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  • Writer's pictureSharon Oatway

60 Days + 5 Ways to Lift Your Call Center's Customer Loyalty Scores

Updated: Mar 19

I recall the pandemonium that resulted following the release of "The Ultimate Question" by Fred Reichheld in 2006. Could you really predict customer loyalty based on how they answered the question: "Would you recommend this company to your friends and family?" The debate over how to measure customer loyalty has continued since then (and a 2.0 version of the book was released in 2011).


Improving Net Promoter Results

Yes, there are challenges with whatever customer loyalty measure you choose. Regardless, I have found it to be an important measure when combined with other questions that get to the root cause of WHY the customer answered the question the way they did.


The real advantage of introducing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) was realized when executives started to see it appear on their pay-for-performance scorecards. For the first time in my career, executives talked about the customer and their experience with the organization. Those who used Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) as the key measure were shocked when NPS was introduced. A BIG difference exists between being 'satisfied' and going out on a limb to recommend a company.


A few years ago, we introduced a focused approach into a large, global financial services contact center. After a 3-month pilot, here are their results (see chart below). While many things needed to fall into place to make this happen, the key was to focus on a few things and ensure they happened consistently. This included leveraging VereQuest's outsourced QA to free up frontline supervisors for timely coaching.

Actual Net Promoter Results
NOTE: These are actual NPS results.

In reality, it doesn't really matter what measure of customer loyalty success you use. Rather it is what you DO with the information that will drive change. As we continue to work with organizations to help improve their loyalty (NPS or CSAT or Effort or CX or CEI) scores, there are five key areas that have proven to make a real difference.


1 - Engage Emotionally. All the research we have done, both quantitative and qualitative, suggests that empathy matters when it comes to customer loyalty. Customers respond much more positively to good and bad news when they recognize they are being heard. When a customer expresses emotion like, "I'm so frustrated by this..." or "I'm so excited about this..." and gets no response from the person at the other end of the phone, they are less likely to end up in a good place. It doesn't have to be over-the-top but rather a simple acknowledgment: "I can hear you are frustrated. Let me do what I can to help." or "I can understand why you would be excited. That's fantastic!" Have agents practice this on every call until it becomes routine. [Click here for more information about Empathy eLearning for contact centers.]

If you are still wondering about the value of paying attention to the customer's experience, check out these compelling statistics.

2 - Remove Effort. Yes, this brings me to another book that has caused quite a stir: "The Effortless Experience" by Matthew Dixon and Nick Toman. It makes perfect sense that if you make it difficult for a customer to do business with your organization, customer loyalty will erode, and they will jump ship at the first opportunity. Take the time to map the customer's journey, identify the barriers and pain points, prioritize them, and then work to remove them. Typically, this will be a whole bunch of very easy, simple fixes and a few that will take months or years to tackle. The key is to prioritize and start.


3 - Be Consistent. If you have ever received an answer to a question from customer service you didn't like, you understand the temptation to call back again to see if you get a different answer! (Un)fortunately, you will find inconsistencies throughout many organizations. We often find different experiences, approaches, answers, or processes based on the customer's channel of choice. This is perhaps the most challenging to manage and can have a major impact on customer loyalty. The first place to start (if you haven't already done so) is to map the customer's journey to understand better how, when, and why the customer interacts with your organization. Leverage your quality monitoring data to get a sense of why. This will help create a framework for gathering and organizing information in one place. Then, introduce a Knowledge Management System that connects all parts of the organization, including customer self-serve, to the right answers. [This is one of the things I love about chatbots...consistency!]


4 - Take Ownership. We all understand the importance of resolving a customer's issue at first contact (FCR). However, the reality is that it is unrealistic to expect that to happen 100% of the time. This is particularly true as self-service captures the 'easy' issues and directs the tougher problems to the call center. Regardless of the channel, customers want us to take ownership of resolving their issue -- whether by fixing the problem, educating them, or referring them to the right person/place to help. Expressing a 'can do' upfront lets the customer know your intention is to help and lets the customer know that customer loyalty matters. Simply saying, "I can help you with that..." or "I can look into that for you..." can change the direction of the conversation. [NOTE: This can be integrated with the language used to express empathy. VereQuest has an e-learning module for this as well.]


5 - Customer-Centric Quality Monitoring + Coaching. We talked about consistent answers, processes, or information earlier. A key driver of great customer experiences and customer loyalty, particularly in the contact center, is a consistent agent experience. That doesn't mean creating an 'agent bot' mentality but rather one where the first call of the day is as engaged and supportive as the last call of the day. Coaching is vital, which is why best-in-class organizations see the benefit of outsourcing their QA effort to ensure a consistent, unbiased, customer-centric perspective is reflected in the results and that their best internal resources are focused on coaching.


No matter what measure of success your organization has chosen to adopt to tackle the issue of customer loyalty, the key to lifting results will be to look at things from the customer's perspective. How the contact center agent makes customers FEEL during and after an interaction matters. How much effort customers FEEL they must put in to resolve an issue matters. And, of course, whether they FEEL you value them and their time matters.


 
VereQuest Quality Assurance logo

Sharon Oatway is President & Chief Experience Officer of VereQuest. Sharon is a Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing professional with over three decades of hands-on experience elevating the overall customer experience and multi-channel contact center performance. Sharon and her team at VereQuest have listened to/read, and analyzed several million customer interactions for some of North America’s leading brands. As a result, Sharon is a recognized thought leader in what it takes to build and sustain great customer experiences.


Established in 2002, VereQuest provides organizations with a wide range of customer experience services, including a robust contact center quality monitoring offering. Working with businesses throughout North America, VereQuest provides a unique perspective on a complex, ever-changing customer environment.


Get in touch at info@verequest.com


First posted in 2018; updated in 2023

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