Today’s interview is with Susan Ganeshan, Chief Marketing Officer of Clarabridge, a leading customer experience Saas platform that transforms survey, social, voice and all other forms of customer feedback into actionable intelligence that drives real change in business and creates happier customers. Susan joins me today to talk about some research that they recently conducted (Call Center Agent Survey Results), which investigated the differing viewpoints of both contact centre employees and consumers in the United States.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – How D.O.M.O.R.E. will help you deliver an outstanding customer experience – Interview with Blake Morgan – and is number 216 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.
Highlights from my conversation with Susan:
- Clarabridge’s tagline is that they ‘put customer feedback to work’.
- They recently released some research: Call Center Agent Survey Results which investigated the differing viewpoints of both contact centre employees and consumers in the United States.
- The key question that they wanted to answer was whether there was a disconnect between call centre agents, what they are asked to do and how they are asked to operate and what consumers are expecting and receiving when it comes to customer service.
- Here’s some of the key headlines from the findings:
- A mere 15% of consumers report feeling ‘completely satisfied’ with their last contact centre interaction. On the flip side, only a quarter of call centre agents report feeling ‘completely satisfied’ by their last interaction with a customer. A large part of this dissatisfaction is fuelled by the fact a majority of agents feel as though customers are generally asking the same questions repeatedly and they wish that their organisation would just fix or address these problems.
- But, it can be a tough job for agents as 67% of consumers admit to having raised their voice and verbally expressed their annoyance on a customer service call.
- 46% of consumers report long wait times to be their biggest frustration with customer service calls.
- 15% of all customer service agents feel as though they did not receive adequate training when it comes to handling consumer’s requests, which undoubtedly leads to customer dissatisfaction.
- Nearly a quarter (23%) of agents report not having enough background information on customers prior to the calls that they handle.
- More than a quarter of agents (26%) report that feedback is collected on customer service calls, but that information does not get distributed across other departments within that organization. Worse, 12% of call center agents report that no feedback from customer service calls is collected at all.
- It’s frustrating that some of the same perennial problems that have been around for years are still plaguing many firms and frustrating both consumers and agents.
- Not enough companies are doing enough to integrate their systems and data flows to provide their agents with a single view of the customer. The technology exists to facilitate the integration of different systems but not enough companies are doing this.
- Addressing these issues would go a long way to addressing staff turnover, efficiency and call centre costs as well as customer satisfaction.
- Contact centres are too focused on their own internal metrics and ‘eeking’ out efficiency improvements rather than customer based outcomes.
- Susan provides an example from a global payroll services company that they work with where through the use of Clarabridge’s software they were able to pinpoint the billing frustrations of the finance teams that they work with. They took these insights to the head of CX, who whilst interested didn’t have any budget to address the problem. So, together they took the results to the CEO and said here’s the problem, here’s the complaints that we are getting and here’s the results that we think that we could be getting if we could dedicate budget to fixing these problems. Through their presentation of their understanding of the business case and the expected ROI, they were able to get that project approved and off the ground.
- That’s the sort of partnership that organisations need to realise……working across functional boundaries and with partners.
- Many of the issues that consumers face have nothing to do with the call centre metrics that they are trying to perfect but rather have everything to do with the processes and people they experinece throughout the business. As a result, that’s where organisations should be focusing on to drive change.
- When thinking about solving some of these perennial problems, contact centres need to think about the variety of people that will get in touch with them and that they serve to make sure that they don’t adopt a one size fits all approach i.e. not assuming that the introduction of a call-back feature will solve a queue management problem.
- Surprisingly, Susan says that adoption of social customer service is still at an early stage in many contact centres and uses KLM as a great exemplar of what can be achieved.
- The costs of serving customers over chat or social media is about 1/5th of the costs of a phone conversation.
- Susan uses the example of Zappos whose employees are encouraged to spend more time on the phone with their customers in order to build a better relationships with them. They are also empowered to personalise things i.e. it would not be unusual for a Zappos employee on learning that someone was buying shoes for their wedding to send that customer a small bouquet of flowers to congratulate them. That level of empowerment makes them ‘jazzed’ about their jobs.
- Setting up employees for success is about making their jobs easy but also empowering them to deliver what the customer needs.
- TSIA (Technology Services Industry Association) estimates that the average cost of a call into a technology business’ contact centre is around $500 per call. This could be much reduced if agents were given the right tools and training as well as being empowered to solve the customers problem.
- Susan has one word for contact centre and CX leaders…..integration. Integrate all of your disparate systems and information together so that your people can see and have access to all of the information that they need. Integration works!
- Many of the leaders in contact centres have grown up there and that can be a problem as they often lack two things:
- 1. An understanding of how other parts of the business works and
- 2. The gravitas to walk up to the head of Marketing and say ‘This new thing that you just released is flooding our call centre. What are we going to do about it together? or to the head pf Product and say ‘This new innovation that you have introduced is causing more questions than answers. Can we work together to get the information/explanation/pitch right?’
- The leaders and most effective organisations, when it comes to customer service/experience, tend to be those that give gravitas and status to contact centre leaders such that they can reach out to other leaders, collaborate and break down organisational silos.
- One of the things that is really resonating with many of the people that Clarabridge are talking to right now is the idea of turning their contact centre into an experience centre.
- Organisations that are embracing this type of approach are not just call sampling for quality purposes but are recording every call, translating it to text and then analysing and classifying the data by call type and issue so that they get a better idea of what they should be focusing on and what actions they should be taking.
- To get started on improving contact centres, Susan advocates that contact centre leaders should start their own CX revolution, which starts with:
- 1. Listening everywhere (calls, chats, F2F, emails, text……everything)
- 2. Engaging with everyone, which could, at a minimum, be as simple as thanking customers for their feedback, closing the feedback loop or calling someone back when they ask for a call back and
- 3. Analyse everything….for trends, insight, emotions, categories of conversation, sentiment, volume and frequency etc etc
- This will allow organisations to identify, isolate and develop iterative solutions to problems such that they are not trying to ‘boil the ocean’.
- Wow service/experience for Susan is when an organisation handles you as a person rather than a number and the key to that seems to start with culture which, starting at the top, puts the customer at the heart of everything that the organisations does.
- Check out how Clarabridge, through their approach to the voice of the customer, is helping some massive brands make some amazing changes to their customer experience (they are justifying them through solid business cases too). Moreover, they see their many of their clients achieving an ROI for their investment in their technology that reaches into the 1,000s of percent.
About Susan (adapted from her Clarabridge bio)
Susan Ganeshan is the Chief Marketing Officer of Clarabridge and under her leadership, Clarabridge Marketing produces insightful, educational content that enables business leaders to deliver on the promise of best-in-class customer experience.
Previously, she was CMO at newBrandAnalytics and has held executive roles with webMethods, Software AG, Deloitte Consulting, and Checkfree.
She believes in passionate customer centricity of the kind she experienced when a hotel deconstructed a room to find the jewelry her son mischievously slid down the door jamb.