The Customer Experience and the Call Center Part 2

By: Colin Taylor
This is the second in a series of posts focusing on delivering the Customer Experience in call centers. The first installment is located here
Before starting to architect the Customer Experience, let’s start by defining it
The key elements of any Customer Experience related to the contact center has to include:
1. The ease of access – to information, to purchase, to inquire, to complain or to fix a problem,
2. The speed of access – Service level, hoops customers have to jump through – how many times do they have to enter their account number etc. time to return an email or resolve a trouble ticket?
3. The quality of interaction- Where they able to get done what they wanted too? Was it easy, was it efficient, logical?
Customer Experience is the experience that a customer has when interacting with a company. This includes how they chose to interact with us and how easy it is for them to complete the interaction.
IBM defines Customer Experience as “The designed interaction between a customer and your organization”. The key element of this definition is the design element. The message here is regardless what your customer experience is and regardless whether it is good or bad, it is what you have designed through your actions, processes and procedures.
With this definition in hand can now look at how we can design our desired customer experience.
To do this we need to start at the beginning. Few companies today are looking at the customer experience holistically. For those that do consider the question of Customer Experience, it is often only a marketing concept…how should our stores, marketing and advertising look and feel to support the brand.
The call centre is generally not connected organizationally to Marketing and most often resides under Operations or Sales. This distance between silos can mean that the Marketing group has little understanding of what takes place in the call center. This despite the fact that centers are the single most common communications channel an organization can have with its customers. Purdue University found that 92% of customers judge an organization based upon the interactions they have with a company’s call center.
So how can we as call center executives join the dots between the desired customer experience and customer satisfaction to deliver the result through our call centers? Like with any travel, once you have a destination in mind you can then develop a roadmap to get you to where you are going.
But we have a few challenges in developing a roadmap…For one thing we do not know where we are starting from.
We know that most companies have not defined and documented their customer experience. So how can we expect to know where we are at now and how we are doing?
The first step in our process is to assess and determine where we are now; we need to understand what the customer experience is today.
First, we need an inventory of the channels, methods and touch-points through which our customers interact with us: phone, email, chat, mail, in-store etc. Do all of the touch-points end in a common single CRM that tracks each ’touch’ the company has with their customers? What about marketing initiatives: email blasts, SMS, print media, daily specials, white mail, etc.
Second, we need to analyze the customer satisfaction metrics (CSAT) and reports we have in place for each of these channels. You are not alone if you don’t have metrics to report on all of these channels; – this is the first step you will need to complete! On what channels do you measure CSAT, and where is it not measured?
Let’s examine the channels where no CSAT measurement is taking place. Is this because a conscious decision has been made not to measure it? Have we determined that we can’t measure it? Has it been determined to be unimportant or has the idea of measuring CSAT on this channel not been considered? Remember that old management tenet, “you can manage what you can’t measure’.
With your CSAT data in-hand, ask yourself is the data comparable? Are you asking the same question for each channel or do you ask different or somewhat different questions? If you are asking about satisfaction with the company or brand on one survey and asking if they were satisfied with their last call center interaction or agent, you are asking two separate and distinct questions. Unless the questions are the same you can’t aggregate the results. So if you are not asking the same questions then you have your second take away.
With comparable data you can chart the CSAT across all communication channels. Look at the results and what do you see…If you are like the majority of organizations you see a much lower level of satisfaction than we would like to see… almost two thirds of 15 verticals surveyed had a customer experience average scores of 70% or less.
The CSAT score is the customers’ opinion of the service interaction quality for the interaction they have just completed. In the same way our internal quality assessment scores are our satisfaction with our agents being able to address all of the elements that we think should be important to both the customer and the company. In the vast majority of organizations these two assessments measure two distinct elements. They are not the same.
Sad or not the scores that our customers have given us are their opinions of the service we provide. This is the customer experience we have now. This is the result of the service model we have designed and put into place.
The last step in defining the current customer experience is to look at what messages we are providing to our customers and prospects. To gain an understanding of what these messages are look at the company Mission Statement and Company Values…are you speaking of ‘World Class Customer Service’ or ‘Committed to quality’ or satisfaction or customers are a priority etc.
Keep in mind that it has been said that the accuracy of a Mission Statement is inversely proportional to its length. That is to say that the longer the mission statement the less likely it is to be true, or realised to be true. It has also been said that “If the mission statement doesn’t fit on a T shirt, it’s too long.”
Next meet with the Marketing people and review their current marketing campaigns and messages…do the company mission/value/vision statement and the marketing messages match the customer experience we are delivering?
It is important that when examining the marketing and brand messages that we see the emotional aspect to most messages. People make decisions on emotion – then rationalize with intellect. What this means is how the messages make them feel has a great deal to do with how a customer will feel about a brand, a product or a service interaction. In call and contact centers we often focus narrowly on what can and can’t be said. Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This can be a two edged sword. If our advertising and marketing make them feel warm and fuzzy about our brand and products. This is good and will be remembered. Many centers employ scripts or provide little latitude to empower the agents to make decisions to satisfy customers. Customers are also likely to remember how angry, frustrated, stressed and unhappy interacting with the call center made them feel. In too many organizations the Marketing department and the call center are working in opposite directions even though the success of the company is their shared objective.

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