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customer experience

The call center had ventured into this unknown territory organically. Their leadership knew their processes needed rigor, so they called me in to take a look and help them create a scalable model.

My basic question, “How do you measure performance?” was met with an embarrassed silence followed by the awkward answer, “Attendance and adherence to schedule.”

Now you don’t need to be a customer service genius to know that measuring whether reps show up to work is not enough to guarantee a best-in-class customer experience. Most centers at least use NPS (Net Promoter Score), which measures whether the customer would recommend the company to a friend. But this project was different, and that wasn’t so easy.

My expectations lowered, I asked, “Would it be okay for me to sit with some reps?” And that’s when the real surprise began.

I watched as each rep passionately explained their processes.

“Oh my gosh, I love my job, I just can’t wait to help customers. You see this guy here? He thinks everything is fixed, but I dug a bit deeper and I know we can help him more. It takes a few extra clicks to get what I need, but it’s worth it.”

“Well, each morning before I get to work, I go onto our–and our competitor’s–Facebook page to see if anything hot might have surfaced since my last shift. Stuff changes fast, and it’s important to come into work fully prepared.”

“The best part of our work is that no one gives us a script, we are each able to use our own unique style as long as we follow the basic guidelines. Customers love that. We also share what works best with one another.”

I reviewed customer conversation after conversation. I surely would recommend these reps to a friend. They were scoring “10s” on an invisible scoreboard.

My mind raced to the week before when I had met with the builder for our new home.

“Okay, here’s a survey you need to fill out.  I only get my bonus if you give me a 10. It’s really important that you answer 10 to these three questions. I don’t care what you put for the rest of the survey, you can be as honest as you want on those. In fact, that’s how we know what to improve. But whatever you do, please give me a 10. In fact, let me just circle that in for you.”

If he worked for me, I would have fired him.

But, here’s where it gets trickier. This guy’s going to be our project manager for the next year. He’ll have discretion about whether he fixes our borderline problems on our new home. The wackiest part is until that conversation it had been a 10 experience.

My gut says, report this stupidity his boss, but then what? And of course, I have no way of knowing if his boss isn’t playing the same game. I wonder how many other new home owners leave their final walk-through feeling similarly gamed?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for NPS and other CSAT (customer satisfaction) measures. I will help that call center build a meaningful balanced scorecard, and recommend they include NPS, but not without telling this cautionary tale.

The spirit of NPS is easily destroyed when mathematical gymnastics trump a sincere desire to improve.

If you’re using NPS, be sure you dig deeper. Follow-up with your promoters. “Why would you recommend us?” Give them a chance to say, “Because I didn’t want your rep to get fired.”

Want to give your customer service a competitive edge? I’d love to help you dig deeper. Please give me a call at 443/750-1249 for a free consultation. 

Your turn. How do you ensure a best in class customer experience?
Filed Under:   Communication, Energy & Engagement, Results & Execution
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
 

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Terri Klass   |   27 May 2015   |   Reply

Terrific stories of what to do and not do with meeting customer expectations!

I especially love how the person in the first call center checked out both her Facebook page and the competitors. Wow! When we take the extra step like that, we are setting the bar high for leadership.

I did a great deal of customer service training with hospitals and what we always reminded the employees to remember was: What’s routine for you, may not be routine for the patients. So be kind and clear.

Thanks Karin for another excellent post!

Karin Hurt   |   27 May 2015   |   Reply

Terri, Thanks. Having spent a lot of time in hospitals recently I so agree with you! There’s no place where empathetic customer service matters more.

LaRae Quy   |   27 May 2015   |   Reply

I am continually amazed by the timeliness of your posts!

I recently purchased a new car, and the experience was a great one! The dealer gave me blue book value for my old (even though it wasn’t running…which is why I had to buy a new car), he sold me a 2015 car for 2014 price point—and then he asked me to fill out the customer satisfaction survey!

He had to get a 10 in every category to keep his job and/or get a raise…talk about changing the mood of the experience! I did give him a 10 but to be told that I had to in order for him to be considered a competent salesperson left me shaking my head….

Great article, as always :-)

Karin Hurt   |   27 May 2015   |   Reply

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Larae. It happened to me again after I wrote this as well, at Sears, buying Patio furniture.

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