Just read a blog, written by the head of a small company in Slovakia, that kind of set my teeth on edge, but which also had some valuable methodological, operational and cultural nuggets to offer. The post, “11 Unconventional Ways to Improve Your Customer Satisfaction Score”, was all about CX tips, tricks, and metrics.
Within the post, early on the author said that customer happiness is important to drive customer satisfaction (his company even gives Customer Happiness Awards, recognizing “the effort of the best businesses in providing an outstanding customer experience”). Pushing past the numerous fallacies and red herrings associated with that assertion and concept (including the use of passive, functional and tactical CSAT as a core KPI), some tricks and tips were offered that are actually more strategic, operationally and culturally driven to provide greater stakeholder value. To summarize those that, at least from my perspective, made the most sense:
1. Personalized responses to customers, over “canned” replies, referred to by the author as ‘macros’. This is almost always a good idea, as much for employee empowerment and enablement as for customers.
2. Balance automation with ‘human’ touches, especially in electronic communication.
3. Speed of response to customer issues – which the author acknowledges is not a new thought – can definitely create stronger trust and confidence.
4. Where any element of performance is concerned, under promise and over deliver Delivering with ‘more’ or ‘better’ always earns enhanced downstream customer behavior (including doing things like identifying unexpressed complaints).
5. Concentrate channel delivery. In the push to be omni-channel, companies may over-stretch their abilities to perform. As the author notes: “Providing excellent support just over email is much better than having really bad support over four different channels.”
6. Empower agents to “make things right” for customers. Enough said.
7. Anticipate the next customer question. This is a form of proaction which can be baked into any element of the customer-vendor relationship.
8. Taking notes on ‘power customers’. This is really a simple form of text analytics and sentiment analysis, and recognizes that some customers are more valuable than others.
9. Team approaches to customer problem-resolution and other value-related issues, through daily or weekly reviews. These are the employees ‘huddles’ that organizations like Ritz-Carlton and Baptist Health Care use so well.
As his last tip, the author encourages companies to post current CSAT scores for everyone to see. Culturally, this is a good, motivating idea. Companies like MBNA (before being bought by Bank of America) used to post their latest customer-related performance scores on monitors for all employees to view – quarterly bonus awards being based on these results. Of course, what’s missing from the author’s post is any recognition that there are more contemporary, real-world and actionable KPI’s for understanding the benefits of carrying out these tips and tricks. Maybe another blog is coming.
Where we, i.e. the author and yours truly, agree most is on combining customer-focused execution tips and tricks with stakeholder-centric strategy and culture. As noted in one of my blogs from a few years ago: “This is a time when customers have grown increasingly skeptical about supplier focus on their personal and individual benefit relative to corporate self-interest, and also an awareness that the traditional supplier “push” communication delivered from companies does not resonate, penetrate, or influence as in years past. In any form or fashion, relevance, authenticity and trust must be delivered at every touch point. This absolutely requires that the meld between culture, messaging and experience be as seamless as possible. If companies want customers to advocate for them on the outside, the advocacy process needs to begin with the right culture, the right messages, the right media, the right processes, and the right strategic experience creation from within the organization.”