happy man on phone

Use Post-Call Surveys for Real-Time Customer Service Recovery

Most customers use self-service to get in and get out quickly. It’s no surprise when they don’t want to complete a post-call survey. However, some customers are itching to share their thoughts after a customer service interaction—unhappy customers.

Unhappy customers are almost always in the mood to provide some feedback after a call—if not to you, to their friends, to their spouse or even the world at large via social media. In fact, they need to release that emotion. Even if they’ve already laced into a customer service rep, the urge remains.

They’re Going to Tell Someone, Better You Than the World

It’s going to happen. They will tell someone about their bad customer service experience, have no doubt about it. Who hasn’t hung up the phone with a business and immediately started trashing them to whoever is available? It happens all the time.

Dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their experience, and to more people, than satisfied customers. When we have unhappy customers, it’s far better to take the heat directly than have them pass it on to others. Word of mouth, especially on social media, is more important than ever. This means that immediate post-call surveys are equally important because they can defuse and redirect that raw emotion in addition to providing valuable data.

Back in the pre-internet, pre-social-media days, word didn’t travel as fast as it does today. A company may have lost customers on an individual basis, not on a market-wide basis. If someone told their friends about a bad experience, those friends may have second-guessed the company and told their friends to go elsewhere, and word spread…but gradually.

Today, word spreads instantly. A frustrated customer can hang up the phone and immediately begin typing a negative review on social media—even on your company’s social media.

It’s important to intercept that message right after the call, while emotions are still running high. This is the time to try to recover from a bad customer experience.

While It’s Still Fresh

Surveys conducted immediately after a customer service interaction are more accurate—they provide context for a given situation that aids the search for a solution. Customers are more likely to take a survey immediately after an interaction as well. A wide gap between when the interaction occurs and when the survey is administered allows customers to alter their view of, or even forget that interaction. No one wants that. That’s bad data.

In psychology, there’s Decay Theory— the idea that memories, especially memories we don’t access again, fade over time. There’s also Interference Theory— the concept that suggests old memories can affect how new memories are formed, and new memories can alter older memories. No matter how you look at it memory isn’t static.

“According to scientific research,” writes Dr. Jodie Monger of Customer Relationship Metrics. “Analysis from evaluations that are delayed has several biases (errors) and is, therefore, not reliable unless you include important correction factors.”

That alone is reason enough to justify surveys immediately following customer interactions.

Embrace Unhappy Customers

Letting customers vent their frustration to you enables them to direct their frustration on the source, not just a friend or family member.

This isn’t about buttering up customers so they provide positive feedback. It’s about getting constructive, actionable feedback that you can use to improve your customer service.

You want their negative reviews. Criticism tells you where you can improve. What good is it for servers in restaurants or customer service reps in call centers to only ask for feedback from customers deemed to have had positive experiences? That will only tell you part of the story.

It’s easy to understand whey they do it. Wait staff or service reps alike want positive reviews. It’s always nice to receive praise. But those positive reviews don’t call out mistakes, identify shortcomings, or highlight areas where you can improve your businesses. In other words, they’re nowhere near as useful as negative reviews.

Real-Time Recovery

Not only are customer recollections more accurate immediately following an interaction, they’re a great way to do damage control when a bad customer service experience has occurred.

Customers do a variety of things following a negative interaction. After they’ve set social media alight with their anger they often consider your competitors when they didn’t previously. Waiting to start the triage process may cost you a customer—permanently.

It’s common knowledge that getting new customers is more difficult than keeping current ones. So to keep your current customers embracing a cycle of improvement that quickly identifies and addresses pain points becomes critical.

“Research has proven in several environments that if a customer has a negative service experience or a service failure, if it is resolved quickly by the company and to the customer’s satisfaction, that customer will remain loyal to the company, in spite of the failure,” writes CustomerThink. “In fact, if a satisfactory resolution is accomplished, these customers will have higher loyalty rates to the company than customers that have had no service failure at all.”

Fix It Right Then

Post-call surveys offer a good way to let customers vent their frustrations before turning to the world at large, a more accurate way for you to get feedback, and an efficient way to recover from bad customer experiences.

Even a simple scaled question about service can help. There’s satisfaction for the customer in pressing “1” instead of “5” on a customer satisfaction rating scale. But there’s even more satisfaction for the customer in receiving an immediate callback afterwards and having a customer service rep fix whatever went wrong in the first place.