Customer Feedback: Now What?
By Susan Gray, Marketing Director, Mindshare Technologies
You are consistently measuring customer feedback on each contact. You’re dutifully amassing your customers’ praise, criticism and requests. But you know that simply gathering the information is not going to be constructive in and of itself. Your goal is to apply the feedback so that your organization will gain optimal benefit from each customer’s appraisal. What do you do with the collected material? In particular, can you isolate recurring themes that warrant immediate action in order to tighten up the service you are providing?
- Is it the speed of resolution? Do customers get tired of waiting and hang up?
- Is it the customers’ ability to understand your reps? Are reps trained to offer articulate, clear, respectful explanations?
- Do your reps have the authority to handle returns, resolve issues, etc.? Or do customers have to endure giving detailed stories to several people before mercifully being transferred to someone who can actually settle their particular difficulties?
- Do your reps have the training they need to answer questions?
- Do you know whether certain reps may be creating bottleneck issues?
Gathering customer feedback is not new, however, effectively using that feedback as a catalyst for affirmative change has been a consistent shortcoming among organizations. DMG Consulting LLC’s 2008 Contact Center Surveying/Feedback and Analytics Market Report, stated that, “Another challenge facing vendors is that enterprises are not acting upon the survey feedback that they collect… Making recommendations and guidance on ways to improve operations, policies, procedures and agent performance a standard component of the analysis and reporting would position end users to immediately act upon the information, versus having to first interpret the data and then respond.”
Generally speaking, customers want to be loyal to an organization, but organizations can make that difficult by not responding to feedback. The opportunity to learn from customers occurs each time a customer interacts with your company. Companies need to treat these experiences as a valuable asset. Who better to learn from, than a customer with compliments, complaints, and suggestions? Consumers’ confidence and loyalty toward organizations is directly related to the specific, personalized responses they receive regarding their feedback, and whether or not their suggestions are acted upon. When customer feedback is not acted upon, the disregarded, dissatisfied customer becomes increasingly susceptible to being lured away by competitors. Measurement of customer satisfaction enables improvement. Improvement begets customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction impels loyalty. And loyalty is a time-tested foundation for increasing revenues and escalating your reputation.
Accordingly, a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, utilizing a customer feedback system from Mindshare, reported being able to increase their first call resolution by 25% in a ten-month period. The Mindshare system sends out reports to key managers who can then listen to verbatim voice comments [immediately after the contact]. Such a tool gave them the ability to swiftly pinpoint areas where training and agent knowledge were lacking as well as the insight they needed to launch immediate resolutions. Over time, this example clearly shows that continuously measuring customer response can help by minimizing weaknesses, emphasizing strengths, and gaining customer loyalty which, by the way, can engender employee loyalty. This culminates in improved sales, productivity, and profitability as well as repeat business.
An immediately useful feedback system must have certain key components that allow easy access to data so that managers can quickly respond and use the feedback to their organization’s timely benefit. Some things to look for when evaluating an effective, cutting-edge feedback system would be:
· Real-time customer feedback with access to verbatim comments
· Clear, concise web reports by agent and team
· Manager call backs, alerts
· Incident/call-back tracking
· Customization to your organization’s needs and culture
· Hosted; no software or hardware to install
The implementation of those key components needs to be followed up with action, in accordance with the information they yield.
Interestingly, social media has added a whole dimension of new considerations and perspective to call centers. Among their cyber pages, are numerous posts detailing poor customer service. Recently one blogger wrote about his unsuccessful attempt at getting an issue resolved through a call center. This example was published in at least three newsletters, and this sort of viral spreading of negative opinions is not untypical. On the other hand, such media sources can certainly have their hopeful, constructive uses as well. SmartMoney recently reported that, “Comcast, JetBlue and UPS have found a new use for Twitter: customer service.” These companies are leading the charge for a new evolution of customer feedback. Still, the sum and substance will be determined by the action taken once customer evaluations are in hand.