Research insights into gathering effective feedback, the use of different metrics and generational differences around channel choice – Interview with Steve Morrell of Contact Babel

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Today’s interview is with Steve Morrell who is the Managing Director of ContactBabel, a provider of high-quality research and analysis to the UK & US contact centre industries. Steve joins me today to talk about gathering feedback, what CX metrics senior management consider the most important, the role of automation in CX and generational differences around CX amongst other things.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Our people first, customers second approach drives our growth – Interview with Tom van der Lubbe of Viisi – and is number 322 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.



Here’s the highlights of my chat with Steve:

  • The impetus for our chat came from an article that Steve wrote on MyCustomer.com called The top CX measurement techniques – as ranked by CX leaders, which featured highlights and insights based on Contact Babel’s recent research: The 2019-20 UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide.
  • Email is used by 68% of all organisations to gather feedback but it suffers from low response rates.
  • Feedback collected at or close to the point of service delivery is 40% more accurate than feedback that is collected 24 hours later.
  • Feedback by email lends itself to open ended questions.
  • But, response rates can be pretty poor. Normally, you’re looking at maybe 2 to 10%. Typically, 10% will be pretty good.
  • Sending it in real time at the right point in the journey can illicit up to around 20% response rates.
  • Another big issue is saturation. Companies are sending too many requests for feedback.
  • They should focus on sending surveys out that are out linked to important parts of the journey i.e. a complex situation or a highly emotional one.
  • There is a good reason why a lot of complaints are sent by email: It’s because people can sit down and have a good old moan without having to justify themselves directly to another person.
  • There’s a big risk that any type of survey may only attract responses from the polarised groups: those who were really happy and those who are really unhappy.
  • The research uncovered some quite stark differences across different sizes of organisations in terms of what CX related metrics they focus on.
  • 42% of the largest companies picked out NPS as their key metric.
  • That’s compared to only 13% of small businesses and 11% of non profits.
  • 42% of small businesses (revenues of under 10 million) chose customer attention as key metric.
  • These differences speak to what they understand and what they are, primarily, concerned about.
  • First contact resolution despite Contact Babel’s and others research showing that it plays an important part in CX is hardly mentioned.
  • That could be because it is a tactical measure and not a strategic one and is, perhaps, not well understood.
  • We’ve seen first contact resolution pretty much stable at about 75% for many, many years now.
  • Both businesses and consumers agree that first contact resolution is the most important single factor affecting customer experience.
  • Having UK based employees is seen as far more important to customers than businesses and this is particularly the case in the older generations.
  • Younger customers really value having a choice of channels as well as longer opening hours.
  • Interesting question in research:
    • Would you prefer to speak with an agent or use automation, if the outcome and times involved were identical?
      • 73% of the older generation wanted to talk to somebody but half of 16 to 34 year olds did as well compared to the 30% that prefer to use automation and the remainder of them that were not that bothered.
  • Another interesting research question:
    • What’s your favourite channel?
      • To answer this Contact Babel gave respondents three scenarios. A high emotions scenario, a high urgency scenario and a high complexity scenario.
        • The high emotion scenario involved returning faulty goods that you were really looking forward to having delivered. Biggest channel of choice: email. But, the older generation like the phone as well and the younger generation were very happy to try web chat here.
        • The urgent scenario involved picking somebody up from the airport and you need to know if the plane is on time. Biggest channel of choice: mobile and website service. However, there was a remarkably high proportion of 16 to 24 year olds who would use email to do that on.
        • The complex scenario involving something like completing a tax return or filling in a mortgage application. Biggest channel of choice: Older people prefer to visit a store of branch office. Email was the biggest channel for the younger generation and not the phone, where only about one in five would call the contact centre. This is surprising the phone is almost certainly the quickest and most effective way of actually doing that.
  • There may be an opportunity for companies to provide some advice to their customers as to what would be the best channel to contact them on depending on the issue they have.
  • Webchat is a really great channel to use and gives you security, immediacy but at arm’s length. But, it’s only still bumping along at around 5% of all help/service requests.
  • The most important factor determining future success off a CX programme is increasing executive commitment to improving customer experience.
  • Steve’s Punk CX word: disruptive.
  • Steve’s brands that epitomise a Punk approach to CX (helped by his wife): Boden, THE OUTNET, NET-A-PORTER and Lakeland.
  • There’s a limited amount of personalisation happening at the moment and this is likely to be the big battleground for customer experience in the future.

About Steve

Steve MorrellSteve Morrell is the Managing Director of ContactBabel, which was founded in 2001 to provide high-quality research and analysis to the UK contact centre industry. He has written hundreds of research reports and his opinion on contact centres has been featured on the BBC, ITV, Sky, the Guardian. Forbes and the Financial Times. He has also advised the UK government on the effect of offshoring on the UK economy.



Steve is also Managing Director of AboutMatch.co.uk, which helps UK contact centres find the right suppliers for them.

Check out ContactBabel, grab a copy of their free research, say Hi to them on Twitter @ContactBabel and do connect with Steve on LinkedIn here.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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