Six Voice of the Customer strategies to optimise your call centre
Voice of the Customer survey technology can be a powerful tool for managing and improving call centre performance on a number of levels. However, to get the most out of your measurement strategy and surveying tool, it must be effectively implemented, adopted and utilised over the long term.
Call centre efficiency is no longer driven solely by metrics such as, monitoring the speed of response or the number of calls per agent. Basic metrics like these simply do not capture and explain customer experience in the same way that “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) does. I have seen first-hand that customers will accept longer calls if their questions or concerns are resolved on the first call. A longer call duration can also result in a substantially improved experience if the assistance is relevant and means that the customer does not have to make a second call.
VoC feedback performs at its best and provides the most relevant insights when captured real-time at the point of contact. This real-time feedback enables your agents to trigger instant service failure escalations and equips team leaders with the ability to address a dissatisfied customer alongside rectifying weaknesses within his or her team. Ultimately creating a power-house of customer centric champions.
This sounds amazing in concept, but reality applies an intricate ingredient to your recipe for customer experience success – which is the delicate culture of a call centre.
When implemented correctly, a VoC programme will genuinely improve agent performance, motivate your sales team and even impact your entire organisational culture.
Here are six ways to make sure that your VoC programme achieves what it sets out to achieve:
- Stop the silos – Get everyone on board, not only in your call centres but across every department. Be open from the outset about how the VoC data will be used and what it means for your people. Constant communication and two-way feedback with your employees is as important as customer feedback. Celebrate successes and improvements, make sure feedback is accessible to individual agents and deal with concerns productively as they arise. Do not use your VoC programme as a means to single out your agents. Use it to create action plans and training that will grow their skills, gain their trust and motivate their performance levels. VOC is not a stick, rather, a carrot.
- Create real-time coaching – Obtaining immediate feedback allows team leaders to replay a customer’s call soon after a transaction takes place, which means failures are quickly rectified. Training in the moment (while the experience is still fresh in the agent’s memory) creates relevant and meaningful learning experiences that lead to lasting behavioural changes. There are some great ideas around call centre gamification-type coaching that focusses on the right behaviour and encourages buy-in; while rewarding it.
- Aim for marginal gains – Performance improvement should never be about overnight seismic shifts. A good VoC strategy looks at individual agents across several areas of focus and breaks the whole picture down into segments. A 1% improvement in each agent for each area of focus may seem marginal but when you put them all together, you will notice a significant increase in service levels. Applying a VoC programme consistently and continually over time and using it to incrementally improving each agent’s ability to view a problem from the customer’s perspective, to listen, understand and be helpful, to be friendly and to focus on resolving a customer’s query no matter how long it takes will, over time, bring about a significant increase in customer satisfaction.
- Focus on happy customers as well – Drilling down to the root cause of a customer’s concern is the obvious goal of any successful VoC programme, but this entails a reactive approach to avoid the damaging effects of angry customers on your brand. There is a wealth of untapped and incredibly powerful insight that comes from customers who are genuinely happy with your products and services. We have seen so many companies overlook how feedback from these customers can be used to motivate and encourage call centre agents. Focusing on the positive enables teams to take pride in the service they provide. Use feedback to demonstrate how your business creates value for customers and to remind your people that their work has purpose.
- Lead the team with high flying examples – VoC is not only useful for identifying which individual agents need training but also for identifying and exemplifying your top performing agents. Studying their approach and the way they deal with customers is a powerful and proactive way of establishing a foundation for best practice principles. While attempting to clone agents should be avoided, your team leaders can encourage agents to raise the bar through positive reinforcement, which is always more effective.
- Understand the full experience – Optimising your call centre extends beyond measuring and improving agent performance. The customer journey requires a holistic view that must take all touch points into account. All businesses worth their value in salt today offer their customers online and mobile touch points, whether for product information, managing online accounts, using self-service tools, asking questions via web chat or buying products. As part of your VoC strategy, call centre agents need to understand these functions from the customer’s perspective to be able to offer a consistent service. It becomes more complex to correlate feedback or insights across all channels but it is vital to obtain data and feed it back to all parts of the business to ensure your teams are meeting your customers’ needs and expectations fully.
If you are from the call centre environment, you understand that the right actions today and tomorrow and the next day, all add up to the success of your strategy in the long term. Your VoC strategy is no different and knowing this fact is half the win. Accept that every day provides a unique challenge and dig your heels into the ground and keep persevering with your VoC drive. As you begin to trend the feedback you receive from customers and as you build efficiencies in your process, you will tweak your VoC strategy and ultimately build your own customer-centric power-house one change at a time.
Fortunately, survey and VoC technology is now available to help ascertain exactly how customers are using your services. A comprehensive VoC solution should be used to engage and ask them questions about what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like in the future – so that your business remain relevant for them.
Implementing a powerful and integrated VoC solution offers a much wider view of the customer experience and helps get clearer understanding of the whole customer journey. It is also a tool that can be used in a motivating manner so that your call centre agents will be equipped to provide consistent, positive and effective service levels.
Author: Guarin Coetzee