Tag: Research

Leadership Transition at C Wenger Group

Tom Vander Well (1)

Tom Vander Well

With the beginning of 2018, C Wenger Group is pleased to announce that Tom Vander Well has been named the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Outgoing President and CEO, Scott Wier, will continue his active leadership in the Group and will serve as President of the Group’s Customer Insight division. Wier and Vander Well have owned and led C Wenger Group as partners since January 2005 when founder, Charles Wenger, turned over his interest in the company.

Vander Well has been a member of C Wenger Group since 1994. During that time he has led the Group’s Service Quality Assessment and training services. Vander Well will maintain leadership of those services while assuming responsibility for the Group’s executive operations. Scott Wier, who has led the Group’s customer research services since 1988, will focus his energy on the continued development of research and survey projects.

This transition is the culmination of a long-term plan. Both Tom Vander Well and Scott Wier will maintain their leadership and client relationships for all projects. Clients can expect continuation of the responsive, data-led services C Wenger Group has provided for over a quarter century.

C Wenger Group is a consulting firm based in Des Moines, Iowa. The Group provides a full array of custom-designed research products with a special emphasis on measuring and improving the Customer Experience including research, Quality Assessment and data-led training and coaching.

Executive Reality Check: What We Say vs. What We Measure

A while back I read a fascinating article by Lou Gerstner in the Wall Street Journal. He was examining the response of a financial institution’s CEO to the debacle in which they found themselves. The CEO said that it was the employees who failed to honor the corporate culture of “putting the customer first.” Gerstner goes on argue that what companies say they value in their mission and value statements often flies in the face of the corporate culture dictated from the executive suites:

What is critical to understand here is that people do not do what you expect but what you inspect. Culture is not a prime mover. Rather it is a derivative. It forms as a result of signals employees get from the corporate processes that structure their work priorities.

If the financial-reporting system focuses entirely on short-term operating results, that’s what will get priority from employees. If you want employees to care a lot about customers, then customer-satisfaction data should get as prominent a place in the reporting system as sales and profit.

I have seen the truth of Gerstner’s observations over and over again in our years of providing Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) research and Quality Assessment (QA) for companies large and small.

When I tell people about our group it is quite common to have them respond by telling me that their company has a “quality” program. When I ask them to describe their program, however, they explain that they get regular reports about Average Speed of Answer, Average Call Time, Call Counts, and similar metrics. In other words, they are measuring quantity (of calls and time) and equating it with quality. To Gerstner’s point, you get what you inspect. When our group is given an opportunity to do a true quality assessment for such a company, we find Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) more focused on cranking through as many calls as quickly as they can than they are providing any kind of positive customer experience. Despite their company’s well worded value statements about customer service, the CSRs know that their employer truly values efficiency, productivity and cost containment because that’s what the employer measures.

Alternatively, when our group has enjoyed long term partnerships with clients it is typically because the CEO and executive team truly believe in the long-term value and profitability of providing a superior customer experience. To that end, they understand the value of getting reliable data about what drives their customer’s satisfaction and the importance of objectively measuring the customer experience against those drivers. Front-line CSRs know that their company values providing a truly superior customer experience because that is what their employer measures.

It’s a simple exercise for any corporate executive. First take a look at your company’s stated values and mission with regard to customer service and/or the customer experience. Next, take a look at what’s truly being measured on your front-lines where customers interact with your team. Is there a disconnect?

If you need an experienced partner in finding out what drives your customers’ satisfaction, how to measure quality the right way, and how to effectively communicate these things throughout your organization then give us a call. It’s what we’ve been doing for over a quarter century. We’d love the opportunity to work with you and your team.

 

tom head shotTom Vander Well is partner and Executive Vice-President of C Wenger Group. Tom has written about Customer Satisfaction and Quality Assessment on previous blogs (QAQnA and Service Quality Central) and was a contributing Customer Service blogger for the Des Moines Business Record

A Representative CSAT Sample is Crucial

One of the keys to getting reliable Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) data is to make sure that you have a representative sample of the entire customer population you want to target. E-mail and on-line surveys are relatively cheap and easy to build and implement, but the sample of those who respond may not be representative of all your customers.

We are inundated with survey requests in our modern culture. There’s the annoying pop-up request to rate a website (one second after you’ve arrived on the page), the standardized post-call opt-in surveys when you call almost any major company’s Customer Service line, and the awkward moment the auto dealer asks you to give them all great marks or they might lose their jobs. With the survey overload it’s more common than ever for giant segments of a customer population to ignore the survey altogether. Surveys responses are likely to be biased toward customer segments of those who are very angry, very happy, or who simply like to take surveys. This means there may be entire segments of your customer population who are not represented in your CSAT data.

The risk for you and your business comes when you start making tactical and strategic business decisions based on skewed CSAT data. 

There are ways to ensure representative sampling and proven techniques for getting reliable CSAT data. It requires good customer data to identify an appropriate pool of potential respondents and a well-crafted approach for requesting that your customers take the survey. If doing a personal, interactive survey you need an experienced team who can put respondents at ease and get them talking.

Having reliable customer data can make all the difference in making crucial business decisions that will affect your company’s future. It’s worth the investment to have our group work with you and your team ensure that the sample is representative, the data is real, and the results are reliable.

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C Wenger Group’s Research and Survey Services

Quality Assessment and Survey Data Efficiently Delivered to your Desktop

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One of the many frustrations of corporate Quality Assessment programs is how to efficiently get the results and data to the agents so that they are aware of their performance and can make necessary efforts to improve. For years, c wenger group has been delivering our clients’ QA and research data, both team and individual agent reports, directly through our Service Quality Central web portal. Managers and agents can both access their most recent data 24/7/365 with a provided user name and password. Supervisors and Managers can quickly access all of their agents individual QA data from one easy to use source and agents are able to utilize down time to pull up their QA data right at their desk.

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Our Service Quality Central website can be branded for each client and offers the flexibility to provide more than just data. We have are able to provide audio and video content. In some cases we’ve uploaded individual agents calls and coaching notes so that they can hear one of their own calls at their leisure, right at their own desk. Training videos, coaching handouts, training manuals can all be shared with agents.

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Our clients are busy doing what they do best and the tasks that make them profitable. They don’t want to be burdened with tasks that may be strategic and valuable, but aren’t in their area of expertise. Surveying customers, analyzing calls for quality and compliance, interpreting data trends, and reporting data to the front lines are activities that drain time, energy and resources; Resources that our clients would rather invest in their core business. That’s where c wenger group comes in.

We have over a quarter century experience surveying customers, analyzing phone calls, and turning data into actionable, effective training and coaching solutions. Our Service Quality Central web portal is one of the ways we take the burden off of our clients and deliver effective, measureable value directly to their desktop on an on-going basis.

For more information, please drop us an e-mail at info@cwengergroup.com.

Three Great Examples from This Week’s Call Coaching

Above view of several business people planning work at round tabWe had a great day call coaching two of our client’s sales teams on Wednesday. We provide integrated services for this client which include a customer survey, on-going call assessment and bi-monthly call coaching.

A few highlights from our coaching sessions:
  • Data from our ongoing Service Quality Assessment revealed that a common courtesy service skill had significantly declined for a team of Regional Account Managers. The objective data pinpointed the real reason for the decline: one agent’s performance has drastically deteriorated since the beginning of the year. We were able to share with this agent, from our survey results, how courtesy is not only a key driver of their customers’ satisfaction but is also a key differentiator between his company and their competitors. We were able to listen to a call together in which the courtesy skill was missed and discussed strategies for implementation. The agent left informed, motivated and equipped. The ongoing call assessment will hold him accountable to make progress.
  • Another agent on the same team was new about 18 months ago. The agent transferred from an operations position and was new to the phones. In the beginning he was the poorest performer, struggling to learn the ropes. In our coaching session yesterday we were able to show that our data now quantifies that he is currently the team’s best performer. From “worst to first” in less than two years. “It’s all because of your coaching and data,” he said. “It’s thanks to you.” He did the hard work, but we’ll gladly take the compliment. It was great to celebrate with him. We love being the bearers of good news!
  • In a different session we coached a member of the Inside Sales team. The Service Quality Assessment revealed the agent’s service performance has declined slightly in recent months. It wasn’t a major problem, but we wanted to address it before it got worse. Digging into the behavioral data, we could identify specifically which service skills had been demonstrated less consistently, listen to examples in actual calls, and discuss strategies for remembering and employing the skills. The agent will receive monthly data via our Service Quality Central web portal to track the progress.
We leave our time with the client feeling good about the measurable value we’ve been able to provide through real data that translates into actionable coaching and training. If you’d like real data to quantify which dimensions of service drive your customer’s satisfaction and real number that reveal how your agents are performing in those daily moments of truth with customer, the give us a call (515.278.1516) or drop us an e-mail. It’s what we love to do!

c wenger group to Present at Central Iowa NCSA Chapter July 8th

central iowa NCSA logoc wenger group members Tom Vander Well and Scott Wier will be presenting on the topic of “Trends in Customer Satisfaction Research and Contact Center Quality Assessment” at the July 8th meeting of the Central Iowa Chapter of the National Customer Service Association. Tom and Scott will be exploring how technology and cultural trends are affecting the way companies measure customer satisfaction and service quality, and sharing their expertise regarding how members can improve their companies’ efforts and avoid potential blind spots that are sometimes ignored in the marketplace.

Central Iowa NCSA was previously a part of the the ICSA but made the switch to NCSA after 2014. The group meets quarterly over the lunch hour for relevant presentations and networking events. They invite new members, either individuals or corporations. For more information visit their website: http://centraliowancsa.com

The previous two meetings were at Farmer’s Mutual Rain and Hail Insurance in West Des Moines but the location of the July 8th meeting has not been confirmed. Stay tuned! We will announce the location once it is firmed up and available. Please mark your calendars!

The Social Media Buzz; Time for Decaf?

I was part of a great ACCP event last week sponsored by Avtex and hosted by Pella Corporation at their headquarters. There was a wonderful presentation made on the subject of monitoring and responding to customers through social media by Spindustry and their clients from Omaha Steaks. Then, this morning, the Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire section to the subject of Social Media and IT.

In case you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past year or two, the buzz in the call center world is currently “social media.” The very mention of the term seems to get call center personnel wound up like they’ve just swigged a triple-shot-chocolate-sugar-bomb-espressiato with a Red Bull chaser. Everyone wants to talk about it. The big call center conferences have been scrambling for the past two years to fill their keynotes and workshops full of social media gurus, how-tos, and software vendors. All the buzz has prompted great conversation with clients and colleagues.

For years, I’ve been advocating that every client listen to what customers are saying on the internet and through social media outlets. There is a huge leap, however, between keeping your ear open and diving into a full scale social media task force within your customer service team complete with the latest, greatest social media monitoring software. One of the questions that came up in the ACCP meeting last week was whether our group was doing Customer Satisfaction research for customers who use social media to contact a client company. The reality is that, for most of our clients, the number of customers using social media as a means of communication is still very small. So small, in fact, that they must be regarded as outliers and not representative of the general population of customers.

That does not mean that social media will not grow in importance and influence. It definitely is growing in importance and influence (But, how far will it grow? How influential will it become?). It does not mean that social media is not a critical piece of the marketing and customer service picture for some companies. I simply want to make the point that the time, energy and resources that an individual company invests in social media efforts should be considerate of how many customers they have actively engaged in the medium. Our group is helping some clients determine that very fact. By investing a little money in a survey to find out how important social media is to their customer population as a whole will help them wisely steward their resources when it comes to making an investment in their overall social media strategy. I begin to fear that clients will throw a lot of money and resources to engage a small number of customers in the social media arena when a much larger segment of customers are still encountering significant service issues through traditional channels (as boring and old school as those traditional channels may be).

In the meantime, I’m sure the social media buzz will continue unabated. In the call center industry there always seems to be a buzz where there is software, hardware and/or workshops to sell. Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not against social media in any way. I’m a blogger, tweeter, texter and Facebook junkie. I think social media is great and have led the charge in getting clients to “listen” to what customers are saying via social media. Social Media is here to stay and will continue to evolve. I am, however, dedicated to helping my clients make wise, measured decisions when it comes to their customers and their resources. So, when it comes the social media buzz, make mine decaf, please. Remember, there was a lot of buzz about betavision, too.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and thetrial

We’ve Improved! Why Isn’t the Customer Satisfied?

I’m working with a client’s contact center this week and the data from our Customer Satisfaction and Quality Assessment (QA) reveal an interesting story. The Customer Service team has been working on improving their service delivery, and the behavioral data from our on-going QA work reveal clear improvement in specific areas of the call. The improvement in call quality, however, has not translated into corresponding improvement in Customer Satisfaction.

So, in my presentations this week, I dug into the data with the Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) and Call Center management team. Because our Customer Satisfaction surveys have helped identify key drivers of the client’s customer satisfaction, specifically when the customers call the contact center, we could compare the improved CSR service behaviors to the key drivers of customer satisfaction.

The bottom line is that the improvements were great and will have a  positive impact  operationally, but the improvements weren’t necessarily in areas that their customers would immediately notice or reward. Some of the key service soft skills that will move the needle on customer satisfaction have been stagnant. If the contact center wants customers to reward them with increased satisfaction, they’ll have to keep doing a great job in their improved hard skills, but add to it the key soft skills for which their customers will reward them.

This week’s presentations have reminded me, once again, that focusing on industry standards, industry benchmarks, and best practices will only improve your customer’s satisfaction if those standards, benchmarks, and best practices are what your customers care about. Until you find out what matters to your customers and link them to your QA program, you might just be moving the needle on all the wrong things.

Do You React to Bad News or Respond to It?

See no evil. As a third-party provider of Customer Satisfaction surveys and Quality Assessment, our group has delivered a tremendous number of reports to a wide array of companies over the past 25 years. We've delivered a lot of good news (which is always fun). More often than not we make presentations that start with a variation on the theme: "there's some good news, and some bad news." Once in a while, we're stuck presenting information that we know the client doesn't want to hear.

When the data paints a bleak picture you discover the true character of your client. Ultimately, I've witnessed one of two responses:

  1. Deny, Dispute, Deflect, & Ditch. It usually begins with disputing the data and the methodology, progresses to pointing blame elsewhere, and ends with the data getting buried in "the circular file." It's always fascinating to me to watch it. I beleive, in most cases, it's hard for people to get past the initial fearful reaction to the information. Experience tells me that this course rarely ends well, and never ends as well as it could.
  2. Accept, Aim, Arrange, & Act. Good data, whether it's from a customer survey or a Quality Assessment, is priceless information. It gives you a clear picture of where you stand and the course you need to take. I beleive, in most cases, people who take this course are able to get past their initial fearful reaction and consciously respond to the information. I'm always excited to watch someone take the data, even the bad news, and realize that it's a road map for their success. Watching people use the data to improve their service, their customer's satisfaction and their own future helps to keep me motivated each day.

The next time the data doesn't look good, catch yourself reacting and choose to respond.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and billyrowlinson