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Leveraging Call Center Investments to Enhance Customer Satisfaction

  • ID: 42724
  • Report
  • April 1999
  • 102 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Customer satisfaction means ensuring that product or service performance meets customer expectations. It is based on the customer’s perception that the outcome of a business transaction is equal to or exceeds his or her expectations. Customer satisfaction occurs when the acquisition of products and services provides a minimum negative departure from expectations when compared with other acquisitions. It also occurs when the perception of the reward from the customer’s purchase of goods or services meets or exceeds his or her perceived sacrifice. Perception is a consequence of matching purchase and consumption experiences with the current purchase, transaction, or request for service. Any way you look at it, a customer satisfaction study must include a review of three concepts: sacrifice, reward, and expectations.

When customers approach a company, they are prepared to make certain sacrifices of money and time. For that they expect a reward of goods or services. This relationship between sacrifice and reward can be understood only when customers’ expectations are identified and understood. Far from being a target that can be aimed at like a bull’s-eye on a dartboard, customers’ expectations are changing continuously. This report focuses on those companies that exemplify best practices in the area of customer satisfaction—those that understand what their customers expect and set service standards based on those expectations. Their comprehensive and integrated customer satisfaction systems make them vigilant, responsive, and agile. They know much about their customers and their competitors, and they use this customer knowledge to keep the customers they have while developing even stronger bonds with them.

The purpose of this multicompany benchmarking study was to identify and examine best practices in linking the customer satisfaction provided by the call center with the company’s vision, developing and implementing the call center’s customer satisfaction system, and measuring the effectiveness of such a system. Twenty-one companies participated in the benchmarking study by attending a series of planning sessions, completing data gathering surveys, and/or attending or hosting on-site interviews. Of those 21 companies, 14 sponsored the study (“sponsor companies”). Nine companies, including two of the sponsor companies, were identified as having strong customer satisfaction programs in place and were invited to participate in the study as benchmarking partners (“partner companies”). Quantitative data for the two companies that were both sponsors and partners are reported in the partner company data. As a result, the total number of respondents to the quantitative portion of this study is 10 sponsors and seven partners. (Two sponsors and two partners
did not participate in the quantitative portion.)


Drawing input from Response Design Corporation, subject matter expert (SME) Dr. William Bleuel, and secondary research literature, the APQC study team identi- fied three key areas for research. These areas guided the design of the data collection instruments and were the basis from which findings have been developed. A brief overview of the three areas is provided below.
Linking the Call Center’s Customer Satisfaction Data with the Company’s Vision
- What place does the call center hold in the company’s vision, mission, and
strategic plan?
- What is the call center’s definition of customer satisfaction?
- What is its definition of customer dissatisfaction?
- How does the call center understand the value of its customers?
- How does the call center’s customer satisfaction data affect customer loyalty?

Developing and Implementing the Call Center’s Customer Satisfaction System
- By what process does the call center identify its customers?
- By what process does it assess its current level of customer satisfaction?
- What tools are effective in measuring a call center’s level of customer satisfaction?
- How, when, where, and why does the call center survey, conduct focus groups,
and manage complaints?
- What technologies are most effective in collecting and analyzing customer
satisfaction information?
- How much does measuring customer satisfaction cost?
- How does the call center act on its customer satisfaction measurement results?

Measuring the Effectiveness of the Customer Satisfaction System
- By what process does a call center establish the validity of its customer satisfaction system?
- Can it link its customer satisfaction to its employee satisfaction and to its bottomline results?


The partner and sponsor companies participating in this study exhibited many
significant differences in the processes, policies, and approaches used in linking the call center’s customer satisfaction data with the company’s vision, developing and implementing the call center’s customer satisfaction system, and measuring the effectiveness of that system. Thirteen “key findings” emerged from this study, highlighting vital linkages within the comprehensive call center system. These findings have been grouped into four
sections (Sections One through Four), introduced by an overview of the linkages identified in a customer satisfaction process from a call center perspective (Introduction).

Introduction: A Comprehensive Call Center System—A Study of Linkages

Section One: Corporate Vision/Call Center’s Philosophy Regarding Customer
Section Two: Customer Satisfaction Data Collection
Section Three: Data Analysis/Reports
Section Four: Actions Taken Based on Customer Satisfaction Results

Of the 21 companies participating in the Leveraging Call Center Investments to
Enhance Customer Satisfaction consortium benchmarking study, one is based in
Canada and one is based in Great Britain. The remaining 19 companies are based
in the United States. Participating companies represent many industries: retail, healthcare, insurance, financial services, mail services, support services, telecommunications, and technology.
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- Sponsor and Partner Companies

A listing of the sponsor companies in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) companies that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancement in satisfying customers using effective call centers.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Introduction: A Study of Linkages

An examination of the detailed flowchart upon which this report is based, illustrating the linkages and relationships that exist in a comprehensive customer satisfaction process from a call center perspective.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the 13 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner companies.

- Partner Company Profiles

Background information on the partner companies, as well as their innovative call center practices.
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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown