Businesses in 2019 are great at asking users’ opinion on all sorts of things. However, if you only ask the customers, you ignore a very important opinion – your own.
You’re constantly checking your final product to make sure it’s up to scratch. Almost every aspect of your business is subject to internal quality assessment and review. For example, you establish code reviews for software engineers or quality assurance for physical production.
So, why should it be any different when it comes to customer support? We obsess over CSAT and NPS results, but most companies have no internal review processes for validating their own support from the company’s perspective.
Of course, your customer reviews will always give you insight into what your customers think. But, you need internal reviews to ensure that your end product meets your own standards and expectations.
Defining your support quality solely through users’ opinions and feedback leads to two key problems:
- Product and company feedback gets mistaken for support feedback. Support often takes the brunt of negative product-related feedback. All of it is irrelevant to the quality of support, and some of it irrelevant to the product.
In my experience with running a customer support team, there were always a few negative comments in the usual gold mine of CSAT for saying no to a feature request that didn’t fit what we were doing at all. These are unfair and misleading, and can skew your CSAT when, in reality, the job done by support was excellent.
- Customers don’t see the complex processes behind their enquiries. What may seem like a relatively simple support interaction might in reality hide a complex process behind the scenes.
Particularly in smaller teams, support reps are often customer advocates inside the company. This means your support team might be running around the office, sometimes literally, to get to the bottom of an issue a customer has. They need to find the right person to fix the problem and then make sure it gets done.
Usually, what the customer sees is that ‘something’ broke, and after a certain amount of time that ‘something’ was fixed. Likewise, if the customer’s request was unreasonable for the company, the customer would think that ‘something’ broke and it was not properly fixed.
Hours of running around and advocating for a customer may yield no result, and get a negative review from a customer for not addressing their issue. However, a proper internal conversation review would reveal whether necessary steps were taken by customer support or not, and whether the job done was in line with your own standards.
The only person who can really know what is right, wrong, good or bad is you. You know your business and what you are actually trying to achieve.
The last bit is very important, because there are times when your interests do not align with those of your customers. And that is only normal - just think of every time a customer has asked you for a feature that makes no sense for you to build.
Tracking CSAT and NPS is commonplace and rightly so. Ideally, your interests align with those of your users most of the time. So, CSAT and NPS results serve as a great final confirmation of your outstanding support efforts.
They also yield pretty numbers, if you're a half-decent company. 95% satisfaction seems great. It’s a pretty number that’s almost 100%.
However, CSAT can be deceiving. If every instance within that 5% of dissatisfaction is a major failure on your part and not just a grumpy customer, this could mean that you are failing despite the high overall CSAT.
As mentioned, all of this is not to say that CSAT is redundant or unnecessary. It most definitely is not, because it is a key indicator of your customer support results.
The problem with CSAT is that it describes the outcome without giving insight into how you actually got there. CSAT should be the final checkbox in a long list of internally relevant milestones on the way to a great outcome in customer service.
The way we see it, you need to have validation both from the inside (you, your team, the company) and the outside (your users) to assure that you did a great job. Not only was the customer satisfied with the help received, it was indeed the right kind of help.
It's easy to make customers satisfied in a single interaction. Just give them a treat: say that feature will be shipped next week or that they will get store credit on top of the refund.
This is great if these promises align with what is realistic and reasonable from the perspective of the company.
The point is that the customer, by definition, cannot know what your quality standard is. They are the foremost experts in the world in what they want or consider great support.
However, with their role in this relationship, they cannot say which answer or solution is right from your company's perspective. While these two may at times overlap, this is not always the case.
So in order to drive quality, you need to look at both sides. To achieve a high level of support quality according to your own standards, you need to analyze your interactions from your company’s subjective point of view.
That's where even a basic conversation review process can make all the difference.
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