Surveying Call Center Success

The long-term success of any organization, and particularly a service organization such as a call center, depends upon continuous improvement. Most call centers have numerous measures of individual, team, and overall call center performance.

But the key to continuous improvement also involves listening to customers to learn how effective the organization is meeting their needs.

Understanding customer perceptions of your organization’s performance can only be accomplished through a systematic customer surveying process. It is important for the call center to perform its own surveys in order to understand the perceptions of customers related specifically to call center transactions.

Many organizations perform regular customer satisfaction surveys, but these surveys focus on products, pricing, and a variety of other concerns with the call center experience sometimes buried in the overall questions and scope of the survey. To truly evaluate how effectively the call center is serving customers and representing the organization, it is crucial to do customer surveys solely focused on the call center experience.

There are several different types of surveys that an organization might do. These three types of surveys are:

Specific purpose surveys – These surveys may be conducted to ask a specific question about call center operations. For example, the organization may wish to query customers about the adequacy of hours of operation or to test out a new pricing structure. These surveys are limited to a very few questions around a single topic of interest.

Periodic surveys – These surveys are used to gauge perceptions around issues in the overall relationship between the customer and the organization or department. These surveys related to no specific transaction, but rather ascertain how well the organization is doing in the customer’s eyes with respect to ease of doing business, value delivered, areas needing change, and importance attached to certain service attributes.

Transaction surveys – These surveys are performed in conjunction with some specific event or transaction and are used to gauge the customer’s perception of that particular transaction. These surveys are event-driven and typically happen very soon after the event to be evaluated.

Regardless of the type of survey to be performed, there are five basic steps to be followed in performing customer surveys. These steps are:

  1. Project planning
  2. Instrument development
  3. Survey administration
  4. Data analysis
  5. Reporting and action

Every call center survey should start with a statement of purpose. This statement should outline the motivation for the survey, the target audience, the needed results, and what actions will be taken with the results. The statement of purpose should be simple, but detailed enough to serve as a “beacon” to keep the project focused and moving forward.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at each of the five steps to performing a survey.

Penny Reynolds is a founding partner of The Call Center School, a Tennessee based consulting and education company. For more information, e-mail Penny at

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