November 15, 2021
Decision Maker Content decisionmaker Innovation Technology

Should The Future Of CX Include Customer Behavior Scorecards?

CTO and Founder at CallMiner. Responsible for strategic direction across business development, research and artificial intelligence.

As consumers, we’re used to being asked to rate our customer service experiences. Just think of the last time you called your internet provider when your connection went out or a delivery company to find a lost package — I guarantee you were asked if you would be willing to stay on the line after the call to take a brief survey. In the customer experience (CX) world, rating customer service agents is the norm, but very few companies rate customers in return.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a customer service agent. Each day you interact with between 80 and 100 customers, fielding their questions and meeting their needs. One afternoon, an angry customer begins calling you offensive names and cursing. That’s hard enough, but when you finally get off that call, you’re expected to immediately engage with another customer.

Most of us would agree that this type of customer behavior is completely unacceptable, but it’s still all too common within enterprise contact centers. And it’s a big reason agent turnover rates are between 30% and 45% globally and the average tenure for entry-level agents is only about one year.

That’s not to say agents don’t quit for other reasons, like poor training and low salary. But feeling underappreciated in a very stressful job ranks as one of the top reasons on almost every attrition report. Further, high agent turnover rates make it difficult for organizations to maintain good customer service agents and even harder to find and retain effective managers — not to mention the cost associated with hiring and onboarding new agents.

It’s not hard to see how potential abuse from customers could impact an organization’s customer service capabilities and bottom line.

So, what if instead of just expecting agents to deal with offensive customers, companies started rating customer behavior in return?

But isn’t the customer always right?

We’ve all heard the saying, “the customer is always right.” But if workplace abuse, racism, sexism or any sort of bias between colleagues isn’t acceptable — even during an emotional outburst — why are organizations still allowing customers to treat their employees in that way?

My colleague, Conrad Liburd, and I recently spoke to Adrian Swinscoe on his podcast about bias in data and algorithms and what companies can learn from that data to improve both customer and employee experience.

Conrad is a former contact center rep and now an AI engineer, and he perfectly presented the case for why rating customers is a good idea: “There are literally customers who call in just to abuse the agents. They’re not looking for anything but a fight. By giving agents more control, or at least feedback, we’re creating a structure that makes agents feel empowered and valued.”

More companies are investing in programs and solutions that pay close attention to what call center agents say (or don’t say), but paying attention to what customers are saying can be just as important.

That’s because when employees are happy in their jobs, productivity goes up. So, companies that take a proactive approach to ensuring mutual respect between customers and contact center agents (or any employee, for that matter) stand to gain more than just reducing turnover.

Take a page out of ride-share practices.

We’re all familiar with Uber’s customer scoring model — I’m sure you even know, with some degree of certainty, what your personal user rating is.

The goal of this customer scorecard is simple. Riders know that their rating influences whether the next driver is willing to pick them up, and the majority of riders are far more conscious of treating the driver and their vehicle with respect.

Now, ask yourself and answer honestly: Would you behave differently toward your internet provider’s customer service agent if you knew that agent was actively rating your behavior and your score could potentially impact how long you had to wait in the queue the next time you called?

It may seem unrealistic, but from a business perspective, there are multiple benefits that can come from customer behavior scoring:

• Empowering contact center agents: Implementing a customer scoring strategy and communicating it to your customers could empower agents to meet customer needs while improving their work environment. This kind of investment grows exponentially — businesses that work to motivate their employees are more profitable than businesses that don’t. And employees say they work harder when they feel appreciated.

• Increased service agent retention: A whopping 85% of employees stay longer at socially responsible companies, and these same practices can attract more workers. It’s important to send a clear message that everyone’s experience matters. Higher employee retention and increased motivation can only mean improved CX and profitability.

• Establish mutual respect: A customer behavior scorecard has the potential to create an atmosphere where everyone is valued and respected. By valuing employees as much as you value customers, you acknowledge that respect is not a one-way street. Instead, respect becomes an expected — and mandatory — foundation.

That said, organizations need to be prepared for inevitable pushback. There is no doubt that some customers will not agree with the system and decide to do business with brands that don’t have customer behavior scorecards. Instead, organizations should focus on being transparent about scoring methods. Transparency is important to customers, and hiding behind poor interactions means you are keeping customers you might not want. 

Organizations also have to be diligent about checking their data and scoring systems for unintended biases against customers, just as they would with agents. Customers should never be scored lower because of a poor connection or an accent, for example. Organizations need to be prepared to constantly audit their scoring to ensure it’s fair and unbiased. 

While creating a customer rating system like Uber’s doesn’t make sense for every business, prioritizing employee experience and encouraging mutual respect can have a multiplying effect on any company’s bottom line. When customer service becomes a two-way street, everyone wins.

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