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5 Practical Actions to Improve Customer Satisfaction

More and more companies are surveying their customers following interactions, asking them to rate their experiences. The survey they use may be Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score, emojis, or some other creative, homegrown method. It could be a combination of more than one of these — and no doubt there’s another method that will emerge in the future as THE DEFINITIVE METHOD.

The point is that this is a popular space with lots of voices and opinions — just like anything else in business, really. So what does that mean for the customer service leader who possesses a bunch of survey results with customer feedback? Not a whole lot. When it comes to customer interaction surveys, I’m more concerned with what you do with the results than I am about the flavor of the survey you choose.

That being said, it’s imperative that we as leaders DO take action based on the results for the benefit of our agents, our organizations, and our customers. Here are five simple actions for customer service leaders looking to do something with the information they have to make a positive improvement in customer satisfaction.

Action #1- Gather Information

Let’s assume you have a customer survey already. You’re going to want to do a couple things with the results of that survey. First of all, calculate an overall score that you can track on a regular basis. Don’t worry about the score itself or benchmarking it against other companies. Your real goal is to monitor the success of your efforts as you make improvements.

The second thing to gather is verbatim feedback from customers. It’s powerful to see the comments that go along with the rating the customer gave, but even more powerful if you can access a ticket number to analyze the customer’s interaction history. While you’re at it, the ability to slice and dice results by department, tier, individual agent, issue type, and some of your other metrics can be really useful. Most systems like Zendesk, Desk, and Salesforce allow you to build and export reports to include all of this data so you can use programs like Excel or Google Sheets to analyze it.

Action #2- Analyze Top Drivers of Dissatisfaction

The next action in the process is to identify the top reasons your customers are dissatisfied. This begins by reading through their verbatim feedback, and if possible, reading through their ticket history to get the complete picture of what they’re dissatisfied about. To make this easier, place all of your dissatisfied surveys in a spreadsheet and add a column to categorize what they’re dissatisfied about. You might have a few dozen categories, but be careful not to get too granular so as to have a bunch of one-off issues. You’re looking for trends in the data to report and track. Your top drivers might look something like this:

Top Customer Dissatisfaction Drivers 

If you happen to have some sort of “Issue Type” field or disposition in your data, this can really speed this process along, allowing you to group by those issues. Instead of creating new categories, use these categories as your drivers and then drill down into the various issues that are occurring within that category. This practice will help you understand the top issues and prioritize improvements to your product or service.

Action #3- Close the Loop

Closing the loop is all about action. By reading the customer’s feedback, creating an action plan for improvement, and then responding to the customer to thank them and acknowledge or solve their issue, you are showing them how truly valuable they are as a customer.

There are a couple things to consider when closing the loop. The first is to consider the way customer service can improve their quality. Really take the time to view the interaction through the customer’s eyes. How did they react to that macro (canned response) your agent sent? How did they respond to that policy? Did we offer them our best solution to their issue or could this be improved? When you respond to the customer, be prepared to work on actually solving their problem the right way. Also be sure to take the time to coach and train your agents based on this feedback.

Jeremy will share more advice at ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference. 

The second approach is from the perspective of the product and how it can be improved. There will be times when customers are dissatisfied even when your agents did everything right. In cases where the product needs to be improved, the rest of your organization needs to know about these issues. Coincidentally, other departments in your organization crave these insights and this is a great way for customer service leaders to get a seat at the table for discussions about the customer experience. When you respond to customers, be sure to thank them for their feedback or suggestion and let them know what you intend to do with it.

Action #4- Celebrate the Wins

I’m as guilty as anyone of fixating on the negative feedback. That’s the most painful part and also the greatest opportunity for improvement. That being said, it’s important not to dwell completely on the 10% who were dissatisfied when there are also 90% who were thrilled with your service.

Take the time to celebrate the good feedback with your teams. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a wall of fame with great customer comments printed out.
  • Send out a regular email with a barrage of great customer feedback and include the names of the agents that helped them.
  • Create a Slack channel that streams your customer feedback as it comes in. (I’ve seen this done and it’s cool)
  • Begin staff meetings at all levels by reading great customer feedback. Stories are so powerful!

It’s ok to give yourself and your team a pat on the back all while still working to improve the experience for dissatisfied customers.

Action #5- Create a Gemba Board

My colleague, Ruth McCullen introduced me to the concept of a Gemba Board. The term “gemba” is Japanese for “the real place” or getting to the scene of the crime. The gemba board essentially becomes a visual of the goals the team is working toward. This could be a whiteboard, a poster, or something in an online dashboard for those working remotely.

The CSAT metric belongs on that board and it becomes something that your team can’t miss. Discuss the progress of this metric in regular meetings with your team and ways they can contribute to meeting or exceeding the goal. While you’re at it, ask team members to offer their feedback on some of the top drivers you’ve identified in your analysis. They’ll be able to fill in gaps in the story so you have a clear understanding of what’s going on.


As you embark on your journey to improve customer satisfaction and your overall customer experience, I’d like to leave you with one piece of advice:

Regularly ask your customer service team for feedback about your customer experience and you’ll never have a shortage of ways to improve your business.

In addition to the five actions I’ve shared in this article, make discussing customer feedback with your agents a regular practice. Just like customers, when leaders listen to agent feedback and continuously make improvements, customer service jobs get better and agents are more and more willing to do their part to improve customer satisfaction — and that’s a really big part!