Most support organizations agree that customer satisfaction is one of the most important metrics, yet many don't know how to systematically measure it, wasting tremendous amounts of time and money gathering incomplete and/or inaccurate information. The cornerstone of every support organization should be an effective process for gathering, analyzing, and applying CSAT (customer satisfaction) data.
Does your organization need enhancements to the end-user experience? Looking to boost the overall satisfaction of your customers? Below are 10 tips that can help create a successful CSAT program and methodology for accurately gathering and using feedback from your customers.
1: Ensure the data is accurate and representative
Before using any data, especially sampled data like CSAT, you must ensure that it is properly collected. Accurate and useful information can be gathered if you employ best practices in survey design and administration. A rigorous sampling methodology or advanced survey tools must be used to ensure the data is statistically valid and representative of your customer base. Unfortunately, many organizations don't make the effort upfront and end up with skewed or misleading data, which can lead to wrong decisions and actions.
2: Establish appropriate metrics to report performance relative to customer expectations
After investing significant money and resources in collecting the data, some companies either don't do anything with it or report it using simple averages. Simple averages mask the details and often do not provide useful information, or worse, provide misleading information. To make the data meaningful and actionable, use appropriate metrics to report performance. A common and effective practice is to establish three metrics that measure the different levels of customer satisfaction.
3: Evaluate and understand trends and systemic issues instead of individual occurrences
To evaluate the performance of all contacts and preferences of the entire customer base, analyze the data as a whole versus just looking at one or two surveys. Organizations often read the results and comments of the surveys that received negative feedback and contact the customer to rectify the problem. This is reactive and usually does not resolve or prevent the problem. A better approach is to analyze all the survey data and understand the root causes so that they can be fixed or mitigated. Use a five-point Likert scale to collect customer feedback in the form of numbers so that it can be analyzed readily.
4: Validate and improve policies and procedures
Let your customers tell you what is working well or where the gaps are. The most common action organizations take when customers are not satisfied is to coach the agent. But agents are not always to blame. Often times, they are just following the company's policies and procedures. The CSAT data should show you when those policies and procedures are not serving the customer base well and drive the changes necessary to meet expectations.
5: Help technicians understand how to focus on what is most important to customers
It's not uncommon for technicians to get so caught up in the routine of their jobs that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Are the things your technicians do everyday properly and adequately serving the customers in ways that are meaningful to them? Using CSAT data you can prioritize activities and help bring focus and purpose to employees.
6: Improve and streamline operational processes and workflow
In addition to asking whether customers are satisfied with the experience, it's important to ask detailed questions about the attributes of the experience, including the processes used to resolve issues. Use the data to make process improvements and streamline the workflow. For example, how can we better empower Level 1 techs to resolve the issue so that customers don't have to be transferred from team to team? By employing more collaborative processes and tools, issues can be resolved in real time.
7: Identify training opportunities
Analyzing the CSAT data can also provide insights into knowledge gaps and deficiencies. Using that feedback, you can pinpoint which agents require which training and create targeted training courses and content to effectively fill the gaps. Most organizations provide only new hire training, and then once the agents get on the floor, assume they know what they are doing. A best practice is having continuous validation through customer feedback and knowledge evaluations, as well as ongoing refresher training to further develop skills.
8: Properly and analytically set appropriate performance targets
Many companies arbitrarily set performance goals, which are often not aligned with organizational goals or customer expectations. To set performance objectives that are driving the right results, employ an analytical approach that uses inputs such as CSAT data, business data, process data, and financial data. As business conditions change, reevaluate the goals and make adjustments as needed. Having a structured approach makes it easy to adjust the inputs that calculate new targets, thus ensuring that they are always up to date and relevant.
9: Make better staffing decisions and optimize resources
Customer satisfaction with wait time will help you decide how much staff is required. In addition to running reports that show what the wait time was (e.g., five minutes) you can use CSAT data to see how customers felt about waiting five minutes. Is that an acceptable wait time or are they upset about waiting that long? Or maybe they don't care because within a certain threshold, waiting to speak to a technician is not what drives satisfaction with the experience. By knowing what the customers' expectations and preferences are, you can optimize your staffing levels.
10: Improve products and services to the end users
After handling thousands of customer interactions, you can analyze the actions and customer feedback to uncover important insights about your products and services. Providing those insights to product development or management can eliminate or mitigate current product and service issues, as well as help prioritize features and functionalities for future offerings that resonate most with customers.
Gathering CSAT data is valuable, but analyzing and applying that data correctly will give your support team the insight it needs to keep customers loyal and satisfied. By collecting data in the right way, analyzing it at a more detailed level, and employing a methodology based on the tips above, support organizations can better utilize customer insight to take meaningful actions that result in better performance.
About the author
Robert Jew is director of business services for remote IT support provider Bomgar.