Many customer-centric initiatives fail because they are done on the surface level and do not reach to the core of the business.
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Efficiency is not a winning strategy when it comes to dealing with people. Why is it, then, that we think we can create lasting customer relationships while measuring to the second--and constantly trying to reduce--the average talk time for service calls?
Certainly, efficiency is a legitimate business strategy. But it often results in short-term, discount-based customer relationships. Customers quickly sense a company's intention and respond accordingly. Organizations truly seeking long-term relationships must align their contact center process with their business strategies.
Many customer-centric initiatives fail because they are done on the surface level and do not reach to the core of the business. Companies rarely attempt to change processes and compensation plans to adjust them to customer centricity. Businesses must define who their target customers are and which they will avoid. They then need to define the roles of the customers and the corporation in the relationship, and the experiences the corporation plans to deliver based on each customer's role. It is only after the experiences are defined that firms can apply quality measurements like customer satisfaction or quality monitoring to track our performance.
These quality measurements are admirable attempts at relationship building, but do not turn them
into another efficiency-enforcement mechanism; use them as a tool to measure against the defined experiences. Quality monitoring tools are great coaching tools. They allow managers to empower contact center agents to identify their areas of improvement, and to show the agents how others are dealing with same problem. These tools are also excellent for helping to track, reward, and promote top performers.
At the next stage toward customer centricity, companies must search for the people best suited to deliver the desired experiences and equip them with empowering tools to deliver those experiences. They need to create a culture of delivering above and beyond, not just closing cases. Organizations must put listening and insight-gathering mechanisms in place to ensure that managers hear the real voice of the customer.
The revolution in contact centers' role and their shift toward loyalty centers is happening. But contact center professionals cannot do it alone. They must work in tandem with management to create a relationship model that focuses on the quality of each interaction.
It is time to face the true challenge and make a choice. Companies must put efficiency and satisfaction in their proper places.
Eight Rules for Transforming a Contact Center Into a Loyalty Center
1. Organize around the customers' needs, not around products and services
2. Define desired customers and undesired customers
3. Define the experiences and relationship the company is seeking
4. Search for people who can deliver such experiences to the target customers
5. Provide the right training, tools, and empowerment to allow people to deliver the defined experiences
6. Design the performance evaluation and compensation plan to reflect the newly defined goals
7. Connect the call center to the rest of the organization as a source of customer insight and loyalty
8. Remove any procedure that conflicts with the customer-centric organization
Lior Arussy is president of Strativity Group and author of The Experience! How to Wow Your Customers and Create a Passionate Workplace. Contact him at Lior@strativitygroup.com
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