This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Christian Gondek writes about contact centers and what they need to do to be seen as customer service centers. It is key to create a consistent positive experience, which creates confidence, that ultimately can lead to customer loyalty. – Shep Hyken
During one of my recent business trips, I started a conversation with one of my colleagues – we came to the conclusion that contact centers are dead. Many authors have shared that conclusion, and yet we still see contact centers all over the world.
So how did we come to that conclusion, and is it a fair assessment in today’s business world?
First of all, classic call centers are based on transactional-based contracts to customers using in- and outbound technology. This, however, is in contrast to every single academic assessment of the customer’s lifecycle.
As we know today, the customer experience is based on a variety of touchpoints that need to deliver amazing service during every single transaction. In order to achieve that, all touchpoints need to be collectively combined. Consequently there is no room for isolated transactional customer care.
Moreover, current studies have proven that many of our global customers – especially those from Generation Y – demand a single point of contact during their whole customer lifecycle. Take a car, for example. Modern customers want to talk to their relationship manager about their sales, service and repurchase experience. Thus, there is no room for isolated transactional customer care based on a random selection of contact partners for our customers.
Classic call centers are often – but not necessarily – outsourced and based on cheap, offshore solutions. This in itself is no problem if this important part of your organization has been integrated and aligned with the overall strategy and communication of your company. Most researchers have come to the conclusion that without satisfied and loyal employees, you will never achieve satisfied and loyal customers. Even worse, you will never realize that isolated employees represent your brand – and there is no room for isolated and strategically neglected transactional customer care.
In addition, classic call centers are often paid by the amount of contacts they make. This in itself is a transactional concept and leads to a focus on volume performance and time instead of training and adding customer value. Therefore, there is no room for isolated and fast-paced customer care.
If all those assumptions are true, why do we still have so many transactional call centers all over the world?
First of all, customer experience consultants (including myself) often tend to forget that companies base their decisions around customer care on short-term financial assessments. Why do we forget that? Because most of us know that customer experience will pay off in the mid- to long-term. It is a strategic approach, not a short-term fix. We also know that your current customers (in addition to their friends, families and colleagues) are your potential future customers. So you should deliver the highest added value by delightful customer experiences every time.
Finally, most of the classic transactional call centers have realized that an isolated focus on transactions does not create a competitive advantage. Instead, they want to be seen as customer service centers.
In that sense, contact centers are long dead, and have reached the next step of customer experience.
Christian Gondek is a German Customer Loyalty Expert and Keynote Speaker consulting a variety of national and international companies and helping them to design their customer experience. Christian is the co-founder of the consulting company Strategy Nerds, a lecturer for Marketing and Strategy and Managing Director of an international customer service provider.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com. Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: