• March 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

The Bottom Ten

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I'd love to have written another little piece of whatever it was I was going to write this month, but as we've got another Theme Issue, I have to do my part. More than my part, really. Oh no, the sales tips feature you (hopefully) just read wasn't enough--I've got to produce funny to order. I've decided to take the easy way out. Presented for your amusement are my expanded takes on a top 10 list we've already done--at my recommendation, as I recall--the Dim Ideas from our classic June 2005 issue. Suck on that, conformity! Dim Ideas: The Director's Cut 1. "Hiding from customers. All you companies that have taken your phone numbers and direct mail addresses off your Web sites, or disabled 0-for-operator on your IVRs? Shame, shame, shame." That's what we wrote, and we meant it. Now that there are sites like gethuman.com, and research that proves bad customer service drives business to the competition, you'll either be flushed from hiding, or left to rot. (Editor's note:
Contributing writer Ian Jacobs and Marshall really do play nice together, don't they?) 2. "Pitching adaptive pricing as a consumer benefit. Tell that to California power customers who remember rolling blackouts and sky-high spot prices." I'm not one of those people, and I only heard about such things in newspapers--yes, I read newspapers in elementary school, is that such a shock? But as power becomes more expensive, along with utilities and cable TV, deregulation is making adaptive pricing into a survival tactic. 3. "Let the IT department specify and buy the CRM system. This would be a good idea if CRM were only a technology issue." Actually, it might not be a good idea even then. My gearhead buddies get way too hot over feeds 'n' speeds. 4. "Out of sight, out of mind. When your kids are off to summer camp it doesn't mean you stop thinking about them. Well, not entirely, at any rate. The same goes for your contact centers and your agents. Neglecting those centers and agents that are located away from your headquarters can lead to customer information slipping through miscommunication cracks, and a feeling of abandonment among dejected agents." Forget about miscommunication and a feeling of abandonment--there's every chance a neglected call center will come to hate you and sabotage you at every turn. The therapy bills alone will kill your budget. Never trust a person with a headset! 5. "Making the return process a nightmare. You're paying employees by the hour to aggravate customers only to give them, in many cases, what they rightfully deserve in the end." My mom and I have a term for the feeling this engenders: life rage. If you've ever walked out of a store or hung up the phone and wanted to snap a kitten's neck in frustration, you know how it feels. Remember, kittens are for petting, and customer service is for doing right by the people who give you money. 6. "Overpay for new customers. Paying more to acquire customers than you are willing to spend to keep them is a recipe for churn." Go ask a telecom exec from the early '90s about what this does to your business. To everything, churn, churn, churn. 7. "Letting offshoring become political. Fewer people would have noticed if the service were better." I don't think I can improve on this one, except to remind people that globalization cuts both ways. And maybe to suggest that with the voter totals from U.S. elections, we might be better off outsourcing our politics. 8. "Automate only one group of users with the same job title, instead of automating a process that incorporates multiple departments." Charlie Chaplin's films are now available on DVD, so there's no excuse not to have seen Modern Times. A certain episode of I Love Lucy would do just as well. Those are the images I get when I think of this. What better way to make it clear who in your company are the "haves" and who are the "have-nots"? 9. "Assuming every agent can cross- and/or upsell. To turn contact centers into revenue generators, some managers encourage their agents to cross-sell or upsell whenever possible. The critical slip-up, however, is assuming that every agent knows how. Train your agents to capitalize on these possible revenue opportunities, instead of forcing them into roles that they're not equipped to handle." To wit, I love trying to help people, but I couldn't sell water on a hot day in the desert. Do you really want me pitching your product? 10. "Focus on sales and not on marketing. What good is requiring sales reps to enter their leads without integrating their systems with the marketing department's system?" I've said it before and I'll say it again: Even the most motivated salesperson is lazy when not on the hunt. Give your attention to marketing and ask the sellers why they can't convert leads, and watch 'em jump! This concludes my revisit to our most list-filled issue before the current one. I hope it's served to edify and amuse you, and to show my bosses that projects such as this should not be left to me. Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.
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