How to measure and improve call center CSAT


December 3, 2020

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The phone continues to be the primary channel that customers use to get in touch with a service. More than half of all consumers - even digital native millennials - use the phone as their first choice for resolving problems with a company. 

That means your call center can be a make-it-or-break-it point for customer satisfaction. But how can you determine the impact your call center is having on customer satisfaction rates? 

This is where the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) metric comes in. It can help you see where your call center currently stands and track your progress over time as you make improvements.

What is customer satisfaction? 

Customer satisfaction is how customers feel about your company - are you meeting their expectations, exceeding them, or falling short? 

This is simple on the surface, but customer satisfaction is actually fairly tricky to define clearly. What does satisfaction look like for your customers? It’s up to you to create that definition. 

And it’s certainly a challenge to measure accurately as well. You may assume that because customers are making purchases or not canceling services, they’re satisfied - but they may simply be sticking with your business out of habit or inertia. 

And that means they’re at high risk of going to a competitor when a tempting option arises. We’ll cover how to measure satisfaction shortly.

Advantages of customer satisfaction 

Satisfied customers bring many advantages to your business - some of them are immediate benefits, and some pay off over the long haul. 

Increased customer loyalty 

Customer satisfaction has a strong impact on customer loyalty. Customers who are dissatisfied with one or more aspects of your business, like your products or service, are not likely to stick around long-term. 

If a company’s customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with a company again after a mistake. Customers don’t expect perfection from your business, but they do expect that you’ll make mistakes right and provide helpful, friendly service while doing so. 

Focusing on customer satisfaction and customer service helps keep customers loyal, providing a base of customers you can count on over the years. 

Competitive advantage 

Customer satisfaction gives you a leg up on the competition as well. In fact, 89% of companies with "significantly above average" customer experiences perform better financially than their competitors. 

Customers who have excellent experiences with your company tend to be highly satisfied, and they will return to make purchases and even recommend your business to others they know. 

That word-of-mouth marketing can give you a significant competitive advantage, as people trust recommendations from people they know more than slick and expensive ad campaigns. 

Reduced customer churn 

With increased customer satisfaction comes lower rates of customer churn - the amount of customers who cancel their plans or subscriptions with your business in a given time period. 

Churn is expensive and damaging for growth when it’s too high, so putting additional time and effort into customer satisfaction in your call centers can reduce costs and raise revenues. 

Increased revenue 

75% of consumers will spend more to buy from a company that offers a great customer experience, and customer satisfaction is a result of an above-par CX. Customers are willing to pay a premium if you deliver exceptional rates of satisfaction. 

Also, acquiring new customers is pricier than retaining current ones because you need to pay for marketing and sales efforts. Retaining more customers by increasing satisfaction can lower your costs, which increases your bottom line. 

Improved brand reputation 

Satisfied customers tend to tell other people about the brands they love - and dissatisfied or angry ones sometimes publicly call out the brands that have let them down. 

High rates of customer satisfaction ensure that your business is receiving more positive reviews than negative from customer word-of-mouth feedback, and that’s good for your brand reputation. 

How to measure call center satisfaction 

You won’t know how well your call center is delivering satisfying experiences to customers unless you can measure it. And that’s where these call center satisfaction metrics come in. 

Customer Satisfaction Score

The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most effective metric for measuring how your call center experience is affecting customer satisfaction rates. 

What is CSAT in the call center context? It asks how satisfied a recent interaction with your call center customers are. You send the CSAT survey as soon as possible after the interaction - the feedback is more accurate when it’s timely. 

The question in the survey should ask specifically about the interaction with your call center, of course. Now you have a metric you can track over time to monitor your progress. 

Customer satisfaction surveys 

The CSAT is not the only kind of customer satisfaction survey - there are other types of surveys and they all play a part in measuring your overall satisfaction levels. 

There are a variety of call center CSAT survey questions you can use to determine your customer satisfaction score. 

Overall satisfaction 

In this survey, you can ask how an interaction affected overall satisfaction levels with your company. 

Say a customer called into your contact center to report that their recent purchase arrived damaged, and your call center rep apologized and refunded them. How did this experience affect their satisfaction with your company? 

The most effective predictors of customer satisfaction are experiences that customers find high-quality in some way. These contexts can include:

  • Overall quality

  • How reliable the customer perceives the company and/or products as 

  • How well the customer’s needs were fulfilled

If customers indicate that they’re happy with the quality of their experience, how reliable the call center agent was, or how well the service agent met their needs, they’re likely satisfied. 

Loyalty measurement 

You can also ask a customer how a recent experience with your call center affected their loyalty by using the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) system - asking them how this interaction affected their likelihood to recommend your business or products to friends or colleagues. 

This kind of NPS survey is called a transactional NPS survey. While the general NPS survey measures customer loyalty overall, tNPS surveys detect how an interaction shaped a customer’s current loyalty levels. 

This is important because customers can have issues with your call center that didn’t exactly make them happy, like a long hold time, but that weren’t severe enough to make them look elsewhere for options. 

Sorting out the pain points that really matter - the ones that meaningfully decrease customer loyalty - means you can focus resources on the right areas of the call center customer experience. 

Attribute satisfaction measurements 

This kind of survey measures how satisfied customers are based on an attribute of the interaction with your call center. 

For example, you could ask: “How satisfied are you with the friendliness of the customer service agent today?” 

You can replace friendliness with any other attribute you’d like to measure, such as speed, responsiveness, helpfulness, knowledgeability, and so on. 

Using this metric to measure customer satisfaction enables you to narrow down the causes of customer satisfaction with your call center. Unhappy customers might be reacting to the tone of voice your reps use, but be happy with their speed and knowledge of products. 

By determining the exact cause of customer dissatisfaction, you will know exactly where to focus your efforts to fix them. 

Repurchase / revisit intentions

This type of survey lets you see how a call center interaction affects the likelihood that a customer will make a purchase in the future or come back to your store or shop. 

For example, you can ask: Based on your recent experience with our call center, do you intend to make a purchase in the next year from [company]? 

You will have to tailor the question to reflect an appropriate timeline for your business, of course - if you sell vacuum cleaners or couches, even customers who love you are unlikely to need to return so quickly. 

This survey will let you know if customers are less likely to return to your business after they interact with your call center, which is a warning sign that changes need to be made. 

Best practices 

Make your call center customer satisfaction surveys more effective with these best practices. 

Be targeted 

Don’t ask vague questions or ask about too broad of an area - keep questions targeted to only the interaction with the call center, and focused on the attribute you most want to measure. 

Your customer satisfaction surveys should target areas aligned with your business goals. Don’t ask about agent knowledge if you’re trying to assess if technical issues are causing a drop in satisfaction.

Ask right away 

Customers have a lot going on in their busy lives. Don’t expect them to remember all the small details of a call a week ago. Send your CSAT surveys as close to the interaction as possible - immediately or shortly following, in an ideal world. 

Following up fast will ensure their feedback is more accurate, as memory fades with time.

Keep it short 

And keep surveys as short as possible to increase the likelihood that customers will complete it. You will want to gather as much data as possible, but customers typically aren’t eager to slog through a 10 question survey after spending time working through an issue with your call center. 

How to improve call center customer satisfaction 

Wondering how to improve CSAT scores in your call center? That’s a great goal if your scores are lower than you’d like, and it requires a multi-pronged approach. 

Why is CSAT important to call centers? 

Since your call center is likely the part of your company that has the most direct contact with customers, it’s especially important that the call center provides experiences that raise customer satisfaction. 

And since CSAT is the most effective way to measure customer satisfaction, your call center should certainly be tracking it if you’re not already. 

Analyze CSAT score 

Once you have sent out your CSAT surveys and collected the customer feedback, it’s time to analyze your data to pull out the most important and relevant points. Looking only at your overall score is not enough to pinpoint what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. 

Many customer feedback platforms, like GetFeedback, offer sophisticated analytics tools to help you understand your customer data more deeply. 

Identify any trends 

The scores for your contact center as a whole and for individual agents are helpful, but there are more items you can analyze to find trends. 

For example, are there certain call center managers whose teams perform much better - or much worse - than the average? Do your low scores all have elements in common, such as hold times or specific topics.

Follow up

If you receive a very low score from a customer, you should reach out to them and find out what made them so unhappy. Hear what they have to say, ask what you can do to make it right, and be sure to follow through. 

You just might save the relationship with that customer. 

Address and re-measure 

Once you’ve identified trends that indicate larger problems, or customer complaints that have the same root cause, it’s time to make changes based on this feedback. And your work isn’t done once the changes are in place. 

You should continually measure your call center customer satisfaction metrics and track your progress over time. If it seems that some changes aren’t having the desired effect, it’s time to rethink and try again. Creating satisfied customers is a job that is never done. 

Focus on customer experience 

Determining the key drivers of the customer experience in your call center will help you make the improvements that satisfy customers the most. 

For example, 33% of customers are most frustrated by having to wait on hold, and an equal amount find having to repeat themselves to multiple support reps most frustrating. Prioritizing these issues and other major trends that come out of your CSAT data will enhance your customer experience quickly. 

You should also work to deliver service in the way your customers want most - like allowing them to use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to get answers to simple questions instead of talking to a person, or reducing transfers between departments. 

Customer satisfaction isn’t about a single interaction: it’s about the entire customer experience. 

Ensure proper staffing 

Even the best team of call center staff can’t satisfy customers if staffing levels are too low, leading to long hold times and conversations cut short. If agents are expected to handle too many inbound calls per day, their performance will suffer. 

And while increasing staffing levels does come with a cost, so does having low customer satisfaction levels - so the investment will be worth it.

Provide training and development 

Brand new call center agents will have a learning curve, but you want to enable them to get up to speed and effectively serve customers fast. Investing in training for new staff, and development opportunities for experienced reps, will pay off in increased agent performance. 

Knowledgeable and skilled reps provide a better experience for customers, who will be more satisfied with their call center experience. 

And providing training and development opportunities is also a good way to increase employee retention and reduce turnover, which is an issue facing many call centers. 

Hiring new staff regularly is expensive, and you lose institutional knowledge with every employee who leaves. Investing in them instead encourages them to stay and build a career. 

Increase quality assurance 

Ensuring that each customer interaction is a high-quality experience for your customers is a good goal. But you can’t listen in to every single call to ensure that’s happening. 

Fortunately, with many kinds of call recording and analytics software on the market today, you can use the power of technology to analyze batches of calls to identify trends and issues. You can also schedule coaching sessions with call center reps to review recent calls and point out what was done well and what can be improved. 

Monitor and track call center KPIs 

CSAT is not the only number that matters when tracking call center performance. You should also be tracking KPIs such as average handle time, time on hold, and first call resolution to see how those are potentially impacting satisfaction rates as well. 

For example, if your average hold time goes down, do satisfaction rates rise? That’s important information for the future - it tells you that keeping hold times low is vital for customer satisfaction. 

Key takeaways 

Measuring your call center’s CSAT score is the beginning of a journey to improve and refine the entire customer experience. Satisfied customers are more profitable, more loyal, and can even serve as brand advocates - and your call center plays a key part in their customer journey. 

Looking for a way to build and send CSAT surveys, collect and analyze the results, and know where - and when - to take action? GetFeedback’s comprehensive customer experience platform has the solution for you. 

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