31st Oct 2011
Contact centre managers are embracing the idea of formal customer feedback programmes after many years of feeling they were not needed. So why the change? Jodi Koskella explores.
Over the last year, we’ve seen an evolution in the way that contact centres look at customer feedback programs. In the past, many call centres assumed that because their agents interact with customers every day (in transactions bound by standard policies and procedures), that was sufficient for listening to the voice of the customer.
Or perhaps other departments within the organisation, such as marketing or customer loyalty groups, were responsible for conducting customer surveys. Today, however, contact centre managers are embracing the idea of a formal customer feedback program as an important strategic initiative. Why the change?
Much of it has to do with the growing need for quality control in their quest for customer excellence, specifically in the form of agent performance management. To truly drive customer excellence and increase customer loyalty, employees must be accountable for the customer experience. And to drive accountability, it’s crucial to provide actionable feedback data to everyone who directly or indirectly touches customers – from your executives to your front-line customer agents. That means giving employees access to the right customer feedback metrics so they can see specifically how their work impacts satisfaction and loyalty.
Traditionally, a customer feedback program powered by an enterprise feedback management (EFM) solution allows organisations to capture both quantitative and qualitative feedback from multiple audiences, at multiple touchpoints, using multiple channels. EFM tools allow the contact center to set up alerts to automate responses to specific issues, save at-risk customers, easily analyse feedback data, create relevant reports (including performance data), and drive process improvements. However, the critical issue for high-turnover organisations like call centers has been the difficulty in getting the right level of information to the right person.
Today, new capabilities in advanced EFM solutions allow organisations to instantly share real-time customer feedback results with anyone in the company – but what makes that really meaningful is the capability to automatically tailor the specific data that each person sees by their role, delivered in a customized dashboard report. In the past, this customisation process could be a nightmare for call centers with a significant number of customer-facing employees and high employee churn. It’s difficult to keep up with who’s in what role, understand which information is appropriate for which employee to see, and still deliver data on a timely basis, especially when thousands of agents are involved.
But now, a sophisticated EFM solution with adaptive role-based reporting technology can automate that process. It makes it simple to add, delete, and re-categorise system users, and designate the level of information each should receive. When the organisational structure changes, the reports that individuals receive automatically change to match their new role.
These capabilities allow call centres to manage agent performance in a transparent way, clearly identifying areas needed for improvement and highlighting excellence. As each agent automatically receives their own dashboard with real-time customer feedback survey scores and verbatim comments following their customer interactions, call center managers and supervisors can simultaneously review the agent’s results. Agents can proactively request additional training for themselves, ensure they provide extra-special care to a particular customer, or even work on their mood if customers are calling for a more upbeat attitude. Managers can take action to provide coaching, create or escalate a case to resolve an issue, or reward an agent that received positive feedback.
EFM technologies provide call centre employees with access to metrics they can personally affect, through up-to-the-minute results of transactional surveys focused on key objectives like courtesy and technical knowledge. Managers can compare metrics across a team, groups, departments or regions, so they can easily pinpoint where specific improvements are needed. And executives can monitor overall satisfaction metrics over time so they can see how business process improvements are working and understand how to prioritise investments.
The ability to share customer feedback information across levels can also extend throughout the enterprise, even large organisations with thousands of locations around the world, using dashboards based on role, geography, and departmental or subsidiary categorisations. When each employee is able to view feedback about their own customer interactions or those of their local department or branch, they can see how their results relate to overall corporate objectives. Gaining that kind of visibility into the way their actions affect larger corporate goals can be an incredible motivator for front-line employees: suddenly a corporate objective to “increase customer satisfaction by 25%” has real meaning to an agent who is working to increase their own personal customer satisfaction scores by 25%.
As call centre agents and managers work together as a team, using customer feedback to improve the customer experience, both agent performance and customer satisfaction improve. Some contact centres are also taking the next step: tying customer satisfaction scores to employee compensation to motivate individuals to provide the highest level of customer service.
Ultimately, more and more contact centre professionals are using enterprise feedback management as a strategic performance management tool because it makes it easier to link great employee performance to a great customer experience. Real-time customer feedback motivates and empowers employees, and makes them more accountable for customer satisfaction. By sharing the right customer information across team members at all levels, contact centres are better equipped to deliver world-class customer service and cultivate a happy, loyal customer base.
Jodi Koskella manages enterprise product marketing for MarketTools CustomerSat, and is responsible for strategy and communications around Enterprise Feedback Management. She brings to MarketTools 15 years of B2B software marketing and consulting expertise with a background in retail, web analytics and data warehousing.