Off Center
 
In this age of social media, sound bytes and ADHD, people love quick and catchy stats. Unfortunately, in the contact center and customer care space, there seem to be only a handful of snazzy stats in circulation. The same ones just keep getting regurgitated over and over (yes, that’s redundant), especially on Twitter.

This is perplexing considering how dynamic customer care is and how much contact centers have evolved. It’s actually worse than perplexing – it’s depressing. Every time I see someone tweeting the old chestnut , “Satisfied customers tell only 3 people about their experience, while dissatisfied customers tell 8-10 people” (or some variation of this), a part of my soul dies. I even wept a little just now while typing that stat.

Rather than just complain about the lack of statistical variety being promoted by self-proclaimed customer experience experts in the Twittersphere, I aim to remedy the situation. Following are several fresh and captivating stats about customer care and contact centers that I believe you and everybody else will feel compelled to talk and tweet about:

  • 86% of customers would be willing to pay more for better customer service. 100% of contact center managers would be willing to pay more for even mediocre customer service.  

  • 70% of contact centers list Average Handle Time among their key performance metrics at the agent level. Of those centers, 100% need a clue.

  • Only 17% of contact centers really mean it when they say “Your call is very important to us”. Of the remaining centers, 38% feel “Your call is somewhat important to us”, 24% feel “It’s surprising how unimportant your call is to us”, and 21% feel “It’s hilarious that you are still holding for a live agent.”

  • 73% of contact center managers claim to know how to accurately measure First-Call Resolution. The remaining 27% of managers are telling the truth.

  • Engaged customer service agents are 35% more likely to provide a positive customer experience than are customer service agents who are already married.

  • The top three criteria contact center managers consider when selecting work-at-home agents are: 1) Past performance; 2) ability to work independently; and 3) body odor.

  • Every time a caller must provide his/her name and account number to an agent after having just provided that exact same information via the IVR system, a puppy dies.

  • 97% of contact center agents fantasize daily about sending a hungry Bengal tiger to the home of abusive callers. The remaining 3% of agents fantasize daily about sending a hungry Siberian Tiger.

  • 81% of contact center agents are empowered to do exactly what their managers and supervisors tell them.

  • Each year, over 150 customer care professionals die from overexposure to acronyms.

  • 50% of managers feel their contact center is highly unprepared to handle social customer care; the remaining 50% do too.  

  • The three people that satisfied customers tell about their experience are Sue Johnson, Dave Winthrop, and Bud Carter. All three are tired of hearing about these experiences.

  • 42% of contact center managers say they will not hire an agent applicant unless said applicant has a pulse and/or can work at least one weekend shift a month.

  • Four out of five agents represent 80% of all agents. In contrast, the remaining agents represent only 20% of all agents.

  • The average agent-to-supervisor ratio in contact centers is 20:1. The odds that this is enough to provide agents with the coaching and support they need to succeed is 2000:1.

  • 100% of managers destined for greatness and wealth purchase a copy of the Full Contact e-book. 0% of managers understand why the author of said e-book looks so angry and aggressive in the photo on the book cover.



 
With call centers and customer care evolving so rapidly, it’s only natural that new types of jobs should start to emerge. Back in the 1980s and early1990s – when call centers were dungeons where supervisors whipped reps whose AHT was higher than desired – nobody could have pictured that centers would one day have an entire team dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction, or that it would be illegal to line cubicles with electric fencing.

These are exciting times for call center professionals who are serious about carving out a career -- one that doesn’t involve day-trading and/or exotic dancing on the side to make ends meet. A whole slew of new and rewarding customer care opportunities are on the horizon. Let’s take a peek at some of them, and then get our resumes ready:   


Chief Customer Silencer. I’ve always been a big proponent of “Voice of the Customer” initiatives, but some customers just need a little assistance in shutting up. That’s where the Chief Customer Silencer comes in.

The person in this high-profile, low-patience position is responsible for monitoring all contact channels and community sites, identifying frustrated and problematic customers, and reminding those customers that their health could take a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse if their incessant public complaints about the company don’t cease.

Ever wonder whatever happened to that guy who made the viral video about how United Airlines broke his guitar? My guess is that United got smart and hired a Chief Customer Silencer.  

When selecting a CSS for your organization, look for somebody with ample knowledge of social media monitoring and service recovery techniques, and who lives in New Jersey, Chicago or Sicily.  


Virtual Agent Secret Agent. Home agent programs are currently all the rage. And while most call centers that have embraced the virtual agent model have a solid selection process in place, there is no guarantee that their remote staff is abiding by all the rules and haven’t at least tried removing their house arrest ankle bracelet. That’s where the Virtual Agent Secret Agent comes in (though you may not know they’ve come in – they’re stealthy).

The VASA’s main objective is to gracefully gain access to a home agent’s house and secretly watch their every move – with the exception of bathing, which few home agents do anyway. VASAs aren’t there to micro-manage performance; that’s the job of the agent’s supervisor. Instead, they take special note of such things as whether or not the agent has changed their pajamas in five days, how often they make their little brother take calls while they nap, and how much they earn daily from selling customer account information to neighbors.     

To be effective, VASAs should be small, agile and have the innate ability to go completely unnoticed in a room, thus the ideal candidate is a life insurance salesperson with a ninja or jockey background. Check craigslist. 


Textpert. With text quickly catching up to voice in terms of how customers interact with companies, call centers need to seriously panic. Centers that are not adept at panicking do have a second option, which involves accepting the aforementioned shift in communication preferences and doing something about it. That’s where the Textpert comes in.

The Textpert is tasked with responding quickly, accurately and courteously to all customer emails, chats, SMS messages, social media comments/inquiries, hate mail and ransom notes. Exemplary spelling, grammar, professionalism and eloquence are all key requirements for this position, which rules out all human beings of working age in the modern era.


Service Saboteur. Numerous studies have revealed what has come to be known as “The Service Recovery Paradox,” which basically states that an effective recovery process following a bad service experience often results in higher customer satisfaction ratings than if the bad experience had never occurred in the first place. In other words, first you have to screw up before you can really impact customer loyalty. That’s where the Service Saboteur comes in.

The person in this important position is responsible for intentionally and strategically providing poor customer service so that the center’s Recovery Team can then swoop in and sweep customers off their feet. It shouldn’t be difficult to find qualified Service Saboteur candidates from you existing staff. Just pick from among your rudest, most apathetic and most incompetent agents, give them a new business card, and instead of reprimanding them every time they alienate or offend a customer, give them a pat on the back and a slight raise in pay.