Customers Feel the Variation – Not the Average

One of the more challenging opportunities our group has, from time to time, is helping a company launch their Quality Assessment (QA) program. It’s a challenge because people are usually comfortable and complacent in their service delivery and it’s intimidating to think that someone is going to be listening and analyzing their calls or e-mails. Come on, we’re all human. We would prefer the path of least resistence, wouldn’t we?

Unfortunately, it’s common in an initial Service Quality Assessment to find the behaviors that CSRs have adopted while no was was looking. For example, making customers wait on the line in dead air while they read personal e-mail. We’ve even witnessed a CSR take a customer service call while playing a game on the internet through the entire call! This CSR never bothered to stop the game long enough to look up the customer’s account. They just made stuff up so they wouldn’t have to pause their game. Did the customer know it? Probably not until they realized later that all the account information the CSR gave them was a complete fabrication. Keep in mind, these are the exceptions – not the rule – but as Smula aptly points out:

customer’s feel the variation – not the average

Smula is correct, and because customers "feel the variation" it’s important to analyze actual "moments of truth" with your customers to understand the averages and variations in your business or call center. With a actionable QA program based on a valid understanding of your customer you can:

  • Measure your service delivery against the expectations of your customers (not the market, not the competition, not some other person’s customers)
  • Decrease, and hopefully eliminate, negative variations (really bad experiences)
  • Make behavioral changes across your business or call center that significantly increase the positive variations (Customer: "Wow! That’s the best service I’ve ever gotten from that company!")

You can’t understand how variations in your company’s service delivery are affecting your customers and your business until you’re willing to listen, analyze and take action.

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