Dissatisfied customer. The lonely soul who is often forgotten!!!

I still remember that day about 12 years back (roughly) and always will. It was a special day as a first time call center operations manager.

The phone queues were throttled for an hour that day and had the peer call center staff up so my entire call center floor can celebrate the achievement of 80% Customer satisfaction (CSAT) goal. Throttling the phone queue for this fortune 20 client was a VERY BIG deal and signifies how critical the senior leadership felt this achievement was. The entire call center floor was in a party mood and I was the proud leader of the team. The senior vice president from the client organization had sent me a note appreciating the efforts of our organization (we were the vendors) in achieving this milestone. I knew the impact that one CSAT number was going to have on my performance appraisal that year given that we were one of the first vendor company to achieve this milestone for the client.

While taking a bite off the client sponsored double cheese pizza and coke, I asked one of my team leaders who reported in to me.

“So, Sam…our CSAT was 82% for last month, what did we close on DSAT*?”.

*DSAT = Dissatisfied customer who rated 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 on a scale of 10.

He replied “11%, but we were 13% the month before”.

Once again, sipping off the client sponsored coke for our CSAT achievement…I started to think…

We used to handle 1.6M unique customers in a year so at 10% DSAT rate, it was a total of 160,000 dissatisfied customers and I think we were managing ~20% of our client’s customer service volume at that time. So that means, at scale we are taking about 8 million customers annually with 800,000 of them dissatisfied. What did we do to these 800,000 dissatisfied customers who would multiple to be about 4 million dissatisfied customers in 5 years??? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. There was no process to get back to these customers and ask why they were dissatisfied and to satisfy them.

And that got me thinking. So what happens when a customer takes the survey and gives a very low rating? Do the organizations call the customers back? Don’t the organizations owe a followup to manage that dissatisfied customer who took the time to respond to the survey and express their concerns??

In the next weekly business review, I tried raising this to my client and my vendor manager said “Bala!, keep meeting the 80% CSAT goal, we will take care of the rest.” The conversation and the thought process was put to rest right there.

In the last 10 years, I have been a part of at-least 6-7 similar pizza & coke parties for achieving the CSAT goal but did not come across a team that actually tried contacting the customers after they expressed dissatisfaction through the customer satisfaction survey. And not just that…In the last 10 years, I must have taken at least 20-30 surveys out of which I must have rated DSAT at least on 7-8 different occasions and received no feedback or followup from any of those organizations.

But then finally, a few years back we were able pilot a DSAT SWAT team. It was simple and straight forward concept, the sole purpose of forming this team was to call those customers who were dissatisfied and expressed concerns during the customer satisfaction survey. And some high level results of the SWAT team is below;

  • ~83% of the customers appreciated that no company has called them back to followup on their feedback provided through surveys and they appreciate our efforts in following up on their comments.
  • ~67% of the issues were simple issues that were resolved during the followup call which were not resolved during the first contact.
  • ~37% of the customers who were dissatisfied during the first time they were surveyed were very satisfied during the follow-up.

So the question I have for those customer service companies out there who chase CSAT numbers on a daily basis…“It’s great that you are chasing CSAT and trying to get it to as high as possible but what are you doing to those customers who express dissatisfaction in the survey you send them?”

There are a handful companies who invest significant effort in actually calling the customers who have expressed concerns and dissatisfaction post the interaction with the customer service department. And this is going to be a game changer for these organizations in the long run.

Good news is…it doesn’t take too much to make this happen. Just call your poor dissatisfied customers back. Talk to them!!!! See the difference!!!

About the Author: For more information, contact Balakarthik Venkataramanan at vbkarthik123@yahoo.com. LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/balakarthikv.

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