Deflators that Hinder Delivering Great Customer Service
At SQM Group, we define deflators that hinder delivering great customer service as something that creates customer dissatisfaction or results in customer inquiries or problems not being resolved on the first call.
For example, a customer calls and has to wait five minutes to reach an agent; while waiting, the customer hears periodic recorded messages about how important they are as a customer and that the next available agent will answer their call. Unfortunately, in some cases, the recorded messages never give a customer an approximate time when the next available agent will be available to take their call.
Such common practices invariably create customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, it is essential to identify and eliminate deflators causing low Customer Satisfaction (Csat) and First Call Resolution (FCR) performance.
Deflators can be very damaging to the call center and organization. Unfortunately, SQM's experience is that most call centers have not removed deflators that hinder them from achieving high FCR and Csat performance.
SQM research shows that the call center industry has improved FCR and Csat in the last 25 years. Consider this from our call center benchmarking research, in 1996, FCR performance was at 66%, and Csat (top box rating response) performance was at 67%. In 2021, FCR performance is at 71%, and Csat performance is at 78%. So, as you can see, there has been some improvement in FCR and Csat, but there are still opportunities to improve customer service significantly.
Tips for Removing Deflators
Most call center managers are unaware of the deflators causing poor customer service, resulting in customer inquiries or problems not being resolved on the first call. Below are tips for removing deflators that hinder delivering great customer service.
There are five steps to remove deflators:
- Conduct post-call surveys to identify repeat call reasons and "moments of truth" issues
- Identify "moments of truth" where you need to remove deflators
- Brainstorm possible improvement ideas
- Review the pros and cons of each improvement idea
- Use selection criteria to determine which improvement ideas to implement
The selection criteria should include the following:
- Will the improvement idea eliminate the deflator?
- Will the improvement idea reduce customer dissatisfaction?
- Will the improvement idea give the customers options?
- How many customers would be affected by the improvement idea?
- What are the positive consequences of implementing the improvement idea?
- What are the negative consequences of not implementing the improvement idea?
- Would senior call center management support the improvement idea?
- Would the improvement idea improve FCR or Csat performance?
- How difficult would it be to implement the improvement idea?
- How much would it cost to implement the improvement idea?
SQM's research shows that policy customer calls become difficult for agents to handle. When the customer's policy inquiry or problem is not resolved on the first call, 80% of customers are dissatisfied with how the call center agent handled their call. In many cases, agents feel that policy-related calls are the ones they least like to handle. In addition, most agents think that not customer-friendly policies cannot be modified or eliminated. This paradigm needs to be challenged.
Most policies fall into two categories:
1. Government rules, or
2. Organization rules
Government rules are the laws that an organization must adhere to outside the control of the call center or organization. An example of a government rule would be when an agent in a financial call center cannot provide a customer with sensitive data, such as credit or financial
Moreover, when an agent explains to a customer that they cannot provide such information because it is a government-imposed rule or law, most customers accept the explanation as a business practice. In addition, many customers appreciate that the agent adheres to the government rule or law. As a result, many customers gain more confidence in the organization's ability to protect the customer, especially from identity theft.
Organization rules are imposed on the call center and are the most challenging for agents to adhere to organizational policies. What creates the highest customer dissatisfaction is when an agent says to the customer, "I cannot do that for you because it is our organization's policy not to."
Furthermore, when an agent uses the word "policy" in the conversation, many customers become frustrated and sometimes very angry with the agent. Therefore, the call center team should periodically review the organization's policies and take note of those that tend to cause dissatisfaction among customers.
When reviewing policies, practices, and procedures, call center management should ask the following questions:
- Is the policy, practice, or procedure necessary?
- What are the options we can give customers?
- How can we be more effective at communicating the organization's policies, practices, and procedures, so it is less painful for the agents and customers?
- Is the policy, practice, or procedure a government rule?
- Is the policy, practice, or procedure an organization rule that can be changed?
- Would senior call center and organization management support a change to the organization rule?
- What are the pros and cons of changing this organization's rule?