Off Center
 
We keep hearing how “it’s all about the customer”. Companies constantly claim to be truly customer-focused or customer-centric or customer-iffic or customer-whatever. But many of these organizations fail to walk the talk. For instance, they focus more on measuring efficiency than they do on cultivating customer relationships. They alienate customers via poorly designed self-service systems rather than woo them with highly personalized care and support. And they rarely, if ever, say “I love you” at the end of a call, or ask to snuggle after making a sale.

It’s time for contact center leaders to check themselves before they wreck themselves (and the customer experience). If it is, indeed, “all about the customer”, then let’s really see it in action.

Here are some suggestions. (WARNING: Satire ahead.)        

Take cordiality to the extreme in call scripts. “Hello Mr. Jones, how may I help you today?” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Have your agent try something like, “Mr. Jones, is that really YOU? It’s so wonderful to hear your voice! I miss you. We ALL miss you. In fact, I was just talking about you with my cubicle neighbor this morning…” Such enthusiastic and warm call greetings will catch customers completely off guard and make them think they actually are as important as your IVR repeatedly expressed while they were waiting in queue. Make sure the agent adds, “This just feels right” at some point during the call, and closes with, “No, no – YOU hang up first!”


Set up a Facebook page for your contact center. In today’s world, merely telling somebody they are important to you isn’t enough; you have to back up such sentiments by “friending” them on Facebook. To ensure you are able to connect with each customer in this critical manner, have agents confirm not only each caller’s name and account number during calls, but also their personal Facebook URL. Once you are connected to a customer on Facebook, don’t forget to regularly post comments like “Just thinking of you” or “Call me” on their wall.

NOTE: If a caller says they are not on Facebook, instruct agents to hang up on them immediately – you don’t need any troublemaking non-conformists or weirdoes as customers.


Invest in “defection detection” software.  Capturing and analyzing every suspicious utterance and change of voice tone during phone calls isn’t just for the U.S. Government to do. The most customer-crazed contact centers are taking advantage of speech analytics and monitoring applications that detect whenever callers are disgruntled and at risk of defecting to the competition. Such innovative tools can be programmed to listen for when customers say the names of competitors or phrases such as “close my account”, “cancel my membership”, or “I’d sooner watch C-SPAN than do business with you ever again.” Top applications can even detect callers’ emotions and send an alert to a manager or supervisor whenever a customer sounds more confused, angry or homicidal than usual. Once alerted, the manager or supervisor can listen to a digital recording of the entire customer-agent interaction and, if necessary, call the would-be defector back to hypnotize her or him into forgetting how incompetent the center and/or agent is.


Customer-ize your KPIs. Many contact centers covet such performance metrics as Average Handle Time and Number of Calls Handled. The trouble is that these metrics do not truly relate to nor capture the quality of the customer experience. The most progressively customer-centric centers realize this and have revamped their key performance indicators (KPIs) accordingly. These centers now focus on such metrics as Caller “Woohoos!” per Hour (CWPH), Customer Marriage Proposals per Agent (CMPPA), and Average Sweet-Talk Time (ASTT).

For a slightly more serious look at customer-focused metrics, be sure to check out the following blog post – written by me before I stopped taking my medication. http://goo.gl/PQy9V

karen wenborn
2/28/2013 10:39:14 pm

Thank the gods for the satire warning.:-)
Although I am toying with the "Caller “Woohoos!” per Hour (CWPH)" notion.

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2/28/2013 11:07:13 pm

Perhaps I should remove the "satire" disclaimer, Karen -- it would lead to more centers actually implementing my suggestions, which would make for a far more exciting industry. And maybe a few corporate lawsuits.

Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment!

Best,

Greg

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2/28/2013 11:35:34 pm

You can pick your friends but you can't pick your cubicle neighbor.

Certainly appreciate your humor, thanks for the laugh!

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2/28/2013 11:51:31 pm

Always happy to bring a little levity to the industry, Garrett. Glad you enjoyed it!

Regards,

Greg

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Murray Trepel
3/5/2013 01:21:15 pm

All "satire" aside there really are some companies that do exactly what you suggest. Humanizing the interaction seems to have gotten lost in all the KPI metrics.

Here are a couple of my favorites:
"It's a great day at ... (insert company name)"
"To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking to."

Does anyone else have a few they like?

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3/5/2013 01:32:10 pm

Thanks for your comment, Murray, but I'm not sure what you mean when you say that "Humanizing the interaction seems to have gotten lost in all the KPI metrics." The call greeting examples you cite are all fine with me. At least these companies are doing something a little different to create a memorable customer experience. Of course, if such greetings sound inauthentic or "canned" to customers, then that's a different story. Still, I'm interested in hearing you elaborate a little on what your issues are with organizations trying to mixing things up and go beyond the cliche call script standards.

Regards,

Greg

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Mimi McKinnon
3/11/2013 11:52:04 pm

1-800-PetMeds schooled me how I could ensure getting a discount on my next order and closed by saying "give your little furry ones a snuggle for me". Now, if that did not catch me off guard, but I still remember it with a smile. Imagine if I would have been ordering diapers...

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3/12/2013 12:01:18 am

Thanks for sharing that anecdote, Mimi. I like 1-800-PetMeds' style. I hope my cat gets sick so I'll have an excuse to call them and experience their customer-centricity first-hand.

It's good to catch customers off guard -- as long as it leads to a smile and not a string of obscenities.

Best,

Greg

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Paul Jacobsen
5/17/2013 12:48:12 am

test 2

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Paul Jacobsen
5/17/2013 12:48:34 am

test 3

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2/3/2014 04:10:19 am

Contact centers are sometimes, "Your call is important to us... Please enjoy this 40 minutes flute solo..." Which can be pretty annoying to a customer. Point is, if you won't uphold to what you are saying, customers will take their business to others who will.

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