Paul Barclay, Head of Partner Operations & Customer Service shares how his team ramped up their service delivery by challenging the accepted industry customer satisfaction measures by asking, ‘does faster mean better?’
Does faster mean better?
The 80:20 or Pareto principle was introduced, many years ago, as the widely accepted benchmark for good customer service. Up until two years ago, we focused primarily on this simple time-based performance measure, aiming to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds of being received, whilst keeping our call abandonment rates low.
Whilst fielding calls efficiently is important, these measures place no weight on whether the problem is resolved, nor does it factor in the experience of the caller. Nor do these measurements adapt with the changing communication behaviour of our customers, who are increasingly seeking to use email or web chats. Seen in this light, these traditional measures of customer satisfaction have become outdated and unrepresentative.
“The reason I don’t focus on traditional service levels is because if we weren’t fixing the problem on the first contact, if the knowledge of the person they spoke to was poor, if their communication or empathy was poor – we’d end up with a really dissatisfied customer no matter how quickly we answered the phone.” - Paul Barclay, Head of Partner Operations & Customer Service
Challenging the status quo
Setting aside all preconceived ideas and assumptions about our service performance, we needed to understand what and how our customers wanted to be served. The initial round of informal surveys confirmed that short call waiting times alone were inconsequential when determining caller satisfaction. However, it also revealed some disappointing truths about our service team, for example; despite having knowledgeable Contact Centre agents, they didn’t always show their empathy or cared about the outcomes.
Regardless who was calling through, partners and customers alike expected their queries to be resolved quickly and efficiently, our agents to be knowledgeable, communicate clearly and show empathy. If these criteria are met, our partners and customers would have a positive experience and more likely to be satisfied with Premium Credit service.
How long is too long?
Interestingly, our survey revealed, our customers couldn’t remember exactly how long they waited for their calls to be answered, just that they weren’t aware of waiting for too long. The telephone records showed that at the time, the average phone answering time was up to 90 seconds. In fact, our partners and customers only started to notice the delay after 75 seconds, although would wait up to 130 seconds before hanging up.
Our callers said they were prepared to hold the line for up to 90 seconds, without any negative perceptions – provided their problems were resolved quickly and efficiently, our agents were knowledgeable, communicated clearly and showed compassion.
Defining new service attributes & satisfaction measures
Fuelled by this informal customer feedback, we revisited how we use our time on the phone and built a deeper understanding of customer satisfaction influencers.
As a result, we adapted our focus to answering a minimum of 80% of our customers’ queries regardless of communication channel, on their first contact with us. We currently achieve 88% First Contact Resolution, meaning 9 out of 10 of our partners and customers have their query answered the first time they contact us; saving time and frustration and significantly improving customer experience.
We now predominately use 3 satisfaction measures:
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
- Partner Satisfaction (PSAT)
Developing our CSAT and PSAT models, we proactively invite up to 40,000 partners and customers a month to rate the following questions, from 1 to 5 immediately after a service interaction with our Contact Centre agent.
- How knowledgeable was our colleague?
- How accurate and clear was our colleague's response?
- How helpful and understanding was our colleague?
- Overall, how would you rate your overall experience with our colleague?
Along with the opportunity to leave a voice message with further details.
This valuable tool assists us in identifying areas where training improvement is needed, from product knowledge or systems knowledge to soft skills. We work hard in training and coaching to develop empathy in our Contact Centre teams.
Trustpilot is the world’s most powerful review platform that, along with CSAT and PSAT, enables us to listen, respond and continually improve. Trustpilot is a trusted source of independent and honest feedback from validated, genuine customers, helping us to improve our service. Our Trustpilot score is currently 4.6 out of 5 and we are tremendously proud of our team’s performance and their determination in achieving such consistently high scores.
Sharing our failures and our successes
We hope you and your customers are seeing the benefits of our phenomenal success in service satisfaction, following this new approach.
For more information about Paul and his team’s success, contact Paul.Barclay@pcl.co.uk