ARECENT NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO SEGMENT delved into the subject of phone center customer satisfaction management in today's world of immediacy. It highlighted an example of a customer trying to disconnect her service from a large cable TV provider. The customer service rep refused to comply with the request by rudely cycling through a variety of alternatives, which angered the customer and amplified the rudeness of the agent. The verbal war ended after about 10 minutes when the agent loudly blurted out that he couldn't disconnect the customer and that she would have to visit a store to do that.
Since this cable company dealt with customers largely though online and phone channels rather than stores, it prompted me to look more closely at customer satisfaction standards, methods and metrics as they are evolving in our increasingly online world.
Clearly, banking is moving increasingly online, at least in regard to the daily, routine transaction services on which customers rely. An examination of best practices suggests that those firms getting the best scores do two things extraordinarily well. They reinforce the accessibility of their online channel(s) and their call center channel so customers and employees can easily move between the two. They also manage their call center employees to very specific customer satisfaction metrics.
According to the Service Quality Measurement Group (SQM), which tracks and measures best practices, 48 percent of all calls are handled on a "one-and-done" basis, meaning the customer is satisfied and doesn't have to go anywhere else to solve his or her problem. Top-performing call centers achieve a 70 percent one-and-done score. And according to SQM, each 1 percent improvement can increase a company's bottom line by $250,000 as a result of lower costs and fewer customer defections. While these metrics are for larger call centers, they suggest a payoff for providing extraordinary customer service.
A company whose name surfaces frequently in articles describing outstanding customer service scores and best practices is Zappos, an online retailer whose founder, Tony Hsieh, wrote a book called "Delivering Hap- which established today's standard for customer satisfaction management.
At Zappos, the...