Monday, August 14, 2017

Customer Satisfaction is not Always an Indication of Customer Service

By Sean Hawkins

Let's face it, CSAT (customer satisfaction) is a vital measurement of customer service performance, and rightly so. In my opinion, there are 3 metrics that best measure a contact center's performance, and success. Along with the CSAT, the others are ESAT (employee satisfaction) and quality. Now, don't get me wrong, there are many metrics that one could track, and they all have their importance. However, none surpass the satisfaction of your employees and customers, or the quality of service being offered.

Satisfaction, can be tricky to gauge properly. Most often, we only ask the customer if they were satisfied with the service they received. However, satisfaction can be achieved or unmet, at any touch point before, during, or after contact with the support staff. It's easy (and foolish) to take survey results at face value. Even more so, if the customer isn't given the option to comment or provide feedback on the survey. As a result, blind spots are never uncovered, and agents may be penalized erroneously for factors outside of their control.

I can't recall a time in any organization, where high satisfaction scores weren't met with excitement. Sales and marketing would use these to attract more customers, while teams in the contact center were rewarded for their outstanding performance. However, there are many times we in the center have to defend, clarify, or expound on low CSAT. Even worse than that, is explaining to agents why that failing survey, which had nothing to do with them, was still counting towards their overall CSAT score. Having done both so often, I began to drill down on the problems customers were experiencing. This began to shed new light on WHY customers were unhappy.

Over the years, I've noticed the majority of escalated calls are to report dissatisfaction with things that outside the scope of the agent. These customers are simply looking for managerial authority to resolve matters the agent cannot approve. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Product defect/failure
  • Policies that penalize the customer
  • Inconsistent brand messaging
  • Unfulfilled promises 

Without a plan in place to address issues of these kind, customer satisfaction will continue to suffer. In addition, agent performance will be impacted. Over time, this will impact revenue, employee morale, and the ability to retain both customers and staff. What is one to do?

Sound the Alarm
I suggest compiling all unsatisfactory surveys into categories. For me, the categories are based on all departments in the organization. Each week, department heads are sent a report which shows the impact their team had on customer satisfaction. I also compare our CSAT percentage with and without those which they had no influence on.

Along with this, take time to explain the satisfaction program. You'd be amazed that those outside of the contact center have little understanding of your work. To assume otherwise is an error. To expect it, is foolish.

Explain how you measure satisfaction. Allow them to see an actual survey so they are aware what you're asking customers. For many, this is their first introduction to learning how the CSAT program affects the customers, and the image it projects as it relates to the company. In the event customer attrition was an end result, include revenue lost as well. That always gets everyone's attention.

This alone however, is not enough. Giving insight to the problem will open the door for  dialogue between all departments. Because the service department intersect with the company and the customer, it is important to communicate the voice of customer throughout all lines of business.

Come to the table

A great way to remove silos, and other impediments to the customer experience, is to have all stakeholders together in one room discussing the issue. This time should not be wasted by placing blame, or make excuses. Rather, it should be used to enlighten everyone about the extended reach of customer satisfaction, and the impact it has on every line of business.

Working together, all hands can agree upon the best approach they must take to ensure improvement. My experience is that each department will become more inquisitive about the customer support department, which leads to further engagement. It can open doors to  further collaboration, and improved engagement between the participating teams.

Make a plan

Through collaboration with other departments, formalize a plan to ensure customer feedback and satisfaction is routed to the appropriate teams. With this information in hand, each participating department should provide details on how resolution to problems will be obtained. This information in turn should be messaged to the customer.

Following up with unsatisfied customer shows you are listening, and actively working to improve the customer experience. Continue tracking satisfaction for those existing issues and include them as part of your regular reporting and performance measurement. A great example of this that I used, was The Top 5 Defects.

This was birthed as a result of customer dissatisfaction. This report consisted of the five most pervasive software defects that were driving support volume and customer frustration. Each week, I would review CSAT surveys and tickets. Any ticket or survey related to a software defect was recorded. The top 5 were compiled and distributed to the various product teams.  As a result they had better insight into what they should be focusing on. This eventually grew into a companywide, weekly meeting, with a representative from every department. Why? It was just as important for marketing, sales, and business development to be aware of these issues. After all, the were responsible for bringing these customers to us. Surely they'd be interested to know the results of their efforts, and how they could improve based on the feedback of existing customers.

What surprised me the most, was other departments willingness to engage support in conversations to better align themselves with the customer's needs. The organization began to change its thinking and  its approach. Customer experience became a prevailing thought in what we did. At the end of the day, THAT is the point of measuring satisfaction! It is also why CSAT is a shared metric.

I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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