Most companies want to address the concerns of every dissatisfied customer but many fear that goal is unrealistic.
However, by applying proven best practices, companies can implement a closed loop alerting (CLA) program that highlights customer issues and tracks them to resolution. In addition, businesses can use insights gained from dissatisfied customers to spearhead service improvements. This can dramatically reduce the amount of new incidents as brands learn where service breakdowns occur.
To establish a successful CLA program, companies need to focus in four essential areas:
- Workflow and Analytics
CLA Focus #1: Process
Before creating a formal CLA program, many companies rely on several homegrown customer dissatisfaction management processes. This can cause unhappy customers to experience varied treatment when they engage with different segments of the business.
To avoid this problem, companies need to establish a universal CLA process for the entire frontline team. While steps can vary based on company and customer needs, effective CLA programs typically:
- Alert frontline managers when customers leave negative survey responses after an interaction with their team members.
- Charge frontline managers with responsibility for following-up with unhappy customers and closing out issues.
- Establish time-based goals for alert follow-ups and resolutions.
Today’s CX innovators set aggressive targets for managing alerts. They seek to contact 90% of unhappy customers within 24 hours and resolve alerts within four days.
CLA Focus #2: Communication
Effective communication is a fundamental element of every CLA process. Frontline managers need rapid insight on customer concerns so that they can reach out to customers, understand what went wrong, and offer solutions. In addition, managers need to communicate with internal stakeholders to resolve customer concerns in a quick and reasonable way.
Communicating with the customer quickly builds goodwill and makes the customer feel like their feedback is valued—which can ultimately prevent customer attrition.
Not only do managers need to close the loop with customers—they must close the loop with the employee responsible for any subpar service as well. This ensures that employees can receive the coaching they need to avoid making the same mistakes with other customers.
CLA Focus #3: Workflow and Analytics Engine
To keep on top of the multiple communications that arise with each customer issue, organizations need a CLA workflow technology. Workflow engines allow managers to get alerts in near-real time and have a single place to track customer contacts and resolution attempts, along with necessary internal communications.
Analytics are another key component of a CLA program. By analyzing the causes of alerts over time, companies can gain insight on recurring issues. In addition, companies can study trends across every level—from organization-wide down to region, branch, team, or employee. This empowers them to understand whether specific issues arise in segments of the business—and target necessary improvements.
CLA Focus #4: Metrics
Establishing key metrics and benchmarking performance helps programs gauge the evolution and maturity of their CLA practices.
For example, a company that is just getting started with CLA may take small steps at first—such as requiring managers to follow-up on 25% of alerts. A more mature program may set the goal of following up on 95+% of alerts. In either instance, aiming for 100% closeout within 7 days is a good target to set.
Companies should also track the time from alert to customer follow-up (e.g., % of alerts where customer is then “touched” by an employee within 24 hours), and the time from alert to closure (e.g., alerts closed out over 5-7 days).
What’s Next in Closed Loop Alerting?
Instituting a new CLA process can revolutionize a company’s CX programs. Those with a current CLA process in place can look forward to new CLA advancements on the horizon:
- Generating Alerts from Voice of the Customer (VoC) Feedback: Most programs use quantitative survey feedback as the source for their alerts. Emerging technology allows companies to uncover negative feedback in customer verbatims, and then funnel these open-ended alerts into the same process and technology as survey alerts.
- Using SMS to Distribute Alerts: Email has been the medium of choice for alert distribution. However, technology advances allow managers to receive alerts via SMS —which is especially valuable for managers in the field or on the road.
- Assigning or Sending Alerts to Several Stakeholders: Managers may need to engage others in the service organization to address customer issues. New technology allows multiple stakeholders to be involved in resolution—while housing details in a central location.
Save Customers Before They Defect
Today’s customers understand their value—and expect brands to treat them with respect. Customers also know they have a choice and are apt to defect when interactions go awry. Loyalty is at an all-time low.
Still, most brands have a chance to keep customers that have had poor experiences. They must have a solid CLA program that empowers them to act quickly when a customer leaves negative feedback. With effective CLA practices, companies can take ownership of service missteps and rebuild trust with disgruntled customers.
Author: Chip James
Chip James is President of eTouchPoint, a pioneering customer experience (CX) technology provider that has provided solutions to Fortune 500 leaders for 15+ years. A CX industry veteran, Chip has been a leading CX advocate through speaking engagements and development of industry best practices. Prior to his work at eTouchPoint, Chip held leadership roles at Commercetel, Qualistics, and CGI. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and holds an MBA from Georgia State University.