In today's competitive environment, customer service has become a key differentiator ' and the most reliable barometer of business success. In fact, research across industries validates a direct connection between customer loyalty and business growth ' with the loyalty leaders growing fastest in virtually every category.
Of course, EVERY company wants loyal customers. Very few, however, actually measure the customer satisfaction on which their business growth depends. Instead, traditional approaches to quality assurance measure customer satisfaction indirectly, by measuring 'adherence' or 'compliance' to company policies rather than actual customer sentiments.
This month we'll focus on the emerging discipline of Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Management (DCSM) and its implications for how customer satisfaction is both measured and delivered. One of the key innovations of DCSM is that it effectively addresses the problem of how to accurately measure customer satisfaction.
Traditional solutions don't provide reliable data on customer satisfaction, because they rely on metrics such as 'how long you waited in queue,' instead of whether or not you were actually satisfied with the overall quality of service you received. DCSM solves that problem by actually asking customers how they were treated. It measures customer satisfaction directly ' with end-of-call and end-of-Web-transaction surveys which supplement traditional service-level data analysis. Prior to being routed to an agent, each customer is asked in advance to hold on at the end of his or her conversation with the agent in order to answer a satisfaction survey and qualify for some reward in exchange for doing so.
So how is this different than traditional quality assurance surveys?
First, DCSM surveys aren't only used to measure satisfaction levels on a historical basis. Solutions designed with DCSM act on customer feedback in real time ' to rescue relationships and customer satisfaction as soon as they're jeopardized. Here end-of-call survey information is used to dynamically and automatically alert supervisors or overlay workgroups to immediate 'customer relationship emergencies.' DCSM also leverages call recording technologies, but instead of (or as a supplement to) random call reviews, now all calls can be 'buffered' in real time and dynamically stored as recordings only when customers have expressed dissatisfaction with how they've been serviced. With DCSM, supervisors or overlay workgroups charged with rescuing customer relationships can not only be alerted in real time to a dissatisfaction event, they can also immediately listen to the call that triggered the poor review and decide what actions are warranted. Once he or she has context for the complaint, the supervisor can de cide if the customer should be called back immediately with an apology and perhaps a special offer or discount on his or her last transaction. Another benefit is that, where appropriate, the agent can now be disciplined within minutes of the offending behavior instead of the weeks or months later as you would expect with a traditional survey application. The benefit is that agents who expect to be disciplined immediately following prohibited behavior are statistically less likely to engage in that behavior. This approach also empowers companies to focus their limited supervisor resources on listening to those specific call recordings that customers themselves have identified as problem transactions.
Of course, as part of the DCSM post-call survey, customers can also choose to speak to a supervisor, in which case those callers can be transferred with skills-based routing discipline to a dedicated overlay workgroup that specializes in repairing damaged customer relationships.
With DCSM, post-call customer feedback is also leveraged to establish 'satisfaction service levels' ' data that can drive agent compensation and bonuses. In addition, such survey information also provides richer data than are normally available to data mining and analytics applications; thereby empowering even greater ROI and productivity gains.
With this set of tools, DCSM has pushed the envelope on what can be achieved by integrating 'aftermarket' solutions to customer satisfaction challenges. The most effective DCSM solutions go beyond this threshold to deliver differentiated benefits that can be achieved only when DCSM is integrated-by-design into contact center infrastructure.
As we briefly touched upon last month in our 'routing strategies roundup,' Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Routing takes DCSM to the next level by leveraging survey results to drive future ACD routing decisions. The customer feedback survey will not only initiate recovery procedures for low-scoring transactions, it can also automatically and dynamically update the agent's skill-rating in the area of customer satisfaction delivery. This means that customer-driven assessments can now be dynamically incorporated into weighted routing decisions, along with the traditional skills-based routing metrics described in last month's column. Now dynamically updated customer ratings can be considered along with supervisor skills-assessments for determining routing decisions on an automated basis.
Besides agent skills, relative proficiencies in those skills, and performance in customer satisfaction delivery, another dimension can also be included in DCSM-influenced routing decisions in order to maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
The Third Dimension
As noted above, the first dimension represents the corporate perspective on efficiency as reflected in the traditional skills-based routing algorithm. The second dimension is the customer perspective, which can now be considered as a weighted variable within the skills-based routing algorithm. The third dimension, if you haven't guessed it already, is the agent perspective.
With DCSM-compliant solutions, agents can define how much they like working on different types of calls, and their preferences can be taken into account by the ACD on a customizable, weighted basis along with the other two dimensions. As agents who like their work perform better and are less likely to leave for other jobs, factoring agent preferences into routing decisions simply makes sense. This multidimensional routing approach can maximize efficiency, increase customer satisfaction and enhance agent retention by taking the agent, customer and supervisor perspectives into account for every important routing decision. The alternative is one-dimensional thinking that arguably offers little to change the status quo in customer satisfaction delivery.
Clearly, enabling multidimensional routing requires the ability to dynamically alter skills-based routing algorithms in real time. This is a core attribute of Adaptive technology ' a subject that regular readers of this column will be very familiar with. (For those who have missed any of our first seven columns, simply e-mail us and we'll be happy to send you copies of any you've missed.)
Another attribute of DCSM solutions is the delivery of feedback to agents from an education perspective and to provide motivation related to achieving performance goals that drive incentive-based compensation. An effective DCSM solution will provide dynamically updated satisfaction scoring data both for the individual agent and for the group as a whole. It should also 'slice and dice' the data to provide such information as average satisfaction scores for the top quartile of agents, comparisons to other groups and/or corporate targets (particularly those that drive incentive compensation), etc. Agents should also have access to personal 'satisfaction history' records, searchable by date range and individual campaigns, which enable agents to check aggregate reviews and drill down into specific survey responses to see where they went wrong. They can also see whether satisfaction was recovered by the supervisor or overlay group for alarmed transactions and listen to the recovery call to learn how that recove ry was achieved.
The Emerging DCSM Paradigm Shift
Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Management is an emerging discipline that extends and merges CRM objectives with contact center communications infrastructure. While many basic DCSM solutions have been cobbled together on a custom basis by call centers focused on maximizing customer satisfaction, until recently there has been little if any access to solutions that are integrated-by-design into an IP contact center infrastructure. In its version 8 release, Telephony@Work introduced the concept of embedded Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Management, Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Routing and Agent Preference Routing into its CallCenterAnywhere multichannel IP contact center solution. Companies such as Siebel, TELUS, Telstra and MCI will follow suit by rolling out these capabilities into their offerings.
Dynamic Customer Satisfaction Management is attracting corporate attention because it addresses the core challenge of how to maximize customer satisfaction and accelerate business growth ' with automated processes that effectively deliver on corporate objectives without adding incremental costs.
Eli Borodow is the CEO of Telephony@Work, a provider of adaptive, multitenant IP contact center technology for contact centers and service providers. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Mike Betzer is Vice President of Call Center and Service products at Siebel Systems, the world's leading provider of customer-facing solutions for CRM, business intelligence and customer data integration markets. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Hayden is the Director of Integrated Contact Center Solutions at TELUS Communications Inc., a tier-1 telecommunications carrier in Canada and a Canadian provider of hosted contact center services. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.