Identify trends in customer surveys, and learn alternatives for measuring and scoring customer service interactions. Understand the importance of getting both external and internal input. Identify decisions you will need to make around scoring, and hear recommendations and cautions on using scores and interpreting results.
- How well are you delivering on your quality standards at the individual level? What are ways you can get the input and data you need? Here, we'll summarize ways to assess and measure service interactions. We'll look at scoring alternatives and I'll offer some recommendations to keep in mind as you interpret results. There are a number of alternatives for assessing the quality of service interactions. The most common include direct observation, role-play, such as in training or coaching sessions, recorded interactions, customer input, mystery shoppers who use services and provide reports, analytics in some cases, where system tools analyze speech or text and look for key phrases or attributes of interactions, and others.
We recommend getting the input from both the customer's perspective and internally. A trend that's making significant impact on service is capturing customer feedback and tying it directly to specific agents and interactions. One of the innovations Uber brought to taxi service is the ability for customers to provide immediate feedback through the mobile app. They then display overall ratings for anyone to see. Today, there are many solutions that enable you to survey customers through the channels that make the most sense, text-based, dial pad input following a call and others.
Retail will often give incentives to complete surveys with instructions on receipts. In addition to scores, you have the option of enabling customers to leave verbatim comments. In an era of customer fatigue with being over-surveyed, it's notable how higher the response rates can be for transaction-specific surveys that are short, easy and immediately follow an interaction. With automated surveys, you can get a large sample that can be tied to agents or any other customer demographic you may have, such as VIP customers or other criteria.
Personalized surveys can boost response rates even more. For example, the agent's name and picture can be included in a followup email with the question, how did Brad do? A second question could be more process oriented. For example, was the issue resolved? Or how likely is it that you'll recommend our service? Agents tend to like getting feedback directly from customers. There will be times when negative feedback has nothing to do with the agent. It's product or process or policy related, and we'll need to keep that in mind when interpreting results.
Customer input's most effective when it's used positively to build skills and as a way to recognize exceptional performance. A pervasive challenge in surveys is that response rates tend to drop as we ask for additional input, so there's often a limit to how much information we can get on specific aspects of quality standards. That's where internal assessments come in. That's where they're so valuable. They can be based specifically on your quality standards. Samples of five to 10 interactions per service representative per month are common in many organizations.
In practice, that can vary wildly from none to one or two per month to many dozens when automated tools are involved. This really depends on the feasibility of getting samples and the ability for you to use them in coaching and process improvement. Your goal is to have a representative sample of the work your employees handle. Our recommendation is just get started. Have at least a handful of samples per employee per month that you can use to measure and build the effectiveness of your quality standards.
Translating internal assessments into scores is an option you have, and it can be helpful in establishing a baseline and following relative trends. Common scoring approaches can be categorized as either yes, no for foundation standards, or as a numerical range for finesse standards. Ranges are often one to three, but they can be one to five or even more if you want to capture more subtlety in performance. You might give more weight to some criteria than others.
In fact, certain things may be so critical, say, verifying a customer's identity before discussing medical records, that you might determine the entire interaction failed if it didn't happen. So you have options for weighting the quality standards and scoring. We've provided excerpts of sample assessment forms in the exercise files. You'll want to develop your own approach, which will be a great opportunity to collaborate with your team on quality standards and a scoring approach that fits your environment or that makes sense.
Here are four recommendations when implementing a method of scoring. First, ensure your scoring approach is easy to use. Everyone from managers to service representatives should thoroughly understand how it works. Second, keep scores in context. Driving desired behaviors with specific feedback and coaching is the most essential part of this process. That's what ultimately improves quality. Don't overemphasize scores. Third, ensure buy-in by involving employees in developing and maintaining your standards.
Having them onboard is especially important when scoring systems are tied to evaluations, advancement opportunities or pay, and test the system before it's formally used in performance assessments. Finally, make adjustments as needed. The scoring system should directly reflect your quality standards and the behaviors you want to encourage. A flawed system may, in practice, under-emphasize critical behaviors and over-emphasize non-essential skills. You'll need to test and modify accordingly.
There's a wealth of alternatives today for assessing interactions from both the customer's perspective and internally. With the input we need, we'll know how well we're meeting our quality standards and where the improvement opportunities are. These steps really can begin to bring our quality standards to life.
Watch and learn how to establish quality standards in customer service, and improve loyalty, revenue, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Brad Cleveland divides the lessons into three chapters, covering quality and customer service definitions, quality standards for individuals, and quality standards for the overall organization. Along the way, he shows how to implement a process, measure progress, and effectively coach employees.
- Defining quality
- Ensuring standards count
- Measuring individual performance
- Coaching customer service professionals
- Creating quality standards for the service organization