What Customers Want
We often lose sight that we’re all consumers – everyone that works in customer service is a customer and with that comes a tremendous amount of experience and expertise. Many companies to whom I consult spend countless hours trying to figure out what their customers want without tapping into their own experience as a customer. We often approach our own product or service through the company’s self created call center metrics and have a hard time looking beyond the organizational chart for solutions. I often find myself moving my clients from thinking like internal product leaders to just being a buyer, consumer, customer and recipient of service. When you’re able to make this transition in your mind, you’ll find that customers are pretty simple and just want a few things:
Promptness and accuracy – get to me quickly and don’t make me wait too long. And once I’m being serviced, I need you to do it right.
Quality for the time invested – my investment in your company is time. My time is valuable and I’d like you to make sure you respect the fact that I am taking time out of my life to work with you and I expect a return on that investment.
Real first-contact resolution – let’s try and get this done the first time without any further action on my part…meaning, I just want to tell you my problem once and you find a way to fix it. I don’t care about your internal silo, relationships or departments – just go do it when I tell you.
A choice in automation – this isn’t my first time doing this and I know what I can do myself and I’m calling you because I want to talk to someone because I know that I need to. Let me decide how I want to interact with you – after all, as the customer, I have the choice to go elsewhere.
What Most Companies Want
Not many companies call me simply because they want to sustain mediocrity or reduce the service provided. Most realize they’ve got to provide good service, and many have their needs clearly documented:
Most of the companies know that they need to provide service that is timely, efficient, professional and accurate. Many have read the book and know that companies with happier employees provide better service to customers.
They also know that they need to develop an environment that is more flexible and respects the talents of agents that interact with their customers every day.
Unfortunately, this knowledge of need gets lost in the application and we end up sending the wrong message to the frontline leaders and agents, via:
Call Center Metrics and reports and metrics and reports – it often starts with something like “what get’s measured, gets done.” And, that’s not a bad place to start, but measurement doesn’t lead to change when people are what need to change…not the call enter metric. So we give our leaders a lot of metrics, graphs and charts on a daily and hourly basis – so many that leaders often end up ignoring the signals because they don’t have time to open, much less digest, all the numbers
No time to coach or get coached – because centers spend so much time looking down, they end up missing out on the opportunities to make real change – via a formal coaching and development session. Without a formal call center workforce management program, there isn’t the time, and without the time, coaching becomes a “might” versus a “must.” Coaching is key to effective performance management and something no one can grow without…and it’s not just for agents – all leaders need coaching on a regular basis.
Beeping wallboards and frustrated customers — it seems that just about every customer has realized that if you’re not happy, ask for a supervisor. And just when you get the customer that got frustrated about the hold time, your wallboards begin to bleed red and let you know there will be more frustrated customers to follow. Upset customers happen, but the resolution is often lost at the end of the call. The best centers treat every frustrated customer as a learning opportunity – documenting the resolution and telling everyone about it…yes, even the frontline reps.
Pressure to do it faster and cheaper – someone, someplace realized and then documented the fact that a shorter phone call means you needed fewer people to meet accessibility metrics (service level, ASA, etc). And most people also know that shorter calls, not done right, end up creating more work and frustrated customers. Unfortunately, the part that is not done right isn’t captured by daily reporting tools, and leaders become focused on what they can measure – how long is it taking, and pointing this out to those taking a long time. Call Center metrics and reports don’t reduce agent interaction time, and many centers have felt the pain of a misguided focus on handle time.
Addressing these challenges isn’t easy, but can be done in a way that benefits everyone – the company, the customers and the front-line employees. In future posts, we’ll dive deeper into these challenges and learn from what others have done to move more attention to the customer experience with less emphasis on the call center metrics.