Training to Enhance Customer Satisfaction

Determined to take customer satisfaction to the next level, CompuCredit Corporation launched a five-month customer satisfaction initiative at the beginning of last year. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> "We have had rigorous internal customer satisfaction measurement and improvement processes in place for some time," explains Dari Damazo, director of training and performance development at CompuCredit, which is a financial services firm based in Atlanta. "So our goal with this initiative was to enhance service quality even more by benchmarking how we were doing against other financial services organizations, too."<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> To that end, the company hired an external vendor in late 2007 to survey its customers and benchmark the results against those of other organizations in its industry. The findings indicated two key opportunities for improvement, including timely resolution and representative knowledge and skills. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> To address these opportunities for improvement, CompuCredit established special project teams to determine root causes and common customer "call reasons," evaluate and determine solutions, and implement action plans. As a result, says Damazo, 50 action items were identified and closed out. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> In the area of "timely resolution," for example, project teams made 17 enhancements to the company's IVR (interactive voice response) system. "Now, when customers enter our call system, we provide them with a lot of information and answers upfront that they didn't always have access to before," says Damazo. "We also changed several prompts and pathways through our IVR in order to allow customers to reach a live representative more quickly." <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Training also played a crucial role in the initiative. To help reps uncover, understand, and meet customer needs more quickly and effectively, for example, the CompuCredit training and development team developed and launched four learning modules: "Phone Skills," "Probing Questions," "Understanding our Customers," and "How to Be a Top Performer." <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> In addition, the team developed several new tools and job aids, including a "Payment Calculator" and an "Education Station." "In the past, when our reps had an issue that they weren’t sure how to address, they had to access a policy portal within our customer relationship management system and figure out how to resolve it," says Damazo. By contrast, she says, the new Education Station provides reps with easily accessible information on how to handle the top five types of customer calls they receive. "They can simply enter the Education Station, and the top five call reasons identified by our research automatically appear, as do common solutions to customer issues in each category. It's all right there at their fingertips." <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> These and other improvements made as part of the initiative have resulted in marked improvements for the company. Since the program was implemented, for example, customer satisfaction scores have increased from 0.6 to 0.9 in all five of the company's "critical to quality" attributes; survey aggregate scores have improved from 688 to 753; and the percentage of "delighted" CompuCredit customers has increased from 57 percent to 69 percent. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Interested in implementing a similar program? Here are some of Damazo's tips for success:<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Train for specific, identified needs.</b> Instead of training in a vacuum, Damazo's team used real data and analyzed them thoroughly in order to develop a plan of action for training. She acknowledges that doing so required a huge investment of time and effort from her team on the front end, but says that this intensive upfront work was essential to getting the training right. "Had we rushed things on the front end and failed to do the appropriate analytics," she says, "the solution itself wouldn't have worked."<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Get the right people involved. </b>Involving reps themselves in the initiative was crucial to CompuCredit's success, according to Damazo. "In the beginning, we invited them to participate in focus groups, and we talked to them at length in order to make sure that the top call issues we had identified through our research were, in fact, the ones that were causing them the most pain. We also enlisted their help in developing the Education Station, which helped to ensure that we created a tool that they truly felt would be useful to them on the job." <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Keep things current.</b> To be successful over time, says Damazo, it's important to remain cognizant of the fact that the customer satisfaction issues CompuCredit identified through this particular initiative are not static, and that the company's reps operate in a dynamic, ever-changing environment. "The key for us&#x2014;and for any other organization attempting something like this&#x2014;is to continue to analyze customer data over time, stay current on the issues, and update the resources and educational tools that reps have on hand to address them accordingly."<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>CompuCredit Corporation is a financial services organization with headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. In 2009, it placed 24th on </i>Training <i>magazine's Top 125 list, an annual ranking of organizations that excel at human capital development.</i><br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <a href=" Training</a>