A Seat at the Customer Experience Table

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on December 9, 2016. Click here to read the original.

We recently had a client ask us for feedback about a couple issue types that were a source of customer dissatisfaction. Our client was preparing for a meeting where multiple departments would be discussing these issues and strategizing ways to improve, and they wanted to hear from the customer service department. I don’t know how you’d feel when faced with this request, but we were absolutely thrilled! Why thrilled? Allow me to explain.

Silos

You won’t go long in the customer experience world before the term Silo comes up. The basic concept here is that departments within organizations operate in silos, making decisions completely independent of other departments. Some of this is normal, healthy, and natural. Problems occur, however, when decisions and changes are made that impact other departments without seeking their input. Great examples of this might include a time where the marketing team updates pricing and plans without telling customer service, or the engineering team releases some new code without properly testing for bugs, or perhaps some policy is enacted without seeking input from customers or those serving them.

The Reactive Customer Service Department

Problems occur in the customer service world when we focus too narrowly on the next interaction or crisis and lose sight of the greater customer experience. The danger of living in this reactive, often firefighting mode, is that when other departments ask for input, we lack any sort of valuable insight. What would you do if you asked someone for feedback and they never provided anything useful? Pretty soon you’d stop asking, right? That’s precisely what we don’t want!

3 Ways to Listen to the Voice of the Customer

So when our client asked us for insight that could improve their customer experience, of course we were thrilled. As a partner, we want a seat at our clients’ customer experience table. Here are three ways to proactively keep your finger on the pulse of the experience of the customers you’re supporting:

1. Listen to your agents

Build listening to your agents into your regular routine. Focus groups with your team can uncover trends they are noticing and help gain a deeper understanding of certain issues. You don’t have to make these yet another meeting, either. You can easily integrate this practice into staff meetings, trainings, one on one coaching sessions, and even impromptu conversations as you walk around your contact center in person or virtually via Slack or HipChat.

Regardless of the medium, this discussion doesn’t require a lot of prep work. Simply ask, “What issues are customers encountering that are negatively impacting their satisfaction or loyalty?” Then sit back, listen, take notes, and don’t forget about the incredible benefit to employee engagement when their voice, and ultimately the customer’s voice, is heard and valued.

2. Listen to your customers

There are a variety of ways to listen to customers. A well-rounded approach will most certainly include some kind of feedback survey. This might include Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, and/or Customer Effort Score. If you’re not sure which customer survey is right for you, here’s some information to help you choose. You will learn volumes about what your customers are experiencing by not only reading the survey feedback but also closing the loop and contacting them directly. Here’s an outline of resources to help you get the most out of your voice of customer program.

3. Listen to customer interactions

If you are in the contact center, chances are you already have a team listening to or reading customer interactions for quality assurance (QA) purposes. It’s easy to get into a mindset of working through our QA forms as checklists but failing to think about the customer experience. At FCR, we’ve begun advocating that our reviewers also note both the customer’s overall satisfaction and the specific driver of satisfaction or dissatisfaction on each QA review. This simple change transforms QA into another data point for gathering insights and improving the customer experience.

These are three simple ways to gain insight into the way your customers experience your company. By doing these things consistently in the contact center, you not only have the ability to give the other silos in your organization information when they ask for it, but you’ll also be able to proactively alert them to issues as they arise. Remember that a seat at the customer experience table is a privilege, not a right. Be prepared to contribute and you’ll most certainly be invited back.

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR, the most respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on the Customer Service Life. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *