Call Centers are dead
Director of First Impression – Often the contact/call center is the only interaction Customers ever have with companies, which would then make sense that organizations should ensure they have an incredible experience. Unfortunately, that is typically not the case. There are several reasons (see past eService white collar sweat shops) besides management not giving call centers the resources and training necessary. The Customer service representatives’ responsibilities have evolved significantly. Today they are asked to do so much more, juggling multiple channels of communications.
Relationship Centers – Companies have to look differently at their call centers and the roles of their Customer service reps. It is no longer a call center, but rather a relationship center. I seriously recommend naming and referring to your call center (or contact center) as Relationship Centers. This will help everyone from within the company (executives to the Customer service reps) to think differently about this critical part of the organization. In a great article titled, “The Future of Contact Centers in the Age of the Customer,” Nicola Millard shared a study done with contact center experts, which revealed that they expect web-chat to become one of the primary ways Customers will communicate with companies. As Customers are increasingly starting their journey online or on a smartphone, web-chat is an easy way of having a conversation without leaving their browser or app. Video chat is also expected to explode in the next five years (see past eService Virtual Engagement).
Guardians of your Customer experience – Contact centers are more critical than ever to businesses. Today they are the ones that understand Customer demands, what Customers are contacting organizations about. Companies need to shift from the old paradigm of a “call factory” to relationship builders and “guardians of the Customer experience.” Companies also need to change the traditional key performance indicators (KPI’s) for contact centers. These might be transactional metrics like average call handling time – which is not Customer centric (see past eService on Measuring the wrong metrics). Like anything, if you don’t have executive sponsorship, nothing will change.
Collecting Customer intelligence from…Customers – With the rise of the social media era, Customers are more empowered than ever to have access to, and influence information about themselves and their experiences. Some companies (Testra puts Customers first) have decided to allow Customers to access and edit their account notes and preferences in their CRM systems. The theory is Customers will provide better, more accurate information, which will allow Customer service reps to build stronger relationships when they interact with their Customers. This also shifts some of the database maintenance from the employee to Customer, saving the company resources and time. Do you think giving Customers access to their information will be a good or bad thing?