ASK SQD: Improving Without Data
The Service Quality Competitive Advantage newsletter is excited to introduce the “Ask SQD” column – a chance for you to ask for help with a particularly vexing problem. A panel of experts will provide a summarized, actionable response.

Question: I work in a 100% transactional environment – the only thing we “make” are customer interactions and experiences. These interactions have no data. No tangible output is produced. How can I improve without data?

SQD Response: You ask a very insightful question; many of us face these same challenges. While you do not “make” a physical product, you do produce something that has data. Capturing customer experience is possible but may not be intuitive.

Try the following:
  1. Point of Sale or Point of Interaction data can be captured by your employees and / or tools. This can be as simple as a paper card that employees can use to capture information about the transaction or as complex as an integrated CRM. For digital transactions, you can leverage website analytics to understand where customers are successful, where they abandon shopping carts, etc. Give your customer-facing team the ability to easily collect feedback data - an app, a 3-mark paper card, or even a dash style button.
  2. Survey employees regularly. Very few organizations take the time to survey employees - the customer-facing people that are closest to the "output" of your process. We recommend you do the following:
    • Make it safe for employees to report unflattering episodes as well as positive interactions.
    • Always ask employees how they would have improved the service if they had unlimited resources - you will get creative ideas that those in corporate are not likely to have developed.
    • Make your front-line employees part of project teams focused on improving customer interactions and journeys.
  3. Customer surveys can be used to measure key performance indicators such as First Contact Resolution, Customer Effort, Customer Satisfaction, Second Contact Avoidance, and other metrics. In the case of surveys, keep this listening post as close to the customer interaction as possible. For instance, surveying in real time following the transaction and via a channel convenient to the customer. Collect customer data, but do it in the store or at the point of interaction, not through a phone survey 3 days later. Stand right by the point of service or interaction; consider offering customers a $5 gift card for 2-3 minutes of conversation. Just ask 2-3 important questions and get context.
  4. Include a customer(s) on a project team and in meetings.

Good Luck!