Client conversations – Is anyone listening?

by Tim Szymanski

Like so many in the business process services community, I am excited to be part of the customer experience (CX) revolution. Our industry plays an important role in recognizing—and improving—inflection points across the customer journey. When companies invest in an exceptional CX, everybody wins. As Forrester reported in 2016, CX leaders outperform CX laggards. 1

Despite the benefits of improving CX, I marvel at organizations that don’t understand what’s really happening at the transactional level. Thousands of conversations occur daily between your company and its customers. Despite high volumes of communication, I wonder if anyone truly listens.

Companies want the silver bullet of “quick wins.” These victories can be slow to materialize because underlying problems and customer treatment strategies aren’t calibrated. Technology solutions and operational practices somehow miss transactional issues that fail to surface at the program or product level.

A fundamental understanding of the current state is needed to design customer treatment solutions properly aligned with root cause. Recognize the rich data that is generated by your customer service representatives (CSRs) in their daily communication with your customers. Across your voice, email and chat channels, customers are being both delighted and disappointed.

The answer? Conduct some “internal intelligence” across your contact channels. Take a hard look at communication between CSRs and customers at the transactional level.

I worked with a client whose inbound email volume had grown disproportionate to its related sales volume. A structured manual review of approximately 700 actual emails between CSRs and customers revealed several striking observations:

  • The initial customer-to-follow-up email ratio was greater than 5:1.
  • The ratio was driven by ineffective and dreadful CSR communication. Repeated errors in spelling, syntax and script use caused customer confusion and palpable frustration.
  • High customer effort and churn were influenced by outdated or nonexistent web forms that provided CSRs with limited actionable data.
  • No mechanism or automation was in place to make certain CSRs followed up with customers when promised. This lack of procedure drove up additional inbound volume, as customers were essentially responsible for their own follow-ups.
  • Whole groups of transactions were being punted to the email team by Tier 1 CSRs who actually had the power to handle these transaction types.

These initial observations were reinforced by a live audit of transaction handling by the CSR community. Through side-by-sides and CSR interviews, remote findings were fine-tuned, while operational miscues were identified in the field that contributed to the high email traffic. Interestingly, these issues were largely unknown to internal leadership and quality assurance teams.

A remediation project was designed to close these gaps. Corrective action decreased inbound email volume, reduced customer effort and cut program costs by reducing CSR demand requirements. As a bonus, the project identified unexpected benefits by uncovering enhancements to an underperforming CRM deployment.

Thousands of moments that matter occur between your CSRs and customers every day. Invest in a basic and structured review of these conversations. Learn what’s working — and what isn’t. Understand where slippage occurs between channels and tiers. Use these insights to create a richer customer experience, improve repurchase intent and drive better decisions about CX technology.



Tim Szymanski is the Lead Offering Solution Architect in DXC’s Customer Service Advisory Consulting group. Prior to this role, Tim drove creation of HP’s portfolio collateral and messaging for CX services within the automotive industry. He was a practice leader within EDS’ Business Transformation Services organization, where he led a team of accomplished CX consultants on projects that spanned North and South America and Europe.




  1. Very interesting and thought provoking. I will network it to those that could have a need for your services. Also to Carl. And also , I now understand what you do. A. Carol


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