The 2004 Voice of the Customer
Year in Review… and Plan for the Future
by Dr. Jodie Monger
It's the most wonderful time of the year…after our holidays and celebrating,
but most of all, a time for reflection. It's the time of year when we all
sit back, look over the events of the past year and look forward to the upcoming
year. Collecting, analyzing, and managing to the Voice of the Customer in
the contact center is uniquely different than every other type of satisfaction
measurement throughout the rest of the organization. Therefore, we here at
Customer Relationship Metrics (Metrics) thought we would pass on some of what
we learned to you, to help you in your own resolutions as you look forward
and plan for 2005.
As a contact center professional dedicated to the delight of all callers
and committed to bring out the best in my employees, I will:
- Evaluate ALL surveys from a scientific perspective and base decisions
only on data collected the right way
Most of the time, we expend the most effort trying to convince our management
teams that surveying is necessary. Instead, the bulk of the effort should
be spent on the survey program design itself. It is important to remember
that surveying is a science not to be taken lightly, so follow the guidelines
of this science when developing, executing and reporting results of your
program. If you don’t, the consequences of a poor measurement program will
have a profound and far reaching effect in the organization.
- Do not live by the numbers alone
In the contact center, we are never at a loss for numbers and seem to live
by our center’s statistics. What most managers forget is that the customer
is the best one to answer how their experience went. From a scientific standpoint,
you should immediately assess the level of service delivered on a particular
call. While this rating appears to be subjective because it is not a hard
metric such as ASA or AHT, if your customers are not satisfied, all of those
metrics are meaningless.
- Use the customer preferred channel for measurement and not force another
When trying to provide the best service to your customers, it is not a good
idea to create a disservice by forcing all customers through one communication
channel. It is not only the access point, but the measurement system that
you use which must be congruent with the customer-selected channel of communication.
If this is not done, “survey channel slamming” occurs. Survey channel slamming
happens when a customer contacts you by phone and you send them an email
survey. This is dangerous to your measurement program (and customer satisfaction)
and must be avoided.
- Admit that one survey is not enough and an on-going program is required
To get an accurate view of the contact center service experience, satisfaction
measurement cannot be combined with the fulfillment evaluation without allowing
bias (error) to be introduced into the results. The bias is created from
the delay between the service interaction and the evaluation – a delay that
is needed to evaluate fulfillment. To overcome the bias (and fix your program),
you should create two separate measurement programs. Then, take the results
of the two measurement programs and look at them holistically as actionable
intelligence to implement positive change for your organization.
- Identify the ROI of my coaching and training programs
In a time when contact centers are being forced to do more with less, training
and coaching seem to be one of the first items to cut. This is a sure fire
way to lose customers and employees. If you can direct your training and
coaching costs to the right agents for the right skills, your return on investment
(ROI) will increase tremendously. It is not always just about costs, the
problem also lies in the traditional training, coaching and monitoring methods
that contact centers use.
- Separate internal and external quality measurements
Internal quality and external quality are two totally different things. Often,
contact center professionals rely on internal quality scores to measure customer
satisfaction. This is a common misconception. In contact centers, monitoring
and assessing an agent’s call performance is— and should be—a standard practice.
But, if you know how the customers perceive the service delivered and you
have a good set of metrics and monitoring scores, the answer of how well
your center is performing becomes balanced and valid.
- Correctly calculate First Contact Resolution (FCR) and make sure to
identify the direct and indirect costs of FCR
The goal of contact centers today and a main driver of cost via repeat calls
is to provide FCR. This is one of the most important metrics, and yet is
also the most illusive and miscalculated metric. Contact centers have employed
various types of technology and manual solutions to help calculate their
FCR rate, but the reality is that none should or could answer the question
on behalf of the customer. Since the customer is the one experiencing the
possible pain from your service strategy, then s/he is your single best source
to determine this metric. Use your post-call survey to ask the customer if
the problem was resolved.
- Manage to the fact that the customer has final say if we have best
To create a competitive advantage, benchmarking became part of the way the
contact center would set goals and operating targets. Without the customer
to validate your metrics, your decision making process is flawed. Therefore,
before you set out to make big changes in your contact center because of
what the benchmark results told you, take some time and find out what your
customers think and whether the desired changes would even improve their
service experience with your company.
- Create an All-Star contact center team
To provide your organization with actionable intelligence, there needs to
be three aspects to take into consideration - the quality monitoring piece,
the call metrics and the piece that is most often forgotten – the voice of
the customer (VOC). The best way to get an accurate and reliable VOC measurement
is through post-call surveys. This powerful tool allows direct access to
specific details about the interaction and pinpoints specific behaviors that
agents can be trained upon. It is like assembling an All-Star team. And with
happier agents come happier customers.
- Use my VOC program to avoid court/hearing dates
The greatest weakness of a VOC program that is designed to hold agents accountable
for their job performance is the failure to have a back-end quality control
(QC) process in place. Without a QC process in place, the potential for error
is amplified, which means the credibility of the measurement tool is decreased
and your liability is increased. Terminating an employee based on performance,
providing or withholding incentive pay, or giving a raise or promotion from
unclean (non-QC’d) VOC data is a court date waiting to happen.
- Go beyond the basics for analysis
Looking at data from the contact center is just like a fishing expedition.
At most centers, the data comes in the form of a sea of paper with pages
upon pages of details and numbers that you may not even understand where
they come from. It can get so overwhelming that many cannot grasp what all
those numbers mean and therefore, the data does not get used effectively
for decision making in the center. You cannot just randomly select or eyeball
numbers for targets and goals, the data must drive these changes, not managers,
representatives or other personnel in the organization.
- Leverage the intelligence across the organization
Many companies do not take advantage of the depth of knowledge available
from the contact center. The contact center is the focal point that provides
the organization with real-time data directly from the customers. This is
where the voice of the customer can be heard – and heard often – and reported
quickly and accurately to all parts of the organization. The actionable customer
intelligence that the contact center collects (or could collect) can be leveraged
by all parts of the organization. For instance:
- Marketing – Provide information on customer demographics; tracks trends;
support segmentation; and provide customer surveys and feedback.
- Finance – Capture costs and revenue per segment; contribute to shareholder
value and a means to control overall costs.
- Manufacturing and operations – Pinpoint quality or production problems;
provide input on products and services usability and clarity; and highlight
distribution problems and opportunities.
- CEO and Board of Directors – Build shareholder value through strategic
value contributions; and contribute to company market share, brand, and
All-in-all, as in years past 2004 has been another year in transition in
the contact center. However, unlike other years some of our biggest gains
have come from a focus on serving customers more effectively. As we head into
2005, we are excited about the continuance of this trend and not to use the
words “customer-focused” as mere buzz words.
Dr. Jodie Monger, PhD is the President of Customer Relationship Metrics,
Prior to joining Metrics, she was the founding Associate Director of Purdue
University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality. Her expertise is working
with Fortune 1000 companies to help them quantify the Voice of their Customer.
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