Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue

Customer Service Strengths

Download Executive Summary

This month we published another cross-industry National Customer Service Survey (NCSS) report, this one taking an in-depth look at the relative strengths and weaknesses of the eleven companies in our ongoing survey. We examined over 9,000 completed customer interviews, and for each company looked at the call satisfaction and resolution rates based on the call reason or product the customer was calling about.

We found that no company outperforms or underperforms everywhere: each company had some strengths and some weaknesses and nobody was good or bad across the board. Even Apple, which has a well-deserved reputation for outstanding service and support, had products where our survey responses were no better than its peers. Similarly, T-Mobile had worse survey scores than other wireless carriers for many types of calls, yet still held its own for other call types.

This result is surprising, because we tend to think that a company with good (or bad) customer service is good (or bad) across the board. The reality is more complex, and every company has room to improve somewhere.

For full details, please download our executive summary.

Agile Customer Feedback

I've observed a number of common problems with survey processes. For example, feedback that's not timely enough to be useful, data that's not relevant to the organization, and surveys which annoy or confuse customers. We developed Agile Customer Feedback to lay down the principles and practices we use to build an effective and responsive customer feedback process. At its core, Agile Customer Feedback consists of five key principles:

  1. Respect and listen to customers and they will want to give feedback
  2. Always be collecting feedback from customers
  3. Adapt the customer feedback process to evolving business needs
  4. Disseminate customer feedback in real time throughout the company
  5. Target surveys to customers who are likely to tell you something you don't know

Following these principles enables you to build a customer feedback program which is a dynamic and responsive part of the business, as opposed to a passive measurement tool. This addresses many common problems I see with customer feedback processes:

  • Inflexibility: The customer feedback process can't adapt to changes in business needs.
  • Unfriendliness: The survey doesn't leave a positive impression with the customer.
  • Low Response: It's hard to get customers to participate (this may be related to unfriendliness).
  • Not Actionable: The feedback doesn't make it clear what specific changes have to take place.
  • Not Relevant: The reports don't address the specific needs of the people who need to use it (or they may address certain people's needs but not others).
  • Stale: By the time the feedback is delivered, it's too old to be meaningful.
  • Poor Metrics: Metrics are too high-level, not high-level enough, not relevant to business needs, create perverse incentives, or are not tailored to the recipient.
  • Flood of Verbatims: Too much unstructured, free response feedback which takes too much time and effort to analyze.
  • No Credibility: Obvious data quality problems aren't addressed, leaving the whole process open to attack from people who disagree with the data.
  • Not Persuasive: Nothing happens because the process doesn't create a sense that something needs to be done.

We just published a white paper going into a lot more detail about Agile Customer Feedback, and you can download it from our website.

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