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.