We asked our panel of experts for their best advice for building a customer experience audit.
Focus on How Successful Customer Interactions Are
The obvious starting point for audits is to look at how successful customer interactions are.
- Do customers get transferred?
- Are they speaking to IVRs and then still speaking to a human before getting answers?
- Does one call take care of their needs?
There are pitfalls to be mindful of. For example, we see a lot of situations, especially between formal contact centres and back-office departments, where people are transferred, and situational knowledge isn’t travelling with them. An audit needs to capture why this happens.
Good audits ask lots of questions and the data gleaned from answers can help considerably. They should be sought as an ongoing process and not simply as an annual chore.
Contact centre supervisors benefit from being able to see response rates, sentiment, and other information, taking advantage of insight on a daily basis with more granular items audited on a weekly or monthly basis.
Thanks to Lisa Orford at 8×8
Don’t Try and Tackle Everything at Once
It’s impossible to audit every customer touchpoint in one go, so consider the value and effort it will take to audit each area and start with the one that will deliver the greatest ROI. If you try and tackle everything at once, you are likely to use a large amount of resource with little value in return.
Gathering customer insight is a great starting point when considering ROI. The easiest way to collect this insight is by speaking to the teams that interact with your customers directly.
They hear from your customers regularly and will likely be happy to share common questions or issues that customers are raising. Just don’t let unrelated complaints or ideas dilute the information.
In addition, bringing the information gathered to life by listening in to conversations your team are having with customers is super-useful. After you have collected data, it’s time to analyse, prioritize and implement improvements. Monitor these changes and then extend your auditing.
Thanks to Drew Naylor at MaxContact
Conduct an Internal Audit
A customer experience audit is a tool to help understand how customers interact with a business and identify areas that need improvement. Many companies utilize surveys for this task. However, surveys are inadequate.
A customer experience audit should start internally as follows:
- For each product/service determine customer personas and all potential sales phases.
- For each phase list, identify all specific touchpoints per channel. e.g. a persona’s touchpoint for the research phase might be:
- website – (specific) product/blog/contact us page(s)
- live-chat app
- call centre – sales division
- Evaluate each touchpoint to ensure it provides what a customer requires at that point; fix any information gaps.
- Then evaluate each channel and determine any potential issues and solutions.
- Example: call centres – implement phone number testing to eliminate potential customer frustration with unavailability and/or bad quality audio.
Only once an internal audit is completed should external feedback be sought.
Thanks to Caroline Leonard at Spearline
Understand the Customer Life Cycle
When building a customer experience audit, consider documenting the customer life cycle. A great CRM can help facilitate this, with the ability to record popular customer touchpoints and repeat customer contact reasons.
Consistently gather customer feedback to facilitate the objectives behind the audit. A platform which collects customer feedback based on frontline agent interactions in the form of something as brief as a survey or poll can help stimulate changes that make a significant contribution to the customer experience.
Regardless of whether customer feedback is negative or positive, share the news internally. In the case of negative customer feedback, assess training needs and broken workflows.
In the case of positive customer feedback, share this with the team, building a library of successful workflows, interactions and channels which have worked well with customers.
Lastly, consider carrying out audits on a quarterly basis rather than as a one-off to encourage a cycle of continuous improvement.
Thanks to Mo Hassan at Business Systems
Consider Every Step of the Customer Journey
The main purpose of a CX audit is to answer the question “how effectively are we listening to customers and responding to their needs?”
It is a very simple question. However, to answer it meaningfully and comprehensively, organizations should cover it from several angles, as well as from both a customer AND an employee perspective.
Customer-oriented questions should include: “do we have the tools necessary to meet customer expectations?”, “how good are we at sharing customer opinions and feedback?” and “are our processes consistently customer-centric?”
On the basis that engaged employees generally equate to better CX, they should also ask “how engaged are our employees?” and indeed “how customer-focused are they?”
But one of the most important questions – and one that’s often overlooked – is “are we delivering great CX at every step of the customer journey?”
For example, what does the individual/organization actually think about being our customer, from the moment they first chose our products and services to the current day?
This could have more of a bearing on whether they remain a customer after their current contract expires or they purchase a new model than how well their last service enquiry was handled.
Thanks to Simon Hunter at Sensée
Set Benchmarks on All Channels
There can be an overwhelming number of metrics to consider when working to improve customer experience, but where do you start?
Organizations need firstly to look at what customer experience metrics matter most to them, be it CSAT, NPS, first call resolution rate, the list goes on. Choosing the right metrics can make or break agent efficiency, call quality, agent churn and in turn your customer experience.
Before embarking on any CX improvement initiatives, it’s important to first and foremost understand what your customers are saying, as well as thinking about your brand. This can help you set benchmarks and build out a plan for how to improve your most important metrics.
It’s also important to remember to look beyond a one-dimensional channel, such as surveys. Organizations may find it much more beneficial to set benchmarks across all customer listening posts such as voice, text, email and social to gauge their CX metric performance.
Organizations that delve deeper through omnichannel engagement can then use these tangible insights to be in a much better position to improve their CX and overall performance enterprise wide.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
Understand Your Demand Drivers
By assessing demand drivers, contact centres can capture customer intent and follow the breadcrumb trail to the root cause of customer issues. These pain points offer incredible insight into where customer journeys fail, and where service excels.
Unfortunately, isolating such pain points is no simple task. Indeed, contact centres often use call disposition data, which is notoriously inaccurate.
After all, many operations ask agents to input a disposition code into the CRM following each contact. Often, in a rush, agents select the wrong code or don’t really understand what the codes mean.
A better method is to tie dispositions with IVR inputs. However, these are rarely reviewed and revised. As a result, contact centres fail to track emerging CX frictions. Fortunately, speech analytics automates the process, using keyword analysis to pick the bones out of each interaction and auto-summarize the issue.
By transitioning to this analytics approach, the contact centre moves from having nine or ten core contact reasons to many more.
Thanks to Jade Turley of Calabrio
Identify and Analyse Your Data Points
The data gathered through marketing, sales and speech analytics is as close as the call centre can come to putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Every data point is on the table and ripe for examination when building your audit. The hardest part is deciding which data points actually tell your story and what data can give an accurate depiction of the customer journey.
If your call centre volume spikes after outbound marketing blasts, but subsequently experiences have below-par conversion rates, both data points must be included. Excluding one or the other tells a different story and offers a very incomplete picture.
It’s very important that your system capabilities include the ability to listen to the voice of the customer, so you can replicate and reconstruct the actual customer journey. This insight also provides easy opportunities for improvement and identification of success or failure points.
Thanks to Kaye Rickards at Alvaria
Gather 3D Data to Pinpoint the Problem
An audit is only valuable if it’s actionable.
To pinpoint problems, address broken processes or missing experiences, it’s necessary to examine your customer experiences from multiple angles with a variety of data.
Quantitative data like KPIs can be cross-referenced with qualitative data, providing a 2D matrix representation of overall experience quality.
When experiences score poorly in both areas, introduce a third dimension to your data to pinpoint the problem. This could be a customer survey with a much narrower focus or interviews with the contact centre team.
If time and resources are limited, make a targeted to-do list by prioritizing poor-scoring experiences that also occur at high volume. Changing seemingly minor issues can snowball into large overall improvements.
Explore the Middle Ground
This applies both in terms of customer opinion and the viewpoint of agents who often act as ‘middlemen’ in experiences.
Check third-party reviews and explore those for detractors and promoters. Be cautious of one-off factors or those out of your control and identify the triggers or experiences that should be removed, improved, or more widely rolled out.
Agent perspective is equally valid, both from new starters and experienced staff. Small repetitive frustrations for agents or customers can affect low-effort high-quality CX.
Often agents are the ones that hear these little grumbles. Simple fixes to minor issues might seem insignificant but can make a big difference, especially during an emotionally charged interaction.
Thanks to Juliet Fehr at Odigo
Additional Considerations for Customer Experience Auditing
There were also some great additional considerations for companies conducting customer experience audits.
Have a Process to Uncover CX Blind Spots
We all understand the value of a CX audit, but building the results into your operations is a complex challenge – and success can be difficult to measure (without going through the process all over again!).
One thing we would recommend is to make sure you have a process to uncover or identify any customer experience ‘blind spots’, those areas where invisible technology failures are a temporary or ongoing cause of customer frustration.
In our experience, even the most well-thought-out contact centre will have some of these blind spots, which are often undetectable to your operations and IT teams.
For example, how often does your customer experience busy lines or dropped calls, even when you have agents ready and waiting to take calls? Does your IVR successfully route their call to the right destination? Do your customer journeys work as planned, or are some of the steps broken?
If you have an automated CX assurance or contact centre testing solution in place, it will keep you informed of this type of failure – and pinpoint the technology areas your IT team needs to fix.
If not, you may want to consider a one-off exercise to find out if your customer journeys are working as planned and how well your contact centre performs under stress.
Thanks to Sandie Simms at Hammer
Take Action After the Audit
Once your audit is complete, it’s a perfect time to refocus training and frontline employees in order to achieve the desired customer experience and outcome. The ideal experience is a collaboration that your business provides, and that the customer accepts.
At a time when continuing education and tutorials are an integral component for the further development of your staff, the ability to create real-life what-if scenarios based on actual customer journeys and experience can give your agents an invaluable tool for first call resolution and improving efficiency.
Thanks to Kaye Rickards at Alvaria
Create a Virtuous Circle
Often valuable data for an audit is acquired from customers themselves, either through good-willed participation or emotionally fuelled complaints.
Organizations should acknowledge this contribution with more than an internal presentation of the findings. Reactive changes, visible results and proactive updates create a positive feedback loop where change encourages further participation.
This, it should be noted, counts for both customers and agents. Adopting such a transparent approach can trigger loyalty in both groups, even if they have given negative feedback and were considering a change.
Feeling valued and heard by an organization’s actions, not words, is powerful.
Thanks to Juliet Fehr at Odigo
Capture, Transform, Apply (CTA)
Contact centres handle lots more than intent-based data. Conversational, preference and purchasing data are excellent examples. When harnessed effectively, operations can unlock critical insights that inform enterprise-wide CX improvement initiatives.
Yet it is never quite so simple. Silos and outdated collection techniques result in precious journey insights being washed away in lost data streams.
To combat this pressing issue, Calabrio’s CEO Thomas Goodmanson coined the acronym CTA, which stands for:
- Capture data across the customer journey
- Transform data points into actionable insights
- Apply insights to enhance the customer experience
Business intelligence solutions can transform the data, while enterprise collaboration helps apply insights in the best areas.
The tricky part is capturing data. Consider conversational data by thinking beyond call recordings alone. Contact centres can pair them with screen recordings and agent keyboard metadata. Doing so provides more insight into contact centre journey failures.
Thanks to Jade Turley of Calabrio
Review the Three Ms: Mindset, Metrics and Meaning
According to our recent 2022 Customer Service Index survey of business decision-makers, nearly half of respondents report agent and employee retention as one of their primary challenges.
Research from Metrigy also has revealed that there is a direct relation between the agent and customer experience: when agent turnover rates are below 15%, CSAT increases by 26%.
Therefore, as your leadership team starts to build their next customer experience audit, it is important to prioritize the employee experience.
To ensure EX is a focus, your leadership team can start by reviewing the three Ms:
Shift your team’s mindset to review softer metrics, such as attrition rates, engagement and agent burnout. In turn, this will help you recognize the meaning and patterns between EX and CX when analysing the data. Your team should not look at them in isolation.
With tools such as interaction analytics and automated quality management, you can look at both sides of an interaction, whether it is a call or a digital engagement, and identify ways to improve CX and EX along the entire customer journey.
Thanks to Genefa Murphy at Five9
Automate CX Testing
Customer experience (CX) auditing is time-consuming and draining. Many organizations audit their CX when they deploy new products and services. However, manual testing can be cumbersome and may not identify all gaps.
Instead of scheduling testing of how channels operate independently and together, organizations can run these tests all the time.
That way, contact centre teams are alerted when there’s a problem. What’s even better is that digital workflow can automatically trigger incidents based on preset thresholds, prioritizing fixes in service management queues.
And if your organization has moved to a continuous innovation model, you want to release products as soon as possible to gain competitive advantage. So, why not embed CX testing into your DevOps and product release processes?
While you’ll still want to audit the entire CX on a regular basis, automated testing gives you real-time insights into how all your digital channels are performing.
As a result, you’ll avoid problems like dead-end interactive voice response (IVR) pathways, voice quality issues, chatbot fails, and more, that can harm customer satisfaction and your brand’s reputation in the marketplace.
Three Key Times to Conduct a Customer Experience Audit
Over the past few years, the pace of business transformation has been incredible. As a result, your organization’s customer experience (CX) is continually changing.
Consider auditing it:
- Every time you deploy a major new channel or product: You will want to update your customer journey, test the new channel or product, and understand impacts on the omnichannel experience.
- When negative customer sentiment increases: Customers will express their dissatisfaction with products, broken processes, and price increases, both online and in agent interactions. Mining this data can help you identify issues that need resolution.
- At least on a quarterly basis: There are no hard-and-fast rules about auditing. However, companies that are digitizing rapidly will likely want to audit their experience frequently, to understand how it impacts their CX.
Thanks to Perry Gale at Cyara
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