aside NUTTY CONSUMER’S 2ND RANT AGAINST “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS

HOW DOES A CONSUMER KNOW WHEN THEY ARE DEALING WITH A COMPANY SUFFERING FROM THE “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTER SYNDROME?                              

LOOK AT THE  SYMPTOMS!  140303_masterbrand-322x231STAR CUSTOMER SERVICE PIX   

Every time a client calls they  have to talk to a different agent. Even if the call is a major complaint and the customer is furious, the rep will attempt to interest the client in an upgrade, alternate product, etc. The representative is so micromanaged to sell on each and every call that sensitivity to the client’s needs is not a thought.   Each agent greets you with a similar type opening line and they end their calls with similar cookie cutter words.  They follow a check list of how to handle the call flow. This is a modified version of the robotic script reading that many call center reps are still obligated to implement. The records each agent keeps about any conversations with their clients are virtually non existent, so when the same clients call back about the same problems, they have to  explain any previously discussed  issues again and again to different agents. This also means that anything that the last agent promised or advised is not part of the record. These companies  must keep track of the time their agents spend with clients over the phone. This becomes apparent when there is a problem that may need more time to resolve and could possibly require  extra due diligence. You can THEN count on most of their  agents doing their best to get you off the phone as soon as possible with some nebulous promise of a resolution which does not end up being consistently accurate or complete and thus, requiring the clients to call back.

customer service cartoon

They must be discouraged from making outbound or return calls. The consumer is preempted from requesting the extension of the first agent to be able to reconnect    again with  excuses along the lines that they are so busy and not easily  available for recontact.

One agent who worked at a huge call center told me that she complained to her direct management about not being permitted to make return calls even if requested by the client. This agent said there was an obvious disconnect between what the CEO expected regarding agents returning promised phone calls and what she was instructed to do by her supervisors. The incident that prompted her to email her CEO had to do with a client attempting to reach a prior agent  specifically by name. His phone had accidentally disconnected and he was trying to return the original agent’s call but two other agents declined to do his requested transfer by stating that they were able to take over the call and so there was no reason for the transfer. On the third attempt, this potential client finally reached the above agent who tried to advise him that all she needed was the prior agent’s name and then she would be honored to make the transfer. She did not succeed because this customer couldn’t stop screaming until he finally hung up stating that he was keeping his insurance with his current company.  Too many of the agents who were being so discouraged from making any outgoing calls or returning any calls, etc., were also denying a client access to a particular agent even when requested. As a result of the email, permission was then given to the agents to return calls if requested by the client. However this agent  could not voluntarily offer to follow up or provide an extension unless it was specifically requested.

cartoon-94 lady customer service

The ability to give negative feedback immediately after a call by a consumer is random, and so there is a real possibility that the consumer with a complaint will not have access to a survey.  When the agent is dealing with an upset consumer, there are ways the agent can bar  someone from having access to the survey. For instance, with one particular company, the agent could simply make sure not to hang up first or they could make up an excuse for a transfer call  to a different division or even their manager. The agents do this because they are rewarded for the number of positive feedback  surveys they receive.  Why is this important? If a company wants to advertise that their customer service rating is above a particular percentage, then this same company needs to be above board in collecting this data. It is crucial for any company implementing the call center work place, to establish a fool proof way to insure that the customer service surveys cannot be manually manipulated by the employees to prevent negative surveys and feedback by customers. This is especially true if this company markets their reputation for servicing their clients with honesty and integrity.

untitled good phone cust servc cartoon

As in the article regarding Wells Fargo sales practices as footnoted below, agents are often directed into sales mode even if the customer is calling due to a complaint. If every time you call a business for customer service, complaint, claims services etc. and the representative starts to sell you something unrelated to your call, then you are dealing with a company that has succumbed to the “Cookie Cutter” Call Center Syndrome.  Companies which are dependent upon a loyal customer base while they try to increase their market share, should ensure that the customer will remain their top priority.

Why is it crucial for any company to focus primarily on customer service? As per the Motley Fool blog, tiltled The Nations 5 Best Banks,  published on 4/20/2014 by Jessica Alling, “studies have proven it’s more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep current ones. For banks, having a successful relationship with customers can lead to more lucrative accounts and expanded services. So, the banks falling short on customer satisfaction (ahem, Wells Fargo and Bank of America), will have a tougher time convincing their clients to expand the relationship — while the top banks are likely to attract dissatisfied customers from their rivals.” This concept also applies to other lines of business such as the insurance, and financial planning industries.

RELATED ARTICLES:

1.)Wells Fargo’s pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost http://www.latimes.com/…/la-fi-wells-fargo-sale-pressure-20…;

2.)Harvard Business Review – Stop Trying to Delight your Customers www.callcentreclinic.com/…/Harvard%20Business%20Review%  20-%20S…

3.)PDF] Creating a Customer-Centered Organization SAS www.sas.com/resources/whitepaper/wp_34280.pdf

4.) Earn Customer Loyalty Without Losing Your Shirt – Harvard blogs.hbr.org/…/earn-customer-loyalty-without/

5.) How Call Centers Use Behavioral Economics to Sway Customers blogs.hbr.org/…/how-callcenters-use-behavior…

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