CPP, Inc. Highlights Conflict Resolution Study

By, Tracey E. Schelmetic
Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine


October 5, 2007

Human nature is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it surprises us. The nature of consumers is no exception. I'm always delighted by research that shows that a customer who initially had a problem with a company but had the issue satisfactorily resolved is more likely to remain a loyal customer than an individual who never had a problem with the company to begin with. It underscores the deep importance of human-to-human interaction in business today, during a time when many companies would like to automate humans out of their call centers entirely.

CPP, Inc., a provider of research, training and organizational/professional development consultation, today announced the release of a new case study based on recent research by Randall Wade, Ph.D. that analyzed results from its exclusively published Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assessment. This research examined the relationship between conflict handling and customer satisfaction ratings for inbound call centers. Study results showed that effective conflict handling in customer interactions can directly increase customer satisfaction. Specifically, Wade found that call center representatives who used a combination of “collaborating” and “accommodating” conflict management styles scored the highest on customer satisfaction ratings.

The new case study illustrates a valuable application for the TKI and effective conflict management: training for call center representatives and others in customer-facing roles.

According to study results, a strong relationship exists between the ability of an organization to effectively handle conflict and the organization’s level of customer satisfaction ratings.

“While there have been studies published in the past that examined the call center industry, Wade’s study is unique in that it analyzes the value of effective conflict management skills for call center employees, not just measurements of staffing levels, technical expertise and efficiency,” said Dennis Diligent, V.P. Sales and Professional Services, CPP, Inc. “The study delves into the dynamics of customer-employee interactions, providing critical insight essential for organizations that are truly customer-focused and that directly affects the bottom line.”

For the study, Wade employed the TKI instrument — a widely used conflict assessment tool —which measures an individual’s tendencies in dealing with interpersonal conflict. The TKI categorizes five different conflict-handling modes and helps people identify the mode they use most often so that they can steer conflict situations into constructive directions by operating in the mode that is most appropriate for the situation. The modes include: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating.

“Representatives who effectively deal with conflict by operating within the appropriate mode for the situation will tend to receive higher customer satisfaction ratings,” said Wade. “Using a combination of the “collaborating” and “accommodating” conflict management styles proved most effective in the achievement of high customer satisfaction ratings. This can affect customer retention, word-of-mouth, and a host of other factors vital to customer service-oriented businesses.”

For more information about the study, visit www.cpp.com/TKIcasestudy

Tracey Schelmetic is editorial director for CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions. For more articles please visit Tracey Schelmetic’s columnist page