Most of the metrics most commonly used by today’s contact centres only tell part of the customer experience (CX) story. At London-based fintech company GoCardless, Customer Connections Specialist Jessica Harris is on a mission to dig a little deeper, in order to better understand team members’ tone, empathy and levels of engagement when dealing with customers.
After all, key performance indicators, such as average speed of answer (ASA), average handle time (AHT) and first call resolution (FCR),provide little more than a glimpse into the nuts and bolts of day-to-day operational efficiency in the contact centre. Low customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter scores (NPS), collected via customer surveys, might indicate issues, but shed very little light on the actual nature of problems.
For this reason, many companies - including GoCardless - have in place quality assurance (QA) programmes for their contact centres, which require managers to perform more in-depth, qualitative (rather than quantitative) assessments of how individual calls and emails have been handled. Says Harris:
I actually don’t like the term ‘QA’ at all - it’s too clinical and QA is often too focused on an end solution, like was the passenger given the correct flight information. To me, it should be about far more than that. It’s about how you speak to customers, the conversation you have with them, and the empathy you show. What it comes down to is that you have to actually care about people to want to solve their problems and give them a good customer experience.
That’s why, when Harris was asked to establish a QA programme at GoCardless, she chose to brand the initiative as ‘Customer Connections’ - but it’s still a vital process for the company, which provides businesses with an online way to collect recurring payments from customers, both locally and overseas.
GoCardless is growing fast. In September last year, it launched in the US, with its new San Francisco office joining those already established in London, Paris, Munich and Melbourne. Earlier in the year, it raised a $75 million funding round, with investors including Alphabet’s venture arm GV and Salesforce. At the time, the company announced it was handling more than $10 billion worth of transactions each year, on behalf of more than 40,000 merchants.
More payments and more merchants using its services has created a need for more customer support staff. When Harris joined GoCardless in 2016, she was one of a team of just 10 people:
Now, we’re about 30 people, providing a 24/7 service, working remote shifts, and it’s at that stage you need a more formalized programme to be able to deliver feedback to [support staff] in a constructive way. While it’s about maintaining our very high standards of service, it’s also about making sure our people have the tools they need to succeed.
Harris was asked by her bosses to get a QA programme up and running early last year, and beyond the Customer Connections branding, she also decided quite quickly that it needed to run not just across customer support, but also the company’s risk, compliance and success teams. This is a reflection of the fact that customers often need to speak to different members of the team on their journey to sign up and use the service, not least because GoCardless must comply with numerous regulations around anti-money laundering, customer authentication and data privacy.
The company’s Zendesk customer support platform provides the foundation for Customer Connections. Says Harris:
When I started looking at this program, we weren’t really making the most of what Zendesk could do for us. QA can be a super manual process that involves you digging out a load of different conversations for assessment. So we’ve worked with Zendesk to really automate the process of building reports, pulling out conversations for review and providing feedback to our team members.”
The main thing for me throughout this was delivering efficiency. One of the big traps that companies fall into when creating quality programmes is that they’re super manual and they’re built for the team you have today, but you don’t think about what your team is going to look like in two years’ time. And then as time goes on, it becomes a bit of a blocker, rather than an enabler.
Regular QA assessments
With Customer Connections in place, GoCardless has been able to move from reviewing conversations on a pretty much ad hoc basis, typically when they’d been flagged for issues, to a more rigorous programme of consistently reviewing around 1.5% of all conversations. In the case of customer support staff, around 40% of those conversations will be by phone and 60% by email. Harris explains:
When I want to review conversations, which are all stored in Zendesk, I’ll go into our pre-made dashboard there and maybe choose who I want to review - Jane, for example. That will bring up Jane’s report and I can pick out her conversations from the list. And all conversations are filtered by category, so I can maybe decide that this month, I want to review conversations with our customers that use Xero or with our customers in Australia.
We’ve also integrated Google Sites with this, so once I’ve given feedback, our team members can go and view that feedback in our Google Sites and directly access the conversation in Zendesk that the feedback relates to.
In terms of getting buy-in from the company’s leadership, she says, it’s really helped that Customer Connections ties in so closely with GoCardless’ overall mission statement of ‘taking the pain out of getting paid’, so that businesses can go back to what they do best, whether they’re a local window cleaner who gets paid monthly by homeowners and tenants, or a large global software company like DocuSign collecting software-as-a-service subscriptions from B2B clients. Harris concludes:
So what the company does, and what customer support does, is take pain away - and on an emotional level, that’s really exciting. It’s about making things better. So that’s where I started with Customer Connections, figuring out what’s our business trying to achieve, what are our customers trying to achieve - and how can I create a framework that brings all that together in a meaningful way for both sides?