Tag Archives: Customer Dissatisfaction Management

Front-line team

Is Your Front-Line Team Embodying Your Brand?

According to Deloitte research, more than 60 percent of enterprises view the customer experience their contact centers deliver as a competitive differentiator. Yet many companies still must take steps to operationalize this truth—or risk losing customers.

Today, a single sub-par contact center interaction can result in an immediate customer defection. However, consumers are increasingly apt to do much more than just shift brand preferences when their expectations remain unmet. Consumer research reveals that nearly 50% of those who are unhappy with service they receive talk about poor experiences on social media.

The hard reality is that every call that comes into your contact center is a potential gateway to a social media firestorm. Fortunately, you can mitigate this risk and boost customer perceptions of your organization.

Many companies have deployed post-interaction customer surveys. This is a solid step in the right direction. To compete in today’s service-driven environment, brands must move beyond periodic survey reviews. They need up-to-the-minute details on how every front-line team member is performing.

Applying the following four best practices can empower your team  to personify your brand standards:

#1: Track customer-facing team performance against brand experience goals

Although companies have customer experience targets, they do not always track whether their front-line teams achieve those goals. Case in point: a field service operation may expect a representative to make post-visit contact with a customer to ensure his or her expectations were met. To affirm that this contact happened—and to evaluate its effectiveness—companies must pair contact technologies with post-interaction survey solutions.

However, these solutions empower your company to do much more. You can also identify unhappy customers and engage your team’s dissatisfied customer experts and practices to address concerns right away. Prompt action to address customer complaints can prevent viral spread of negative sentiment on social networks.

#2: Measure and respond to individual customer interactions

Service leaders know they cannot rely on periodic reviews of aggregate post-interaction survey data. Instead, you need insight into every interaction by every customer-facing team member—in real time. This empowers you to track every employee’s compliance with your brands customer experience standards.

You can also identify low-quality interactions when they happen. That way, you can remedy the situation promptly. You can deliver automated coaching to employees responsible for sub-par interactions. Also, you can readily detect top performers, determine what they are doing right, and share this knowledge organization-wide.

 #3: Increase brand experience accountability for front-line employees

When you link post-interaction surveys to individual team members, you can determine how well your customer-facing employees uphold your brand experience standards. You can design the right mix of structured and free-form survey questions to learn whether customer experiences reflect your brand promise. As an added benefit, your management team can use customer feedback to determine areas for improvement and assess ongoing survey results to measure performance improvements.

#4: Manage brand experience across the entire organization

Since many organizations have widely-distributed front-line functions, performing multiple levels of analysis is very important. Brands must be able to slice-and-dice survey data to view team performance from multiple perspectives.

The biggest benefit comes when you drill-down and roll-up survey results to assess them from various angles. You can see how each office or branch is performing, along with each region or sub-brand. Moreover, you can assess customers’ reactions to specific products or promotions. This approach empowers you to view the current state of customer experience throughout your customer-facing footprint—no matter the scale or distribution of your enterprise.

In addition, this approach lets you spotlight successful practices in one corner of your organization and disseminate them into other areas of your business. This can foster greater connectedness among your team members and cultivate a true single company sentiment. Inevitably, this will filter out through your customer-facing representatives to your customers—and give your customers the consistent experiences they desire.

Today’s brands must rise to the challenge of delivering brand-affirming interactions at every touch point. The path to achieving this goal is through strategic application of contact management and survey technologies. Together, those powerful tools offer you actionable insight into your front-line team’s performance so that you can empower those employees to embody your brand standards.

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If you have thoughts on how to empower your team to align with your brand standards, we would love to hear from you:

  • Do you routinely survey customers to gain insights on whether their experiences match your brand promise?
  • Do you know how well each front-line employee performs your against brand experience mandates?
  • Can you assess brand experience performance and multiple operational levels?

Feel free to answer one of our questions or offer your own ideas. We look forward to you comments.

4 Reasons Why NPS Isn’t a Silver Bullet

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) earned widespread acclaim as an essential measure of customer satisfaction. In fact, some companies use NPS as the one and only barometer of customer experience.

Part of the appeal of NPS is its simplicity. It aims to measure customer loyalty based on a single question: “how likely is it that you will recommend this product to a friend or colleague?” Responses range from 0 for (not likely) to 10 (extremely likely).  NPS scoring groups respondents into three categories:

  • Those giving a score of 0 to 6 are “detractors”
  • Those giving a score of 7 to 8 are “passives”
  • Those giving a score of 9 to 10 are “promoters”

While NPS has some merit, it does not tell a full story about customer experiences.

NPS can provide an aggregate picture of how well a company is relating to its customers. However, the NPS approach does nothing to address the “detractors”—a potentially volatile group of unhappy customers who can quickly take their negative impressions online. Moreover, NPS does not help a company distinguish which detractors are at the greatest risk of churning.

Smart brands need to understand the limitations of NPS and look for additional ways to collect actionable customer insight.

#1: The NPS Question Doesn’t Always Apply

Although billed as a “one size fits all” solution, NPS doesn’t work for every market product, or situation. In fact, in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article, NPS creator Frederick Reichheld affirms the “would recommend” question isn’t effective in every industry.

In some cases, asking a customer if he or she would refer a product or service to another person is simply not relevant. For example, in B2B purchase situations, the individual who completes the transaction may not have buying authority. Moreover, the “would recommend” question has little merit in monopolies, where customers have very limited choice.

Other consumer research valiates that the NPS “willingness to recommend” (WTR) metric is a valid predictor of customer behavior in some industries, but one of the worst measures in other industries.

In one study, WTR had little relevance to predicting future retail customer behavior. Asking customers a different question—what share of their next 10 shopping visits they expected to dedicate to a specific brand—was a better predictor of future customer visits and purchases. This underscores that NPS does not apply across all customers, products, and markets.

#2: NPS Lacks Precision

Although NPS respondents have 11 possible answer choices, scoring lumps them into three broad categories—promoters, passives, and detractors. Companies have no way of distinguishing meaning within these segments. They have no tools to predict whether a detractor who gives a score of “0” will behave differently from a detractor who answers “6.”

Often, companies who use NPS tie aggregate NPS scores to organization-wide business results, such as revenue, sales volume, and market share. Such macro-level analysis can have value. However, in today’s economy, paying close attention to individual customer’s feedback, loyalty, and behavior is growing in importance.

#3: NPS Can Yield the Same Score in Varied Scenarios

To calculate NPS, companies can subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. This approach, while simple, can lead to calculating the same NPS score in multiple scenarios.

For example, a company with 50% promoters and 40% detractors would have an NPS of 10. However, that score would also occur when a company had 10% of its customers as promoters and 0% detractors. Despite achieving the same score, the brand should respond very differently to those case scenarios to bolster customer loyalty.

#4: NPS May Not Capture the Full Expression of Customer Experience

Consumer research suggests that many companies who use NPS may experience inflated scores. The reason: satisfied customers are traditionally more likely to respond to surveys.

Moreover, the NPS question is worded in a positive and leading way. The phrasing assumes that respondents are at least somewhat likely to recommend a product or service to others. Also, analysts note that the 0-10 scale may not have relevance in all cultures, which makes NPS less useful for multinational organizations.

Another limitation to NPS: it is, by nature, a closed-ended survey. This approaches forces respondents to fit their perceptions into a specific category, when their feelings may be more open-ended. This suggests NPS could fade in importance as companies turn to collection of Voice of the Customer (VoC) input.

Moving Beyond NPS

Ultimately, NPS can provide a snapshot of a company’s performance with its customers. Having a high NPS score can create a perception among management teams that a company is delivering good quality customer service. However, NPS provides no insight beyond a raw score.

Today’s brands must angle to retain customers in an economy where switching loyalties is the norm. That means they need to expand their approaches to customer feedback collection and analysis—and pay careful attention to the difficult “detractor” customer segment.

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If you have experience with NPS, we would love to hear from you. Answer one of our questions or add your own insights in the space below:

  • Does your organization use NPS scoring to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty?
  • What do you perceive as the benefits and limitations of NPS?
    What other techniques do you use to collect actionable customer feedback?

We appreciate your input and look forward to your ideas.

Addressing Latent Customer Dissatisfaction

Every time you handle a customer concern, you should know that many of your customers are harboring negative feelings—but not saying a word.

In fact, data from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs validated that there are 26 unhappy customers for each one who registers a formal concern. That means you likely hear from less than 5% of your dissatisfied customers.

Your brand has a significant amount of hidden negative sentiment that needs your attention. If you don’t focus on your the most volatile and vulnerable segment of your customer base—your slightly to moderately dissatisfied customers—the consequences can cause far-reaching damage.

This group of customers can share negative feelings via word-of-mouth and dissuade others from trying out your products or services. Or, one vocal complainer can incite an online groundswell of negative feedback and motivate other unhappy customers to lend their voices.

All it takes is one poor customer experience to put your brand at risk for large-scale defections and a loss of public reputation. As today’s brands angle to provide better customer experiences, focusing on latent customer dissatisfaction is a clear imperative.

Here are four things you need to know to address hidden negative sentiment:

1. Understand that Traditional Feedback Channels May Not Identify All Dissatisfied Customers

How do you know when a customer is unhappy? One obvious way is when a customer posts a concern on a social network or logs an online review. You can also glean insights from real-time analysis of post-interaction surveys.

But all of those scenarios fit into the small minority of complaints you do hear about.

Ironically, research suggests that many latently dissatisfied customers indicate that they are at least somewhat satisfied on quantitative customer surveys. That implies that closed-ended survey formats—with their yes/no and multiple choice response sets—may not tell you all you need to know.

2. Listen to What Your Customers Do Say

A good way to detect more dissatisfied customers is to include open-ended survey questions. Specifically, capturing customer spoken verbatims gives you potential for much deeper insight into perceptions and feelings about your brand.

Many companies are starting to realize the potential power of open-ended survey questions. In a recent study, the Temkin Group determined that brands will be ceasing their over-reliance on multiple choice survey questions and increasing collection of customer verbatims over the next three years..

Of course, collecting data is just a first step. Only analysis can reveal all-important customer insights. And only human sentiment analysis can assess the many nuances of of human communication.

Any customer can leave feedback on an experience or suggestion for improvement that seems positive on the surface. However, listening to their tone, voice volume, and other subtleties can let you know that a customer who speaks good words truly falls into the latent dissatisfaction category.

3. Know the Risks of Customer Defections

Customer sentiment insights can help you clarify which latently dissatisfied customers are at the greatest risk of defection. You can combine sentiment analysis with other customer data—such as spending trends, and engagement metrics—to define characteristics of likely to defect customers.

Using this data, you can construct a unique dissatisfaction-to-defection model for your brand. You can then define customized treatment and resolution strategies for varied customer segments. This approach can help you prioritize actions to mitigate risks of customer churn.

4. Use Customer Insights to Refine Operations and Strategies

Once you can identify latent negative sentiment, you must make good use of this high-value information. You may need to reach out to individual customers with reassuring messages, promotions, and other engagement opportunities to bolster their loyalty.

Alternatively, you may discern larger-scale trends that require your attention. Maybe you’ll find that specific product messages are not aligned with actual customer purchase and use experiences. Maybe you’ll find certain teams or regions are not delivering the best quality customer experiences. You can apply what you learn from your sentiment analysis to define opportunities for improvement or target training and coaching to your front-line teams.

Advancing Your Customer Dissatisfaction Management Practices

2015 promises to be a big year for companies who want to be leaders in the era of the empowered customer. Most brands know they need to deliver better customer experiences or risk losing customers to competitors.

However, you need to take fast action to move beyond generic data collection techniques. You must adopt advanced analytical approaches to identify and manage dissatisfied customers—especially the ones below the radar.

The potential payoff is huge. Organizations who effectively handle customer concerns are more likely to retain and inspire goodwill those customers. And happy customers are always the best advocates for your brand.

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Engage with Us

Have insights to share on this topic? We would love to hear from you. Feel free to answer one of our questions or offer your own ideas:

  • Is your brand embracing the trend towards open-ended survey questions?
  • What do you do with the freeform comments and customer verbatims you do collect?
  • How do you apply customer learnings to refine front-line contact approaches?

We look forward to your input.

Sentiment Analysis Can Reveal Silent Complaints

Today’s brands grapple with an ever-increasing proliferation of customer comments online. However, customer experience leaders know that feedback customers provide is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in a sea of customer sentiment.

In a 2014 research study, CX Act revealed that more than half of people do tell others about customer contact experiences. However, the vast majority—85%—share their customer service stories in person. By contrast, just 22% of people post information about customer experiences on social media.

These findings suggest that many dissatisfied customers may not alert your organization about their concerns. Instead, those individuals make silent complaints to friends and family.

What does this mean for your brand?

Your company must anticipate that silent pockets of negative sentiment likely exist in your customer base. You need tools to identify and remedy those hidden concerns before they surface. Customer sentiment surveys are key resources in your quest to identify and manage silent complaints.

Collecting Customer Feedback

Many companies use surveys to collect and measure customer perceptions. Some companies still rely primarily on large-scale annual satisfaction surveys. However, post-interaction surveys—which allow companies to gauge individual customer experiences—are enjoying wide adoption.

Many post-interaction surveys rely heavily on closed-ended questions. These questions—which can solicit “yes/no” or numerical scale responses—certainly have value. However, the do very little to reveal customers’ true feelings about a specific experience or overall brand impression.

For a more well-rounded approach, your brand should include opportunities for customers to leave open-ended feedback. This can take the form of free-form text comments on a written survey. If you use a voice-response survey, you can let your customers leave thoughts in their own words. More and more organizations are recognizing the value of such Voice of the Customer (VoC) input.

Surveys aren’t the only way to receive VoC data. Other VoC sources include focus groups, inbound calls, and social media. However, surveys are highly valued by senior managers. In fact, a study from Maritz Research revealed that executives are far most likely to review VoC data from customers surveys—including transactional, relationship, and benchmarking surveys—than other sources.

VoC data sources used by senior management
Source: Maritz Research, October 2012

 

Recent research from the Temkin Group validates that brands are primed to make investments in VoC. More than 45% of firms plan to increase VoC program spending in the near-term, while just 5% expect to cut VoC spending. In addition, the Temkin study revealed that the vast majority of enterprises see positive results from their VoC efforts. However, most firms are not taking action or making business changes based on the insights they gain from VoC.

Discerning Meaning behind the Metrics

At present, many enterprises are lagging in moving from VoC data collection to action. One reason for this trend may be that companies lack the analysis approaches they need to gain high-value insight from their VoC data.

As companies look for ways to assess volumes of VoC input, computer-based analysis seems like a logical choice. However, service leaders know that raw analysis of words provided in free-form comments has its limitations.

Those companies who use voice surveys have a rich opportunity to gain deep understanding into the minds and feelings of their customers. The only way to achieve these insights is to use human-rated sentiment analysis. Technology tools can evaluate words, but only human beings can discern the true meaning behind customers’ statements.

With human-rated sentiment analysis, you may find that customers who give you good scores or speak good words about your brand may harbor negative feelings. A skilled sentiment analyst has in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of human communication and can evaluate nuances—such as word choice, tone, voice volume, and more—to uncover a speakers’ true feelings.

This approach can help single out individuals who may not overtly complain, but may be inclined to share negative word-of-mouth perceptions about your brand. Once you’ve identified that a person may be making “silent complaints,” you can identify remediation strategies. You may need to reach out to that customer to gain input about their perceptions, offer personalized discounts or incentives, or use other tactics to shift their feelings.

Moving from Collection to Action

If you are one of the many firms who needs to do more with the customer survey data you collect, you are not alone. As brands prioritize their 2015 VoC spending, they need to recognize that a reliance on machine-based analysis of VoC input may not yield the results they need.

Adding human-rated sentiment analysis is essential to gain true insight into customer perceptions. Human sentiment analysts can identify those customers who are likely to make “silent complaints” and empower you to keep those negative feelings out of the public eye. This is a must-do to protect your brand in today’s era of the social, vocal, empowered customer.

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We know that customer experience is a top-of-mind issue for every company today. Share your insights on these and other topics in the space below:

  • Do you have a process for spotting customers who may be harboring hidden negative sentiment about your brand?
  • Are you one of the many companies planning to increase VoC spending in the coming years?
  • How do you plan to move from collecting VoC input to using this high-value data to drive improved customer experiences?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Dissatisfied Customers Can Spawn a Media Crisis

In today’s connected world, social media has made every brand vulnerable to a media crisis. A single negative comment by a customer or detractor can quickly go viral and cause deep and lasting reputation damage.

In fact, a recent study indicated that 50% of companies have experienced some type of media crisis, and 80% of companies do see the potential risk of a social media crisis. Moreover, research from Alitmeter has shown that 75% of social media crises could have been diminished or averted if companies had been better prepared to handle them.

What does this mean?

Your company must mitigate the risks of social media disaster by having a plan to combat negative customer sentiment when it surfaces. You need to understand the big picture about how an online crisis can damage your brand and the benefits of strong negative sentiment management. You also need a plan in place to avoid social media disaster due to poor customer sentiment.

An Online Media Crisis Can Damage Your Brand

Avoiding or managing a social sentiment crisis is an imperative for today’s brands. Recent research from Burson-Marsteller shows that companies that experienced a crisis experienced negative impacts across many dimensions. For example:

  • 32% experienced a revenue drop
  • 24% experienced cutbacks or layoffs
  • 18% experienced a reputation damage
  • 12% experienced heightened social media scrutiny

Moreover, academic research underscores that a brand’s response to a crisis has a measurable impact on financial results. A Stanford graduate school study revealed that companies that take responsibility for negative issues outperform those who do not by 15% to 19%.

These statistics reinforce that addressing negative sentiment isn’t just a nice idea. It’s a strategic imperative.

The good news is that managing a negative situation well can create reputation uplift. If negative sentiment surfaces, your brand can work to fortify relationships with affected customers. You can take targeted steps to reach out to your customers behind-the-scenes—via the communications channels they use to reach you—and help transform a negative experience into a positive one. By responding with authenticity and compassion online, you can demonstrate a commitment to positive customer experiences and potentially grow your engaged audience.

Keeping Negative Sentiment Out of the Public Eye

It’s a well-known fact that customers are more likely to share poor experiences than positive ones. However, you can mitigate the dissemination of word-of-mouth negative sentiment by making better use of the tools you likely already have—customer surveys.

Many brands have a sentiment survey mechanism in place for customer feedback capture after every interaction. Today’s customers can provide immediate feedback via phone, text, web, or email. However, far too many brands are still aggregating sentiment data at periodic levels for management review. By the time those reviews happen, brand damage may have already occurred and global customer sentiment may have shifted in a new direction.

The only way to get an accurate read on customer perceptions is via real-time customer survey analysis. Advanced technology tools can give you an up-to-the minute pulse on customer sentiment trends. Moreover, you can also get alerts to notify you when a customer has left a poor survey response as soon as it occurs. That gives you a much better chance of taking corrective steps to prevent negative perceptions from leaking out on to the social web.

Although every scenario is different, your negative sentiment resolution plan should include an expectation that you will need to reach out to dissatisfied customers several times to restore their trust. Results from the Edelman Trust Barometer study shows that 64% of  people need to receive a reassuring message three to five times to overcome skepticism.

This means that you need technology that lets you keep data on centralized customer interactions with your at-risk customers. That way, every front line employee—from the contact center to a physical location—can have the latest information on customer interactions.

Preparing for the Inevitable

It’s easy to avoid thinking about dissatisfied customers and potential media crises. But smart companies know that dealing with this difficult territory is vital to brand protection. In the past, nearly all business communications were one way, which gave brands more message control. Today’s customers and social influencers can participate in shaping, reinforcing, or even undermining your messages.

Research from Burson-Marsteller shows that the most crisis-ready companies have a rock-solid planning approach. Fifty-nine percent evaluate multiple scenarios that could trigger a crisis, while 57% have pre-established mitigation steps and 53% percent conduct proactive issue monitoring. By taking a strategic approach to evaluating and acting on negative customer sentiment, you can be one of the winners in this difficult terrain.

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Engage with Us

If you have experience or insight in dissatisfied customer and social negative sentiment management we would love to hear from you:

  • Has your brand experienced any threats or crises due to online sharing of negative customer sentiment?
  • Do you have a plan to handle negative customer perceptions when they surface?
  • How do you deliver multiple follow-up messages to customers to help rebuild their confidence in your brand after a poor experience?

Share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to connecting with you.