Study: Ignore Customers At Your Own Peril

Aug 25, 2004

By George Anderson

A new research study conducted by Customer Relationship Metrics says companies are forgetting one very important component when attempting to improve their level of customer service — the customer.

Too often companies embark on programs to fix what’s wrong by evaluating benchmark data. The problem, according to study, is, “When all is said and done, it’s the customer that has the final say if you have the best practices.”

Dr. Jodie Monger, president of Customer Relationship Metrics, says ivory tower thinking is often to blame for the failure to improve customer service. “Many of these initiatives come from top-level executives, who are usually far removed from customer interaction,” she told “Although companies may have initiated several solutions that are supposed to improve customer satisfaction, many are flawed because of [the company’s] neglect in bringing the customer into the mix.”

To test the power of incorporating customer feedback into improving service levels, Customer Relationship Metrics observed the performance of two contact centers over a six-month period.

Each of the call centers recorded customer comments to collect feedback when conducting post-call surveys. The difference between the two was in how the data was analyzed.

The first call center did automated surveys immediately following customer calls and tied the responses to the agent that took the original call. The second center also did a survey but aggregated numbers across the entire group.

The result was that, after analyzing the results, the first contact center was able to work with specific agents to make changes, while the second center was not.

Because of this approach, agents at the first contact center became better able to resolve customer issues, resulting in 3,120 less repeat calls per month. The annual cost savings using this approach was estimated at $187,000.

The second center, however, experienced an increased number of repeat calls and annual expenses were increased by $52,300.

Moderator’s Comment: If improving customer service
is important, why do so few companies appear able to actually improve? What
are best practices companies should follow to see positive results?

Dr. Monger offers this: “In today’s commoditized economy,
the only differentiating factor and competitive advantage a company has is the
service it provides. All too often, companies that have the best product become
extinct due to poor customer service.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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