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Gathering the Right Data to Improve Customer Interactions

Voice of Customer (VoC) programs are predicated on gathering insights about customers’ expectations, preferences and aversions that are then used to inform the design of satisfying customer experiences. One of the traditional manners of gathering this information is the use of surveys for customer feedback in relation to recent brand experiences. Unfortunately, what should be a highly useful tool with insightful and actionable information is often ignored, prone to error and essentially not helpful.

To be useful to the contact center, customer feedback must be:

  • Relevant – address business needs to improve strategic decision making
  • Useful – provide comprehensive insights that enable problem identification and correction
  • Dynamic – keep up with the pace of change in company goals and customer expectations
  • Personable – leave a positive impression with the customer providing the feedback
  • Timely – quickly accessible by contact center operations for agent coaching and process improvement
  • Valid – collected in a manner that dissuades manipulation of the interpretation (reality vs. illusion)
  • Conclusive – confidence in data quality that creates urgency to take action

Establish Systematic Listening Processes

Customer feedback is really about listening to what your customers want to tell you. It shouldn’t be considered a “check-up” initiative with a start and stop date, but a consistent and ongoing process designed to drive continuous improvement. The key to gathering the right data is showing customers enough respect that they are encouraged to share what’s important to them. That 75% of customers either refuse to participate or ignore requests for customer feedback should put financial institutions on notice that improvement in this area is an imperative.

One of the benefits inherent in contact centers with respect to customer feedback programs is that they’re already predisposed to monitor and record customer interactions for the purposes of quality assurance, agent training and coaching, and operational improvement. It’s also one of the few personal and direct interactions that remain with customers where the feedback can be captured in context—including emotional state with relation to a specific issue, what may have caused it and what it takes to resolve it. In comparison, front-line staff at the branch often doesn’t have the latitude to stop and record customer feedback at the moment it happens, resulting in a deterioration of reliability when recording it is based on memory a few hours or even days later.

An additional validation for the contact center is that the majority of calls are related to problems. When problems occur, customers can often tell you something you don’t already know. Diagnosing where a flaw in a process causes a breakdown in customer experience that enables improvement is much more important than a customer who only tells you everything is fine.

Scaling Voice of Customer (VoC) Programs

A perception that limits broad application of VoC programs is the application of one resolution to one specific situation for one customer at a time. This outlook presents the view that customer feedback isn’t scalable. This limitation is merely a construct of the design of the VoC program which doesn’t need to exist with the right approach.

Questions that enable scalable VoC programs include:

  • Is this problem recurring? And, if so, which customer segments does it affect?
  • How can we prevent problems like this from happening in the future?
  • Are we asking the right questions to find out what we don’t know that impacts business objectives?
  • Given the resolutions to the way the problem presented, are we taking action that prevents recurrence of the problem for other customers? If not, what else needs to change?
  • What other ways can we filter the data to learn something we might have missed?

By asking these questions about the data gathered from customer feedback and interactions, it becomes possible to apply insights to processes in respect to business objectives and customer satisfaction simultaneously. Scale is simply a matter of how you choose to interpret and apply the data.

Added Value from Taking a Continuous Approach

In addition to improving customer experiences and satisfaction by interpreting VoC programs as source data for continuous improvement, a continuous approach provides added value such as staying ahead of customer trends by developing the ability to spot early warning signs of change. Where “check-up” feedback initiatives provide a snapshot of a moment in time, continuous feedback creates a dynamic environment that can alert a financial institution of a shift so that it has time to organize, prepare and proactively take action.

This proactive and predictive approach removes the traditional defense and reactive mode that financial services institutions often find themselves in when they recognize that something has changed after the fact. This method of “leaning forward” can serve to elevate the brand in the eyes of its customers as one that is responsive to their needs, rather than more concerned about itself than its customers’ well-being.

This is made possible when the voice of customer is part of the daily process of decision making within a financial services contact center. And, think of the benefits when it also permeates the broader organization. Your contact center provider should be proactive in helping you to incorporate VoC programs tied to specific business objectives and based on gathering the right data to improve customer interactions across the board.