How VW Group Roadside Assistance uses customer satisfaction scores to be a service leader

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An award-winner at the prestigious European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, AA Volkswagen Group Roadside Assistance attributes some of its success to its utilisation of the Customer Satisfaction Index. 

When the AA Volkswagen Group Roadside Assistance picked up the award for Best Small Contact Centre at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards in November, it was the latest signpost of success for the team. But if you ask anyone at the organisation what the single most important indicator of their expertise is, they’ll point to the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) – the lodestar metric that guides the staff and operation as a whole.

John Brigdale, customer experience coach at Volkswagen Group Roadside Assistance, explains: “This week we have dealt with customers heading to weddings and funerals, customers who are nine months pregnant, having treatment at hospital… The car breaking down is usually just the little story for that customer’s day. So you have to put the customer first and get the situation resolved for them.

“Our customer satisfaction surveys and the responses let us know that we’re doing that right. And in the event we do get a negative survey it lets us know what went wrong on that occasion - and if it happens again this is what we need to do differently.”

Since the contract to supply Volkswagen with roadside assistance was won from RAC in 2014, the contact centre’s main purpose has been to provide a bespoke and tailored breakdown service to Volkswagen Group customers who purchase new/used vehicles from the manufacturer, to offer peace of mind should they experience a problem with their vehicle. The key aim is to provide a timely repair using the fleet of 90 dedicated technicians nationwide, backed up by 2,500 AA patrols, to allow the customer to continue their journey.

“From the moment a customer purchases a vehicle from the VWG network they are a customer of Roadside Assistance,” explains Brigdale. “We often receive calls from customers for reassurance around the cover/entitlements and what support and advice we can offer. And anything we can do to help the customer with the vehicle is attended to, whether that be advice over the phone from the in-house technical team to deploying a dedicated technician roadside.

“If a repair is not possible, our aim is to effectively manage delivery of the customer’s vehicle to the customers dealership of choice, arranging alternative transport and keeping the customer informed at every step of the journey taking into account individual commitments and requirements.

“As a contact centre we continuously work towards our goals, look to the future and aspire to set the global benchmark for Roadside Assistance.”

Why the Customer Satisfaction Index?

Unsurprisingly, with car breakdowns potentially such a disruptive event, expectations of a quick and successful resolution are extremely high – not least by the Volkswagen Group itself. Therefore, to keep track of performance, a set of KPIs established by the business and the B2B customer are measured monthly and annually. These include how quickly patrols are reaching customers and telephone service levels, such as how quickly calls are answered.

But the most important metric for AA Volkswagen Group Roadside Assistance is the Customer Satisfaction Index.

CSI is popular approach for tool designated for measuring customer satisfaction with a product, service or a company as a whole, combining the customer survey scores from different business attributes to create a single customer satisfaction index that indicates the overall customer satisfaction.

It really motivates the team. And in terms of the management of the staff, it really helps identify any skills gaps.

Crucially, the CSI not only helps companies to track their performance over time but also surfaces the reasons of customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction, so that improvements can be made.

Each customer survey has an overall score, rating what the customer thought of the service as a whole. The average score is shared with the staff on a monthly basis to track the company’s performance. One of the other questions in the survey relates to the manner of the call handler, and this feedback is also shared with each member of the core service staff so that they can understand how they have been performing individually.

“It really motivates the team,” explains Brigdale. “And in terms of the management of the staff, it really helps us identify trends. So if one team member isn’t performing so well, we can ensure they have extra coaching or additional monitoring. It really helps identify any skills gaps.”

Rewards and incentives are also tied into the CSI scores to further focus minds and drive motivation, with team members receiving recognition for personal performance in the form of vouchers, commendations and recognition awards. “If a member of staff has a really good survey we make sure that we recognise that,” notes Brigdale.

Using a third-party for survey collection

The satisfaction surveys themselves are collected by a third-party company – InMoment. Volkswagen Group Roadside Assistance sends a complete list of customers it has attended on a daily basis, from which InMoment randomly selects a sample to discuss their breakdown experience.

“By using a third-party it means you get a true reflection of the experience,” says Brigdale. “We can’t influence it, and Volkswagen Group can’t influence it either. Impartiality is definitely a good thing.”

Working with a third party also delivers additional expertise and insights. “InMoment are a global company, so they bring in case studies of other companies, and tell us what is working well and make suggestions about what we could try. It’s great that they share their experience.”

Once a quarter, InMoment and Volkswagen Group also meet up with the Roadside Assistance team to surface any insights into the survey responses that may have been overlooked.

By using a third-party it means you get a true reflection of the experience. We can’t influence it, and Volkswagen Group can’t influence it either. Impartiality is definitely a good thing.

“We all get round a table, and deepdive the data to help identify any trends that might be helpful for us. They break it down into great detail – by day, by time that customers broke down, for instance, to see whether there is greater customer dissatisfaction if cars break down at a certain time of day. They also look at customer trends and segments – what types of car they’re driving, and so on. And also by fault – so they can identify that customers with punctures are most satisfied, for instance, and customers with gear box problems might be the least satisfied.

“It does point out things that we may not have noticed. They can ask us whether we’ve noticed that dissatisfied customers usually fit a certain criteria, and that helps us to think differently about what we can do.”

And the results are clear for all to see. As well as receiving industry recognition at the recent ECCCSAs, the group has been setting the standards for roadside assistance for several years.

The contact centre combined with the dedicated technicians have achieved 99.5% CSI, and CSI has been maintained between 98-99% of customers satisfied with their breakdown experience since 2014.

 “By ensuring the teams are aware of our in-house targets and working together we are able to achieve the key CSI target. We offer a bespoke and very high level of customer service as we have set the standards for the last four years in the industry,” says Brigdale.

And he encourages other contact centres to embrace CSI as a way of gauging performance, surfacing insights, improving service, focusing minds and driving motivation – even if it may appear to be a tickbox exercise to outsiders.

“I’d recommend CSI because without this feedback you don’t know whether you’re doing your job correctly,” he concludes. “We have got a saying in our contact centre: ‘fix the customer and then fix the car’. CSI lets us know that we’re doing our job right.”

About Neil Davey

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Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.

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