviser engagement, and to enable continuous improvement and service recovery activities. This led the company to Bright, first using Bright Index to benchmark their performance before embedding Bright Navigator, the CSAT tool, to continuously gather customer feedback.


The first thing that the Co-op did was establish a benchmark to work with, benchmarking the contact centre against Bright Index delivered a line in the sand to report performance to the executives.

“The benchmark exercise gave us our starting point,” explains Adrian Morley, change consultant at the Co-op. “One of the key selling points of Bright is the depth of the benchmarking dataset, which enabled us to reference against our sector. This gave us clear areas of focus and enabled us to set targets.”

Carroll adds: “On day one we had no other reference point so we focused on performance against benchmark but as we went on the trend data started to become more important. Customer comments were added to the reports to illustrate what customers were typically telling us (good and bad) which helped to bring our service to life for the exec audience.”

Advisor engagement

As well as stakeholder reporting, Bright Navigator was customised around requirements for adviser engagement, service design and service recovery.

“We recognised that adviser engagement was a key part of the process to building service excellence,” says Carroll. “We wanted advisers to care about their scores and have the tools to improve them.”

An analysis of the ‘perfect call’ was conducted and as a result a model call journey was created to help advisers see where and how they could deliver excellence.

The call journey has five fundamental steps:

  • The big hello; 
  • make it matter; 
  • going the extra mile; 
  • "I’ve done what I’ve said I’ll do"; 
  • and the fond farewell.

With this under their belts, advisers were shown how to use the tool to monitor their own performance on the call journey in real-time through a personal dashboard. They have access to their scores and the customer feedback and can see how they are performing against the team and the centre.

“We developed a league table, and leader boards were put up around the centre using the data from the system,” says Carroll. “Crucially, we were not looking to identify the under performers. Our whole approach was to focus on those that were over performing. We shared their successful calls with everyone in the centre, and we significantly increased recognition for good customer service.”

Advisers became addicted to their feedback, aiming high and being delighted with what customers were saying about them.

“We’d managed to improve colleague engagement by 26 points to 85% in the run-up to implementing Bright,” reveals Morley. “We knew the following year would be a tough year with an increased focus on performance and efficiency and the last thing we wanted was for advisers to feel they were being put under pressure to deliver more targets. Bright enabled us to focus on the positive aspects of service and make performance comparisons that were transparent and fair. We maintained our engagement scores, and the survey showed that advisers were significantly more satisfied at the way performance was managed than they were the year before.”

Service design

The other key Voice of the Customer requirements were to use the insights from the conversations with customers to improve the design of the service delivered and to evolve the recovery process when interactions hadn’t gone well.

“We could use the data in Bright to establish the sensitivity of CSAT to call answer time and subsequent impact on advocacy, as well as analyse unresolved calls to identify and address root cause issues,” says Morley.

Knowing why people were calling, and understanding whether their call was resolved or not, and if they were satisfied or a detractor, meant that we could prioritise processes for review.

“Knowing why people were calling, and understanding whether their call was resolved or not, and if they were satisfied or a detractor, meant that we could prioritise processes for review. And once compared to operational data to spot the correlations, we were able to optimise service levels around key customer outcomes.

“Every time a customer scores a call unresolved, the system would alert the team manager who would then get back in touch with the customer as well as provide additional coaching to the adviser if needed and document the actions. This has made the survey a key part of our operation – a means of ensuring that on the rare occasion we do fail, we get a second chance to put it right.”

Complaint handling / service recovery

Bright Navigator was initially deployed on Membership Servicing calls, which are relatively simple to deal with. After a few months a more complex survey was created to assess how well complaints were being handled in the contact centre.

“We wanted to make sure that we were handling complaints effectively,” explains Claire. “But we were aware that we would have to do it sensitively, in a way that doesn’t antagonise things at a time when we’re trying to restore a customer relationship that’s been damaged.

"We wanted to know a bit more about the complaint, for example where it had originated, what path the customer had taken to resolve it before coming to us, but we didn’t want to make the survey too complicated. Bright helped us develop the right solution which we monitored through response rate reporting.”

The results

Within five weeks, the Co-op was getting valuable insights. A verbatim analysis of perfect calls was used to develop a Call Journey Framework for training and an analysis of unresolved calls was used to investigate process failures.

After three months, CSAT became a KPI and advisers used Bright to monitor their own performance and improve their scores, helping to improve CSAT for complaint handling by 20%. This in turn helped achieve 6% higher post-complaint member retention, with an associated shopping trade value of more than £12m. Advisers’ satisfaction with the way performance was managed improved significantly too, helping to maintain an engagement score 9% above the Co-op average.

These changes, alongside the innovative work Co-op were doing to drive change from complaints, led to them winning Best Voice of the Customer Award at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards.

“Winning the Best Voice of the Customer Award at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards was the icing on the cake,” concludes Carroll.

This is an abridged version of a Bright case study. To read the original piece click here. 


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