Agent Insight #5: 3 Steps to Leverage Customer Feedback from Call Center Agents

by Patty Isnor in Customer Service Outsourcing, Patty Isnor

Good ‘ol fashioned customer feedback.

Whether you run an in-house call center or outsource your call center to a trusted partner, agents are the key to harnessing customer feedback. They are privy to the good stuff – all of your customers’ unfiltered compliments, grievances, praise, product blessings, survey replies, and much, much more.

In our fifth and final installment of agent insights (check out our blog for the other posts), we sat down with our veteran team of Blue Ocean call center agents to talk shop. We quickly found three common viewpoints on the art and science of collecting feedback from customers.

1. Leave the Door Open for Customer Feedback

It all begins by enabling your agents to collect customer feedback and allowing it to flow freely, uninhibited to management teams who have the ability to enact change. If the door is closed, you won’t collect any feedback. By design, call center agents are groomed to follow process.

Our agent Nick added, “If the process to collect customer feedback is non-existent or poorly designed, your customers’ insights arrive at a dead-end. Agents may have the insights you desire, but there’s no process to deliver it up the food chain. This may seem a bit simple and obvious, but can be difficult to execute correctly.“

2. Use a Customer Feedback Temperature Gauge

How is customer sentiment trending? What product issues have been arising more frequently? Measuring the daylights out of everything is just the contact center way. Customer feedback shouldn’t be treated any differently.

Our agent Claude explained, “Keep a temperature gauge on customer feedback. When the gauge goes up sharply one way or another, find out why. For instance, maybe there is a problem with a particular product that the engineering team needs to look at right away.”  Monitoring customer feedback will allow you to react to changes in customer satisfaction quickly, minimizing the impact of a faulty product or inefficient process.

3. Act on Customer Feedback

If the gates are open on customer feedback, are these insights being acted upon by people with decision-making authority? Just having a program in place is not enough in itself.

Jacques, another agent team member illustrated one scenario, “The marketing team was promoting products that weren’t available in the stores or online. Customers were calling in to figure out if it was a mistake. The feedback was not acted upon in a timely manner which exacerbated the situation with more calls.”

Whether it is an escalation process or a structured survey, there should be a defined method to collect and deliver insights to the right person in the organization that can institute rapid changes. Assign accountability to key people. You could also empower call center agents in some cases to make decisions on the fly.

Agents are the first to greet each customer over the phone, email, chat, or social customer care interactions. Agents collect the information, but it’s up to you to let customer insights bear fruit or wither away on the vine.

Not all customer feedback will be valuable. There is a lot of noise. Of course, there are sophisticated contact center tools out there that enable centers to optimize the process of collecting customer feedback insights. However, if you’re not looking to drop a few pretty pennies on software, you can look to more basic methods of creating processes to funnel unstructured insights from the agent front-lines. It costs next to nothing to read agent emails or gather the agents for a roundtable Q&A session to riff on what they’re hearing from customers.

Looking for more info on customer feedback in the outsourced environment? Give us a shout!

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