Making the Best of Every Bad Situation

Unfortunately customers generally won’t call you to say how happy they are. When they do call, they’re upset. They’re frustrated. They’ve tried your FAQs, user guidelines, and product details, maybe even scoured Google or Bing for a solution, all to no avail and now those angry customers are calling you (or your agents). The most important thing to remember during these calls is that you’re lucky. You read that right—lucky. You and your company are lucky because that angry customer could have just up and left, taking their business to your competitors. Their anger is an unfortunate but incredible opportunity for your company to delight a customer or, perhaps even better, learn from the interaction, improving products and processes.Most contact centers solicit their customers for post-session surveys. These generally probe for input on how satisfied the customer is with the call, with questions focusing on the CSR (Customer Service Representative), any resolution proposed or executed, and the experience as a whole. So, it is clear that managers see the value of customer feedback and of the contact center as an opportunity to collect it. With surveys completed only between 1% and 3% of the time, and with 71% of executives acknowledging little follow-up occurs as their result, it is also clear that too many managers have yet to realize the opportunity to collect truly valuable feedback. That is because these managers have yet to realize what feedback is most valuable and when to collect it. As we mentioned, post-session surveys are the most pervasive method for collecting feedback in the contact center world and tend to treat the contact center as disparate from the company, focusing only on the customer’s opinions on the customer service experience. Instead of this narrow approach, managers should open their eyes to the rich, untapped source for feedback and input for all business units that every session represents. Rather than leaving the customer with an automated survey that only focuses on their session and agent satisfaction, managers should look to formally incorporate feedback solicitation into the contact center’s in-session protocol. This should, naturally, begin at the training level. Agents should be well-equipped to proactively seek or identify the input and feedback, negative or positive, of a business’ customers. In this way, the contact center can transform its role in a company into a source of strategy and innovation, as it has direct access to your company’s richest market research. For instance, within a year of implementing formal feedback collection, some companies have been able to identity and modify over 100 business processes thanks to customer input, improving both efficiency and customer satisfaction. Among the savings customers’ suggestions can lead to, companies with strong customer feedback programs reduce YOY customer service costs by 23.6%. Feedback solicitation strategies don’t have to be limited to general product or services probes, managers can adjust questions according to specific company needs, like getting feedback on a new product feature. By training CSRs to properly solicit and record customer feedback and suggestions, managers can unlock detailed, meaningful insight into areas for a business affecting performance and profitability. In addition to the direct value that customer input can add by shaping future innovations or changes, this process also empowers your customers’ voice within your organization, making them feel heard and involved with the solution. Such a sentiment can lead companies to staggering customer satisfaction and loyalty gains and value-add relationships with customers. Companies with effective feedback strategies enjoy 91% customer retention, with a 25.2% YOY increase in customer satisfaction and over a 50% FCR (First Call Resolution). With strong feedback programs, customers are getting happier—17.6% YOY improvement of NPS (Net Promoter Score)—and agents more effective—15% reduction in resolution time—and companies are reaping the benefits. Those companies taking the time to listen to their customers are enjoying YOY gains of more than 25% in cross- and up-sale revenue and revenue from customer referrals. Simply by gathering and listening to customer feedback, these companies have been able to further optimize their revenues streams, ultimately leading to their 15% YOY increase in profit margin per customer. Instead of treating such an instance as a complaint or problem against the company, agents should reimagine customer interactions as insights and ideas for the company. Only by listening to the voice of the customers, can a business truly speak to their needs. By proactively collecting customer feedback, contact centers portray a customer-centric image of their company that bolsters loyalty, reduces frustration, which ultimately leads to profitability. The contact center world’s nightmare is the customer who dials angry, holds angry, and talks angry. While managers would hope that all customers are perfectly happy, they should also be hoping for those angry calls. If the angry calls don’t come, it’s not because the angry customer didn’t exist, it’s because the angry customer went to the competition. The upset customer has given your company two great opportunities. The first is the opportunity to delight and retain. This is nothing new, as customers’ problem resolution is the contact center’s main role. However, the second opportunity demands the reimagined customer feedback approach discussed before in order to realize it. The angry customer becomes a window for your company to finally see, plainly and in full view, its most serious issues. By listening to and addressing your customers’ worst pain-points, your company will be, by definition, identifying and improving upon what matters most to customers, thereby positioning your company to best accomplish and surpass its business objectives.

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