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COPC - Blog

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Ask the Experts Blog Series: Recruiting, Hiring and Training for CX Operations

 COPC Inc. introduces a new blog series called Ask the Experts. This will be a quarterly series where we ask COPC Inc. experts questions about specific areas for improving operational performance in call centers, customer experience operations, vendor management organizations and procurement.

In this edition of Ask the Experts, we turn to Judi Brenstein, vice president and COPC Inc.’s resident expert on recruiting, hiring, training and coaching for call centers and CX operations. Whether your organization’s staffing practices need a complete overhaul or are you simply looking for some inspiration, Judi’s expertise and experience adds value to any CX operation.

Question #1: Based on your experience, how have knowledge and skill requirements changed for customer service staff over recent years? What has led to these changes?

Judi: In many cases, knowledge requirements have evolved as a result of changing technology, especially as products and services have become more technology-weighted. There are more technical support positions now for all types of products and services as compared to years ago when most technology agents were focused on computers, printers or big household appliances. Today, there are small products, home automation products, car technology, and Internet-provided services which have expanded the need for technologically savvy agents. And that means an agent’s expertise must include both technical knowledge and more advanced problem-solving skills.

Along similar lines, many companies are relying on self-service to address easier transactions such as changing an address or adding a service. The more complex transactions that reach the contact center need to be managed by people capable of handling them.  Agents hired for human-touch interactions now need more advanced skills to succeed in providing a satisfactory experience.

At the same time, some attributes have not changed at all. For instance, it is more important than ever that agents possess “true empathy” for their customers and not “scripted empathy.”  Scripted empathy is when an agent says, “I do apologize,” which comes across as disingenuous. True empathy is not about apologizing. It’s about being on the customer’s side.  Here’s an example of a truly empathetic response: “Wow, that’s not right.  Let’s get this fixed.”  Which response would you rather hear?

Let’s be clear — I’m not saying all agents are lacking genuine empathy. Most of the time, agents are just doing what they have been trained to do or are making sure they get their boxes checked on their quality form. When I review the quality forms often used to evaluate agents, empathy is listed almost 100% of the time, and nearly always this is defined as whether or not the agent apologizes. The definition of true empathy and what customers actually expect is an agent who demonstrates a sincere desire to help and exhibits an understanding of how that issue is negatively impacting them.

Question #2:  Given new technologies and expanding channels used by customers, how can brands ensure they are recruiting the right employees to meet customer expectations?

Judi: My recommendation for recruiting the right individuals for any operation follows a simple formula of establishing and sticking to minimum requirements. First, and most importantly, you must define the right skills, knowledge, and attributes critical to a successful customer interaction. Plus, these skills should include both those to be verified in the hiring process and those that will be trained.

With the expansion of different communication channels, it is important to define required skills by channel. For example, quick typing skills is not necessarily vital for phone or video chat but could be an incredibly important skill for agents who handle email or chat. Your audience can also play a role. If your phone agents are engaging with an elderly market, you might need to hire people who can speak clearly and loudly.

Once you have defined your minimum requirements, the formula expands to:

-Creating a way to measure minimum requirements during the hiring process

-Ensuring that everybody in the recruiting process sticks with the plan to evaluate applicants based on these requirements

-Hiring only those candidates who meet the minimum requirements

-Training people in the areas that were not included in the minimum hiring requirements but that are needed for the job, such as systems training

Question #3: If a customer service staff member has been recruited or trained based on a particular skill set, how should those skills be verified and how often?

Judi:  Minimum requirements for any job should be consistently verified, and this should be done by supervisors.  Supervisors should be working directly with agents at least 75% of the time, and a formal verification of skills should occur at least annually.  This can be accomplished by reviewing each agent’s required minimum skills through a combination of working side-by-side with them, remote evaluation as appropriate, and data analysis.

Question #4: How should companies structure their quality program to ensure it drives positive change, and how should a quality program tie into coaching?

Judi: First, it is important to understand that the primary goal of a quality process should be to identify and correct issues at the process level that are impacting performance.  However, most quality programs are incorrectly set up to focus almost exclusively on agent issues. This is not to say that quality data cannot or should not be used to help drive positive change among agents handling customer transactions. Quality data should be aggregated, analyzed, passed to the operational management team, and then used for coaching opportunities. However, focusing on identifying and addressing process-level issues is where the most significant improvements can be made to drive positive change.

Question #5: Who should be conducting coaching?

Judi: One word: supervisors. Again, they should be spending at least 75% of their time working with agents. Even if a quality team is monitoring agents, they are not best suited to coach agents.  We rarely see that as an effective approach.  Supervisors should have the primary responsibility of the performance of their team.


Could your organization use some help when it comes to recruiting, hiring, training and coaching best practices for your customer experience operations? If so, we would welcome the opportunity to share our expertise in this area. Contact Judi Brenstein at

Do you have a topic you would like to see explored in the next edition of Ask the Experts? Submit your performance improvement questions or topic suggestions by emailing us at

Judi Brenstein is vice president, client solutions, COPC Inc. With more than 20 years as a management professional and consultant, Judi has a wide breadth of expertise. Prior to her current role at COPC Inc., she served as director, providing performance improvement consulting and overseeing the company’s global training program. Judi has worked with enterprise clients throughout the world specializing in customer experience and contact center performance improvement; operational management; change management; quality, training and development; recruiting; and project management. Judi holds an MBA in International Business from Houston Baptist University and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Oral Roberts University.


Publish Date: July 5, 2017 5:00 AM

CXMB Results: Consumer Perception of Customer Care Has Improved in 2016

According to the latest edition of the CXMB Consumer Survey

COPC Inc. and Execs in the Know have published survey results of the 2016 Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) Series Consumer Edition, which focuses on customer journey insights from the consumer’s perspective.  Key highlights from the report include:

–While much work remains to be done, there was a measurable improvement in the consumer’s overall impression of the customer care they received in 2016

–While the preference for Traditional Care remains strong, there was a slight pullback in 2016

–Consumer preference for human assistance over automated/self-help systems remains strong

The Consumer Edition of the CXMB Series covers new content in addition to addressing topics from last year’s report, including the consumer’s preference for live interactions over automated ones and the consumer’s perception of the multi-channel journey.

This year’s Consumer Edition report also features two new sections: The Millennial Consumer and The Alternative Channel Customer Journey. The Millennial Consumer section compares and contrasts the preferences and expectations of Millennial consumers to those of their non-Millennial counterparts. The Alternative Channel Customer Journey section explores consumer experiences within Interactive, Social Media and Mobile Care channels — collectively known as “alternative channels.”

Read more in the Executive Summary  or purchase the complete report.

Each year COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know publish the CXMB Series, a two-part survey of the customer experience. One survey focuses on consumer insights and the other covers the corporate perception of how they are providing customer care.

Results from the 2016 Corporate Edition of the CXMB Survey will be published in early 2017.


Publish Date: November 3, 2016 5:00 AM

Are Contact Center Metrics Becoming Passé?

CRM magazine, October 2016.

COPC Inc.’s Kathleen Jezierski, COO, was recently interviewed by CRM magazine about how contact center metrics need to be more customer centered to meet new new consumer expectations and demands.

Read the full cover story in the October issue of CRM magazine. 


Publish Date: October 4, 2016 5:00 AM

Three Types of Valuable Business Intelligence You Should Collect In Your Call Center

Your call center is one of the best windows into the customer experience.  Customers gift your company  bits of information with every interaction. When your call center gathers and analyzes this rich data, you are able to turn it into valuable business intelligence.  This information can be leveraged by many parts of your organization to improve the customer experience and increase brand loyalty. At the same time, your call center evolves from being viewed primarily as an operational expense to a trusted resource of actionable customer insights.

Three examples of valuable business intelligence you should be collecting in your call center are new product data, complaint data, and customer satisfaction data. We will discuss each type of data, including real-life examples from our COPC Inc. customer experience consulting engagements. Each of these examples shows you how the collection of specific data can help your company better respond to the needs of your customers.

New Product Data

If your company regularly releases new products or services, feedback from customers who contact the call center to discuss their issues or concerns is invaluable to your manufacturing and design departments.

Here is an example of an organization utilizing its call center to gather new product data:

Scenario: A computer manufacturer wanted to understand customer issues with its new products.

Actions Taken: The company’s call center routed customers who had purchased a new product within the last three months to specific agents. These agents were given a higher handle time target and more time after each call to complete a short questionnaire to detail the customer’s reason for calling and to document the issues they were having with the products.

This initiative was developed in partnership between the manufacturing and design teams, with the call center utilized as a listening post to gather objective customer feedback that could be used to improve products. The data received during these calls was aggregated and analyzed, with the results provided to these two teams.

Results: As a result of gathering this valuable business intelligence, a laptop model was redesigned so the lid was not as fragile as in the original design. A different video card was chosen for subsequent products based on negative feedback regarding the existing model.

Summary: Changes were made to design that saved the company money by reducing returns and technical support calls. This initiative also fostered a stronger partnership among the departments of customer support, manufacturing and design while creating a superior product and customer experience.

Complaint Data

Your call center also can be a resource to collect valuable business intelligence regarding complaints from customers. For most organizations, this type of data is only sourced from customer satisfaction surveys and executive complaints. Often, complaint data from these sources are not representative nor are they aggregated and analyzed.

Without appropriate and detailed complaint data, organizations that directly impact the customer experience often discuss failures in general terms and lack the information needed to address root causes. Trying to resolve customer complaints without fully knowing all the underlying issues can also lead to friction between departments,  which further erodes the overall goal of improving the customer experience.

Here’s an example of how an organization benefited by collecting complaint data through their call center:

Scenario: A mobile phone company was experiencing extremely high call volumes to their centers that provide sales and support. The marketing department was frustrated with the work of the call centers because a high percentage of sales calls were being abandoned. The call center was complaining that they were receiving more service calls than expected, but no one knew why. They claimed this was due to fulfillment issues, but the fulfillment vendor asserted there were no issues.

To make matters worse, the call centers were outsourced to one third-party provider, and fulfillment was outsourced to the manufacturer of the handsets. Not only were two third-party vendors involved, but they were managed by different departments at the mobile phone company. This resulted in a lot of finger-pointing but little coordination to resolve the problem. After a short period of time and providing a lot of anecdotal evidence that was discounted, the call center vendor determined a more quantitative approach would be helpful.

Actions Taken: The call center vendor created a short form to document each call associated with fulfillment issues. Based on input from the call center agents, the form contained a checklist of the most common delivery issues customers were having. For three days, every agent completed the form when they received a call regarding a fulfillment or delivery issue. Afterwards, the forms were aggregated and analyzed, and the contact center vendor, handset manufacturer who was providing fulfillment, and the two mobile phone departments managing these vendors met to review the data.

Result: The data showed the majority of the issues were because customers were not receiving the correct handsets. The form was then modified to capture additional details about the handsets ordered and the handsets received. More data was gathered for another three days, and the group met again to review the additional information collected. They identified a conflict between the stock keeping units (SKUs) in the warehouse and the order management system for the handsets in question.

Summary: As a result of the detailed data collected by the call center, the customer issue of receiving the wrong handset was resolved, and the call volume to the center decreased to expected numbers. This allowed the call center to again focus on sales calls.

Customer Satisfaction Data

Lastly, your call center also can be a resource to collect valuable business intelligence regarding customer satisfaction to take action to improve its own performance. If the call center knows what attributes in their interactions are most important to overall customer satisfaction, it can take action on those that matter most.

Here’s an example of one company that analyzed its call center customer satisfaction data to understand specifically what the center needed to work on to improve the customer experience.

Scenario: A manufacturer of a consumer product was not sure what was important to the customers calling into the call center, and therefore they did not know with certainty what was most important to improve.

Actions Taken: An analysis of customer interactions with the call center was completed to understand the relative importance of all the attributes within those interactions. They learned that timely issue resolution and having the authority to handle the customer requests were the two most important drivers of customer satisfaction with the call center. These were also the two attributes that customers felt the call center performed the poorest—out of seven attributes. Figure 1 shows you the details of this analysis.

Result: The company revised its scope of support so agents had more authority to resolve customer issues on the first call. They also ensured that ongoing training of existing agents and new hire training better equipped agents to resolve customer issues.

Summary: The call center management team shared the results of their analysis, not just within their own group but also with other departments. This helped them establish credibility of their ability to use data effectively and use it not just to identify issues with other departments but to improve their own performance.

Figure 1: Timely issue resolution and authority to handle customer requests were the most important attributes to customer satisfaction but were rated the lowest performing attributes, according to the customer satisfaction data.


There are multiple touchpoints where customers interact with your company, and while social, online and mobile channels can provide the benefit of immediacy, few, if any, of these channels provide the breadth and depth offered by customer interactions with your call center. This information gained through your call center is more valuable than the richest market research.

The collection of these three examples of business intelligence—new product data, compliant data, and customer satisfaction data–did not require significant investment of time or money; however, all provided significant return on investment.

The call center is not just an operational requirement. Your call center can bring exceptional business value when you aggregate and analyze data, providing quantitative conclusions to the appropriate internal organization that can implement change. When presented appropriately, the insights you can capture from customer interactions with your call center can have a direct and significant impact on improving the customer experience.


Publish Date: September 20, 2016 5:00 AM

Inbound and Outbound Converge in the New Contact Center

I found this article in CRM magazine, Inbound and Outbound Converge in the New Contact Center, to be an interesting because it discusses some of the changes in our industry that are being made possible by process and technology, but with an eye to improving the customer experience.

In the past “outbound” contact centers were a four-letter word to many customers and staff as the focus was almost exclusively on sales and collections calls. The industry is changing and we are now seeing outbound calls blended with inbound transactions and handled by the same agents.

Specialized selling or collections skills are not needed in these environments, as the focus of the outbound call is on the customer relationship and support. This is the same function as that the inbound agent performs. However, I think the key to the design and implementation of this type of blended transaction will depend upon the needs of your customer.

How does your customer want their journey to proceed and how will your organization fulfill it? Will you be able to ensure that regardless of the channel the customer chooses that the content and experience is consistent across channels?

These are the key questions to ask to ensure that any technology implementation is designed to enhance the customer interaction, and that frontline staff have the skills, information and tools necessary to address the customer needs regardless of channel.

You can read the entire CRM article below.

Inbound and Outbound Converge in the New Contact Center

Call blending is the new normal as customer service becomes more proactive

By Leonard Klie – CRM magazine

As proactive contact becomes an integral part of customer care, the lines between outbound and inbound customer communications in the contact center are blurring, and this convergence is only going to intensify.

Currently, 70 percent of U.S contact centers use some form of call blending, involving the same agents in both inbound and outbound activity, according to research that ContactBabel presented in its “Inner Circle Guide to Outbound and Call Blending.”

There is “widespread acknowledgement that inbound and outbound activities are not mutually exclusive. One impacts on the other,” says Steve Morrell, principal analyst at ContactBabel.

And while the largest share of outbound contact (44 percent) involves sales-related activities, proactive customer service calls, such as notifying customers of deliveries or shipping delays, is a growing area. It currently makes up about 21 percent of outbound volume. Debt collection makes up 6 percent of outbound activity, and customer satisfaction surveys account for just 4 percent of the total volume.

Outbound activity is also being driven by an increase in the number of firms that offer customers the option to request a callback when agents are unavailable or hold times are expected to be high. Currently, 22 percent of firms offer this option, and when it is available, more than half of customers choose it, the research found.

The same blurring of the lines is occurring in the channels used, with 83 percent of U.S. contact centers asking their agents to interact over multiple media formats. It is likely that a multichannel approach, in which the company sends an email or text message first, waits to see whether the customer reads it and responds, and then follows up with a voice call, will become popular, the report concludes.

Both of these trends will force contact centers to change how they view their agents. “As outbound work becomes more about customer service and consultative selling rather than the old-fashioned cold-calling model, the agents’ interpersonal skills will become even more important,” Morrell says.

Luckily, technology is helping here, with contact management systems evolving to the point where they can tell the agent about customer purchase histories, personality profiles, and even preferences for the method and time of contact. Additionally, “the personalization of outbound customer contact will be supported through the use of dynamic scripting,” Morrell says.

Customer segmentation, personality matching, and an analysis of call outcomes will also become much more important, the research suggests.

And just as call duration and average handling times have fallen by the wayside as metrics for inbound calls, replaced by metrics that focus on customer satisfaction and first-contact resolution, ContactBabel expects the same to happen with outbound calls.

An additional benefit of call blending is that contact centers in the United States are seeing “considerable decreases” in agent attrition, something that has been historically very high across the industry, the report notes. It was even higher in call centers that only perform outbound activities, where the pressure to perform is much greater.

In addition to benefiting agents, call blending should be to the customer’s advantage as well. Morrell points out that customers could benefit from the right kind of communications, delivered at the right time and over the right channel. “Outbound communications can become welcomed as adding to the customer experience,” he says. “In effect, the business provides customers with information or an opportunity to communicate before they realize they even need it.”

Originally published in the June  2016 issue of CRM magazine. 


Publish Date: August 4, 2016 5:00 AM

Part 2- COPC Inc. Best Practices for Recruiting, Hiring and Training

Posting 2 of 2 in a Series—Best Practices for Recruiting, Hiring and Training

In our first posting regarding best practices for recruiting, hiring and training, we discussed why it is important to determine your minimum requirements for key positions in your call center. We detailed why this strategy is crucial to improving performance and providing a superior customer experience. And we offered three steps to determine minimum requirements to achieve success in meeting customer expectations.

In the second part of this series, we are going to discuss building your recruiting, hiring and training programs based on your minimum requirements and analyzing these programs for continuous improvement.

First, let’s focus on recruiting and hiring. Armed with your list of minimum requirements, you should use this list to determine which attributes and competencies you expect potential candidates should already have upon being hired. These will become your list of “hiring requirements,” and they should be used throughout the selection process. This includes using these requirements in your job posting, interview guide, and the skills verification testing that is conducted during recruiting.

The initial objective during the hiring process is to ensure you are recruiting candidates who will be a wise investment in terms of recruiting and training costs. The ultimate objective is that the potential candidate will be successful at the job in providing a superior customer experience. The purpose of skills verification is to ensure the people you hire have the capabilities necessary to succeed in their respective roles.

When working with our clients, we often find that organizations do not verify skills effectively. Some do not verify at all. Lack of skills verification can result in high attrition, low agent efficiency, poor accuracy and quality results, as well as high customer, client and employee dissatisfaction. In our experience, the more rigorously you test to verify skills and knowledge, the more competent and productive staff you will have to meet customer expectations.

Here are some best practices to follow when verifying skills and knowledge before hiring:

(1.)  Use multiple testing methodologies: Do not rely on one or two quizzes, or one interview. There are many ways to test for skills and knowledge, so do not limit yourself in your testing approach.

(2.)  Conduct rigorous testing: Test fully for the minimum skills and knowledge required, and administer all testing prior to hiring a candidate. 

(3.)  Use appropriate and rigorous thresholds: When someone passes their verification testing, the threshold used should be high enough to assure you that the candidate can perform the job at the minimum level desired. Do not rely on an arbitrary number as a passing grade. Understand what that grade represents.

Skills verification should not end at hiring, but should be incorporated throughout the rest of the on-boarding process and should even become a part your normal call center operations.

Now, let’s discuss how to build your training program around your minimum requirements for training. At this point, you have defined all minimum requirements for the job. You also have further identified those that you expect the employee to have upon being hired. What remains are the minimum skill requirements that you expect your new  employee to obtain through training. See Figure 1.

Figure 1


When you know specifically what minimum skills need to be acquired through training, the training organization now knows exactly what their curricula needs to contain. This helps to eliminate training time wasted on teaching concepts that people do not need. Or more importantly, leaving out topics that they  need to learn.

As with the verification of hiring requirements, you must verify the skills and knowledge that you have included in your training plan. That means you will need to, again, ensure you are using multiple testing methodologies and that the testing is rigorous in both content and thresholds.

Lastly, we recommend you analyze your recruiting, hiring and training effectiveness and make continuous improvements. Recruiting and training your call center staff is costly. You need to ensure your strategy produces employees who are qualified to do the job, are a good fit, and will stay a minimum amount of time so your organization can recoup its training investment.

Through our client work, we have found that high-performing call centers regularly validate attributes that lead to success and longevity on the job. They analyze employee performance based on the minimum skill requirements presented during the recruitment process.

These call centers begin by analyzing training results, such as the percentage of new hires passing training exams at minimum thresholds.  Other process-level assessments used to evaluate training quality are critical-error accuracy, escalation rate, close ratio for a sales program, issue resolution for customer service and technical support, volume, and average handle time. Regardless of what you measure, it is important that you make analysis and performance improvement a key part of your strategic recruiting and training plan.

We recommend that minimum skills and knowledge requirements for each key position should be reviewed at least annually, or more frequently depending on the changing needs of the business. Several factors may impact and change your required minimum skills, such as:

  • A new program launch or changes to an existing program
  • Technology or system upgrades
  • Changes to call center performance requirements, such as a obtaining a higher quality goal or sales conversion goal
  • Failure to consistently meet performance goals at the call center level, program level, or individual agent level
  • High attrition or absenteeism rates


We also suggest using agent-level performance data analysis to make improvements in defining your call center jobs. You should analyze agent-level performance data at least twice a year to identify common challenges, and determine if minimum skill and knowledge requirements of each key position should be modified.

Your strategy regarding recruiting, hiring and training is crucial to your call center’s performance and meeting customer expectations. Although our recommended processes take time to implement, we have seen tremendous success when our clients develop minimum requirements and then apply them to their recruiting and training programs. Finding, hiring and training the most appropriate candidates for your most important positions allows you to build a call center team that achieves high performance. It also helps increase employee satisfaction, reduce turnover and minimize operational costs.


Publish Date: July 25, 2016 5:00 AM

Observations from the Field

The Business of Customer Experience Operations

Hi, I’m Judi Brenstein, vice president, client solutions, COPC Inc. I get the opportunity to travel the country and speak with industry leaders in customer contact centers and other customer experience operations. On a recent flight home, I was reflecting on the themes that I have been hearing. A few topics have continued to come up in my conversations, so I thought I would share them with you:

PCI Compliance: One of the things that I continue to hear through my travels is how some organizations are much more lax than others about PCI compliance. The payment card industry created a set of requirements designed to ensure that all that companies process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. This is called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), or often just called PCI compliance.

Some companies tell me that they do not have a problem with PCI compliance. Others have told me horror stories about how they thought they did not have a problem until they found out they really did.  PCI compliance will only continue to expand as an area of focus for customer experience operations as companies determine how to ensure PCI compliance regardless of agent location. Or, those organizations that place the most emphasis on PCI compliance may require having traditional in-house centers rather than “anywhere agents” to ensure more PCI oversight. Either way, we know PCI compliance will remain a hot topic for contact center operations.

Performance Improvement: Improving performance has started to turn from focusing on the agent to focusing on the customer, and we think that is exactly the right place to put your attention. Our experience and analysis shows that companies should not to focus on activity metrics, such as “one coaching per agent per week.” Instead, companies should be evaluating an agent’s performance from the customer’s perspective. What usually concerns the customer is issue resolution, or more simply, did the agent meet the customer’s needs or solve their problem.

Often we find during our consulting work that an organization has systemic issues impacting the customer experience. And these issues are often outside of the agent’s control. You can learn more about how to find performance issues affecting your customer experience by reading our blog series “Five Changes to Your Quality Program to Improve Customer Satisfaction.” Change #4 covers how to evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance.

Benchmarking:  I was recently presenting at a symposium sponsored by the International Association of Reservation Executives (IARE). I was discussing the findings from a benchmark survey by COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know that showed how well companies are meeting customer service expectations.

Looking at benchmark data can be tricky because you have to see it in the context of how your organization is performing now, regardless of what the benchmark data shows. While it is much more important to focus on improving your own performance as it relates to your organization’s goals and abilities, benchmark data shows you how others are doing. And this lets you know how you are doing in comparison.

What’s interesting about our survey results is that it included perspectives from both the corporate and customer experience. And the difference in perspective was significant. For example, nearly 80% of corporate executives think their customer service department is meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, while only 32.5% of consumers would agree with that perspective.

The survey also showed that while consumers are increasing using multiple channels to connect with a company, they still prefer the traditional channels of voice, email, and in-person to get an issue resolved. For more information, you can see my entire IARE presentation about benchmarking. You also can read the corporate summary of the CXMB survey.

For now, I’ll keep talking and traveling and passing on notes as I can.  If you need to talk with someone about the performance of your contact centers or your entire customer experience program, call me at 832-347-7347 or email at We are here to help.


Publish Date: May 5, 2016 5:00 AM

Quality Blog Series: Focus on Systemic Issues Impacting Performance

This is the fourth post in our blog series called, “Five Changes to Your Quality Program That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction.”

With each post in the series, we will examine one of five fundamental changes we recommend you make to your quality program. These are proven approaches to ensure your quality program is truly customer focused. Implementing these changes can drive significant improvements in the performance of your customer experience operations.

Here are the five changes we recommend:

 #1 Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

#2 Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error

#3 Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score

#4 Evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance

#5 Expand the quality process to include the capture of business intelligence

Today’s installment:

#4 Evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance

In this installment, we will examine two of the primary reasons quality results are not correlated to customer satisfaction results, and why quality programs often do not result in improvements to the customer experience.

These reasons are:

#1.  Quality monitoring forms, scoring, and action plans are focused almost exclusively on agent behavior, versus evaluating from the customer’s perspective.

#2.  Quality programs do not capture systemic issues impacting the customer experience that are outside of the agent’s control.

Now, you might be thinking, “Isn’t that the right approach?  Shouldn’t quality programs evaluate agent behavior? Isn’t that what quality programs are for?” The answer is that agent behavior and performance obviously is an important component of the interaction with the customer and should absolutely be monitored, measured and managed.

However, COPC Inc. finds a majority of issues that negatively impact the customer are outside of the agent’s control. These issues are not being captured or acted upon to improve the customer experience. As a result, little improvement is achieved.

Let’s explore #1, the importance of evaluating from the customer’s perspective, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

As an example, take a situation where a customer calls into a company and wants an item to be repaired for free. The agent follows the correct procedure and discovers the item is out of warranty. The agent then correctly tells the customer the item cannot be repaired for free. The agent did everything right, but the issue was not resolved from the customer’s perspective.

What COPC Inc. normally sees when conducting quality reviews is that this interaction, from the agent’s perspective, would be considered as “passed” because the agent followed the specified process and provided the customer with an accurate answer.

However, from the customer’s perspective, this interaction is most certainly not considered as “passed.” In fact, if the customer had received a customer satisfaction survey, that person would likely say they are not satisfied because their issue was not resolved. In this example, the results from quality monitoring would not align with what the customer is actually experiencing.

Our recommended approach is to score the interaction from the customer’s perspective as reflected in Figure 1. Even though the agent did not do anything wrong, this interaction should be scored as “failed” to be a true reflection of the customer’s experience.  Only then will quality results more closely correlate with customer satisfaction results.

Now let’s explore #2, the importance of capturing systemic issues impacting performance.

While the first step is evaluating interactions from the customer’s perspective, it is critical to capture all reasons for errors that occur during that interaction, including both agent and non-agent issues. Only then will you be able to identify and address systemic issues that affect performance.

Figure 2 illustrates this concept by using issue resolution as the example. Issue resolution is always a key driver of the overall customer experience. The more you know about what is affecting issue resolution, the more you can actually take action to improve it. And you can do this through the quality process.

Figure 2.

Again, while working with our clients, we often find that most quality programs focus almost exclusively on agent-related issues. This focus rarely results in significant or sustained improvements.  We find more often than not, the reasons for failure have nothing to do with the agent, yet quality programs do not capture these reasons.

In Figure 2, you will see that 43% of the interactions evaluated did not solve the issue from the customer’s perspective.  We then identified the reason for that failure. Only 22% was due to agent issues, while 78% was due to non-agent issues. Further investigation showed that company policies represented almost 70% of the non-agent issues.

All of these non-agent issues provided a potential 30-point improvement by making systemic changes. This is where we recommend you should focus your efforts to make the most significant and sustained improvements that impact the customer experience.

In summary, if you evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective and use your quality program to capture both agent issues and systemic issues impacting performance, your quality results will better align with customer satisfaction results.  More importantly, you will know exactly where to focus to make significant improvements, generating a much greater return on investment from your quality program.


Please check back soon to see our last post our series “Five Changes to Your Quality Program Changes That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction,” series. We will examine our recommended Change #5:  Expand the quality process to include the capture of business intelligence.

Change #1: Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

Change #2:  Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error 

Change #3:  Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score


Publish Date: April 19, 2016 5:00 AM

COPC Inc. Global Events Calendar

This global events calendar provides you an overview of where you can find COPC Inc. at customer experience events throughout the world. The calendar will be regularly updated with new events and content and presentations from previous events.

Featured Event:

April 26, 2016, Phoenix, AZ
IARE 2016 SYMPOSIUM at Hyatt Place Phoenix  

Judi Brenstein of COPC Inc. is presenting at the IARE Symposium in Phoenix, on Tuesday, April 26. Judi is providing an in-depth exploration of the findings from the 2015 Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) Survey — a joint venture between COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know. She will be discussing insights about the customer experience from both consumer and corporate perspectives.

To meet Judi at the IARE Symposium, contact her at

Founded in 1985, the International Association of Reservation Executives (IARE) welcomes all companies who operate and support contact centers in the travel industry including airlines, cruise, rental car, bus and resorts.  In addition to the Symposium, the IARE presents an annual conference and exhibition. COPC Inc. is a sponsor of IARE.

Future Events:

May 4, San Diego, CA
COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know present the CXMB Workshop.
This one-day session showcases a team of industry experts examining the findings of the Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) report. Location: Petco corporate office, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

May 19, Auckland, New Zealand
COPC Inc. hosts a lunch seminar with Contact Centre Institute of New Zealand (CCiNZ)  to discuss customer journey mapping.
For more information, contact Tracey Turk at 

June 7: Toronto, Canada
COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know present the CXMB Workshop.
This is one-day session showcases a team of industry experts examining the findings of the Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) report. Location: RBC office, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.

June 27: Las Vegas, NV
COPC  Inc. will return to exhibit at Call Center Week.
Come see us at the world’s largest contact center conference and expo: 17th annual Call Center Week at The Mirage hotel. More information to come.
To schedule a meeting, contact Judi Brenstein at


Publish Date: April 14, 2016 5:00 AM

Quality Series: Measure Quality Using Three Metrics, Instead of One Overall Score

This is the third post in our blog series called, “Five Changes to Your Quality Program That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction.”

With each post in the series, we will examine one of five fundamental changes we recommend you make to your quality program. These are proven approaches to ensure your quality program is truly customer focused. Implementing these changes can drive significant improvements in the performance of your customer experience operations.

Here are the five changes we recommend:

 #1 Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

#2 Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error

#3 Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score

#4 Evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance

#5 Expand the quality process to include the capture of business intelligence

Today’s Installment:  

#3 Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score

Many quality programs measure quality with one overall score.  In most cases, this starts with assigning point values for each attribute on a quality form, and then rolling up those points to produce an overall quality score for that interaction.  Over time, all scores are then averaged to provide an overall score.

Using one overall quality score leads to two significant problems:  producing inflated scores and the inability to see opportunities.

1. Inflated Quality Scores – Most quality forms contain too many items that do not impact the customer. These include attributes like “did the agent correctly complete the opening/closing” or “did the agent use proper hold procedures”. Agents typically get full points for these items, which inflates their quality score. This gives a company a false impression about how well they are performing in their customer’s eyes.  Sure, the overall score looks good, but what could be hidden in that score is that their agents are not performing well on what matters most to the customers, such as  issue resolution or coming across as knowledgeable.

Figure 1 and Figure 2 illustrate an inflated quality score. In Figure 1, Company X had high quality scores month after month. However, when COPC Inc. looked at their CSAT scores, they were only in the low 60%s, indicating a customer base that was not happy.

Figure 1.


Figure 2.


Figure 2 shows the results of a recent survey conducted by COPC Inc., where companies think they are meeting their customer’s expectations, but the customer disagrees.

2. The inability to see opportunities – Having one quality score does not provide a company with a true picture of what the opportunities are. In Figure 3, the company’s overall quality score was 90%.  Upon seeing that score, a manager would likely say, “Hey, we’re doing great, so let’s go work on something else.”  However, breaking the quality score into three components shows the company only has a score of 70% in what matters most to the customer.

Figure 3.


Given the problems shown  in using only an overall quality score, COPC Inc. recommends measuring three separate metrics:

  • Customer-critical accuracy – In the first installment of this series, we talked about redesigning the quality form to focus on the key drivers of the customer experience. This metric is the measurement of the accuracy of these attributes that matter most to customers, such as issue resolution, agent knowledge, and desire to help. If your quality form is designed correctly to include key customer drivers, the customer-critical accuracy is the quality metric that should most closely align with your customer satisfaction results.


  • Business-critical accuracy – This metric is the measurement of attributes that are most important to the business, such as cost or revenue. We all know that there are often business-critical attributes that are not important to the customer, but from a business perspective we also need to measure and manage areas critical to the business.


  • Compliance-critical accuracy – This metric provides a measurement of how well you are doing with attributes that are critical from a compliance or legal perspective, such as following privacy laws.


Knowing your performance is half the battle of improvement.  Breaking your overall quality score into three components will provide you a more accurate picture of how your company is performing as well as identify whether you should focus your improvement efforts on customer, business, and/or compliance issues.  Instead of incorrectly thinking you are performing well or not working on the right metrics, you will know what needs to be worked on and be able to drive improvements.


Please check back soon to see our next post our series “Five Changes to Your Quality Program Changes That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction,” series. We will examine our recommended Change #4:  How to evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance.

Want to know more? Read our previous posts in this series:

Change #1: Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

Change #2, Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error 


Publish Date: April 8, 2016 5:00 AM

Quality Series: Score Output Metrics and Use Sub-Attributes to Capture Reasons for Errors

This is the second post in a special blog series called, “Five Changes to Your Quality Program That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction.”

With each post in the series, we will examine one of five fundamental changes we recommend you make to your quality program. These are proven approaches to ensure your quality program is truly customer focused.  Implementing these changes can drive significant improvements in the performance of your customer experience operations.

Here are the five changes we recommend:

#1 Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers
#2 Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture
reasons for error
#3 Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score
#4 Evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance
#5  Expand the quality process to include the capture of business intelligence

 Today’s installment: 

#2 Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error

Ultimately, your quality program should be designed to improve the customer experience. In our last article, we discussed the importance of focusing on the key drivers of the customer experience when designing your quality form.

That concept leads us to the topic of this article. Many times, we find the attributes that are scored do not reflect what the customer ultimately cares about. For example as we discussed in the last post, the customer cares about things like “was my issue resolved?” or “did I get accurate information?” or “was my issue handled in an acceptable timeframe?”  We consider these output metrics and are what should be scored.

What we typically see as attributes being scored are items such as “did the agent use the appropriate tools?” or “did the agent use proper transfer procedures?” or “did the agent follow the proper procedures?”  While these are all important, they are not output metrics, nor are they what the customer cares about. These are actually the REASONS a failure occurred or  “causal factors.”  They should be captured as sub-attributes as the reasons for error.

Figure 1. shows the relationship between output metrics and causal factors. For example, if a customer’s issue was NOT resolved because the agent failed to use their tools correctly, the output score would be a fail to “issue resolution” with “did not use tools correctly” captured as the sub-attribute. There could be more than one causal factor and all should be captured. You may also find you need multiple levels of sub-attributes.  In this example, the next level would be to capture the specific tool the agent did not use correctly.

Figure 1.

Figure 1.


By taking this approach of focusing on output metrics and using sub-attributes to capture causal factors, you will have reliable data about the issues that matter most to customers. The results of your output metrics also will be better correlated with your actual customer satisfaction data.

At the same time, you will have a more accurate understanding of the underlying cause of failure for each metric. You will be able to target improvement efforts more effectively, ensuring any actions you take will have a direct impact on the customer experience.

Please check back soon to see the next post in our series, “Five Changes to Your Quality Program that Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction,” when we will examine specific quality measurements.  It’s the topic of our #3 recommended change:  Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score.

Want to know more? Read our post about change #1, Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers.


Publish Date: March 25, 2016 5:00 AM

Managing the Customer Experience

I once listened to a Disney executive presenting at a conference about the importance of customer experience.  He told the audience a story about how a little kid had left his favourite teddy bear behind after visiting one of Disney’s theme parks in the USA.  The kid’s tearful mother called up the theme park in distress, got transferred to the “Lost and Found” Department and explained the situation. The friendly staff member took down a description of the teddy bear, the family’s details and said she’d look into it.

Four days later, the teddy bear arrived via courier, safe and sound, at home. Along with the beloved toy were some photographs of the teddy bear having fun at the theme-park; on a roller coaster, eating ice cream, meeting Mickey Mouse and all sorts of other poses as well as a hand-written note explaining that teddy had been having a great time on his little vacation, and that the child didn’t need to worry about him having been lost and that they hoped all the family would return again next summer.

Was this the type of example of what a company needs to do to deliver an outstanding customer experience?  Well, no actually, and the Disney executive was very clear that although it was a great example of how his staff were able to deal with an exceptional circumstance, he believed that customer experience management is more about getting the basics right and ensuring that your organisation is able to provide consistent delivery of predictable service outcomes.

The customer experience is a journey, made up of many different discrete touchpoints, or steps.  The steps of the journey which are the most obvious for customers are those steps which take place in-store, online or when communicating with a contact centre.  These touchpoints are the so-called “moments of truth,” which companies need to get right to retain the customers’ goodwill.

It would be wrong to assert that technology is the primary driver of delivering outstanding customer experiences, but technology does indeed play a role in ensuring the consistent delivery of predictable service outcomes in each of the touchpoints.

The business world is hurtling towards the adoption of an omni-channel delivery methodology, where customers experience consistent, seamless service, no matter which channel they use.  As such organisations cannot design customer touchpoints in isolation and must focus on technology solutions which help to manage the whole customer journey, or they are in danger of becoming obsolete and being left behind.

I believe we’re not yet in an omni-channel world, and even some of the best companies would have to admit that they are still providing cross-channel support (they have multiple channels available for customers, and in the main they manage them well, but the transition from on-line to in-store or to the contact centre is not yet seamless, and customers have some level of repetition to go through to get their enquiry resolved).

Design thinking will trump all piecemeal approaches to improving the customer experience, but in simple terms, how can technology help to improve the customer experience?

  • The CRM systems should link to the IVR and to the website
  • The call centre should have access to information they need to solve customer problems (ideally through an intuitive knowledgebase which also links to the website)
  • Emails, webchats, social media enquiries should be delivered to customer service staff in the same way as calls are
  • Websites should be designed from a customer’s perspective, and should not be internally focused. This means that a customer should be able to accomplish whatever they need via the website with as few clicks as possible.
  • When the work involves the processing of applications, forms, etc. companies should reduce layers of approvals to speed up the work in process. In fact companies should use algorithms instead of people wherever possible.
  • Make sure you have enough lines into the contact centre to be able to deal with high volume periods. Many companies don’t even know that their callers are being “blocked” during these busy times.
  • Telephony and system downtime are “customer experience killers.” Build your infrastructure to ensure almost 100% uptime.


We [at COPC Inc.] have found that 75 percent to 80 percent of all issues which drive customer dissatisfaction are caused by process or system errors, and not by the actions of careless individual staff members.

The Disney example above demonstrates that quick-thinking, caring individuals can manage exceptional circumstances, but to become a customer experience leader, a company needs to have the basic technology building blocks in place to provide the consistent delivery of predictable service outcomes to their customers.

For companies to compete on price or product is misguided and can only bring, at best, short-term benefits, as each can be easily replicated. As a result, customer experience is becoming the only genuine differentiator.

This article was originally published in the March/April issue of APAC CIO Outlook


Publish Date: March 10, 2016 5:00 AM

Change Your Quality Program to Improve Customer Satisfaction

COPC Inc. Blog Series: Five Changes to Your Quality Program That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction

Is your customer satisfaction (CSAT) not improving despite your best efforts? Does your company suffer a disconnect between your quality scores and your CSAT or issue resolution results?  If so, rest assured you are not alone.  More often than not, this is a sign that your quality program is not designed correctly and is not focused on the items that most impact your customer’s experience.

In our work with call centers and other customer experience operations throughout the world, we have found when quality programs are designed and functioning correctly, they can accurately predict the customer’s experience with your company. This allows you to be more proactive in fixing issues before they can impact your customer and your business.

To help your company improve the customer experience, we have developed a blog series called, “Five Changes to Your Quality Program That Can Dramatically Improve Customer Satisfaction.”

With each post in this series, we will examine one of five fundamental changes we recommend you make to your quality program. These are proven approaches to ensure your quality program is truly customer focused. Implementing these changes can drive significant improvements in the performance of your customer experience operations.

 Here are the five changes:

#1. Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

#2. Score only output metrics and use sub-attributes to capture reasons for error

#3. Measure quality using three metrics instead of one overall score

#4. Evaluate transactions from the customer’s perspective, focusing on systemic issues impacting performance

#5. Expand the quality process to include the capture of business intelligence

The focus of this installment is:

#1 Redesign the quality form to align with key customer drivers

When organizations think about how they initially developed their quality form, they realize that more often than not, it was built based on a collection of opinions and “must haves” from various stakeholders. While this approach might have given everyone a say, it probably did little to place the focus on what the customer is actually experiencing and their level of satisfaction.

We recommend a different approach to designing your quality form, one that puts the customer experience front and center. Start with an analysis of your customer satisfaction survey results. What are the key drivers of your customer experience? Which attributes most impact overall satisfaction?

For example, you might have “an appropriate greeting” as a part of your quality form, but does the customer satisfaction data confirm this is important to your customers? Probably not.

Analyze your data to determine the five to seven attributes essential to overall customer satisfaction. Typically, these attributes include issue resolution, agent knowledge, a desire to resolve, professionalism (not being rude) and handling the transaction efficiently–from the customer’s perspective. These should then be included on your quality form as customer-critical attributes, along with your business-critical attributes such as cost-related items, and compliance-critical attributes such as privacy/legal requirements.

By focusing solely on customer-critical attributes and eliminating items that have little to no impact on overall satisfaction, you will ensure a strong correlation between your quality scores and CSAT results. Once your form is truly customer-focused, your quality results will become more accurate and predictive. You can confidently rely upon your quality data to drive improvements in the customer experience.


Please check back soon to see our next post in this series, when we will examine recommendations #2 and #3 about quality scoring and measurement.  If you would like to discuss your quality form with a quality expert, contact us at


Publish Date: March 4, 2016 5:00 AM

Seven Ways To Ensure Your Customers Actually Use Your Self-Service System

Today’s customer fully embraces technology and expects companies to do the same. This is especially true when it comes to providing customer service. Customers are still calling into the contact center to resolve many issues. However, two-thirds of consumers surveyed by Execs In The Know and COPC Inc. utilize multiple channels, including self-service options.

The use of multiple channels is not the whole story. Customers expect an effortless and seamless experience throughout their journey with your organization, with a convenient path to issue resolution. This means that customer engagement must be connected and relevant between your assisted and unassisted (or self-service) channels.

A key component of your self-service channel is having an effective knowledgebase, or the online library that stores and delivers your customer care content. Yes, your self-service program relies on technology to deliver information to your customers. But it is the content, organization, and search functionality within your knowledgebase that will make your self-service program a useful and reliable part of your omnichannel engagement.

Here are seven ways to design, build and maintain a knowledgebase that will meet expectations during any part of the customer journey:

1) Start by establishing a knowledgebase strategy.

If the goal of your knowledgebase is to answer customer questions and help resolve their issues, then you need to make sure you understand your customers’ needs. You can get this information by documenting questions that customers are asking when you are monitoring calls, emails or chats. Make sure to capture questions that customers escalate to Tier 2.

Also, structure your knowledgebase with “simple” in mind. Stick to fewer generalized categories so customers are not confused. Over time as more content is added, there may be opportunities to add section headings or categories. These will become clear as they are needed, so be prepared to grow your knowledgebase organically.

2) Identify and build your knowledgebase team.

While this may seem obvious, an established team with well-defined roles is key to providing relevant content to the knowledgebase, in a timely manner. This team usually includes a content and/or project leader, agents, and content authors. The leader decides how the knowledgebase will be designed and organized, which topics will be covered, and to what extent. Agents can provide suggestions for content development, while authors are those who are both technically competent and in touch with day-to-day customer contact inquiries. Usually a knowledgebase solution takes about three months to implement, after planning is completed, and includes three to four full-time staff.

3) Create an internal and external knowledgebase.

Build an external version of your knowledgebase with customer-facing instructions. At the same time, build an internal version with more technical details for use by support staff only. Having two different versions of your knowledgebase allows you to use the internal version to teach new agents how to use the knowledgebase. This training gives them experience with both the detailed internal version, as well as knowing where all the content is located in the external version that the customer is using. In turn, agents can more easily advise customers where to find information in the external version of the knowledgebase.

4) Customers want quick access to information, so provide a robust search capability.

Your knowledgebase should be the fastest customer service channel you manage. Customers want to be in and out and have their solution. Do not require them to register, sign in, or enter a product or case number, as this will slow them down and cause dissatisfaction. Also, your search algorithm should be extremely accurate and automatically provide a few possible answers to each inquiry. Be sure to test your search functionality to ensure key phrases return the correct content. Confusion is one of the major reasons customers abandon and are dissatisfied with a self-service channel, so your top priority is to ensure customers get the right answers to their inquiries.

5) Consider offering a chat option in your knowledgebase.

Chat is a great way to offer on-demand help to your customers. It also provides you an excellent source of valuable feedback regarding both the customer issue and the content they are reading. You should also set up a feedback button on each piece of content for customers to respond whether they found the content useful and/or solved their issue. This information will alert the content owners which articles are helpful and which need to be improved.

6) To increase efficiency, the knowledgebase should be able to learn new questions and answers from the other customer service channels.

To allow customers to ask and suggest new questions, consider connecting your knowledgebase to your multi-channel ticketing software and customer service widgets. Then, once a question is answered by a human, automatically add that question and answer to the knowledgebase. This allows your knowledgebase to provide the same answer automatically to future customers.

7) Analyze usage of the knowledgebase.

This will help identify what customers are using, what they perceive to be the most valuable content, and what content is missing. You can do this by tracking both the most popular pages in the knowledgebase, along with trends in overall usage. You also can review search engine usage. Log all uses of the search engine and generate summary reports that show the most common searches, along with failed search terms. This will tell you both what terms people are using and how your content matches up to their searches.

Not all customer issues can be resolved through a self-service program, but having a robust self-serve system that is continually improving is both cost effective and beneficial to your customer. However, it is essential to have a clear path to issue resolution within your self-service offering and a quick way for a customer to contact a live person if their inquiry is not resolved.

This post was originally published on the Execs In the Know blog on February 17, 2016.


Publish Date: February 19, 2016 5:00 AM

Take These Boots…Please!

This is part of our occasional series called CX Stories, which are personal accounts by COPC Inc. employees about their own positive customer experience. This story is from Scott Flewelling, vice president, COPC Inc.

L.L. Bean and the Art of the Exceptional Customer Experience.

As many people know, L.L. Bean is a retailer in Maine that has been in business since 1912 and provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can return anything for any reason at any time and they will replace the product or refund your money.

Over the last 30 years  I have bought a number of items from L.L. Bean, both online and in the store, everything from dog beds, to clothing to fishing waders. I have spent thousands of dollars.  In fact,  I think I have spent more money with L.L. Bean than any other single retailer. In all that time I have only ever purchased one item that did not meet my expectations. I returned it after about five years and received a full refund.

This story is about a product that I was not planning to return or replace. I own a pair of their famous Bean Boots, and the soles were quite worn but the upper part of the boot was still good. I phoned into the call center to see if the boots could be repaired if I brought them to a store.  (Yes, while L.L. Bean is mostly known for their catalog, they do have stores throughout the east coast of the United States.)

The call center confirmed they could repair the boots and gave me the cost.  While on vacation in Maine this past summer, we made a trip to an L.L. Bean store, where I was directed to go to Customer Service with my worn boots to leave them to be repaired. The staff at the store was, of course, friendly and they completed all the necessary paperwork for my repair.  They explained the time frames and costs, all of which were fine with me.

When it came time to complete the shipping label to return my repaired boots to me, they learned I was from Canada.  Much to my surprise, although the company ships new products to Canada, shipping repaired products is not that easy due to customs and duty charges.

They asked if I could return to the store in a few weeks to pick them up, but that was not possible for me to do.  Then they conferred amongst themselves and presented me with a brand new pair of boots – no charge!

I explained that I was not unhappy with my old boots and was willing to pay for the repair.  However they insisted that I accept the new boots  since they could not mail the repaired boots to me.  I was amazed!

While I know some people take advantage of companies like L.L. Bean and return worn products for a free replacement, that was not my intent.  I just wanted to repair my old boots.  Having the staff insist I take a new pair as a replacement just solidified my loyalty to this great company that has been in business for over 100 years.

L.L. Bean went above and beyond to resolve my issue by offering me a new pair of boots.  However, it was the entire interaction– from the moment I called the contact center, to the staff helping me with paperwork, to the on-the-spot resolution in the store—that made this experience exceptional.

We hear a lot lately that companies should empower their employees. This story is a great example of what happens when a company instills a genuine commitment to customer satisfaction and creates a culture for their employees to meet and exceed customer expectations, no matter what it takes.


Publish Date: February 11, 2016 5:00 AM

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