We are all aware that providing a great customer experience should be the cornerstone of commercial common sense right? I mean who worth their salt doesn’t?

Forrester research has been able to evidence that companies that lead in CX are likely to be five times more profitable than laggards that show the least care. Leading brands also benefit from greater numbers of customer recommendations and far greater levels of forgiveness if they get something wrong.  But a view from recent research from the Temkin Group proved only 4% of companies actually deliver a robust and consistently excellent customer experience.

With almost every company out there ‘committed to becoming a leader in CX’, how come we as an industry are not reaping the rewards of our costly service initiatives? Not enough focus on the customer? Not enough listening? Not having joined up processes to fix things when customers tell us we’ve messed up? In reality probably all of the above, however the key starting point is not actually the customer at all!!!… It’s your employees.

The one key factor unifying all high performing companies is the level of employee engagement they enjoy, where high performing companies have employees who are on average 50% more engaged than the rest of the industry. This then has a knock on effect on productivity levels as naturally these employees are happier to work longer hours, have more open and can-do attitudes and generally reflect more of the ‘values’ their company’s represent.

If we look at some national statistics from the Bright Index (the largest independent benchmarking study of UK call centres), the levels of overall employee satisfaction is around 62% however in contrast the average customer satisfaction score is around 84%.

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It’s therefore no surprise that we struggle to achieve the top end customer outcomes when our employees are so relatively disengaged. What compounds this more is that employee surveys typically take place once per year, are owned by HR and cover the entire organisation – not just front facing employees. If one of your team comes up with a good idea or identifies a problem the day after the annual survey has been completed it’s simply not picked up the same way.

Another compounding piece of evidence that illustrates the problems faced by front line staff is summed up by the old adage that targets drive behaviours.

Jeff Bezos – the CEO of Amazon once said:

‘If you’re competitor focused you wait until there’s a competitor doing something, being customer focused allows you to be more pioneering’.

Consider in a contact centre environment that we still define quality on mainly arbitrary 80/20 principles and agent quality monitoring tends to be more of a needle in the haystack process (3-5 calls assessed per month), rather than a truly balanced approach to the factors that drive customer experience – so you literally get what you pay for!!

What is clear is that all companies have time, people and processes invested heavily in driving improvements in customer experience. What we also know is that most organisations are data rich, in-fact, most organisations have more data than they could possibly know what to do with. What remains to be seen is whether companies are really joining the dots and asking the right questions of their data when deciding on how to effectively leverage customer experience.

So here are 4 simple steps for driving customer and employee experience within the contact centre;

Regularly engage employees – try building a simple survey based on what it’s like to be a contact centre employee and send it out to your employees on a quarterly or even monthly basis. Ensure you prioritise the insights, create action plans and cascade back to all employees what if anything you are doing with their valuable insight, involving your front-line wherever possible.

Collect agent level customer feedback – if you’re not doing so already, we would recommend collecting a minimum of 20 completed customer surveys per agent per month. This would enable you to have a robust and 100% independent appraisal on the output of your agents work, all from your other precious commodity, the customer. Not only will this reduce any level of bias but will also reduce the amount of time your QA or TM teams have to spend on prep in favour of more focus on direct coaching and training.

Blended coaching – Create a format that allows you to combine a mixture of traditional metrics with customer led engagement scores when coaching performance improvements with the front line.

VoE and VoC drive decision making – regularly analysing the actual comments from both employees and customers however you collect them, this will enable you to prioritise the order of what to do next. Knowing what customers want is something most organisations are focused on today, but knowing you have the will of your employees to go and do it is the real key to success.

We all aspire to be more customer centric and in order to do so we need to of course, continue to understand the needs of our customers, but if we lose sight of the needs of our employees, that goal of customer centricity may forever remain elusive.

Ashley Williamson
Client Development Manager
Bright UK