Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:


By Peter Leppik

We recently released the results of the latest round of SectorPulse studies ranking the quality of customer service across different companies. This quarter marks our sixth report on the Financial Services industry, and the twelfth report on Mobile Phone companies.

Financial Service Satisfaction

Financial Services

This quarter, Washington Mutual edged ahead in customer service quality among the five financial services companies we track. Last quarter, PayPal took the top honors with "B" grades in both Caller Satisfaction and Call Completion, and while PayPal maintained its grades, Washington Mutual improved in both benchmarks to earn an "A" in Caller Satisfaction and a "B" in Call Completion.

For the first time, we also collected data on Wachovia, though we did not get enough survey responses to issue the company letter grades. Nevertheless, Wachovia's results were very good, and if we had been able to collect sufficient data to be comfortable issuing benchmarks, Wachovia and Washington Mutual would have been about tied for the best service.

We also issued grades for Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo. All three of those companies showed poorly in Call Completion, earning "D" grades. For Caller Satisfaction, Wells Fargo earned a "B," Citibank earned a "C," and Bank of America earned a "D."

Also this quarter, Citibank's Customer Loyalty score slipped back into negative territory. Our Customer Loyalty score is the average customer response to a question about how likely they are to move an account to a different bank in the next year, and negative scores mean that more customers indicated that they are likely to move accounts away from Citibank than not.

Mobile Phone Satisfaction

Mobile Phones

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have historically been neck-and-neck for top customer service honors, and this month the two companies tied. Both earned "A" grades for Caller Satisfaction, and "C's" for Call Completion.

Cingular was a credible runner-up, with two "B's," and the company has recovered from the downward dip its service scores took when it acquired AT&T Wireless. Sprint brought up the rear with two "D's."

This quarter we noticed a disturbing trend in an increasing fraction of customers calling to resolve billing problems. We can't be sure yet that this is a real trend--as opposed to a statistical blip--but if real, it bears watching.

For more information about SectorPulse, or if you'd like to purchase the Executive Summary or raw data, contact Rick Rappe, rrappe@vocalabs.com or 952-941-6580x205.

Marketing to Marketing

By Rick Rappe

Several months ago, Peter and I were hit upside the head by a senior executive of a major public relations firm who suggested we were misdirecting our sales efforts by continuing to focus on usability and caller satisfaction testing only within the contact center marketplace.

His point was that marketing realizes (or at least should) that customer service really does hear "the voice of the customer" and that marketing has a difficult time gaining access to insights customer service may have.

This makes a great deal of sense, and I have been trying to get my arms around just how to approach sales from this added perspective. No, I don't have all the answers and am finding that who reports to whom up the marketing ladder is every bit as inconsistent as is executive management of the contact center.

I mention it here because of a conversation a few days ago with a VP of Marketing of a major Minneapolis based company. The gist was that working alone, the contact center manager was having difficulty selling the top brass on spending money for customer satisfaction and service quality assessment. And marketing was looking for an effective way to gain insights into customer opinion and brand loyalty issues. By combining forces and approaching senior management together, customer care and marketing can make a unified presentation of the benefits of customer insights both to improve service and drive more business to the company. While the benefits to one department or the other might not be enough to get a yes decision, showing benefit to both departments may be enough to tip a decision in the right direction.

VocaLabs is Moving!

By Peter Leppik

It isn't quite official yet--the lawyers are still picking over the lease--but by the end of the year we'll be in new digs.

Our current office is nice, but it doesn't quite match our needs. We're doubling up in some offices, but too much unused space elsewhere. It's also quite a long commute for some of us.

Our new office will be located in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley, literally a stone's throw away from the world headquarters of General Mills. This is a much more central location than Eden Prairie, where we are now, and just a few minutes from downtown.

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