Getting customer feedback can be challenging, but it’s essential for call center quality assurance. Trickier yet is making sure that it is honest and actionable.
If you can regularly gather genuine responses and effectively put them into action, you will see the results in agent performance, customer experience, and even revenue generation. After all, who knows more about the needs and wants of your customers than the customers themselves? In this article, we will discuss the importance of feedback, how you can gather it, and what you can do to act on it.
Customer feedback is an important tool for any contact center leader. By gathering and analyzing it, you can improve agent performance, enhance customer experience, and streamline contact center operations, feeding into wider business goals and boosting the bottom line. In the end, customers determine whether your business fails or succeeds, so factoring their opinion into your decisions is crucial. Customers won't stick around if you fail to deliver the best CX possible. To improve customer experience, you need to understand your customers and tailor your approach accordingly. According to a 2022 report from GetFeedback, 73% of professionals have made a greater effort to deliver personalized CX since the pandemic. If you don’t prioritize your customer experience, you’ll fall behind. Gathering and actioning customer opinions is a key part of this process.
If you’re parsing through customer responses, and the same issues are popping up time and time again, you need to look at these recurring issues in greater detail. If one customer speaks negatively about a particular item, it could be a one-off, but when a trend emerges across a range of customers, something is amiss. On top of that, don’t forget that for every customer complaining about a problem, there are likely ten more who face the same issue but remain silent. Gathering feedback allows you to identify areas of concern that may have gone unnoticed otherwise.
A strong QA process depends on accurate, up-to-date information. By gathering and analyzing feedback, you can pinpoint issues with CX and agent performance, allowing you to identify their root causes and take action to correct them. Things like long waiting times, poor product knowledge, and weak solutions are extremely frustrating for customers, and they won’t hesitate to let you know about these frustrations. This gives you a greater insight into what agents are doing wrong so you can take action to rectify the problems and improve your contact center’s customer experience.
We all know the value of learning from our mistakes, and agents are no different. Using data derived from customers, you can provide targeted training focused on real performance issues highlighted in customer responses. This benefits the agent, the customer, and the wider organization. Agents are more engaged, and customers receive better service, feeding into wider business goals around growth, revenue, and profitability.
According to Bain & Company, “increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%.” With this in mind, focusing on customer satisfaction to cement loyalty should be a priority for any contact center leader. Feedback can allow you to identify why customers may be dissatisfied with the level of service they are receiving and, more importantly, take steps to rectify these issues. Additionally, regular CSAT surveys will allow you to track customer satisfaction levels and monitor the impact, if any, of the changes you implement. With a clear link between customer retention and revenue, identifying customer needs and wants is essential.
The needs of your customers inform the needs of your organization. To deliver top-notch customer experiences, you need the right agents in place. And by analyzing customer feedback, you can identify some of the key traits you need in your agents. This allows you to tweak your hiring and onboarding processes to ensure you are putting together a team capable of meeting and exceeding your customer base's expectations. Those in charge of hiring will know what to look for in the recruitment process, and training managers can design onboarding programs based on customer needs.
You can reach out to customers at any stage in their journey. This could be before an interaction, immediately after, or even months down the line. The timing of your outreach depends on several factors, including the purpose of your request, your method of collection, and the identity of the customer in question. Remember that customers have plenty going on in their day-to-day lives, so you need to make it as simple as possible for them to respond, preferably timing your request to suit their schedule. It's a fine line between not putting too much pressure on the customer and reminding them of feedback's importance by highlighting how it would benefit them in the long run. Timing is an important factor in getting responses—almost as important as your chosen method, which we will explore below.
We’ve established that customer feedback is a vital tool for contact center leaders. Thankfully, there are tons of different ways to collect it. Each method has its pros and cons, but they all have one thing in common—you have to make it easy for the customer. As noted, customers have their own lives, and requesting that they take time out of their day to respond can be a big ask. You need to make it as simple as possible for the customer to submit their opinions and, if possible, make it worth their while. You could incentivize the customers by highlighting how their responses will improve your product or service. An incentive like a gift card or a discount could encourage more in-depth approaches. On your end, you need to be intentional in your approach. Determine your most pressing concerns and build your outreach around them.
A request following interaction is one way to grab the customer’s attention and learn how they feel in the immediate aftermath. This can be an excellent indicator of the agent’s CX performance, as the customer is more likely to be influenced by their emotions right after the interaction. These quick reactions offer little snapshots into your organization’s CX and indicate to the customer that you’re always working on improving service levels.
A small popup on your website can really grab the customer’s attention. It should be prominent enough to catch the customer’s eye but not overwhelm them. More importantly, it should only contain one question, making it easy for the customers to answer it quickly. For example, you could ask if the customer is happy with a certain product or service or how they feel about their experience using a specific channel. Many websites use emojis or numbers as the answer options in these popups, allowing customers to respond with one click.
The survey is a tried and tested approach for call centers. Surveys are extremely customizable, so you can tweak the length, the questions, and the answer options to suit your purposes. The key with surveys is to ask the questions you want answers to. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget. Think about the kind of data that would be useful for your organization to achieve its goals and design a survey capable of capturing this data. Maybe this is a one-question survey like NPS or CSAT, or perhaps it’s a longer survey full of open-ended questions. It’s important to remember that while surveys are useful, you shouldn’t send one at every opportunity. This will overwhelm the customer and discourage them from responding. Instead, pick your moments and only send a survey when the situation really calls for it. Also, keep in mind the importance of phrasing questions without bias and collecting a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, as one will inform and contextualize the other.
An email follow-up is a low-pressure way to request feedback. You can encourage the customer to respond by a certain time, but ultimately they can go at their own pace. While this may seem an inefficient way to do things, it can be easier for a busy customer to respond at a time that suits them rather than being put on the spot. You could get the marketing team to send a request to past customers, or you could follow up after a recent interaction to ask how it went. These emails could include a survey, a handful of questions, or even a poll. However, don't send an email follow-up after every interaction, as this could become tiresome and discourage customers from responding. To entice the customer to respond, you could promise to follow up and even give a timeframe for when you will get back to them. Doing this in a sincere manner and sticking to your word goes a long way to delighting customers and keeping them loyal.
Review sites are an excellent source of customer insights. The fact that they are managed by independent third parties that aren't directly connected to your call center can encourage customers to be more honest. You can also compare your organization to your competitors to see where you are ahead and where you may need to catch up. Though these sites are independent, you can still direct customers to leave reviews by including links on your website or in your marketing communications. If you’re keen on getting more reviews, you could incentivize customers by offering a gift card or running a competition. If you are using incentives, be sure to emphasize that you are looking for genuine, honest reviews.
According to a recent report from Customer Contact Week Digital, 63% of consumers will share their experience after dealing with a rude employee, and often, they will go to social media to do this. The unfiltered nature of social media may border on unreliable at times, but it can also throw up frank opinions. However, make sure to take the messages with a pinch of salt. You should also monitor any mention of your organization, not just your own channels. You can directly engage with customers by responding to comments, asking for opinions, or running polls. Be practical and professional when engaging online. You don’t want to dismiss customers with generic responses or get overly defensive when facing criticism.
A focus group is a much more hands-on approach, requiring a greater level of commitment and allocation of resources. However, this extra work often brings additional rewards. Focus groups can offer insights that digital channels cannot provide, allowing you to hone in on specific issues with handpicked customers. You could employ a focus group at the end of a lengthy feedback collection process to drill down into data you have already collected from surveys, reviews, and other channels. Getting an independent third party to conduct the focus group might also be a good idea, as this will allow customers to be more honest..
Like focus groups, customer interviews are an excellent way to go more in-depth. While customer interviews can be as broad or as targeted as you like, they typically start generic and get more specific as they go on. Interviews are conducted in real-time, so you can develop a back-and-forth dynamic and tailor your questions based on the interviewee's responses. The qualitative data gathered from direct, face-to-face customer interviews can add a lot of context to the quantitative data you have collected via some of the other channels mentioned previously.
The data you gather is only valuable if you know it's honest. But how can you be sure that it is? While you can’t be 100% certain, there are ways of encouraging customers to be as truthful as possible.
Memory fades and alters the facts, so it’s vital that you encourage customers to share their thoughts sooner rather than later. Fresher feedback is more likely to reflect the customer’s genuine sentiment, particularly if you seek insights around CX and agent performance.
While simple yes/no questions simplify the process for customers, they may not provide the level of detail you are looking for. Open-ended questions encourage more in-depth responses, increasing the chances of accurate, detailed insights into your call center’s performance. Maybe ask how they would describe their experience or what changes they would like to see. These questions need a more thought-out response than a yes or a no. However, if you are including open-ended questions in a survey, keep the rest of the survey short and to the point.
If you want honesty, you should avoid influencing the respondent’s answers. Directing the survey in terms of subject matter is fine, but you should avoid suggesting a specific response in your line of questioning. Your questions should be intentional regarding the information they seek but always neutral in their tone. For example, don’t ask, “How bad was your customer experience?”; try “How would you rate your customer experience?”. The former immediately suggests a negative response, whereas the latter leaves it open to the respondent. Any positive or negative bias in your wording could influence the customer and devalue the feedback they submit.
Offering customers the opportunity to submit their suggestions is a great way to encourage interesting responses beyond what may be possible with structured questions. By including a comment field in your surveys, you can entice customers to leave their feedback, giving you qualitative data that contextualizes and builds upon the quantitative data gathered elsewhere. Numbers are useful, but stories can tell you more about the individual customer and their experience. Of course, it’s best to leave the comment field optional, or you may discourage time-pressured customers from responding.
When gathering feedback, you want to focus on your own performance, not the person responding. Stay away from anything to do with identity, demographics, or purchase history, and stick to your survey objective—finding out how you can improve your product or service. Besides, ensuring anonymity will encourage customers to be more honest, giving you more actionable data to work with. Given the growing importance of regulatory compliance and the repercussions of a breach, the less personal data you have to handle, the better.
If you can show your customers that you take their opinions seriously, you can go a long way to cementing their loyalty and improving overall retention rates for your organization. By following up with customers and showcasing the fact that you've received their feedback and taken steps to improve things based on what they shared, you will truly make them feel valued. This might not be feasible for every customer, but if the opportunity arises, it demonstrates a unique level of care and attention. If, for example, a customer requested the addition of self-service video tutorials to your website, you could inform them when you’ve added the videos and thank them for the suggestion.
Of course, feedback only really becomes valuable when you act on it. Implementing changes based on customer insights will improve performance and show customers that you care, increasing satisfaction and loyalty—the two key factors driving revenue growth. There are many different ways to implement these changes throughout your organization. B identifying trends, you can take action to improve performance both individually and on a company-wide basis.
If the feedback is positive, shout it from the rooftops! (Or give a quiet congratulations.) Agents who receive positive customer reviews deserve to hear about it, and teams at the top of their game deserve recognition. Rewarding strong performance is key to improving morale, encouraging engagement, and retaining agents. Just be sure that your praise is appropriate to the agent in question. Some prefer a big display in front of the entire office, while others may be more comfortable with a quiet word from a senior figure. Also, it’s important to ensure that your rewards are appropriate to the scale of the achievement. One sale doesn’t warrant a trophy but topping the yearly leaderboard might.
Feedback can be an excellent learning tool, allowing you to tailor your approach to agent training and ensuring that you are tackling real, confirmed issues in your call center. Use a positive tone in your coaching and deliver it promptly, and agents will respond with greater engagement and enthusiasm for their work. Remember to make training a regular feature of your call center. If you never provide this kind of coaching to agents and then descend upon them with a barrage of negative feedback, they’re not likely to respond well. However, if you regularly sit down with your agents and work together, you will develop a culture of learning and growth.
Not everything is relevant to every team within your organization. Criticism about poor customer service probably doesn’t have much to do with the product team, but it’s vital for your customer service agents. Likewise, the customer service team probably doesn't have much responsibility for product design, but the development team does. Giving the right feedback to the right people is a skill contact center managers need to develop.
Although certain feedback is only relevant to specific team members, creating a repository accessible to the entire team can reap the rewards. A seemingly irrelevant survey answer could inspire the product team or alter an agent’s customer service approach. Though you should be targeted in your delivery, giving everyone access to broader customer insights can be beneficial.
Gathering honest customer feedback can be difficult, but it’s worth it. You can use it to enhance customer experience, improve agent performance, and increase customer retention, leading to greater revenue generation and a bigger profit margin. Thankfully, there are plenty of channels available to reach out to customers. The important thing is that you are intentional in your methods and act on the opinions you collect. A quality assurance solution like Scorebuddy allows you to collect customer insights and act on them by delivering targeted training and streamlining your QA process. To see what Scorebuddy can do to boost CX for your call center, request a free demo today.