How to Achieve Higher Customer Service Quality Scores
- Research from the most recent Customer Service Excellence Report surfaced 8 best practices that delivered the highest Customer Service Quality scores.
- The quality of customer support is measured by solving customer challenges timely, accurately, completely and pursuant to the customer's goals.
- High quality of service creates customer advocates that share their affinity on social networks, make repeat purchases and deliver referrals.
The Best-in-Class organizations don't jump through hoops or rely on individual heroes to satisfy customers. They deliver consistent quality of service as a matter of routine because they apply systemic, repeatable and continuously improved methods.
Research from the Customer Service Excellence Report found 8 best practices that collectively contributed to the highest service quality results. And by extension, these results delivered the highest customer satisfaction scores and company financial performance results.
The Best Practices that Most Impact Quality Customer Service Delivery
Voice of the Customer
Companies don't rate contact or call center quality of service, customers do. So it's essential to understand what customers most want to deliver targeted services and predictable outcomes. The best way to do this is with a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. These programs capture, categorize and prioritize customer goals, expectations, preferences, likes and dislikes. This data feeds your CRM software 360-degree customer view so that customer expectations and insights are easily available in one place and can be shared by any customer facing staff for an improved customer experience.
Beyond gathering customer expectations, VoC can be supplemented with Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys or customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys delivered periodically or after every service incident. It's a good idea to survey customers on the effectiveness of every service delivered. You can then integrate this feedback to agent performance and the CRM Account, Contact or Lead records so it can be used to manage the customer relationship, deliver personalized communications and achieve more contextual customer experiences.
Without strategy, execution is aimless.
For the Best-in-Class, delivering high quality customer service is designed to achieve something bigger than departmental metrics and goals. For this group of top performers, achieving quality of service goals directly contributes to their customer strategy.
Quality of service cannot be delivered in a vacuum. Instead, it is an instrumental part of a customer strategy that it designed to achieve the most essential performance objectives – for the customer and the company. Customer service quality is the bridge between customer facing activities and the customer strategy.
The research found that Customer Experience Management (CXM) is the top customer strategy among the Best-in-Class service leaders. CXM aims to deliver customer experiences (CXs) that go beyond basic satisfaction and achieve more emotional goals, that make customers feel delighted, appreciated, valued, special or rewarded. Delivering differentiated CXs that appeal to customer emotions is no easy task but is proven to create customer affinity and retain customers. Everybody wants to feel valued.
Attempting CXM without a customer-centric culture is a fool's errand. Customers are smart. Company self-proclamations suggesting the customer comes first, without a real customer centric culture, is quickly recognized as lip service. Authenticity is essential. Companies don't get to decide how customer-centric they are, customers do, and they make their opinions known in social media and elsewhere.
The top CX goals among the Best-in-Class participants were improving the online CX (35 percent), improving the entire customer lifecycle experience (32 percent) and adopting a customer-centric culture (31 percent). What may be most interesting is that these are not the typical Contact or Call Center departmental goals of their lower performing peers. The Best-in-Class goals are clearly strategic and aligned with the company's priorities. That's in contrast to their lower performing peers who pursued more tactical goals that measured contact center or departmental efficiency but did not have clear alignment with company priorities.
Business Process Optimization
Business process standardization, optimization and automation are the ingredients for repeatable and consistent quality of service.
Automation comes from technology, but before you can apply technology you first need to simplify, streamline and standardize; in that order. Lifting and shifting suboptimal processes will deliver disappointing results.
An ideal method for business process improvements is Agile Value Stream Mapping. This process design method calculates process efficiency. It identifies Activity Time (value add) and Wait Time (non-value add) for all steps in a process. It then divides Activity Time/Value Time by Wait Time/Non-value Time to show an efficiency measurement. We know from experience that quite often it doesn't just reduce non-value-added steps or tasks, but completely eliminates steps or tasks that don't add value to the outcome.
As contact centers grow they must have standardized business processes to avoid chaos. Their key to scale is to use proven frameworks that streamline, optimize and automate end to end customer interaction processes. Streamlined and well documented business processes root out excess cost, improve execution, enable scalability and facilitate continuous incremental improvement.
No business operates in a vacuum. Businesses compete at all levels. When you outperform competitors, you gain market share. When you underperform, you lose market share. Knowing where you stand relative to your industry competitors is essential for satisfying, growing and retaining customers.
Standards and benchmarks provide objective comparison points, identify the processes most in need of improvement and areas that deliver the biggest financial upside impact.
To achieve customer service quality goals, you don't get what you expect, you get what you inspect.
Contact center quality assurance provides oversight, analysis and variance notifications for agent performance and customer interactions. Quality assurance is essential to maintain quality standards, adhere to compliance requirements and deliver consistent levels of service that meet service goals.
Some of the more common approaches include random sample monitoring, targeted monitoring (typically for high value interactions) and real-time quality monitoring analytics.
You can't manage what you can't measure. But contact center managers often struggle to measure the metrics that matter. Too many managers measure vanity metrics or departmental metrics that don't align to the company's priorities. It's essential to measure the metrics that deliver actionable insights, support the customer strategy goals and contribute to the company's business priorities.
From our experience of driving contact and call center improvements for more than three decades, we've found that delivering contact or call center dashboards with three progressive sets of contact and call center metrics provide the most insightful and actionable improvement opportunities.
The top-level dashboard displays the Headline Metrics and includes customer performance measures such as CSAT, NPS, CLV and retention. From there we include Secondary Metrics on a separate dashboard that focus on the agent experience, performance and satisfaction.
Finally we use another more detailed dashboard to display tertiary metrics which focus on departmental and customer interaction measures such as Customer Effort Score (CES), First Contact Resolution (FCR), Average Handling Time (AHT), Speed of Answer (SoA) and a host of call and contact performance measures. These three progressive levels deliver end to end performance visibility and drive the most direct path to performance improvements.
Training and Education
Quality assurance variances and performance measures will identify agent improvement and training opportunities.
With the adoption of customer self-service technologies agents are handling more complex cases. This means agent training, and likely specialization, take on an increased importance to achieve quality customer service goals.
In our own training delivery we have found the concepts of 'Just-enough-learning' which apply shorter learning sessions and 'Just-for-me-learning' which deliver specific content to targeted audiences are far more effective that the typical classroom style training.
Delivering bite sized, topic-based training courses is a more gradual approach where each learning session builds upon the prior to extend and reinforce what's been learned. This method reduces agent stress, makes training fun and rewarding, improves knowledge transfer and increases retention.
You cannot achieve high quality customer support goals with manual processes and fragmented software applications. Contact center software technology is needed for efficiency, effectiveness and scale.
System automation accelerates process cycles, reduces errors, increases efficiencies, improves service levels, reduces costs, enables business agility and supports scale. It allows agents to spend less time entering and fixing data, and more time using that data to better serve customers, more intelligently, and use customer data to deliver differentiated customer experiences.
In fact, when properly implemented, technology lowers the cost to serve and delivers increased value to customers in parallel.
Our mantra is that everything that gets repeated gets automated. It's a big effort but brings a big payback. Highly efficient and repeatable processes become your intellectual property.
It's important to recognize that well designed and streamlined business processes are a perquisite to effective technology adoption.
It's near impossible to achieve consistent quality of service without business intelligence.
The goal of contact or call center analytics is to apply data to create real-time change and achieve more timely and better customer interactions or decision making.
Analytics is more than information. Information is just grouped data. Information reporting is too often interesting but not actionable. We view it but we don't learn from it. It generally doesn't induce action or make us smarter.
To do better we have to elevate information. We must shift from data that is merely interesting to insights that induce action. We do this by delivering role-based insights in real-time and linking them to recommended actions. Achieving this level of decision support is a journey that can be facilitated with the below framework.
The ability to make more timely and intelligent decisions is one of only four sustainable competitive advantages. Improved decision making never loses value, is not easily copied by competitors and is not displaced with new technologies.