CUSTOMER Magazine recently spoke with Mark Miller, contact center practice leader for J.D. Power, a leading market research company with data from more than 1,200 companies around the customer’s experience with their contact centers. We asked Mark to talk with us about some keys to utilizing customer-based research to drive performance improvement.
Unfortunately, most organizations don’t get nearly enough money, but there is hope. We are fortunate at J.D. Power J.D. Power to be invited into some of the highest-performing contact centers in the world and some not so high-performing centers. We have observed some very successful Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs; however, more often than not, we have found that organizations are not getting the most from them. Although the following tips barely scratch the surface, they provide some fundamental insights that can help you maximize the effectiveness of your VoC program and help you identify your true strengths and weaknesses, understand what can be done operationally to improve, and which activities should be prioritized to drive profits.
As seen in the graphic above, Client ABC has an opportunity to improve their customers’ ratings for Courtesy of the representative. Unfortunately, Client ABC went for years not even aware that this opportunity existed because they were focusing on their trending data (Courtesy was up year over year). Additionally they had no true understanding of what “good” or “great” looked like since they had been looking inwardly and not outwardly across industries where customer expectations are being formed. Not until they saw their score compared with a group of verified top performers from across- industries did they realize they had a significant gap not only in Courtesy, but also in many other attributes affecting customer satisfaction. Remember that customer satisfaction is the nexus between expectations and performance, and that your customers’ expectations are formed by interactions with any organization across any industry, and not just your industry competitors. Whenever your customers encounter excellence in any particular channel, their expectations for what their experience could be and should be are affected and they will now compare you to this standard. By having the operational discipline top performers, Client ABC was able to identify the areas of opportunity that they literally didn’t know existed before this exercise.
After one benchmarking research project, companies will know precisely what to do to maximize the customer experience, which saves them time and money.
We have found that most clients are working on a very large number of projects, fixes, new initiatives, and more to increase customer satisfaction and efficiency. Unfortunately, with very rare exceptions, we find that most of the effort expended is not optimized to address the specific issues that will improve the customer experience the most. Recently, one of our clients was amazed to see that they were working on very few initiatives that would address the most significant operational gaps uncovered in our research. As seen below, the client needed to focus on managing the hold process, as each time the optimal hold process was not followed, it cost them 283 points on the Customer Satisfaction Index (on a 1,000-point scale). Additionally, they didn’t execute properly 73% more often than the high performers, so there was a big gap between what they were doing and what they should be doing. Based on this data, quick changes were made to their QA, training, and coaching programs concerning hold protocols and the associated process for managing customer expectations and offering those options. The result is that our clients can stop working on initiatives that won’t move the needle and spend their limited resources on efforts that are likely to get results, which saves them time and money, and also improves their overall customer experience.
The above examples illustrate the power of understanding the context of performance. Without comparing your performance to a known level of excellence, it’s difficult to know how you are really doing and, thus, what you should be striving for. When you do understand what “excellence” looks like, however, you can target your shortfalls and make prudent business decisions to put your scarce resources to work in the most effective way possible. The result is better performance in less time and at less cost.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere