Outstanding Customer Service

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customer service metric

The Only Customer Service Metric a Company Ever Needs

Companies seem to be measuring everything but this

Given the importance of customer service in the customer experience equation, I am continually surprised at how few companies are actually aware of how good their customer service is, and what they need to do to improve it

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of companies these days leaning on Big Data to measure and track their overall customer experience.  Consumers are inundated with Voice of the Customer surveys that track things like Net Promoter Scores, Customer Effort Scores, Customer Satisfaction  and more. All of these are great tools for keeping score, and when fed into AI-based predictive analytics programs, for understanding consumer patterns.

The problem is that they are pretty much useless as a tool for establishing the skills, behaviours and mindsets an organization needs to address to actually improve their customer service.

It all boils down to one customer service metric

So, how do we measure the degree to which we are delivering outstanding customer service? How do we get information that actually helps us improve?

There are, of course, methodologies like mystery shopping – but even that is morphing into a depersonalized, overly number-crunched methodology. What companies really need is a reliable, qualitative metric that people delivering the customer service can relate to.

So here it is. Simple. Elegant. Functional:

“When that customer walked away or hung up, did that customer feel like you genuinely cared?”

That’s it. That’s all.  The research tells us that, fundamentally, customer service can be measured by the degree to which a customer feels important and cared for.  It also tells us that the dominant characteristic of negative customer experiences, 82% of the time, is the feeling that an employee just didn’t care about us.

It’s easy to measure, and easy to coach

Imagine you’ve just had an interaction with a couple of people, and you want to assess how well you did.  All you have to do is ask yourself this one question – “When the interaction was finished, did the customers feel that I genuinely cared about them?”  When you start to look at interactions though this lens, you quickly realize how black and white the answers really are.  Very rarely do you end up thinking “Huh, I’m not sure.”

It is a terrific self-diagnostic.  Even people who aren’t tremendously introspective have a hard time not seeing the truth.

The same process works if  you’re a manager who is actively coaching your team.  You observe or listen to an interaction, and when it is complete, ask your employee, “What specific things did you do that would make them believe you genuinely cared about them?”   The answer provides a great starting point for helping your employees embrace new skills.

Managers who track these interactions see a big difference

When this simple qualitative metric is tied to specific skills and behaviours – and to a set of customer service standards, identifying and tracking improvements in performance becomes much easier and more meaningful.

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2 Responses

  1. Great question Cindy!

    I guess the first thing in this case is to distinguish between ‘customer satisfaction’ and ‘customer service.’

    Using the ‘did the customer get the message I cared’ question is a great way to review the language and approach in an email – to gauge how they might feel about customer service in an interaction.

    Customer satisfaction, however, is more of an overall customer experience thing, and will also be impacted by pricing, product availability, speed of shipping, problem resolution, etc. For that, you really do need a more broad, survey-style approach.

    As consumers, we are all surveyed to death these days (as you identified!), but there is a Voice-of-the-Customer approach that works well with B2B. (It’s a service our RetailTrack division provides for our clients, but you can also do it internally).

    The trick is to use an active approach – via telephone. Create a 3-4 minute questionnaire (no longer), and have someone contact your clients. You will find that the response rate is far higher than email, and you are able to get more useable data.

    One thing that is very important, with this methodology, is to flag problems that are identified, and follow up immediately with them. (The last thing you want is for someone to provide feedback, then get the feeling that it went into a black hole).

    I hope that helps!

    All the best


  2. Shaun, I work in a manufacturing facility. We interact B2B – 85% email/ 15% phone call. I struggle with how to get a good feel for our customer satisfaction. A targeted survey is something we’ve discussed, but, it’s one more survey the customer has to deal with. How can I get a feel for WOW when we have so little personal contact with our customers?


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