Customer Experience Consulting and Publications


Improving the Customer Experience

Hearing the Customer Experience through Call Quality Monitoring

Call quality monitoring is key to understanding the customer experience, as well as identifying trends in customer expectations. While this may have been the underlying goal of most call quality monitoring for many years, truly measuring the customer’s experience has always been challenging. Early call monitoring efforts focused on improving call quality through improved agent consistency and call handling. However, most companies ended up developing call quality criteria that really only measured compliance with internal processes and policies, and didn’t necessarily translate to a better customer experience.

More recently, many companies have begun to match internal call quality observations with customer satisfaction surveys, primarily post-call surveys, measuring internal policy and procedure compliance through observation, and asking the caller to rate quality (satisfaction). This has simplified and strengthened the call quality monitoring process by removing some of the subjectivity from supervisory or QA ratings while at the same time focused employees and management on the customer experience. However, it also requires active participation from customers to rate their satisfaction with the call. Many callers just do not take the time to properly rate a call or transaction; post-call surveys often capture the extremes, making it difficult to collect an appropriate sample.

Additionally, individual call handling satisfaction ratings usually do not portray the total customer experience. A customer’s experience and satisfaction or dissatisfaction is shaped through all the touch points—the bill and bill stuffers, website interactions, in-person interactions, phone and chat conversations…it can be one event or the sum of several recent events, making it difficult to capture in a post-call survey or customer satisfaction survey.

The amount of work or effort expended by customers directly impacts satisfaction—less is always more.

To improve the customer experience, all touch point experiences should be as smooth and satisfying as possible for most customers—make it easy to do business with your company. While this sounds simple, it requires an understanding of the steps customers must take to transact business, the number of times they must contact your company, be transferred to the right company representative, circle through your automated answering system to find the right prompt, fill out applications or forms, send in payments, or visit your website to find a piece of information, or follow-up with a representative to make sure something was done… All these actions influence the experience and the likelihood that customers will want to continue to do business with you. A measurement of customer effort correlates very highly with customer satisfaction.

Customer effort scoring examines customer experience, as measured by the amount of effort that a customer must expend to interact with a company. This methodology quantifies just how easy or hard it is to do business with your company. The CE Score can be used to measure the customer experience for phone, chat, field, and face-to-face customer interactions.

The customer effort is assessed through sampling, in the same manner as traditional call monitoring, however, each call is examined to understand a little bit more about the underlying experience. Key factors that influence customer effort and ultimately, the customer experience, are identified, scored, and tracked, as seen in the following diagram:

A Customer Effort Score is calculated for each interaction—the higher the customer effort score, the lower the customer satisfaction and first call resolution. Customer Effort Scoring is a powerful way to identify systematic issues and problems that may or may not be captured through individual call monitoring and/or one-off post-call surveys. Segmenting customer effort scoring by transaction type provides further intelligence to diagnose process bottlenecks and constraints, handoffs, and other service failures that can ruin the customer experience.

A Role in Measuring First Contact Resolution
& Customer Satisfaction

Call quality is intended to measure the customer experience, make sure your evaluation measures represent your customers’ expectations, not what you think is important to your customers. This has been one of the biggest mistakes made.

Don’t just guess. Find out what your customers’ expect through customer research—interviews, focus groups, expectations surveys, or even calibration sessions—take the time and spend the money to understand how customers want to be served. Keep in mind that expectations vary from segment to segment and that expectations change over time.

Measuring call quality through call monitoring is a labor-intensive process; it’s also high risk, in terms of human factors. Call monitoring is a key determinant of stress in call centers—especially if it’s perceived as being inaccurate, untimely, too frequent, or too intense. So in other words, if you’re not truly measuring what customers’ value then you might just be wasting your time (and money) and placing your agents under undue stress.

Take this a step further to make sure your evaluation form is consistent with your routine customer satisfaction research. If possible, monitor the same calls that are surveyed by your customer satisfaction surveys. While it may be cost prohibitive to gain enough sample points to measure to the agent level, it’s possible to survey and monitor enough calls to measure the consistency of your center.

Consider tracking first call resolution through your call quality evaluations as well as your customer satisfaction surveys. First call resolution may be one of the best predictors of customer satisfaction. First call resolution is most simply what the customer wants—to have the problem or question resolved satisfactorily on the first try, if possible. Achieving high first call resolution is a wonderful scenario—customers are happier, employees are happier, and management is happier. Why? Repeat calls are down, rework is minimized, employees are talking to happy customers, and operating costs are lower. Find out if your customers think their issues and questions are being resolved on the first contact by asking them on your customer satisfaction surveys and at the end of your conversations.

When first call resolution is measured through customer survey and call quality forms you can get a better understanding of your service delivery performance—from the customer’s viewpoint. It’s a way to take your call quality program to the next level.

Consider adding Customer Effort Scoring into your quality monitoring program, it can provide valuable insight that you might not currently be capturing through your call quality program.

All in all, the opportunities presented through effective call monitoring make it an essential management technique for today’s call center organizations. Make sure you do it right. If you don’t, the impact could be much worse than if you hadn’t attempted it in the first place.

Tell us about your call quality process. We are conducting research and Survey Participants will receive a complementary copy of Call Quality Practices upon publication.