Jaime Scott  |  July 29, 2016  | 

Are call centre surveys most effective when agent offered or automated?

Coke or Pepsi, Star Wars or Star Trek, agent offered or automated? It’s often a hotly debated topic amongst call centre management as well as customer insight and survey experts but whether call centre surveys are offered by the agent or automated is something we’re hearing much more noise about. As employee engagement and getting frontline staff to drive business change becomes more of a priority for the call centre, it’s a topic that’s not likely to go away any time soon.

Most discussions surrounding this debate tend to centre around the typical pros and cons of agent offered contact centre customer surveys. One of the biggest fears of getting the agent involved when offering surveys is what’s known as ‘cherry picking’. For those unfamiliar with the term, here’s a short definition:

Cherry Picking is where contact centre agents pick and choose which customer calls they transfer into an automated customer satisfaction survey. The common fear is that if the transfer process is influenced by the agent, the agent will only look to transfer ‘happy’ customers and, as such, the resultant surveys will be skewed with very positive scores. Therefore, the subsequent reporting and management information is almost useless, as it only shows surveys from already delighted customers whose only comment may be “great job!”.

Is 'Cherry Picking' really a fundamental issue?

In reality, it’s not necessarily the agent’s involvement in the constact centre customer survey offer that makes the difference – but the customer’s perception of what you do with their feedback. Call centres have a bad reputation when it comes to employee engagement, and it’s no surprise that many customers are increasingly under the impression that feedback is being used to reprimand agents in the call centre. Consequently, irrespective of how the survey is offered, they’re increasingly likely to provide inaccurate and diluted feedback to avoid any negative outcomes.

On the opposite side of the coin, when survey results are used to over-incentivise agents, there are situations where agents will inform customers at the end of the call that their bonus is based on positive survey outcomes “…so please rate me as a 10 out of 10”. These situations influence the customer’s responses, irrespective of whether the agent transfers the customer to a survey at the end of the call, or if the customer receives an automated call-back later on.

The objective of call centre surveys

The problem is using customer feedback to manage staff, when it could be used to examine exactly what people think and feel about the overall customer experience.

Once call centres change how they approach the surveying process, its sole objective quickly becomes capturing feedback to drive meaningful action across the business. This means ensuring you have high rates of quality responses from your customers, who are given every opportunity to be as open and honest about your service as possible.

There’s no better way to get a high volume of high quality responses from your customers that a timely, well-placed survey offer from another human being.

Agents need to feel safe in the knowledge that feedback from customers isn’t going to be used as a stick to beat them with.

Of course, this begs the question: ‘how do we know whether our agents are providing a great service?’. That’s why we at EvaluAgent focus on helping our clients develop a robust quality process that measures customer focused outcomes, enabling them to use surveys in a more effective way that drives business-wide improvement.

Do customers understand how their call centre surveys are being used?

For a great customer experience improvement process, call centres and contact centres need to ensure agents and customers understand how their surveys are being used.

This means call centres need to start being very clear about what they are going to be doing with the feedback they elicit from customers. Any contact centre customer survey needs to be completed with the confidence that results aren’t going to be used to “over” manage performance, and are going to be used in a constructive way to understand how best to improve the business for its customers.

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Jaime Scott

Jaime Scott

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Jaime leads EvaluAgent in delivering people-focused software and services to our customers. After almost twenty years directing customer experience and workforce engagement programmes for some of the UK’s biggest brands, including EE, Barclays and M&S, Jaime’s mission is to make things easier for call centres to deliver a truly great customer experience.


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