How to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Increasing graph with stick person jumping in happiness

Ensuring that each customer has a positive experience regardless of the reason for getting in contact can be difficult, but what can businesses do to improve customer satisfaction?

To find out we asked our panel of experts for their tips and ideas on how to improve customer satisfaction.

Treat Employees Like Your First Line of Customers

Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
Frank Sherlock

Your contact centre agents sit on the frontline for your company, and act as the voice of your brand. They’re critical in delivering the best customer experiences and driving satisfaction. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that agent experience is on your priority list.

When your contact centre agents aren’t happy or engaged, they can’t provide the best quality service, leading to dissatisfied customers and churn. Organizations should look for ways to engage and motivate their employees.

One way is to offer continual feedback and real-time coaching, so they have ongoing, data-driven training that helps them understand where they’re performing well and areas that might need improvement.

When agents know they’re going to get continual feedback, including positive feedback, they remain motivated and achieve better outcomes for customers.

Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner

Understand Your Customers

Ben Booth at MaxContact
Ben Booth

Improving customer satisfaction (CSAT) is significant to your business for a number of reasons, from reducing customer churn, to increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV) and boosting customer loyalty.

Understanding your customers is a key starting point for any business looking to improve CSAT. Knowing your customers’ preferences and interests will help you connect and personalize experiences for them, which will in turn boost satisfaction.

Understanding customer behaviour will help your team provide a higher level of intuitive support and leaves customers feeling valued, turning them into brand advocates. The best brand advocates will share positive stories and elevate your brand through word of mouth.

Thanks to Ben Booth at MaxContact

Review the Customer Journey

Sandie Simms at Hammer
Sandie Simms

Quality service is the cumulative result of things going right at every possible touchpoint. Yet, one area that is all too often neglected is whether the overall customer journey is working as planned.

There can be many invisible points of frustration for customers in the complex, constantly adapting world of contact centres.

But what can be done about it? Whatever the evolving shape of your customer journeys, there will always be certain events that are designed to take place.

Just to mention a few:

  • The successful transfer of calls from the carrier network
  • The routing pathways linking customer needs with the best available options
  • Information that advisors need on their desktop to kickstart a relevant dialogue
  • The updating of core systems once interactions are complete

It is now possible to test all of these events, and even more importantly, to pinpoint exactly where things go wrong.

For example, the latest technology makes it easier to analyse literally thousands of IVR journeys in hours rather than weeks, and it can also pinpoint the issues that need to be fixed, removing dysfunctional IVR journeys, which research shows are a major cause of customer frustration.

Thanks to Sandie Simms at Hammer

Use a Direct Feedback Loop

Claire Benbow
Claire Benbow

A feedback loop that goes to frontline advisors as well as their line managers and supervisors can lead to quicker responses, better CX, and better performance.

People typically work harder when they are given recognition and if they receive this directly from the source it means so much more.

Advisors know that they will never be able to please everyone all the time. But knowing that customers are going to be asked for feedback can increase the likelihood of better service delivery.

Feedback also makes it easier to analyse advisors’ development areas and put in place the appropriate support and coaching to improve future CX.

Thanks to Claire Benbow at Sensée

Humanize the Contact Centre Service

Customers initiate interactions with contact centres for a wide array of reasons. However, whether they interact with self-service tools or agents, customers want the same thing: to work cooperatively towards resolving the issue at hand.

Contact centres can accomplish this goal by humanizing customer service. The journey begins with using AI-guided tools such as chatbots or interactive voice response (IVR) that capture initial customer information, such as name, issue, and account information.

It continues when agents greet customers by name, repeat details, and share their commitment to solving their problems. Or if agents aren’t available, callback options ensure customers keep their place in line for agent service.

Behind the scenes, automated testing can identify issues that dehumanize service, such as confusing IVR pathways, poorly designed webchat tools, broken callback services, or call quality issues.

Teams can use this information to rapidly initiate fixes that deliver a superior experience across channels.

Prioritize the Self-Service Investments Your Customers Most Want

Perry Gale at Cyara
Perry Gale

Self-service saves your organization money. The good news is that 81% of your customers want more. In the UK, consumers prefer chat and email (each 53%), followed by the company website (33%).

However, right now there’s a disconnect between what customers want and what businesses are offering.

For example, although UK customers favour chat, just 31% of businesses offer it. Similarly, business investment in making self-service smarter lags behind customer expectations.

Organizations need to keep pace with customer self-service expectations and ensure that both new and refreshed tools support a true omnichannel service experience.

Customers routinely move from self-service to guided channels and back – or initiate interactions across multiple channels simultaneously. Ensure that all these options are well supported so that organizations can deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Implement AI-Assisted Contact Centre Agent Tools

Customer satisfaction scores are directly correlated with a contact centre’s ability to hire, train, and retain skilled agents.

However, contact centre churn is harming leaders’ ability to deliver a consistent service experience. Whereas contact centre churn averaged 35 to 40% before the pandemic, experts now believe it has doubled.

Contact centres need to find a way to better equip and support agents as they navigate organizational policies, processes, and tools. By so doing, they can keep agents on the job longer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP)-guided tools support agents and help them deliver better service.

These tools include AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants, sentiment analysis and customer risk scores, predictive call routing, and knowledge management tools that serve up content in a Q&A format.

Thanks to Perry Gale at Cyara

Learn From Unsatisfied Customers

Hamish Cliff at Business Systems
Hamish Cliff

The contact centre is a perfect place to capture customer feedback. A well monitored and process driven customer satisfaction survey can facilitate this.

A methodology such as ‘design thinking’ can identify alternative strategies and solutions to help ensure the survey is engaging and encourage a higher response rate.

Applying a multichannel approach to surveying customers, whether that be via a face-to-face chat, online, or SMS, can also make a significant contribution to response rates.

Paying attention to survey responses which are on either end of the customer satisfaction spectrum can be a great way to improve the customer experience.

In the case of a negative survey response, background research into how the problem started, which channel it started through, and the status of the issue can uncover valuable insights into broken workflows, outdated agent scripts or gaps in agent training.

Thanks to Hamish Cliff at Business Systems

Power Words for Agents

The words used in a customer interaction can be more impactful than most people realize. Sometimes, simple phrases like “no problem” or “yes, but” might seem harmless on the surface.

However, the reality is these terms are sending the wrong message to your audience. Teaching agents how to use power words and adjust their language during conversations can directly impact customer service scores and audience turnover.

Power words are terms that have a positive lasting impression on your target audience, creating a significant emotional response. There are plenty of powerful words such as “understand,” that shows affinity and builds rapport and “always,” which conveys reliability.

For the most common words in customer service, read our article: The Best Power Words to Use in Customer Service

Organize Customer Data

We’re living in a data-driven world. From a business perspective, few forms of data are more valuable than the insights we can gain from our customers.

The correct data can tell a story about a customer’s journey within your business and highlight areas businesses need to improve. However, the only way to utilize customer data effectively is to ensure it’s well organized.

The organization of customer data in a streamlined, easy-to-understand, and sensible format provides contact centre agents and leaders instant access to the information they need.

By organizing data correctly, business leaders can ensure their people have the guidance they need to deliver more personalized, meaningful, and effective service.

Thanks to Geomant

Analyse Customer Sentiment

Jonathan Wax at NICE
Jonathan Wax

Digital-first customers expect instant gratification in every engagement, on any channel, all while expending minimal effort. Oh, and this experience needs to be seamless, making customers harder to please than ever before.

Luckily, sentiment scoring is a proven indicator of customer satisfaction and, when powered by AI, can enable brands to learn more about what makes a positive (or negative) customer experience in-the-moment – no matter the channel or volume of interactions.

AI-powered sentiment analysis examines the language used on every voice and text interaction in real time to provide insights into the customer’s feelings towards a brand’s product, services, and even their agents.

These insights can then be harvested to offer easy-to-understand recommendations that empower brands to deliver digital excellence across any channel.

Setting up this capability, brands can quickly recognize and act on low customer sentiment across every touchpoint, helping to boost satisfaction across the board.

Thanks to Jonathan Wax at NICE

Address Long Wait Times

According to a 2021 Ofcom study, wait times have doubled across the telecommunications industry since the pandemic’s onset, thanks to increasing shrinkage, low forecast accuracy and understaffing. What is more, this trend crosses verticals.

Call Centre Helper research suggests long wait times, of over 90 seconds, impact customer satisfaction (CSAT) even if the agent successfully resolves the query. Yet, this wait combined with no resolution is a recipe for customer churn and declines in satisfaction.

Therefore, overcoming new staffing challenges with enhanced forecasting and scheduling is a priority. As such, workforce management (WFM) solutions are coming to the fore even more than previously.

With less reliable forecast data to work from – due to the pandemic masking traditional trend and seasonality – contact centres can experiment with the many forecasting algorithms to find the most accurate.

Meanwhile, contact centres can plan for various scenarios, build new shift patterns, and offer agents more schedule autonomy to overcome shrinkage-related issues.

Align CSAT With Quality Scores

A thumbnail photo of Ed Creasey
Ed Creasey

The secrets to improving customer satisfaction (CSAT) in contact centres lie in quality assurance scorecards. After all, operations often isolate customer needs to develop a scorecard and weigh them up. As such, CSAT and quality scores should correlate.

If this is the case, consider how to support agents in delivering those outcomes. For example, if customers value a quick resolution most, perhaps support agents with knowledge management tools, coach techniques like signposting, and assess the best practices of agents with high CSAT rates and low handling times.

If there is little correlation, rebuild the scorecard. A quality management system is helpful here, enabling users to drill down into high CSAT conversations and sift through mountains of interaction data to unlock behavioural trends that drive customer happiness quickly.

Operations can update their scorecard within the platform, automating a significant chunk of the evaluation process and instantly pinpointing recognition and improvement opportunities.

Embrace Hyper-Personalization

When brands demonstrate knowledge of individual customers and act on that, they increase customer engagement.

Recommendation engines, pre-populated form-filling and custom pricing are excellent examples of such hyper-personalization, which many CX teams harness in a bid to boost customer satisfaction (CSAT). Yet, where does the contact centre fit into such a strategy?

Deloitte highlights omnichannel customer service and conversational AI as particularly powerful modes of hyper-personalization, in which the contact centre has a significant role to play.

Omnichannel allows companies to recognize and monitor customer journeys across online and offline channels. Meanwhile, conversational AI learns from customer interactions to deliver personalized services.

This research suggests companies that have invested in such digital transformation have experienced a 70% increase in top-line revenue.

Thanks to Ed Creasey at Calabrio

Don’t Just Focus on CSAT

CSAT is still the undisputed king of all customer experience measurement. Contact centres will often work to simply improve these numbers, meanwhile ignoring opportunities to improve their workforce management strategies.

It’s important we first address the concept that customer satisfaction starts with coaching and skills.

In the race to solve the big problems we sometimes leave the customer behind. The challenge then is achieving high level CSAT while subsequently fulfilling strategic business objectives.

As a whole, it’s a big mistake to focus on the delivery and forget about the application. When companies put customer satisfaction first in terms of employee development and training, they see enormous ROI in terms of customer satisfaction.

Utilize Technology

Headshot of Jamie White
Jamie White

Technology itself is playing a larger role in improving CX and CSAT.

Organizations are finding that customer experience has improved by using WFO proactive omnichannel management to better keep customers in the loop.

Many of our clients have reported better CSAT metrics by maintaining a consistent message and driving positive, low stress interactions for customers.

Ensuring seamless consistency in messaging and support for high-value customers is the hallmark of successful customer satisfaction.

  • But how do we know that customers are satisfied?
  • Are there metrics companies should measure and act on?
  • Should specific guidance, training, and scripting be given to agents?
  • Are there processes businesses should follow?
  • How does each individual within the contact centre contribute to customer satisfaction?

Let’s not forget that the best measurement of CSAT is NPS. More often than not, this is achieved through consistent fulfilment and delivery of your business proposition.

While NPS is very helpful when trying to gather a big picture of your organization holistically, what about the individual customers? How do we know what their day-to-day experience is like?

Perform QA

In order to really improve CSAT we have to perform QA. Quality assurance conducted regularly ensures that you are measuring the correct things.

The results also provide a real-time and field-tested measure of strengths and weaknesses in customer service, which can in turn help you put the right people in the right roles.

Quality Assurance done correctly can also yield tremendous benefits for your agents, helping them understand the unique challenges of the organization and giving them insight into what is being measured, as well as giving them actionable insights for improvement.

The connection between agent performance metrics and CSAT ratings should therefore be obvious.

By improving agent performance, we can deliver valuable business insights and fine-tune vital metrics like CES, NPS, and ultimately CSAT in order to achieve a practical and successful integrated internal and external business development strategy.

Thanks to Jamie White at Alvaria

Prioritize Two-Way Communication

A thumbnail photo of Tim Kimber
Tim Kimber

Customers appreciate businesses that treat communication like a two-way conversation. They don’t want to do business with brands that are unavailable or unresponsive and seek a dialogue instead of one-way messaging that doesn’t give them a chance to respond.

With that in mind, create opportunities for two-way conversations by enabling responsive AI or giving customers pathways to speak to humans.

The personal touch also matters, especially if a customer has a complex issue. By connecting them with human agents, you’ll be demonstrating that your brand is human, too.

Offer Multiple Channels

Our research showed that channel preferences diversified during the pandemic. Allow customers to connect with you via chat, social media, messaging apps, and video, in addition to voice and email. Also let customers switch channels so they can keep the conversation going while they’re on the go.

Thanks to Tim Kimber at Vonage

Use AI-Powered Self Service

Angela Lepelley at Five9
Angela Lepelley

Waiting for a response to a query continues to be one of the top customer frustrations. When a customer calls an organization, or sends a message, they’re often put in a queue or forced to wait for open business hours – even when it may just be a simple task required.

Customers lead busy lives and expect organizations to respond to their questions and concerns as efficiently and quickly as possible. Fortunately, AI-powered self-service makes this achievable, allowing customers to receive swift answers to their queries without ever having to be put on hold.

Leveraging bots allows a 24/7 always-on service across voice and digital channels at a fraction of the cost of having to staff day or night shifts.

Automating these repetitive low value tasks then allows agents to focus on more rewarding, high value interactions, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Thanks to Angela Lepelley at Five9

Centralize Employee and Customer Communications

Peter Milligan at 8x8
Peter Milligan

To ensure customers are satisfied in today’s evolving market, organizations need to interact with customers in the ways that suit them best.

Consistency is key and customers want to be able to communicate with your business using the channel they choose and receive the same service across all channels – whether that be phone, chat, SMS, social or any channel of communication.

To make sure customers are receiving the service they need and expect, businesses should consider a single cloud platform for customer and employee communications.

This will ensure that employees across the organization, especially contact centre agents, have the tools they need, when they need them, to fully satisfy customers and leave them feeling as though their time is being valued.

With complete, holistic views of the customer journey, available through a single cloud communications and contact centre solution, organizations are able to provide highly personalized customer journeys, and adapt to any changes with real-time analytics, to optimize both employee and customer experiences.

Thanks to Peter Milligan at 8×8

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Author: Robyn Coppell

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