What is Survey Calibration?


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I have seen various claims that estimate the money lost to dead-end voice of the customer programs. The losses ranges from 60%-91% of all money that is invested – gone, lost, wasted. Considering the global dollars spent on voice of the customer programs is in the billions, the amount lost is staggering. In just about every report, one of the top 3 reasons given for the lack of return on voice of the customer programs is employee buy-in.

Ownership is a vital factor in any improvement process. Since nobody sets out to fail, we have to assume that all voice of the customer programs exist with a focus on improving.

In order for your voice of the customer program to generate the human motivations needed to improve, it must generate a sense of ownership and contribute on-going positive reinforcement. If you don’t want to force employees to comply, but instead want them to be self-committed to delivering excellent service, you must conduct the survey calibration process. Survey Calibration gives you a significantly greater chance for trust and fairness to be realized with your voice of the customer program.

I have never met a person yet that has not laughed or responded with an affirmative comment when I ask,

“Do customers always do what you ask them to do?”

Since we all agree that customers make mistakes or outright deny our instructions, how is it possible we forget to check their accuracy with the surveys we ask “THEM” to complete?

Here is what we know: regardless of how clear instructions may be, people will accidentally interpret or defy them. Research scientists categorize this as response errors. On average, 6%-20% of all of customer-completed surveys contain response errors. It is an unavoidable fact of conducting a (valid) research program. Also, increasing your sample size does not eliminate the problem, it gives you even more errors. Therefore, you must correct these errors by using a systematic and consistent approach in order to deliver the utmost integrity, accuracy, and fairness to create report cards from surveys.

So, why do we need accuracy? Because WE NEED BUY-IN.

With IVR (Voice) Surveys

Once raw customer feedback is captured, your Survey Calibration team must transcribe and review the customer comments captured along with the data point from your IVR surveys and for a holistic review to insure the correction of any response errors. Customer Relationship Metrics specializes in post-call IVR surveys and Survey Calibration is included in every managed services program.

With Text-based Surveys

The process is very similar. Once raw customer feedback is captured, your Survey Calibration team reviews every written customer comment captured along with the data point and corrects any response errors. Customer Relationship Metrics includes the holistic program of Survey Calibration in its email and web-based managed services programs.

What’s the risk?

Besides the employee buy-in issues discussed above, you also have a reporting issue. The results from a case study highlighted the effect of the Survey Calibration process. Without the Survey Calibration process, the result was deflated customer satisfaction scores in all key categories. For most categories, the result errors were statistically significant. This under-reporting issue would have caused effort to be expended when it was not necessary. It also could cause people to be excluded from an incentive or to have penalties unjustly levied on a service provider.

Your greatest return on investment for any voice of the customer program is to use the results for scorecards AT ALL LEVELS, including the front-line. Performance scorecards and Voice of the Customer programs that are visible within organizations can impact the lives of many people within an organization. Reporting “dirty” data that contain response errors is fundamentally, ethically, and legally not an option. For these reasons alone, it is integral that the data reported be accurate.

Here are few examples of customer comments that would cause a corrective action during the Survey Calibration process:

“The last Agent that helped me with my problem was very helpful however, the agent, Bonnie Harris, that answered my phone call in the very beginning put me on hold for over 5 minutes, two times and never gave me any kind of an answer. Then she got aggravated whenever I had to be transferred to a different agent.”

In the absence of a back-end Survey Calibration process, this post-call survey (along with its defective scores) would have been assigned to the agent who last handled the call and who had actually resolved the customer’s issue. Based on the customer’s explanation, you must remove the survey assignment from the last agent and attach it the rightful owner — Bonnie Harris. Anything less than the Survey Calibration process described creates “noise” among agents whose focus should be placed on servicing customers (as opposed to discounting survey results).

“Please make the first 3 questions 8’s. I made a mistake on grading and didn’t catch it until it was too late. I want to make sure Cheryl gets credit for a good job.”

Once again, without a survey calibration process, this survey would have incorrect scores attached to it. Survey Calibration is mandated for reports to be believable and defendable. In other words, to create and maintain the “Rally Cry” around providing excellent service.

Measuring and managing to the Voice of the Customer highlights process components in need of improvement, and yields an increase in service quality, both of which lead to improvements in customer and employee retention. The quantitative scores and subsequent analysis are further enhanced by customer comments (explanations of the scores) to enable a clear path for improvement of each team and each agent.

Safety Net

“I have problems trying to return my order, number 103441042. I was also charged twice the amount that I had agreed to pay. I submitted a written complaint letter to an address that was given to me. Now they say they don’t have that address. There’s something wrong with this process. That’s why I’m using the survey now. My home number is 555-847-1725. My name is Dane Magan. I will expect a call regarding this.”

With Survey Calibration, this customer comment was transcribed and delivered to the client response team upon discovery. The customer did not trigger a real-time alert offer in their post-call survey, so if survey calibration was not present this customer comment and request for follow up would have been undiscovered, not responded to, or minimally not addressed in a timely manner. Survey Calibration combats high customer defection and the spread of negative word-of-mouth too.

Survey Calibration is a critical component in your effort to elevate your voice of the customer performance to elite. As you can see, Survey Calibration has numerous value-based benefits and is a key differentiator in providing a great customer and employee experience.


Register for a no obligation consultation and learn all you ever wanted to know about Survey Calibration now.

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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