Off Center
There are companies that talk about being customer-focused, and then there are companies like Dealertrack Technologies that back such talk up with real action.

A few years ago, Dealertrack – a leading provider of web-based software solutions for the automotive industry – implemented a ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VoC) initiative featuring a comprehensive and dynamic customer satisfaction (C-Sat) survey process. The initiative has enabled the company to continuously drive performance improvement, elevate the customer experience and enhance the bottom line.

I recently caught up with Dealertrack’s Senior Manager of Technical Support, Dayna Giles, who was gracious enough to answer my barrage of questions about her center’s VoC and C-Sat success with much eloquence and insight.

When did you implement your current Customer Satisfaction survey process, and what was the main objective for doing so?

The Dealertrack Customer Satisfaction survey process has been in place since early 2009 and rolled out through the different solution groups and teams through October 2010. The main objective of this is to understand from our clients’ perspective what we are doing well, and what can improve on, as well as whether or not they would be willing to recommend our solution in the marketplace.

How soon after an interaction with an agent is the customer surveyed? How many questions does the survey feature, and what are the nature of those questions?

The survey is emailed to the client immediately after the case is resolved.

We have a total of six questions on our survey. The nature of most of those questions are specific to the agent and the interaction (empathy, follow-up, understanding and satisfaction with technical resolution), with the other question being whether or not the client would recommend our support team. There is additional space for clients to provide comments or feedback to help improve our product, our service, or future interactions.

Do you survey only callers, or also customers who interact with Dealertrack via email, IVR and web self-service?

Our surveys are tied to the client email address so we survey any form of client interaction based on our case-tracking system.

Who evaluates the survey data/feedback, and how often?

We have an internal team dedicated to the VoC process. We have monthly debrief meetings that involve key leadership team members where discussion occurs around all VoC metrics and initiatives to improve results.

Do you have a “customer recovery” process in place for customers who indicate notable dissatisfaction following an interaction? How soon after such customers complete a survey does your center contact them, and how do customers typically respond?

Our supervisors and managers call our clients back on all the dissatisfaction alerts or client requests we receive. Once such a client responds to a survey, they are contacted within one business day. Clients typically respond positively to being contacted by a supervisor or manager on a dissatisfaction survey.

Do you incorporate customers’ ratings and direct feedback into agents’ Quality scores and coaching?

Yes, we incorporate customer ratings and feedback into team member quality scores and coaching in a couple of ways. We have a team member scorecard – Team Member Performance Index (TMPI) – and a Service Experience Index (SEI) that includes both the Quality Performance Assessment (QPA) score and the Transactional Net Promoter Score (TNPS) to give the agent an overall grade or ranking for the month. During monthly agent review sessions team members receive feedback on the above.

How do agents feel about having the Voice of the Customer integrated with your Quality monitoring process?

When we initially rolled out this program, team members were not confident that they would be able to influence client satisfaction. Team members believed challenges with a product or other issues that were outside their control would overshadow the service they could provide. We very quickly learned this was not the case – how a team member delivers the message and manages the interaction is often the determining factor in whether a client is satisfied or not.

What other kinds of actions do you take on the customer data and feedback you receive?

We often use client feedback to improve our internal processes. For example, since supervisors or managers make the callback to our clients, they receive direct feedback they may not otherwise hear. They bring that feedback to daily meetings where we are able to discuss where we are as a team and look to make improvements. It could be a lack of training on the team member’s part, and in discussing this feedback we may find that similar training is needed across the team. We then work with our training team to provide this specific training to improve the team member’s knowledge and confidence.

I hear your center has seen vast improvements to its Net Promoter Score. Care to elaborate? To what do you attribute such an increase?

Over the course of 29 months we saw a great increase in our Transactional Net Promoter Score. From February 2011, with a score of 5%, to June 2013, with a score of 75% – that’s a 70% increase! The biggest increase occurred between February 2011 and March 2011, when we saw 15% improvement (from 5% to 20%). The second biggest increase occurred July 2012 to August 2012, when we saw a 14% improvement (from 46% to 60%).

We attribute such an improvement to team member focus on VoC. We ran a number of competitions to improve team member awareness that each client interaction could result in a customer survey. It became part of our daily language and part of our culture.

High customer satisfaction doesn’t happen without high agent satisfaction. What kinds of things does your center do to keep agents happy and engaged? 

Rewards & recognition
We have a couple of major awards that we give out on a monthly and quarterly basis, including Service Star of the Month, which is based on Transactional NPS scores and the number of positive customer comments the agent receives via surveys. We also have our quarterly Star Quarterback award, which is based on peer nominations regarding a team member’s demonstration of Dealertrack’s Vision, Mission and Values, as well as, internal and external client feedback and overall performance. 

In addition, Customer Service Week is one of our favorite weeks here. We do a number of fun free activities – bingo, funky sock day, favorite sports team day – and some pretty cost-effective activities. Cotton candy machines are around $30 to rent and the sugar is roughly $8. Minimal cost and effort but maximum results! The thing our team looks forward to the most each year is the breakfast we make – bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, fruit, OJ… the works! The leadership team cooks the breakfast and serves our team members. For a couple hundred dollars we can feed over 200 people and physically serve and thank them for all they do.

We run multiple focus groups concurrently where our team members are assigned a topic and given an opportunity to provide their feedback and any potential improvements they see we could make. In order to be successful, our team members have to feel we are giving them the opportunity to do so and as leaders we don’t always have the answers. It’s great to get ideas flowing from the team and create a ground swell. The company/leadership recognizes that support team members ARE the advocates for our clients and the client experience with products and service.

Also, our Level 2 agents are encouraged and empowered to train our Level 1 agents. Each L1 agent has an aggressive goal to complete 120 hours of training per year.  L2s are encouraged to provide a vast number of those hours of training.

Advancement opportunities
Team members are often selected from the Technical Support department to move up to various roles in the company – from Quality Assurance to Installation to Product Management. We develop and encourage future growth for our team members. Many of our support teams have higher internal turnover (promotion/transfer) than external, which is rare in the contact center industry.

Work-at-home opportunities
We currently have a number of remote employees on our team. We like to give team members, based on their role, the opportunity to work from home.

Stress reduction tactics
When we have a system incident or outage, we often get the team lunch. Or if it’s a Friday, or if it’s hot, or if we simply feel like it, we’ll get ice cream or treats. It doesn’t have to be a great expense to the company to make someone smile.

Dealertrack Technologies – The Big Picture
Contact center locations: Dallas, Texas; South Jordan, Utah; Groton, Conn.
Hours of operation: Main Support Hours of operation are Mon-Fri 6am-6pm MT; Sat 7am-4pm MT; Sun on-call support.
Number of agents employed: 150+
Products/services supported/provided: Software for the automotive industry.
Channels handled: Phone, IVR, email, web self-service.
What so great about them: The ‘Voice of the Customer’ initiative they implemented in 2009 has led to huge increases in customer satisfaction and loyalty, not to mention a highly engaged frontline.

Kevin Carly
8/14/2013 12:19:36 am


As you know, DealerTrack is near and dear to me. Dayna has been my padawan learner in the past, but clearly she is ready to be part of the Jedi Council of Contact Centers. She is all about execution. I'm very proud of her and what she has accomplished. Kudos to Dayna and to DealerTrack!!

Thanks for doing this centerfold on their operation!


8/14/2013 12:24:55 am

Yes, Kevin, the Force is most certainly with Dayna and Dealertrack.

Thanks very much for your comment -- and, even more importantly, for tipping me off to their terrific contact center in the first place. I love getting great leads!


Jeff Painter
8/14/2013 01:08:51 am

As one of the product directors here at Dealertrack I’d like to add my 2 cents to the conversation… Dayna and team have done a fantastic job over the past couple years and the best part is that they are not resting on their laurels. The team is constantly trying to get better at helping our customers, and all of us at Dealertrack are proud of the team and thankful for their hard work. They are truly the face of Dealertrack DMS to our customers.

8/14/2013 01:15:59 am

Many thanks for chiming in, Jeff. You have good reason to be proud of Dayna and the whole crew. If only more contact centers focused as sharply on the Voice of the Customer as your org does!



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