Engaging customers and providing world‐class experiences is nothing new, yet so many organizations get it wrong at the most basic level. When customers must contact a company for help, they expect just that, help. And often, companies do anything but help customers because their focus is wrong. Have you ever called somewhere, and the customer service rep is more focused on how they can’t help you instead of saying something along the lines of, “here’s what I can do for you.” Then you know exactly what I am talking about.

I want to take an opportunity to tell you a story about an agency I joined that did not even have a customer satisfaction program when I started. In fact, they never measured it in their contact center before. They were more focused on “quality” items such as, did my rep say the greeting correctly or getting the customer off the line as quickly as possible instead of actually ensuring that the customers were getting the help they needed in the first place. I get it, we all want quality interactions, but I want to let you in on a little secret. If your quality program focuses on items that have ZERO impact on the customer experience, you are going to get ZERO return on that investment. Think about it for a second. How exactly does focusing on the fact that your rep used 11 seconds of dead air instead of 10 seconds equate to any positive gain on the customer satisfaction side of things? It doesn’t. The first step to any positive traction towards improving your CSAT or even NPS scores is correlating what you demand on the quality side with what customers expect when they contact you.

When I started as Contact Center Director for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), one of the first things I did was sit down and listen to calls, as any new leader in this industry should. I wanted a pulse for how interactions with our customers went and I wanted to see what we expected out of our reps. The gap between what customers expected and what we actually offered was huge. I began looking at data for quality evaluations compared to calls I listened to. I heard countless calls where agents never assured a customer they could help, took ownership of the situation, or resolved an issue, yet they passed the quality assurance evaluation because… why? They greeted the customer properly and never put them on hold. Listen, I don’t care if you call me the wrong name and put me on hold for a few minutes to research my problem, all I care about is resolution. Sure, be nice to me along the way too, but I could not fathom the number of interactions that were honestly not good compared to the raving 100% QA score we had. I would almost bet my job if we had a survey for customers to complete, our CSAT score would have been really bad.

And so, it began. The journey to change how our agents would handle interactions to solely focus on the experience our customers deserved, the items our business deemed to be critical, and any regulatory items we had to comply with. We committed to focusing only on items that impacted these areas, with anything else being tossed out the window. The journey was rough, it took time and good change management, but it was well worth the effort to do so.

Fast forward several months. We took a form that had roughly 38 different requirements and trimmed it down to 3 areas with less than 10 requirements total. All these requirements impacted the customer, us, or our legal guidelines in some way. At this point in the short story, you are probably wondering what this has to do with CSAT or why I talked so much about quality. Shortly after creating the foundation, we wanted to build the house. We decided to launch a post call survey to measure results for the first time ever. No lie, I was incredibly nervous. Our goal was 90% CSAT monthly. In the first month, we were 91.25% OUT OF THE GATE. Then came the true test, were good interactions also good surveys? The data had an incredibly STRONG correlation. Now, if I listened to a bad call, the survey was bad too. Exceptional calls had exceptional surveys. Our form and way of doing business truly equated to the experience our customers got when they contacted us. Obviously, the journey to get there was more than this short article and contained many steps, best practices, and key advice.

If you want the full story with a step‐by‐step guide on how to achieve similar results, I’ll be at the 18th Annual Customer Contact East: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in Fort Lauderdale from 4/3- 4/6, discussing Real‐ World Initiatives that Increased CSAT. I hope to see you there! #CCFrost #customercontact #customerservice #customercontacteast