Posted on May 19, 2008 by Dennis Snow
For many organizations, the greatest untapped resource for customer feedback is their call center. The call center handles just about every issue customers experience with your product or service. They handle questions, compliments, complaints, errors, requests, purchases, returns - you get the idea.
While there are some companies that truly do mine their call centers for information about customer opinions, most simply track statistics about call volume, length of calls, and issue codes. While these statistics are valuable, they're only the tip of the iceberg. The real value comes from actually listening to the dynamics that occur as one customer talks with one representative of your company.
I believe every company leader should be required to spend a half-day per quarter in their company's call center listening in on calls. It quickly becomes apparent that no longer is customer feedback about issue codes or call volume. It's about real people, with real emotions, and real opinions about how your company is doing. A leader will get more information from that half-day than from all of the reports and PowerPoint presentations you can generate in a year. Even if your call center is outsourced or located in another country, you can still arrange to listen in on customer calls.
Planning to have a strategic planning session about your products and services? Be sure to include some agents from your call center. The looks on their faces as strategy is discussed will tell you how the strategy will translate to the real world better than any focus group or customer survey that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Just a simple question to your call center agents, "How can we make this work?" will help the organization develop a strategy that has a chance of real success.
When was the last time you visited your company's call center to spend time listening to calls? If it has been more than 3-months, your information is out of date. Use this fabulous resource to find out what your customers really think about your company's service!