All Roads to Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Run Through Performance Management

Discovering the drivers of customer experience in performance management data

With a global brand virtually synonymous with money transfer, Western Union had become a leader in its industry, allowing customers to send money to more than 500,000 agent locations worldwide. But although its customer profile consisted of people who had a long-term need to send payments and transfer money, the company had realized that more than half of its customers were not returning for future transactions.

Western Union was worried; after all, management experts around the world agree that customer loyalty is of critical importance—it’s easier to build sales volume with current customers than rely on acquiring new customers. Therefore, Western Union’s leadership team decided to learn more about their cases of customer dissatisfaction, and with 47 million interactions, the contact center was an ideal place to start.

After assessing call center management systems and deploying a customer survey, the organization soon realized that Western Union’s call centers’ performance and coaching processes were not aligned with its customers’ basic needs. Agents frequently failed to mention recurring customer pain points, and customer satisfaction (CSAT) goals were not aligned with call quality scoring. Different call centers used separate metrics and systems for reporting and measurement, so the company was unable to consolidate data from multiple locations.

To address these inconsistencies in call center monitoring and measurement, Western Union implemented a quality and satisfaction initiative that emphasized consistency and calibrated coaching to customers’ expectations. After only six months, the financial services provider saw a 15-percent boost in CSAT1.

Understanding how performance management drives customer experience

Management literature often presents profit as the one-step goal of performance management, but performance management is actually a process of clarifying goals, uncovering opportunities and effecting measurable performance improvements – a process that also results in increased profits2.

In the customer service industry, those enterprise-level goals translate into key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect customer experience and satisfaction. Therefore, true success requires an understanding of customer needs and wants and the ability to react accordingly. Customers play an essential mediating role in the link between the call center operations and long-term profit for the organization. As one coaching veteran has noted, “When you're coaching to what the customer wants, then suddenly you start seeing your net promoter score go up as well.”3 A performance management system can be utilized to address most common call center customer service complaints, including long wait times, uninformed agents and frequent transfers.

Fueling a performance improvement plan with customer research

To make SMART goals and align performance management results with desired business outcomes, businesses need to learn more about their customers4. Research, surveys and Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs can be used to define the appropriate KPIs, inform agents and improve customer service, which in turn elevates the bottom line.

For instance, EE Limited, a UK telecom company (originally established as a merger between T-Mobile and Orange), employs a performance management system to collect information and survey responses directly from customers. The company uses this data to develop a performance management feedback strategy. It issues agent scorecards that include efficiency and effectiveness measures plus the most important feedback: the customer ‘verbatim’. The results? After the program’s initial release, EE realized a 27-point increase in its Net Promoter Score (NPS)5. Thus, informed research ensures that performance management indicators and strategies are aligned with customer needs, positively impacting long-term profits.

Customer experience is the road to success, and performance management illuminates the way

Assessing customer experience is hard. Assessing it remotely, from a call center, is even harder. It’s easy to get bogged down in stats and scores, but managers and supervisors committed to performance improvement need to keep the customer in mind at all times. Western Union’s agents didn’t know what mistakes they were making until the company researched the trends and needs of their customers. They learned that data is most powerful when it answers the essential questions and when agents remember where it comes from and why they’re using it. A positive customer experience is the one and only road to long term success – and the journey is a lot easier if you can see the path using performance management tools.

Adam Aftergut is a product marketing manager for NICE Performance Management, the leading software solution used by contact centers to improve customer satisfaction scores (CSATs) while reducing contact center operational costs.

1 “Western Union Case Study”, NICE, /optimizing-customer-engagements/Lists/CustomerSuccesses/Attachments/46/Western%20Union_Case_Study%202.pdf
2 “Performance Management”, NICE, /engage/call-volume-reduction/performance-management
3 “Performance Insights: Single Version of the Truth”, NICE,
4 Better Performance Management with the Right Goals”, NICE, /engage/blog/Better-Performance-Management-with-the-Right-Goals-2162
5 “Everything Everywhere Case Study”, NICE, /optimizing-customer-engagements/Lists/CustomerSuccesses/Attachments/83/nice_orange-everything_convert.pdf