Do Your Callers Help Drive Service?

By Dr. Jodie Monger

We are never at a loss for numbers. We live by our center’s statistics – we continuously post the numbers, report our operational metrics, worry or feel elated by these numbers, and even benchmark our operational metrics against other call centers.

What would you say if I told you were celebrating or worrying about the wrong items? This is exactly what can happen if you are not reporting and benchmarking caller perception of your service delivery.

Caller perception, whether it comes from a patient, relative, or prospective patient, is the reality that medical call centers must deal with. It’s more real than your Service Level or the Average Length of the Call. The list of metrics you watch on a daily basis is most likely missing the caller. Your callers are critical to the dashboard you are monitoring. Does it really matter what your operational metrics look like without knowing if you are also effective to the callers? Without the callers’ input, you really do not know if your operational metrics are out of line.

Do you act when X drops below a certain point or Y increases above a certain point? Are the actions you take reflective of the assumption that these movements ultimately affect caller satisfaction? In many cases, it probably does, but can you prove that when asked to defend the performance of your center? You can prove many things when your dashboard (see graphic) has a complete set of metrics.

Quantification of the operational metrics is not an issue, so your challenge becomes one of accurately measuring service delivery from the callers’ perspective. The ideal method to collecting callers’ perceptions in a call center is by using real-time post-call surveys. These are by far the best way to measure and achieve the metrics you need. You deliver service and the caller tells you how it went. The feedback results become part of your “Effectiveness Dashboard.”

Caller satisfaction measurement programs have two goals. The first is to provide results to the agent level that are effective for coaching. Agents and teams should be given report cards that include the analytics around the drivers of caller satisfaction and the customer emotion behind the numbers through transcribed customer comments. The second goal is to provide a daily dashboard for managers that contains the voice of your callers as an alert to emergent issues or a successful alteration to the issue identified and managed yesterday.

By including caller metrics on your dashboard, you can keep your finger on the true pulse of the center. Knowing how day-to-day conditions translate to the callers’ perception of service delivery is invaluable. It is also valuable to have the ability to identify and then quantify how extraneous conditions are affecting your metrics. What is the affect of your hospital’s or call center’s marketing group sending out a letter about a new procedure or service? What was the effect of your center not being prepared with information to handle the inquiries or questions? Can you tell your CEO how an article in the Wall Street Journal about your organization negatively affected overall company satisfaction? How is first call resolution affected by a technical glitch that prevented your agents from assisting callers?

From the callers’ perspective, there are major dials to include on your dashboard. You need to watch the first call resolution metric. Repeat calls are a tremendous drain on our budgets and significantly affect caller satisfaction. Call satisfaction and agent satisfaction highlight issues such as a reduction in service level or agents who do not communicate a sense of ownership of the callers’ issue (drill down to behaviorally anchored attributes specific to the CSR). Multivariate analysis identifies the drivers of caller satisfaction and highlights the area that will yield the most to overall satisfaction via an improvement in delivery. And finally, Call Satisfaction will vary by day and you need to be concerned only when the value drops below the LCL (Lower Control Limit) and look for best practices when above the UCL (Upper Control Limit). Scores by day that fall within the UCL and LCL are within the normal range of acceptance.

Use your numbers wisely and create a comprehensive dashboard to guide you through the service delivery management maze. Adding the effectiveness dashboard to your desktop is not a difficult thing to do. Start a best practice in your call center and create this tool today.

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the President of Customer Relationship Metrics, L.C.. Prior to joining Metrics, she was the founding Associate Director of Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality. Her expertise is working with Fortune 1000 companies to help them create post-call survey programs using CATs® (Completely Automated Telephone surveys).

[From the February/March 2005 issue of AnswerStat magazine]