Your Customers Don’t Care About Industry Standards

Measure the right things. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been reminded of a principle that few companies are willing to face:

Your customers may not care about the industry standard.

Take a client of ours who, based on industry standards, looked at the metrics off their phone switch and completely freaked out at their high rate of abandoned calls. The entire operation immediately began investing time, energy, financial resources and human resources to get that abandon rate down so that it was in line with industry standards.

A small time later, our group was asked to do a small, random, focused after-call survey of customers who had recently contacted the call center. The purpose of the survey was to determine key drivers of satisfaction so that they could focus their resources specifically in areas that mattered to their customers.

What the client discovered was that long queue times and not being able to get to an agent quickly was relatively low on their customers’ priority list. Their customers didn’t care that much if they couldn’t get through to a CSR quickly. What they really cared about was getting their issue resolved in a courteous, friendly, personable manner once they did get through.

Armed with this information, the client could stop wasting time, energy and resources chasing an industry standard metric about which their customers didn’t care. Those resources could then be reallocated to focus on improving resolution and soft skills that customers did care about greatly.

The result? Follow-up surveys revealed significantly increased customer satisfaction, despite abandon rates that continue to be well above the industry average.

Stop trying to keep up with the industry. Start figuring out what your customers expect. If you need help, send me an e-mail ( or give me a call (515.321.9788) and let’s talk about it. It’s what we do.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and saz.

  1 comment for “Your Customers Don’t Care About Industry Standards

  1. September 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    This is very surprising to me, I have to admit. Long wait times don’t bother customers? It’s all I ever hear complaints about it my monitoring of IVRs and customer service!
    First-call resolution as a priority, yes, that sounds right. Not saying I doubt you, good man, just emphasizing that we all need to ask our customers what they really want from us in terms of service–we might be very surprised indeed!

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