Make it safe for executives and employees to receive less than stellar results - as long as they diligently improve. A motto such as this one may be useful in establishing curiosity rather than fear: Good news is no news; no news is bad news; bad news is good news.3 Make it part of your culture to look at negative feedback from customers as early warning signals, and, as the old saying goes, turn lemons into lemonade.
Virgin Mobile measures call center customer satisfaction on a five-point scale and looks at the top-two box (4-5) and bottom-two box (1-2) scores, with emphasis on the latter. Dennis Weikle, Vice President of Customer Care, explains: "When customers are satisfied, that's great, and we certainly work to continue doing what we're doing well. We've found the bottom box is indicative of churn and negative word-of-mouth, so we built a customer advisory group to look at survey results on a real-time basis, hour by hour, to identify what went wrong, and turn the wrong into a right. We also categorize feedback by call center skill issues and by business operations issues, and drive improvements accordingly. We call customers to acknowledge the issue when a poor rating is given, and find that people are surprised and pleased with the personal attention and commitment to resolution. We're fortunate to have good customer experience commitment across the business groups to take action immediately. We are consumer champions, and that's how we hire and orient employees, with tops-down and bottoms-up walk-the-talk. We try in everything we do to anticipate impact on the customer, and over the past year we've seen the bottom-box volume shrink in half."4
Focus on leading indicators. Survey results measure what the customer already experienced, so they are lagging indicators. Teams can improve customer experience only by focusing on metrics tracking the progress of their survey results action plans. These action plan metrics are leading indicators of customer sentiment and business results because they can be observed and constructively managed by teams before customers have a chance to evaluate the results of the action plans. Well-aligned leading indicators can be predictive of future customer sentiment and market performance.
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