Time to Stop Customer Feedback


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Customer feedback is a waste of time for many. It’s a waste of time for the customers to provide it, a waste for managers to review it, and waste of time for agents to receive it. Oh, and a waste of money to collect it and to summarize it.

How can that be? The underlying reason for the waste is because it’s feedback and not performance management analysis.

Many companies find themselves in what I like to refer to as ‘the feedback trap’. They collect data, look at summaries, and pass it along to the agents as their customer feedback and often penalize agents who receive low scores. Month. After. Month.  Rinse and repeat, as they say. Are you asking what is so wrong with that? What’s wrong is that you’re treating that valuable customer insight as nothing more than ‘in case you want to know, this is what the customer had to say about you in regards to your conversation last month’. What if you treated it like intel, timely intel, instead of information and actually used it to help agents improve their skills? The best part is the fact that making this change to a performance management mindset yields a significant improvement to your ROI.

Performance management allows you to use the details that the customer shared with you in a way that not only tells you how satisfied they were with their customer service experience, but also what had impact on their decision to give that rating. Being able to determine what is driving that score allows you to help develop strategies to improve in areas that may be lower as well as what the agents need to continue doing well instead of telling everyone that we need to improve customer satisfaction. Even if the customer satisfaction rating for the contact center may have improved for the month, when you peel that back a layer to look at the teams individually, you will be able to quickly identify the outliers.

Taking that one step further and identifying what is driving customer satisfaction at the team level enables you to isolate a particular group of agents and determine what statistically had an impact on the customers’ experience. For example, call ownership (or the lack there of) may have had the most impact on customers who spoke to agents on Tommy’s team while the customers’ perception of being treated as a valued customer had the most impact on customers who spoke with agents on Jessica’s team. Based on this analysis, it would be a waste of resources to put Jessica’s team members through some refresher training on call ownership.  Now that you know what is impacting the customer experience within a team, you can make the necessary changes in order to help improve that score (which actually improves the overall customer experience for the center).

You should get even more granular. Tommy’s team had issues with communicating to the caller that the agent owned the issue but the low scores came from two agents on the team. And for those agents, the type of call that received the low scores were related to a warranty-related issue. The customer comments indicate specifically what the issue was and, badda-bing, you now know what the coaching topic will be for those two agents.

Another great example of feedback versus performance management is getting caught up in focusing on the wrong operational metric. Tunnel vision on a particular number creates exactly that – tunnel vision; where you pay no attention to what the customer believes to be important. What if you were repeatedly told to focus on service level? Wouldn’t you start to think that it’s the customers that are saying they want their call to be answered by an agent within 30 seconds or less?

If your customer satisfaction score has decreased and someone noticed that service level had declined, it would be easy to draw that conclusion without looking further. However, taking the performance management approach to determine the quality drivers of the customer experience, you would statistically prove the relationship between actual time waited and the satisfaction with the wait time. Now you know for sure and can address those applying pressure to meet a particular threshold.

As I mentioned earlier, this shift away from passively receiving information will yield a significant improvement to ROI. That’s because the performance management gives you the intelligence you need to improve an agent’s skill level and to equip them with the ability to influence the customer relationship. As the saying goes, ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’. Identifying the outlying, ‘weaker links’, allows you to allocate the appropriate resources they need to help them improve instead of guessing or assuming what the issue is. End the waste of time and talent by changing your focus to be one of performance management.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vicki Nihart
I am 6 Sigma Black Belt with over 15 years of experience in call centers. My training has enhanced my core knowledge and the critical thinking skills needed to identify and streamline processes; eliminating waste & repetition.


  1. Completely agree – customer feedback data should be treated with far more respect than they usually are.

    Creating an effective feedback solution is more than just a survey, but when implemented well can pay dividends.

    It’s not really rocket science, just treat people with respect.

    My own blog on the topic can be read here: https://analyt.co.uk/v2

  2. Oh my;

    It’s been proven that measuring and interpreting human behavior is actually much harder than rocket science. With thrust, trajectory, gravitational pull and wind we know exactly where that rocket is going to land. Try that with human beings.

    There is a massive difference between customer feedback and performance management using the voice of the customer. And it’s performance management that will garner respect from customers’ evaluating their service experience. Ignorance (innocent unknowing) in this fact is why there is such poor returns in voice of the customer, customer satisfaction and customer feedback (or whatever you call yours) programs,

    This case study (http://metrics.net/improving-first-call-resolution-contact-center/) reveals a 300% ROI difference between customer feedback and VoC performance management. Learning the difference and applying the right changes will give you greater career returns.


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