Stop the Freaking Customer Feedback


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I am a dreamer and an optimistic person, but I am not blind to reality. I believe in the human spirit and that we can overcome obstacles. I have always been a defender of the weak and a fan of underdogs. I want to help people find greater success. I specifically want to help those in customer-facing roles with greater levels of success because I have been in their shoes and have felt the oppression that can exist when trying to serve both the company and customers. They are underdogs for sure. And this is why I want to help contact center leaders be able to push back and say, “stop the freaking customer feedback.”

Navigating a treacherous path

For years while in contact center operations, I often found myself trying to navigate the treacherous path of managing to customer feedback owned by other areas of the business. Areas of which I had no working relationship. I was, in fact, a subordinate. The unfortunate reality is that customer feedback owners in the organizations I worked for were higher on the organizational chart than my contact center. And those folks knew very little about contract center operations and our needs. I didn’t know how to voice them at the time. Even so, they expected me to take action on what their customer feedback revealed. Not surprising that this customer feedback did not work for my contact center.

As a contact center leader I was in a dire position to manage to general customer feedback. At the time, I was ignorant to being able to navigate my way through these rough waters. Instead of being able to share with them a solution that would enable our contact center to affect or improve their customer feedback numbers, I was left with the frustration of trying to give them what they wanted, using something that was not contact center appropriate.

A helpless contact center leader

Without having the knowledge and skills to communicate about what would help our contact center succeed, I felt helpless. Like for me, most contact center leaders have a key objective to move beyond the actual work activities of the contact center to performing the work well. It’s about efficiency “and” effectiveness. And that means continuous improvement is a focus that will help to deliver the desired business outcome. General customer feedback programs do help the contact center succeed in this.

What makes a difference

Getting customer feedback can be very cheap and easy. But how many cheap and easy things do you know that have great value and are sustainable? When we think “cheap” we often think “disposable”. To deliver a valued customer experience and be a valued asset to the business I needed to learn a few things about the difference.

Eventually I learned there were some very important points that I needed to be able to articulate and support that would save my sanity, reduce my headaches, and save my job.

1.     “I didn’t need more data, I needed performance management”

Goodness knows I was not in need of another key performance indicator. I needed something that was Quality Assurance ready. I needed something that could hold up to agent scrutiny and build trust in agents to take action on what customers where evaluating. I needed the ability to focus on specific opportunities for improvement versus just a general criticism. The commonly used (and disposable) customer feedback programs do not provide this.

2.     “I didn’t just need quantitative data, I needed qualitative data.”

For a Quality Assurance program to deliver upon its promise of improving the customer experience, I needed more than just scores (quantitative data). My people were interacting with real people to solve their problems but when they were presented with numbers, it was difficult for them (and me) to find the real meaning. When real customer comments (qualitative data) were provided to agents, their behaviors would change immediately. And the more specific the comments the better outcome for performance management.

The customer feedback program that was owned by the other area, and to which I was subjected, did not provide customer comments and then when one comment opportunity was added at the end of the survey, only general responses were ever provided. Fixing specific problems with general comments did not work. Stop doing a customer feedback program if you only have scores.

3.     “I didn’t need scores, I needed drivers.”

Just like so many contact center leaders, I had a lot of things to focus on. Picking and choosing where to deploy resources was a continuous review process. And of course when customer feedback from a department that wielded more organizational power came, it had a high priority. Even still, there were a lot of decisions and resources to manage to address those issues and I needed to focus. Being able to understand what was most important to customers requires better analysis than mere averages and frequency tables. I needed analytics to know what elements were driving my important metrics.

The customer feedback program did not contain the key-driver analysis that I was in need of to focus on specifics. So I was left with chasing perceptions and opinions from my internal bosses instead of learning how to better service our customers. You don’t want a customer feedback program that does not contain specific drivers to focus on.

4.     “I didn’t need to ding, I needed to develop.”

Not helping employees to grow and improve is one of the best ways to increase turnover. In an industry that contains many traditional practices that contribute to high turnover rates, such as the contact center industry, I didn’t need to add another turnover-increasing practice. My best agents wanted to learn new skills and continue getting better. With a general customer feedback program, that did not focus on specific agents and wasn’t trusted, my top agents felt hopeless and frustrated. They wanted to serve customers better but felt like they were being punished because the way forward was not clear. Holding people accountable to smoke was suffocating.

Most customer feedback programs in contact centers do not foster agent growth through ongoing customer-driven coaching and performance improvement. And because of this, high performing agents find another industry to take their skills.

My epiphany came later

I was not aware that I needed to voice these specific issues when I was in contact center operations. I was too busy working “in my contact center” instead of working “on my contact center”. I did not learn that these four issues were important to the success of my agents and my center. As the saying goes, “The Lord does not give us youth and wisdom at the same time.”

A chance for redemption

customers-grade-the-callsIn my second decade of helping contact center leaders (my underdogs), I have chosen to join the crusade of teaching others the difference between customers grading the call and mere customer feedback (or survey) programs.

When you have the right mindset of Customers Grade the Call versus mere customer feedback, it puts things in the proper context of Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement. When you equip yourself with the proper program to execute this mindset, the results are tremendous (Review the FCR Case Study).

Questions and answers

free-survey-course250x203As part of my crusade I invested a significant amount of time taping a comprehensive set of video tutorials that provide you with some of the most valuable insights I have learned about the most common questions people ask and the most important questions people SHOULD ASK about contact center surveying. The video course is free (LEARN MORE). What you’ll learn will deliver to you instant and long-term results!

These are easy to understand videos that cover what you need to know to not be like the rest, but instead to be one of the best. To protect your people and your sanity. The clear and concise information can be used by you and your team to STOP THE FREAKING FEEDBACK programs that are running off our top agent and supervisor talent.

Are you ready to join the crusade?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Rembach
Jim Rembach is recognized as a Top 50 Thought Leader and CX Influencer. He's a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner and host of the Fast Leader Show podcast and president of Call Center Coach, the world's only virtual blended learning academy for contact center supervisors and emerging supervisors. He’s a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s CX Expert Panel, Advisory Board Member for Customer Value Creation International (CVCI), and Advisory Board Member for CX University.


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