Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to peer inside the minds of your customers and find out exactly what they think of you and your products or services? It would be like your very own superpower. You would know whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied; whether you rock their world or whether they are about to abandon you for a competitor.
Of course, this mind-reading capability is possible—in the humble form of customer feedback. Without a thorough plan for handling feedback, however, companies miss out on insights that could make or break them in the long run. With that in mind, here are five ways your contact center can better respond to customer feedback.
1. Channel your efforts
Customers can give feedback in more ways than ever before. SMS, email, social media, and the old reliable phone call are all viable options for customers. Plus, many companies send surveys via email, online questionnaires, and web comments. Successful businesses meet the customer in the channel they prefer. When we asked Sean Hawkins, an award-winning contact center manager from iContact, about providing multiple channels, he said, “You need to be wherever customers are and engage them in that channel. Anticipate them coming and don’t be late. Also, instead of having silos across channels, create a seamless transition.”
The good news is that over 80% of contact centers offer this type of multichannel support. The bad news is that most don’t collect the responses in one central location. Customer feedback gets filtered to different departments based on the channel: marketing reads through Facebook and Twitter comments while customer service fields angry phone calls and emails. Keeping these multiple channels separated makes understanding what customers want difficult. Customer responses should instead be aggregated from all channels and organized in one central location. This will lead to a better understanding of customer wants and needs.
A note about surveys: If your contact center isn’t sending out customer satisfaction surveys, now is the time to start. Prove to your customers you really care about their feedback. If you’re afraid of intimidating your customers with a long survey, put the most important questions at the front and make questions as specific as possible. Getting participation shouldn’t be too hard; people love to share their opinions.
2. Keep an eye on the time
In today’s world, we like things fast. Food, internet connection, response time—you name it. We want our customer service to be fast as well, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Customers often wait on the phone for long periods of time before being connected with a person who can help. Sometimes the rep on the other end of the line doesn’t even know how fix the problem, leaving the customer feeling like they’ve wasted their time. In fact, when asked about phone service, 90% of customer complaints are about wait times, and according to Business Insider, customers' patience only lasts for about 12 minutes.
Your customers hate to wait, and while this is a big challenge for companies to tackle, it’s not impossible. Other channels are there to help you out. If there’s a long wait time, give customers the option to text a service representative. Even if you don’t have a live person on the other end, you can automate text responses to get the customers’ question answered at the speed they expect (which is basically immediately).
Sometimes, though, you have to fall back on the voice call. Putting customers on hold isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you have the answers they need when you do get on the line. Employees can avoid extending customers’ wait time by being knowledgeable about their product and knowing who to go to for a complex problem.
Another option is something called “virtual hold.” When virtual hold has been added to a contact center’s repertoire, customers can simply text, “Hey there, I need some help” to be put into a virtual hold queue. They will then receive a call once an agent is ready, letting customers and agents better manage their time.
3. Listen and learn
Response time is not only important when responding to a specific customer’s problem, but also when implementing the changes they mentioned. Customer feedback has an extremely short shelf life, so it’s important to respond immediately. If there’s a problem that goes unresolved, your customer won’t hesitate to share it. We all know that customers will tell more people about negative experiences than positive ones, which is why you can’t afford to wait around.
Of course, it’s one thing to listen but another thing to do what the customer is actually requesting. According to Hawkins, “If there is an honest and sincere effort to make customer service a priority, it’s worth grabbing that data. It tells you so much. But don’t do it if you aren’t going to take advantage of it.” Customer feedback is most valuable when it’s used to create change.
Plus, establishing two-way communication with your customers is a great way to create a more personal relationship with them. You can foster this relationship by both solving their problem and letting them know they’ve been heard. If a lot of customers have the same complaint, social media or a personalized email is a great way to let them know you’ve made those changes. Show customers you take their ideas to heart, and you can bet you’ll see an increase in customer satisfaction.
4. Help your employees level up
Customer service representatives have a huge amount of responsibility. They can ultimately create a good or bad perception of the company through just one interaction. We’ve all heard stories about representatives who were unhelpful, slow, or even downright rude. The problem is that a lot of employees don’t receive any customer feedback until they’re at a performance review being told what they did wrong.
If employees don’t know what customers think about their interactions, they won’t know how to make changes to better serve the customer. Companies can help by providing customer service representatives with a live feed of overall and one-on-one customer feedback. Then, not only can they spot trends about what the bulk of customers are having problems with, but they can also get real time feedback as customers complete post-call surveys.
Some companies are also using gamification to engage employees, incorporating components like leaderboards and badges that track who has the highest customer satisfaction or the quickest call response time. Creating daily competitions or setting up incentives for completing tasks can encourage employees to provide better service and up their game (pun intended).
5. Stay up to date with the latest trends
Customer satisfaction has become a greater focus of companies over the past few years. In fact, over 60% of businesses surveyed selected customer satisfaction as the key metric for determining the success of their support organization. Businesses often put a lot of stock in ratings like Net Promoter Score and CSAT, making a high score their top priority.
While that’s important, value is more often found in the trending direction (getting better or worse) than in the actual location of the score. If satisfaction is high, make sure you know why that’s the case and use your findings to maintain your edge. If it’s not, make sure your surveys are giving you the information you need and create a program to systematically address your customers’ feedback.
One way companies can make sure they are accurately tracking customer satisfaction is to keep survey questions as consistent as possible. If you keep changing words and rephrasing questions, your baseline can be thrown off, making it hard to measure whether or not your company is improving in the eyes of customers. For example, if you’re asking questions in a more biased way (“how good was your service” vs. “how was your service”), it’s likely you’ll get a more biased response. Also, don’t knock the power of qualitative data; it’s a chance for customers to speak to you in their own words.
The bottom line: Given the right approach, customers are often willing to provide honest and thorough feedback. Successful companies are the ones that use this feedback to drive lasting, positive change. And that is a superpower indeed.