Customer-Focused Quality – What is it?

Customer-focused quality goes beyond the development and testing divisions within organizations. Every employee is a stakeholder in the quality process. I like to look at all functions within an organization as dots connected to a circle. The success of a company’s product, services, and ultimately the entire organization, is interlinked. When any of these dots are neglected there is a risk of collapsing the circle, alienating customers, and ultimately losing business.

For example – if case studies aren’t written and published in a professional manner, the quality of the marketing department suffers; if invoices are repeatedly sent late or not sent, the quality of the finance department is diminished; if deadlines and timelines are consistently missed, the quality of the production team is diminished, and so on.

To be successful in developing and implementing a customer-focused quality program, you need to ask your customers how they define quality with respect to your products. Some requirements could be based on the following:

  • Ease of use
  • Documentation
  • Defect tolerance, frequency and impact
  • Service and support
  • Internal processes
  • Compliance and audit requirements

Identify past, current and prospective customers to interview to obtain your requirements. Customers should be from all industries- globally – and include a selection of all sizes of business. How unique products are will affect the quality definitions your customers provide. The definitions may be more strict based on the objectives, goals and outcomes your customers expect to achieve by using your products and services. Interview results may reveal that some customers may:

  • Want software with “plug and play” versions that are easy to install and use. Interfaces may need to be easily integrated with minimal customization that do not impact day-to-day business.
  • Define quality within product documentation and how easy/technical it needs to be for them. Some want step by step instructions that will allow minimal support calls, others want  detailed and hand holding support calls as installations and upgrades occur. Product management, and marketing materials that are published as well.
  • Define quality based on defects, the frequency and the impact it will have on their business. Some are ok with intermittent disruption, some are not.  (Many organizations use the 6S metric 3.4 defects per million in defect tolerance as a quality requirement).
  • Define quality based on the depth of service and support they receive.
  • Define quality based on the internal processes that are in place and followed (e.g. how often audits occur with publication of results).

Once you have gathered the customer requirements attributes, you can begin to develop the quality program metrics. Carefully and thoughtfully developing and implementing quality metrics will allow you to measure and identify gaps across all functions within the program, as well as assist in gathering feedback to improve processes and products. By placing customer requirements ahead of internal requirements and by involving the customer from the beginning of the development process, through delivery and maintenance, you maximize your ability to satisfy their quality requirements.

Place customers first, involve them in every step, let them know you are placing their interests ahead of yours, you not only will satisfy them, you will gain a devoted and loyal customer.

As with the development and implementation of any new program, ask  yourself  “Are we doing this to satisfy customer quality requirements? If not, where else might our investment be made that will allow us to achieve greater results with respect to satisfying their quality requirements?”



Citibank Shows the Future is Bright for Customer Engagement

In my last blog post, The Future of Customer Engagement Will Look Much More Like This, I shared a personal experience that sure felt like the future of customer engagement. And wouldn’t you know it, I had another one. This time Citibank brought the love.

Not too long after the Amazon incident, my family traveled from California to Oregon for my daughter’s softball tournament. My son decided to take advantage of some tax free shopping and purchased a MacBook Air. When I tried to make the purchase on his behalf, my credit card was declined. As I grabbed my phone [...]

Three Ways Real-Time Speech Analytics Can Improve Your Debt Collection Efforts

A major challenge of debt collection organizations is determining which calls to monitor in order to identify potential issues before they escalate, especially meeting critical compliance requirements.

Of all the useful contact center technologies available today, one of the most valuable I’ve seen in addressing this challenge is real-time speech analytics.

The following are three ways that speech analytics can help improve your debt collection efforts and reduce compliance violations.

The ability to identify when debt collectors break the rules. Regulatory compliance is a well-defined problem. Analyzing call recording with speech analytics is an effective way to identify compliance violations. In [...]

A Logical Approach to Setting a Schedule Adherence Goal

The dynamic nature of contact centers require us as leaders to have a keen awareness of what our contact center volume and staffing will be at each daily interval. As a contact center matures, a typical growth step includes the addition of resource planning teams and tools to plan workload and resources needed to meet service goals for each of those intervals.

Agents following an assigned schedule, which is known as schedule adherence, have a profound impact on how well a contact center operation can perform. By using a schedule adherence key performance indicator (KPI) your operation team is able [...]

What Do Consumers Value Most in a Service Experience?

As a customer experience professional, I am always interested in what customers value the most. If we get it right, we can successfully manage our resources, priorities and engagements to ensure we are providing the expected value to our customers and ultimately achieve our respective goals.

To that end, we conducted a study with consumers around the world earlier this year, “Customer Service Experience Study, Wave II“, and in it asked two key questions: “What do customers want in a great service experience?” and “What do companies and customers want from the technology behind that great customer experience?” The respondents [...]

Do you Know the Best Ways to Engage Multi-Generational Customers?

Millennials,  Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomer. How do these customer groups interact with organizations in today’s technology-driven markets? Are these descriptions accurate? Some attributes are specific to each group, but many cross all generations depending on the level of technical ability they possess, but more importantly the technology channels they prefer to use, as well as the manner in which they process the information they seek.

As customer experience strategies are developed and implemented across all industries, organizations must fully understand all aspects of how customers prefer to interact. There is a critical need to fully understand social technology [...]

Voice of the Customer – Are you Getting It?

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you might have noticed that I talk about quality frequently. I’m not afraid to say that I think you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve your customers’ experiences if you aren’t listening to those calls, chats, emails, etc.

There’s another side to this listening task. True voice of the customer is more than just the conversation they have with your agents. It’s also something you can catch through a post-call survey.

What is a post-call survey, you ask? This is typically an automated survey with just a few questions that are presented [...]

The Future of Customer Engagement Will Look Much More Like This

Earlier this summer, Amazon turned a service failure into a genuine feel-good moment. It was a great illustration of how the art of customer engagement is changing, for the better.

My family had gathered together to watch a movie while away for the weekend in wine country. The choice was finally made (after much debate), seats negotiated, licorice distributed and play button pushed. Suddenly the dreaded “death spiral” appeared on screen as the movie continued to buffer. After putting the room back in order, my family begrudgingly retreated to bed. Before my head hit the pillow, I decided to check [...]

Know and Retain the Next Gen Policyholder

Younger generations including the Millennials and GenY are known as being driven by technology, they want less personalization, and are instant gratification-type generations. They want their information when and how they prefer, and tend to be able to get what they need in a flash. Their communications are based on social, mobile, and instant messaging platforms, and it’s an assumption that personalization isn’t a priority for them. But, is that really the case?

In an effort to better understand these preferences and trends, I pulled together a multi-generational panel that represented various types of policyholders during the insurance track at [...]

Seven Steps Your Contact Center Strategic Planning Process Needs

A contact center strategic plan is critical to ensuring that your week-over-week service delivery is consistent and efficient. Often called a capacity plan it is the best mechanism for making important operational decisions, like, “should we hire or use overtime to hit our seasonal peak?” or “should we have our customer service phone agents take emails during their downtime?” or “what will happen if the economy rebounds and our volumes increase?”

If plans are efficient, it will mean that week-over-week the center will have exactly the correct number of agents to always hit service goals (service levels, occupancy, abandon rates [...]