Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:

Upcoming Workshops

By Peter Leppik

After the first session of our two-day interactive workshop, Customer Service Surveys: Practical Techniques, in May, we're going to be presenting a condensed workshop at two upcoming industry events.

On August 20, I'll be presenting a one-hour version of our workshop at the SpeechTEK conference in New York.

Then on October 9, I'll be at the SOCAP annual conference in Palm Springs, CA, giving a 90-minute condensed workshop.

Cutting two days of material down to 90 minutes or less means leaving a lot of useful information behind. This won't be as hands-on as in the regular workshop, but I'm going to try to keep as much practical information as I can about how to design, implement, and analyze customer service surveys.

Registration for the respective events is required in order to attend. A discount for SpeechTEK registration is available if you use the priority code VIPVL. More information and links to registration for these conferences are on our website at www.vocalabs.com/workshop/

June SectorPulse Results

By Peter Leppik

We have results from the current round of SectorPulse surveys ending on June 30th, 2007. This is our fifteenth quarterly report for major mobile phone companies, and our ninth report for major financial services companies.

Mobile Phones

The most interesting story in the mobile phone industry--the introduction of Apple's iPhone--happened just two days before the end of our survey period. We're expecting this highly anticipated device will have ripple effects on the rest of the industry, because of the spike in churn rates as customers switch to AT&T, and also because we expect competing carriers to respond by focusing more on retention and customer service quality.

Since the iPhone was released at the very end of our survey, this report doesn't provide any insight into the effect this product is having. We're watching closely to see what happens next quarter, though, when the iPhone will have been out for the entire sample period.

In the June quarter, Verizon Wireless came out on top, as both T-Mobile and AT&T (formerly Cingular) dropped. Verizon earned an "A" for Caller Satisfaction and a "B" for Call Completion. T-Mobile was in second place, with two "B's," while AT&T earned a "C" for Caller Satisfaction and a "B" for Call Completion. Sprint remained in last place with two "D's."

Financial Services

In the Financial Services industry we publish quarterly statistics and base the scores on rolling six-month data. We currently track Bank of America, Citibank, PayPal, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo; and we also collect data on Wachovia, though we haven't been able to gather enough survey responses to issue the company letter grades.

There wasn't a lot of movement in Financial Services scores this quarter, and most of the grades were "C's" and "D's", indicating below-median scores. Bank of America and PayPal tied for first place, both companies earning "C's" for Caller Satisfaction and "B's" for Call Completion. Even though we did not issue Wachovia letter grades, the company's survey scores were in the "A" range for Caller Satisfaction, but in the "D" range for Call Completion.

Confirmation Bias

By Peter Leppik

I often hear about companies which implement very sophisticated customer surveys yet ignore the data. "We do all this work," complain people in charge of the survey, "but when we send our report to management, nothing ever happens!"

One reason this happens is a psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias, which is the tendency to disbelieve or ignore data which contradicts existing beliefs.

This isn't always a bad thing: we live in an uncertain, noisy world, and this is one of the ways our minds filter out misleading and irrelevant information.

So if you have a customer survey which shows that improvement is needed, how can you get past the tendency to discount the data? There's no magic bullet, but there are some things which help:

Be credible. The data should be as bulletproof as possible, which means taking care to make sure the survey is well structured, properly administered, and addresses management's specific concerns. If possible, the senior decision makers should take an active role in defining the goals of the survey. Even though an outside consultant might not actually be smarter than in-house staff, a credible third party is also harder to ignore.

Be positive. Everyone likes to think that they're doing better than average, but nearly everyone will acknowledge that there's room to improve. It may be best to skip benchmarking against competitors (at least initially), and not worry about the absolute level of performance. Instead, focus on identifying strengths, weaknesses, and specific ways to improve.

Be repetitive. As frustrating as it is, confirmation bias will break down with enough contrary data. One negative survey is a fluke, two is a coincidence, but three, four, five, or more becomes hard to ignore.

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