Post-call surveys are an essential part of the call centre manager’s toolkit — but, asks Bruce von Maltitz of 1Stream, can companies trust what the surveys are telling them?

“Based on after-call surveys, many companies are far too complacent about how well they’re serving their customers,” says von Maltitz. “A survey is only as good as the questions you ask, and in most cases the questions being asked are far too narrow.”

For example, says von Maltitz, “as customers, all of us know the frustration of being parked for long periods in an IVR queue full of irrelevant options, only to have the call drop at the end. Yet the only opportunity we have to give feedback is after we’ve successfully made contact with a call centre agent — and then we’re only asked to rate our experience of that agent, which might be very good. But a good conversation with an agent doesn’t undo the brand damage done by the initial frustration. A company that thinks everything is going well because they’re getting positive evaluations and high NPS scores may be missing serious issues with their customer’s experience.”

Von Maltitz says the problem arises when call centre surveys are narrowly used to judge agent performance and inform training: “If you as a company are using after-call surveys for nothing more than checking on your workers, you’re missing a golden opportunity. The call centre might be the only time your customer has human contact with your brand, and call centre agents are among your most important brand ambassadors. Yet it’s a rare marketing department that has the contact centre on its radar screen.”

One powerful way to solve the problem, he says, is to take advantage of powerful text analysis technology that transcribes and collates customer feedback from multiple sources, including social media, online surveys and voice messages, and then assigns sentiment ratings. “The ability to transcribe and analyse voice messages means you can ask completely open-ended questions in after-call surveys and then actually use the results.”

For example, says von Maltitz, “a question like ‘did we solve your problem today?’ delivers very poor information. A customer can only answer yes or no, and a yes answer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. It’s far more useful when you can ask a question like “How was your experience of dealing with us today?’ That can quickly start to deliver valuable insights about your business.”

“Companies need to stop thinking of their call centres as an isolated division” concludes von Maltitz. “Yes there is a lot of technology involved, but it’s not about the technology — it’s about the brand experience. Marketing departments and senior executives need to pay very close attention to what they can learn from their call centres.”.