aside NUTTY CONSUMER’S 9TH RANT AGAINST “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS

THERE ARE COMPANIES WHICH ARE SUCCESSFUL AT BOTH OPERATING A CALL CENTER AND PROVIDING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE WHILE TREATING THEIR EMPLOYEES WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY.

untitled great customer service w pix w hving client wait until she finishes greeting

One of the agents I talked to as part of my research used to work for American Express in the platinum card section. She described her experience as extremely positive. When she received a call from a client regarding any issue, she was able to follow the client’s case personally from start to finish until any problem was completely solved to the client’s satisfaction. She was able to provide her name and extension to the client in the event the member felt a need to call back. She was not required to talk to the client in a prescribed manner but could actually have a normal conversation with her client. She definitely was able to input notes on the client’s accounts so she could keep track of her work status. She was empowered to spend as much time as was required to take care of the customers’ requests and she also had tremendous power to fix any problems presented to her by any American Express customer. Her superior evaluations were never based on call handling times; how many calls she took on a given day; whether she was 5 minutes late in returning from her lunch time; how she followed a call flow check list; and how many sale referrals she made while attempting to address any customers’ concerns.

toon895 customer service w e peopleA few years ago, American Express made the decision to break from the “cookie cutter” call center tactics. As per a Fortune Magazine article published on April 19, 2012 by Geoff Colvin, titled  How can American Express help you? – Fortune Management , the consumer czar, Jim Bush in 2005  made the executive decision to improve customer satisfaction. The article states that “his basic insight was that breaking with industry orthodoxy by transforming those conversations into less structured, more human engagements would pay off. Instead of evaluating service reps mainly by how quickly they got you off the phone, as many companies still do, he switched to the net promoter score developed by Bain’s Fred Reichheld. It’s based on one question: Would you recommend this company to a friend? AmEx’s score has risen significantly under Bush’s direction, and he was right — it pays off. Customer spending is up, attrition is down.” Mr. Bush explained  “I thought about the opportunity of capitalizing on every interaction and moving away from being a cost of doing business to being an investment in building relationships. Every one of those moments of truth is an opportunity to make a difference to customers in a personalized way. So we moved from being transaction-oriented — the investment and training had been all around how to complete the transaction — to building on the relationship with the customer. We converted from a robotic, scripted environment to a conversational environment that brings the personality to life and brings one-to-one connections, which is what ultimately builds and sustains relationships. According to Mr. Bush there are no scripts for an agent to follow.”

untitled customer service pix for transfersMr. Bush continues to explain. “Information is presented to the care professional — we call them “customer care professionals” because that’s what they are. They’re not service professionals; they take care of customers. We present the profile of who that customer is and other information relevant to that particular interaction. That allows the care professional to be conversant and pull out their personality and match it to the personal needs of the customer. We’ve also modified how we measure performance. We got less focused on productivity as measured by how much time you’re on the phone and freed up our care professionals. We let the customer determine how much time they want to engage. That engagement drives value. We serve customers, not transactions.”

He further discusses how his company changed his company’s culture from the typical “cookie cutter” call center. “We field a survey annually and found that 7% of consumers feel they’re getting good service; 93% are not getting the service they expect. It’s an enormous void. We defined our business system to respect the fact that these are human beings. We unleash the power of personality and hold our people accountable to key objectives as measured by the voice of the customer. It’s a simple concept. It’s the Golden Rule — treat others as you would like to be treated. But that simplicity is often overlooked by other businesses. Think of the power of the voice of the customer now. Verizon (VZ) introduced a $2 fee, the voice of the customer screamed loud, and it turned that around 24 hours later. We need to appreciate customer-centricity and the value it creates.

Mr. Bush states that his customer care agents undergo training which is different from the typical call center operation. he states, “in the past, 75% of it was on how, technically, you complete the transaction. Now it’s on how you create the relationship and build it through humanity, conversation, and engagement.

For those companies still relying on the “cookie cutter” call center system, why not give some consideration to how American Express, Jackson and Zappos improved their business results by turning their companies’ call center culture around to better suit the customers’ best interests and empowering the employees to act as a professional and as human beings, while managing a call center. I discuss the companies Zappos and Jackson in the NUTTY CONSUMER’S 10th RANT VS. “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS.                              

RELATED ARTICLES:

1.)How can American Express help you? – Fortune Management management.fortune.cnn.com/…/american-express-custome..

2.)Jackson Customer Service Achieves “Call Center World  markets.on.nytimes.com/…/press_release.asp?…

3.)In a Mood? Call Center Agents Can Tell – NYTimes.comwww.nytimes.com/…/in-a-mood-callcenter-agents-…

4.)How American Express Transformed Its Call CentersHarvard blogs.hbr.org/…/american-express-how-we-tran…

5.) From Call Center Agent To ZapposLife Coach: This Woman http://www.forbes.com/…/johngreathouse/…/from-callcenteragent-to-z

Advertisements