Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:

Customer Service Factors

By Peter Leppik

Consumers' attitudes towards customer service have evolved as call center technology and practices have changed over the years. We conducted a consumer survey recently to discover what the current hot-button issues are. The main purpose of this survey is to help develop a consumer-focused customer service quality index, though the results are interesting in their own right.

We asked two key questions about factors which go into providing good or bad customer service. The first question was which factors survey participants thought were most important in providing good customer service over the phone.

The other key question asked which factors participants feel are most important in creating bad customer service over the phone.


The top three things customers associate with good customer service can be summarized as "make it quick and easy to reach a person, and make that person polite and professional." 50% of survey respondents selected all three of the top three factors.

In contrast, the top two things customers associate with bad service boil down to "don't make me jump through hoops." Those hoops are having to start over each time when a problem requires multiple calls to solve (usually a complaint with live, rather than automated service), or having to go through needless extra steps to get help (the most common complaints are about having to go through multiple layers of IVR menus).

Improving Customer Service

While all of the factors we surveyed about are important to many customers, any factor (good or bad) in the top half of its list is worth paying extra attention to. The top-half "good" factors are most likely to be noticed and appreciated by customers, and the top-half "bad" factors are most likely to be pet peeves.

Since negative experiences tend to get a stronger emotional reaction among customers, the first thing to do is make sure you're not making customers jump through hoops, repeat themselves, or start over from scratch each time they call. End-to-end call recordings can be particularly helpful in spotting these kinds of problems, since a lot of the pointless steps customers complain about are associated with calls being transferred between different systems or call centers.

If you want to provide excellent service (and you've already eliminated the obvious problems), the first thing to do is make it easy for customers to reach an agent if needed, and that the agents are acting professionally. Those are the changes customers are most likely to notice and associate with good service.

About the Survey

By Peter Leppik

The data in this newsletter is from a survey we recently conducted of our consumer panelist pool. We surveyed 400 people drawn from our consumer panel during the week of February 18th. The results have a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points.

For the "good" service factors we asked the question: For a company to provide you good customer service over the phone, which of these factors do you think are most important (you may choose more than one):

  • Make it easy for you to reach a live person (if necessary)
  • Be courteous, polite, and professional
  • Wait only a short time to talk to a human (if needed)
  • Handle your question or problem on the first call
  • Be willing to transfer your call to a supervisor if the agent isn't helping
  • If you have to call more than once for the same problem, be able to talk to the same person each time
  • Follow up (if needed) to let you know that your problem was solved
  • Keep the total call as short as possible
  • Provide an easy-to-use self-service option (where possible)
  • Do more to help than you expected

For the "bad" service factors, we asked: When a company provides you bad customer service over the phone, which of these problems do you think are most important (you may choose more than one):

  • When you have to call more than once for the same problem, you have to start over from the beginning each time. The company doesn't keep good enough records of your earlier calls.
  • You're forced to go through repetitive or irrelevant steps to get help
  • The person you spoke to was incompetent, or wasn't trained properly
  • You had to wait too long to talk to a person
  • The person you spoke to was rude or unprofessional
  • The company doesn't do things it promised to do, like fix a problem, issue a credit, follow up with you, etc.
  • The self-service system was difficult or impossible to use
  • The company refused to admit making a mistake, even when there's obviously a problem
  • The customer service representative won't transfer you to a supervisor when asked
  • The company made it difficult to find the right options to be transferred to a person
  • The quality of the service is inconsistent, and you never know if you will get good or bad service
  • The person you spoke to didn't have the authority to help you

For both of these questions, the options were presented in a randomized order for each participant to avoid bias, and participants could choose as many options as they wanted. For both questions, the average participant chose just over half the options.

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