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The Customer Experience and the Call Center Part 1

Like culture, all companies deliver a Customer Experience. Also like culture, it isn’t always what the company intended. It is often a poor customer experience.

Does your company deliver the promised customer experience? Do you have a document outlining what the Customer Experience is supposed to be?, No, Thats not surprising, few companies do. And all of us who don’t have a Customer Experience model in place are in good company. According to a recent Forresters’ report while 90% of executives said that the customer experience was very important or critical, only 11% consider themselves to be very disciplined in their approach to customer experience.
Let’s look at an interaction with a call center from the customers’ perspective

As you can see from the above illustration the customer expectations and emotions rise and fall as the call progresses. All of us who have listened, monitored or taken live calls know this to be true. What are the ‘pain points’ on the call we looked at earlier?
• Service Level – waiting too long to get the call answered,
• “Unexpectedly high call volume” – unexpected volume or poor forecasting/scheduling,
• Policies etc.
At all of the key points during the call the agent has an opportunity to support the brand messages and to meet the customer expectations or not. Of course it is far simple to suggest that the agent could have done x or y. The truth of the matter is that it is the company that makes the decisions that impact the service delivery.
The agent can really only work within the parameters the company sets out. It is the company that determines the grade of service that they want the call center to meet. It is the company through the center management that forecasts the calls and contact volumes and sets the schedules for the number of agents on shift. It is the company that establishes policies and procedures that the agents must adhere too.
Now let’s not place on the blame on the call center and its management solely. It is the marketing group that creates and sends the messages that create the customer expectations which leads the customer to place calls into the call center with these expectations.
So how can we ensure that your customers receive the experience we would like them to have? An experience that builds loyalty; An experience that supports repurchase; An experience that reduces customer churn and attrition.
Before starting to architect the Customer Experience, let’s start by defining it
The key elements of any Customer Experience related to the contact center has to include:
1. The ease of access – to information, to purchase, to inquire, to complain or to fix a problem,
2. The speed of access – Service level, hoops customers have to jump through – how many times do they have to enter their account number etc. time to return an email or resolve a trouble ticket?
3. The quality of interaction- Where they able to get done what they wanted too? Was it easy, was it efficient, logical?
Customer Experience is the experience that a customer has when interacting with a company. This includes how they chose to interact with us and how easy it is for them to complete the interaction.
IBM defines Customer Experience as “The designed interaction between a customer and your organization”. The key element of this definition is the design element. The message here is regardless what your customer experience is and regardless whether it is good or bad, it is what you have designed through your actions, processes and procedures.

In our next post we will examine how we can define our desired customer experience.

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