This post is the second installment in a series covering individuals leading the customer experience transformation within their organization.

Mike Travers just used the term “mind-bogglingly great” to describe Broadview’s November and December customer satisfaction scores. This description closely matches what Mike’s colleague, Lisa Norcia, says she is hearing around the company, “The word I hear most often is ‘awesome’.” Broadview is celebrating customer satisfaction scores that no one thought they would ever achieve. In addition, Customer Engagement, a more stringent satisfaction metric, is also improving, “For the first time since we’ve been with PeopleMetrics we reached the B2B Engagement benchmark. We never thought this was possible, we thought you set the bar too high.” Mike says laughing.

Mike and Lisa work as Analysts at Broadview in a group focused on using customer feedback to boost satisfaction. Previously they were both Account Managers asked to take on the role of integrating customer feedback into the company’s overall data collection methodology and using it to drive internal improvements. Mike took this on in 2009 and Lisa in 2011. They were a part of the team last year when the COO, Brian Crotty, issued a challenge to senior management to improve C-sat by 20%. And one year later, they celebrated that success.

Not only have C-sat scores dramatically improved, November also marked the lowest amount of churn in Broadview history. This is particularly significant considering that Hurricane Sandy swept over the Northeast at the end of October. While Broadview’s systems and services remained widely available during the storm, including their flagship service OfficeSuite which maintained 100% uptime, many businesses were not so lucky. Widespread power outages and downed lines wreaked havoc with the ability for companies on the eastern seaboard to connect with their customers. In spite of the widespread issues customers were experiencing far beyond everyone’s control, Broadview continued to deliver an experience that kept C-sat scores steady and rising through the end of the year.

Starting the Change

Broadview had been collecting customer satisfaction data for the last six years, but like the story of many others working to improve the customer experience, the change really started with senior leadership’s commitment. With the announcement of the 20% improvement goal, everyone at all levels of the company started to get on board. “PeopleMetrics was really helpful when our COO came up with the new plan,” Lisa says, “Attending a strategy meeting and basically walking through an entire repair experience that a customer would have. This helped us to identify areas where we could apply our efforts. It was helpful in setting a process in place to get us to that right percentage by the end of the year, and obviously it’s working.” To this, Mike adds:

Setting a realistic approach for the division heads about what their ramp would be was very helpful. You can’t get a 20% gain in customer satisfaction levels within one quarter and PeopleMetrics set a realistic stair-step approach based on what they already knew about us. This was motivating for departments throughout the year as they reached or got close to these goals.

As momentum around reaching the customer satisfaction goals grows, so has the demand on Mike and Lisa’s expertise, “Our world has changed because of the buy-in that has developed over the past several years.” Mike explains, “Since bringing in PeopleMetrics, it’s the culture of the company that has changed. We have become the internal liaison with the survey owners, addressing random questions. And as the survey owners have become more involved, they are reaching out to us more often.”

Identifying the Causes of Dissatisfaction

The customer feedback work and resulting analysis is shared with great consistency. As an example, every week the VP of Operations sends a report to his management team with a breakdown of the number of surveys received, customer satisfaction scores, and customer comments by code. Managers also use customer feedback to coach front-line employees. In the case of Service Delivery, managers will conduct a “post-mortem” on any survey that scores 1, 2, or 3 (the lowest satisfaction levels using a 5 point Likert Scale). Both manager and rep will sit down together to review these and discuss what could have been done differently. The purpose of the post-mortem sessions isn’t to place blame on the rep, it’s to get their input on how the company could help them do the best job possible.

In the case of the Billing Department, this approach has been incredibly successful. Currently, the biggest issue in the Billing Department is that they aren’t receiving enough feedback because the number of reported billing issues is so low, approximately half what it was two years ago. Lisa says the “resolution description” played a big role in the success of this department:

On the closure of an issue there is effort made to contact the customer directly and make sure they understand what the resolution was. This is a very specific email or follow-up call to make sure the customer knows what their bill will look like when it comes in. It’s very detailed and prevents the customer from having to call back and say they don’t understand.

This focus on getting it right the first time is representative of Broadview’s commitment to creating a customer experience that is consistently great, regardless of the issue you might be dealing with or the department you are working with.

This focus has changed how Broadview does business. “It’s the change in culture,” Lisa says, “I feel a shift went from getting the daily job done to thinking about how to fix it so it’s better going forward. Once that shift was made the extra analysis started and every member of management got involved.”

Identifying the Causes of Satisfaction

Of course, it’s not all just about the cause of problems. Mike says, “We take a well rounded approach, looking not only at the drivers of dissatisfaction, but also at the drivers of satisfaction. Then, like with Lisa’s program, looking at things we can try to emulate in a standardized way.” Lisa’s program is around identifying brand ambassadors, the people who customers recognize for going above and beyond. “We want teams to focus on what works for the customer so we help them understand what a customer considers to be above and beyond, and we reward employees accordingly,” Lisa explains.

The “Kudos Board” in the Service Delivery & Repair Department at Broadview

The Service Delivery & Repair Departments currently print and post all customer comments about great employee work on a bulletin board. Lisa is working to formalize this process a bit more, but the heart of it remains the same – Broadview wants to recognize and reward the employees that make customers happy. Lisa’s program is still in the build phase and she is working with internal website programmers to announce the winners via the company intranet. She is also working with senior management on deciding prizes and hammering out the details of the program. “This feedback is highly valued,” Mike says, “Often there is little focus on the positive impact employees can have, and to get that from the customer and have everyone see it is so valuable. Once, that feedback was seldom received – maybe a random email here and there would go through the chains of management. But this is regular. It’s recurring. And it’s updated weekly.”

Advice for Others

Mike and Lisa’s final advice is recognizing the importance of senior leadership buy-in to ensure a successful customer experience initiative. Mike shares this, “With any program, new or old, make sure it has the full backing, literally obvious, verbalized backing from senior management and will therefore be taken seriously by the rest of the company.” Lisa echoes this sentiment and adds, “It takes time to roll these programs out and get everyone on board. You need patience and time to let the program develop before it will start to pay off like it has for us.”

Broadview Networks is a network-based business communications provider serving customers nationwide with local and long-distance voice and data communications, premises-based and patented hosted VoIP systems, data services and a full suite of managed services and professional services. They also provide an innovative portfolio of bundled, hosted IP phone and cloud computing services designed to meet the unique application requirements of diverse workforce groups. Its customers benefit from award-winning customer service, including a Web-based account management tool and a primary point-of-contact for real-time, personal customer care.