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  • Writer's pictureSharon Oatway

60 Days + 5 Ways to Lift your Call Center Net Promoter Score

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

I recall the pandemonium following the release "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? Since that time (and a 2.0 version of the book released in 2011) the debate continues.

Improving Net Promoter Results

Yes, there are challenges with the measure and how you choose to use it. Personally, I have found it to be an important measure when used in combination with other questions that get to the root cause for WHY the customer answered the question the way they did.

The real advantage of the introduction of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) was realized when executives started to see it appear on their own pay-for-performance scorecards. For the first time in my career, executives were talking about the customer and their experience with the organization. Those that had used Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) as the key measure, were shocked into reality when NPS was introduced. There is a BIG difference 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). Yes, there were a lot of things that needed to fall into place to make this happen. But the key was to focus on a few key things and make sure they happen 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 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 NPS (or CSAT or Effort or CX or CEI scores), there are 5 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. Customers respond much more positively to both good and bad news when they recognize that 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. [Take a look 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, they will jump ship at the first opportunity. Take the time to map the customer's journey, identify the barrier 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 that 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. The first place to start (if you haven't already done so) is to map the customer's journey to better understand 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 it be by fixing the problem, educating them, or referring them to the right person/place that can help. Expressing a 'can do' upfront lets the customer know that your intention is to help. 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. Easy peasy! 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, 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 their best internal resources are focused on coaching.

No matter what measure of success your organization has chosen to adopt, 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 have to put in to resolve an issue matters. And, of course, whether they FEEL you value them and their time matters.

Sharon Oatway is President & Chief Experience Officer of VereQuest. Sharon is a Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing professional with more than three decades of hands-on experience elevating the overall customer experience along with 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.

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First posted in 2018

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