Confessions of a Customer Service Agent – I hate customers!

Customer Service Week for 2013 was celebrated October 7-11.  During the event, The Social XChange team interviewed more than two dozen customer service agents representing retail, banking, casual food service, utilities, technical support and telecommunications to better understand the issues facing service professionals.

In this second part of a four part series, we asked agents about the new focus on “voice of the customer“, Net Promoter Scores and having customers in the driver’s seat when attempting to resolve their issues.

Some of the results were not surprising – of the more than two dozen agents interviewed, 88% were aware of the “voice of the customer” and NPS.  These agents are regularly scored by customers for ease of doing business with their company, if their issue was resolved and how likely they are to recommend the company to others.

Of the 88%, more than half felt that that the rating scale was unfair or skewed.  Also, since surveys only cover a small portion of the customer contacts they have on a daily basis, one bad survey can ruin an otherwise excellent monthly or quarterly scorecard.  Customer responses can also be credited to the wrong agent, further skewing the numbers and agent productivity.

A key takeaway for management – almost all the representatives voiced the opinion that they were not trained on or had been briefed as to how NPS and “voice of the customer” data fits into overall customer strategy – the most common question was “what are they doing with that information?”

Although companies are finally listening to customer needs and wants, many have not created the front line buy in or communicated a coherent strategy to make NPS truly effective for their organization.

One result from the survey which was surprising but not unexpected –  nearly 100% of the group had a negative or extremely negative view of the customer with the majority  surveyed believing that customers do not respect them or their profession.

On the heels of customers running amok during Black Friday, as well as a recent incident at a Red Lobster restaurant where a waitress was pummeled for bringing the wrong type of shrimp, service representatives feel they are fighting a losing battle against customers who cannot or will not be satisfied – and a significant number (more than 75%) say they lack the support of their company in dealing with these types of customers.

We have all heard customers say from time to time “I really hate company X”, but in this age of customer engagement and the “voice of the customer”, some seasoned service professionals believe the feeling may be mutual.

Tomorrow: Part 3 of our Series – Management Support?