by Jake Weatherly, Vice President of Customer Experience, Palo Alto Software
Performance Metrics — In the corporate world there is tremendous effort applied by management surrounding metrics, and this philosophy has trickled down to small business rapidly with affordable yet robust systems focused on metrics like CRM, IP phones, web analytics, search engine optimization, help desk ticketing and good old accounting. Why, with all of this experience, infrastructure, and applied science is customer service generally terrible?
Key performance indicators in call centers surround call resolution time, call volume, number of open issues, and escalation data. Statistical analysis is done by another group of managers who are tasked with minimizing expenses and maximizing volume.
Even the smallest businesses are moving to outsourced call centers or building in-house teams based on these principles, and suddenly their unique competitive advantages — quality customer relationships, understanding goals and objectives, and domain expertise — are lost to real-time measurements that theoretically translate to higher levels of success. What is missing from these equations? If running successful call centers is such a science, why can’t my small regional credit union implement my change of address after one request?
What are the vital few in customer satisfaction?
It all boils down to the human factor. Empathy, patience, and the true desire to help people are the foundation. Building skills surrounding these key factors to provide excellent service can be accomplished through training, experience and quality infrastructure.
The vital few of customer service are things like repeat business, size of initial purchase compared to subsequent purchases, and feedback, feedback, feedback!
Believe it or not feedback about how our software would be better if it did X, Y, or Z is a huge indication of customer satisfaction. This means that the customer is really using the program, and they believe in the company behind the software enough to warrant taking time to share details about their experience.
When was the last time you sent the tech support person you spoke with a pizza for lunch? True story — we’ve received pizzas, unannounced visits, and even customers’ plans to publish as thank you.
It does not get more measurable than a thank-you pizza from a customer!
That’s in my vital few — I check on the number [of] thank you pizzas we have received everyday around noon.
Reprinted from Business in General with permission. All rights reserved.