Actioning VoC Feedback Best Practices
The most crucial aspect of any Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is to action the customer survey feedback. Unfortunately, SQM’s experience of actioning customer survey feedback tends to be the weakest aspect of a VoC program. The primary reasons for not actioning customer survey data are competing projects and limited people, processes, and technology resources.
Organizations spend too much time analyzing their data. Analyzing the data is vital to an effective VoC program; although, if all the resources are spent analyzing data, they will never action the customer feedback. Some organizations are more comfortable just analyzing data, and they are what SQM calls ‘analysis paralysis’ organizations. Another prominent reason organizations struggle with actioning customer survey feedback is that they do not know how to use customer survey feedback to improve First Call Resolution (FCR) and customer service performance.
Actioning Customer Survey Feedback
Figure 1 shows best practices for actioning customer survey feedback that SQM uses to counsel clients on how to improve FCR and customer service performance. The following Actioning Customer Survey Feedback Model shows the three distinct stages for actioning customer survey feedback (i.e., Customer Identification, Analyzing Calls, and Improving FCR and Customer Service).
Figure 1: Actioning Customer Survey Feedback Model
Stage 1 - Customer Identification
The first stage is ‘customer identification’ for the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction the customer had with their experience in calling the call center. There are three levels of customer dissatisfaction, with ‘Level 1’ having the lowest level of customer dissatisfaction and ‘Level 3’ having the highest level of customer dissatisfaction.
Level 1: Repeat Call
Customer call is unresolved, or it took two or more calls to resolve. This customer is likely to be, at best, only somewhat satisfied with their call center experience as a result of their call being unresolved or taking multiple calls to resolve. For the average call center, 12% of customers SQM surveyed had their call unresolved. A repeat call represents a great opportunity to understand what happened on the call. After surveying the customer, the ‘Level 1’ customer call that is resolved does not require further action. However, if the call is unresolved, the supervisor or escalation Agent should action this call within one business day of surveying the customer to resolve the customer issue or problem. Another option is to have an analyst determine who was the original agent that handled the first call and find out what happened.
Level 2: Action Alert
The customer call is unresolved, and they are dissatisfied with their overall call center experience. For the average call center, 6% of customers SQM surveyed would be classified as an action alert caller. The ‘Level 2’ customer call does require action by someone within the organization within one business day of surveying the customer to attempt to resolve their issue or problem. Many call centers SQM works with have dedicated escalation Agents who handle calls in which the customer is identified as a complaint caller during the survey process. Using dedicated escalation Agents is the best practice for ensuring that customers who are identified as action alert callers are contacted to resolve their issue or problem.
Level 3: Defection
The customer call is unresolved. They are dissatisfied with their overall call center experience and stated they might defect. For the average call center, 5% of customers SQM surveyed would be classified as potential customers at risk of defection. The ‘Level 3’ customer should be contacted by someone within the organization immediately after surveying the customer, or at least within one business day of surveying them, to resolve their issue or problem and achieve customer retention. Many call centers SQM works with have dedicated customer retention Agents who handle calls in which the customer is identified as a potential defection caller during the survey process. The major advantage of using dedicated customer retention Agents for handling defection customer calls is that, in most cases, they have the service recovery skills and proper authority level to resolve the customer issue or problem and hopefully retain the customer.
Stage 2 - Analyzing Calls
The second stage is to analyze why the customer’s call was unresolved. Four different analysis areas should be conducted to determine why the customer’s call was unresolved (e.g., survey data, survey recording, call recording, and CRM). Each area provides unique insights into what happened on the call and insights into the opportunities for coaching Agents to improve their call resolution performance and improve the call center’s people, process, and technology practices to improve FCR performance.
Survey Data and Recorded Survey Feedback
The ‘survey data’ and ‘recorded survey feedback’ steps are when a supervisor or analyst reviews the results of an individual survey to understand why the call was unresolved. When analyzing a survey, it is helpful to review the customer ratings and feedback before listening to the call recording, screen capture, and checking the information in the CRM system.
The general belief is that the person conducting the analysis needs to have the mindset that the customer is always right until proven otherwise. It is not uncommon for call center personnel to believe and practice that the customer is wrong until proven right. SQM considers this to be poor practice, and it can be very difficult for call center personnel who operate with this belief to increase FCR and improve customer service.
When analyzing customer feedback, it is a good practice to read customer comments and then to listen to the recording from the survey. The call recording allows the listener to hear the customer’s voice tone, which the text survey feedback does not always capture.
SQM captures the customer feedback, analyzes the input, and then codes the feedback based on tier 1 and tier 2 repeat call reason metrics. The value of this approach is that targeted opportunities for improving FCR, call resolution, and customer service is identified.
This step is based on a customer being surveyed, and their call was recorded. In this step, the call is evaluated using what SQM calls a Customer Quality Assurance approach. CQA combines call compliance metrics, judged by a QA evaluator via a call recording, and service quality metrics, judged by a customer via a post-call or email customer survey. CQA is based on the premise of letting the customer be the judge of their own experience when contacting an organization and is one of the best practices for driving improvements in the FCR rate.
CQA uses VoC data to judge call quality to enhance, not replace, the established call monitoring process. The customer survey information alone cannot replace the entire existing QA process because there are some contact center metrics that the customer simply cannot judge (e.g., compliance, the accuracy of information). Thus, it is still necessary for the call center monitoring team to evaluate these metrics or use analytical tools to determine call compliance.
This step is also based on a customer being surveyed to identify which customers should be analyzed using customer relationship management (CRM) software. In this step, the call is evaluated using a CRM system. SQM’s experience using the CRM system is an excellent approach for determining what happened on the call, as long as the agent took good notes.
The CRM approach works well for determining why a call was unresolved because when a call is assessed in conjunction with customer survey feedback and CRM information, there is synergy. Both assessment techniques focus on the ‘outcome’ versus the ‘journey.’ From a customer point of view, ‘outcome’ means whether or not the call was resolved, and from an organizational point of view, the outcome is the actual call data and notes that are in the CRM system.
Stage 3 - Improving FCR and Customer Satisfaction
The third stage is improving FCR, call resolution, and customer service. There are two different areas for improving FCR, call resolution and customer service; Agent coaching and the VoC Closed-Loop Improvement Process (i.e., IDCA – Identify, Develop, Check and Act). Both areas are designed to use customer survey feedback as the foundation and starting point for improving FCR, call resolution, and customer service performance.
The best practice for improving FCR and customer service is to always start with customer survey feedback supplemented by call recording and CRM data versus the other way around. Put simply, use voice of the customer (e.g., post-call survey) feedback as the foundation for any type of FCR and customer service improvement initiative.
To be effective requires that an Agent understands their VoC performance and what is expected. Using an Agent VoC dashboard accessible through their desktop is a best practice to ensure that Agents have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what they will be held accountable for. Agent desktop VoC data needs to be updated on an hourly or daily basis, and the Agents need to have access to VoC data at any time.
Figure 2 shows an example of an Agent VoC dashboard. It shows explicitly how an Agent performs for the current period, three-month rolling average, YTD performance, YTD ranking comparing them to their peers, the Agent target, and the minimum expected performance. It also shows only two metrics: overall customer satisfaction (Csat) with the Agent and call resolution performance.
By focusing on just a few VoC metrics (no more than four) and making it easier for Agents and supervisors to review their performance, call centers are more likely to see VoC performance improvements.
Figure 2: Agent VoC dashboard (Example Data)
VoC Closed-Loop Improvement Process
The VoC closed-loop improvement process is a well-accepted ongoing business practice for identifying what areas to improve and for implementing people, process, and technology practices that will improve FCR and customer service performance on an ongoing basis. The basic premise of the VoC Closed-Loop process is to form an FCR improvement team and use VoC data (e.g., post-call survey and CRM/call recording systems) to identify, analyze, and develop solutions to action for improving customer service.
Call center leaders are increasing investments in VoC programs and software that employ a VoC Closed-Loop process. At SQM, our customer service management software has a VoC Closed-Loop improvement process (see figure 3) feature that consists of four steps – Identify, Develop, Check, and Act (IDCA) to improve FCR and customer service performance. The four ongoing sequential steps of our IDCA VoC Closed-Loop process are:
1. Identify - repeat call reasons to improve by measuring FCR and Csat performance
2. Develop - a solution and implement a test pilot to reduce repeat call reasons
3. Check - to see if the test pilot was successful by measuring changes in FCR
4. Act - on customer feedback by implementing a standardized improvement plan for reducing repeat call reasons for the entire call center