I was asked the follow question on Quora
How can you maintain excellent customer service for a business that relies upon call centers?
The hallmarks of great customer service (1:1 contact with people, solving the problem to the customer’s satisfaction, and creating a customized solution to the problem irregardless of policy) seem inconsistent with the scale of customer service demanded by a business that relies upon call centers.
How can people reconcile these differences and build a great business (at scale) that also provides great customer service?
Here is my Answer:
First you need to understand two things: One, that call and contact exist to serve their customers, though not all organizations do this well, and Two, every customer has an experience when dealing with a company or a call center, but they are not always the desired customer experience.
Good customer service is an alchemy or People, Process, technology and Methodology. It doesn’t happen by accident it happens by design when an organization chooses to differentiate themselves from their competition based on service.
Companies that wish to deliver good service develop and document the customer experience they wish to deliver, they identify the skills and competencies their agents or staff will need to support this customer experience, they design and develop training to ensure that all staff understand the expected customer experience and have the skills, product and technical knowledge to deliver the experience. They design processes that support the customer experience. These are not always the most efficient processes but they support the commitment the company has and is making to their customers regard the service they should expect. The appropriate technology is identified and deployed to support the customer interactions. This is less about what is the latest whiz bang technology and more about how the technology can serve and support the customer experience. Lastly, the company will develop a methodology around what they measure and why. There is a boatload of metrics and KPI’s that you can generate fro any call or contact center, but if your focus is on the customer experience then your metrics will align with this objective. You will therefore measure Customer Experience, Customer Effort, Customer Satisfaction, Employee Satisfaction, and some traditional contact center metrics such as first contact resolution (FCR) and employee centered metrics such as turnover and churnover as well as ‘speed to competency’.
Good service is not an accident it is the result of a well planned and executed strategy that is based on a culture or delivering the customer experience at least as good as your customers expect.
My last point on delivering good customer service is that perhaps surprisingly it can actually cost less than delivering poor service and be better for your business. Solving a problem or inquiry on the first contact saves the cost of future contacts, happy customers buy more, happy customers share their experience with other, building word of mouth, few dissatisfied customer will mean fewer negative shares and reduce brand and retention erosion.
Delivering good Customer Service through your call or contact center is a business decision, from my perspective any organization that chooses to deliver poor or sub-par service has made the wrong decision.