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Are you “over-sharing” your customer feedback data?

Published: Mar 23, 2018
Author: Erin Van Remortel

One of the things I like most about my role as a Customer Experience Strategist is visiting a client’s contact center to gain a grass roots understanding of both the employee experience and the experience of the customers they support.  Learning both perspectives is truly eye-opening each and every time, and generally results in pages and pages of notes, observations and recommendations to consider, including a few “low-hanging fruit” opportunities for immediate action.

At a recent contact center visit, I was able to sit with an exceptional customer service agent.  Sam (we will call him) is every company’s ideal contact center employee.  He is a good listener, soft-spoken, adept with the tools and technology in place and 100% focused on delivering a positive (and brand consistent) experience to each and every customer. 

Immediately after sitting with Sam, I was impressed.  When the first call comes in from a customer looking for status on an order they placed, the first thing Sam does, after locating the order in the internal ordering system, is to look the product up on the company’s external website.  Sam wants to see the item(s) that his customer is looking for, waiting on or unhappy with – through his customer’s eyes.  He explains the extra effort helps him to have a more informed and considerate conversation with his customer. 

During a break of incoming calls, Sam shares his daily schedule with me, which includes “off-phone” time to handle email and miscellaneous tasks.  When I ask him to share what this might look like he pulls up his Outlook calendar.  All of his “break” times are filled with calendar events, populated with order numbers.  Sam explains that there are situations which he is unable to completely resolve for a customer, and in these cases, it must be referred to an off-line research team for follow up and resolution.  But Sam is not satisfied with this process.  He holds himself accountable for full resolution of his customers’ issues.  After creating the referral and sending to the appropriate team, he creates a follow up reminder in his calendar for the following day to check on the order/issue and ensure the research team has completed the work.  If, on the following day, he finds the issue to still be “in progress,” he moves his reminder to the next day, and the next day – until he is sure the issue has been fully resolved. 

As my hour with Sam came to a close, I asked him about the customer feedback data dashboard I know he and all agents can access.  Another agent explained to me earlier that they are able to see all survey responses tied to customers and interactions they have handled.  As Sam pulls up the dashboard he explains to me that he no longer reviews that data because he does not control the customer experience until customers contact him. “The responses in here [the customer feedback data dashboard] are not reflective of the experience I deliver,” he explains, and proceeds to show me an example of a customer who responded to a survey with all 0’s and provided a comment of “my package was damaged.”  Sam did not damage the package, so he has no control over what happened up until the point of a call to customer care. 

This was my “aha” moment of the visit.  As a firm believer in customer feedback data, I had not considered how reading negative customer responses and scores might frustrate someone like Sam.  Several customer experience experts, consultants and customer feedback management providers recommend sharing Voice of the Customer results with everyone that touches the customer experience.  Many companies, just like the one I visited, have invested money to build customized dashboards that provide instant access to survey scores and customer comments to the C-suite, front line agents and everywhere in between.  In some cases, there are incentives built into compensation plans and scorecards, with targets set down to the agent level. 

But after my visit with Sam, I question if this is the right thing to do. Are we possibly over-sharing?

If happy employees equals happy customers, is it helpful to share negative feedback which has nothing to do with the job a particular employee is doing?  Is measuring them on this score, which they often have no control over, the right thing?

I would argue there might be a better answer.  Management should definitely see these scores and read the comments.  They should share positive feedback related to the performance of their employees and coach them based on negative feedback – if and when it is relevant to the experience they deliver.  Feedback that is provided by customers related to other parts of the business – policies, processes and teams or individuals in other parts of the organization – should be shared with the teams that can impact them. Avoiding over-sharing of negative feedback may have an overall positive effect on your organization. 

Customer feedback data is a gift.  It can shine a light on customer pain points and provide your company with insights which should drive action and improve the customer experience you deliver.  Just be careful to consider the recipient of the gift, and the impact it could have on them, before you share it.   

Erin Van Remortel is a certified Customer Experience Professional (CXPA) and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at Verizon Communications, a leading provider of wireless, fiber-optic and global network services.  As a Customer Experience Strategist, Erin partners with Verizon’s largest enterprise clients to articulate, design, and implement their Customer Experience strategy and vision.  Prior to this role, Erin spent several years listening to, analyzing and sharing the voice of Verizon’s Enterprise customers with leaders across the business to inspire empathy, drive customer-centric process improvements and deliver experiences that create loyal and happy customers. Connect with Erin on Twitter @erinvanremortel or on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/erin-van-remortel-ccxp-37096b1.