To be a Value (Call) Center is not your choice…

Over the past years most companies have recognized the contact center or customer services center as an important touch-point between the company and its Customers. This insight has been mostly driven by the recognition or discovery of Customer Experience Management. I very much welcome the interest of Marketing (and Sales) for the call center environment as much as I do the attention for improvement of the Customer Experience.

The main strategy of call centers has been to develop itself from a cost to a value center. From a terminology perspective this works for me, but the practice, in my opinion, is mostly focused on single value creation or value extraction. Let me explain my thoughts:

The main elements of the cost to value-center strategy have been focusing around generating additional sales, through up- and/or cross-selling. Also customer retention calls (inbound or outbound) are a good example of the value that companies are trying to achieve through the Customer services touch-point. Some pro-active companies are aiming to improve the customer experience with things like welcome calls or any other form of courtesy calls (generating another sales-opportunity).

I’m a firm believer in the great opportunities for value creation there are on the customer services touch-point. I also see that, in lots of cases, after a promising first starting year, companies forget that value-creation is not only about extracting as much value possible out of the Customer into the company. Hence companies start increasing the sales-targets and more importantly, they start increasing the “sales-per-hour” target, which is just another productivity metric not aimed at customer value creation. Which leads me to the following statement:

Deployment of a Value Center strategy will only have a chance to meet the desired result if one can leave behind Cost Center methodologies and metrics.

Becoming a Value Center is not about choosing to upsell or cross-sell when you want it. Becoming a Value Center is also not something one can decide to be by itself. Let the Customer be the judge of how much value is created through the Customer Services Experience, let the customer decide if your Call Center is a Value Center.

Call Centers are an important touch-point in the Customer Experience. It is also not the only point a Customer will touch in its lifetime. The design , delivery and decision making aspects within the Call Center change if a company thinks and manages the contacts as part of a lifetime of Customer interactions. If one factors a longer term of interactions, then there is an emphasis on consistency and sustainability of the experience, not single contact value distraction.

Thus, to conclude, I believe the best way to go is not with a cost-centered, not with a profit-centered and not with a flawed value-centered approach. The best approach to Customer Services Call Centers is the Customer-centered approach.

Any thoughts? Please share them in the comments.

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Which Goose should you chase? – Invitation to co-create next generation customer service dashboard 2.0 –

A few weeks ago I posted a blog with the title: Why keep chasing the wrong Goose? At the end of that post I promised to come back to you with a more in depth post on what you should be chasing, or in other words: Which metrics should you put in place in the Customer Services environment to get “it” right?

I truly believe our “profession” is in need of a new dashboard. Current metrics have brought our customers and our companies too little. Most of the times when a company gets bad press it is about the bad service that has been provided through customer services. The existence of TV-watch-dog shows depends on this, and the number of shows is only increasing. Thus: we need to re-invent ourselves. We need to re-invent the way we do, act, live, breath and measure (the value contribution to the customer and the company of) Customer Services.

When reading lot’s of research on the link between the Customer Service Experience and Customer Loyalty, stuff on metrics like the ACSI, Customer Effort Score, NPS, ways to ask questions in customer surveys and discussing the theme on Twitter and other blog-posts, it quite dazzled me, so I let it rest for a while.

This week I came to think: why not use the power of Social Media to co-create, through collaboration, the new Customer Services Dashboard 2.0? Together we know more, we can discuss viewpoints and we can leverage experiences. I hope you share my thoughts and are willing to contribute.

A short introduction:

Before we can build the new Customer Services Dashboard 2.0 we need to have a goal (we do not measure because we want to measure, we measure because we want to improve something).

I would like to think that the main goal any Customer Services department should have, is to contribute to the company’s goal. Since I do not know all company’s goals I propose that we set as our goal:

  • Improvement of Customer Loyalty (Behavior)

Customer Loyalty behavior consists of three specific “actions” that companies aim for to boost sales and profits. These three are:

  • Buy again (i.e. extend a contract or repurchase the same product when used)
  • Buy more (i.e. buy additional products or services from the company)
  • Spread the word (i.e. tell friends and family about the great product/service and advice to buy it too)

To make it a little more easy to link this desired customer behavior to Customer Services I suggest you read some of the following:

So, I hope you are all warmed-up now. I am!

How will this continue?

First of all I need to know if you are up for the challenge? Do you also believe that our Customer Services Profession is in need of building a Customer Services Dashboard 2.0?

If yes, or no, please leave a comment below and share your views. Are you interested in contributing to build this dashboard, please connect to me through LinkedIn or Twitter, and let me know you’re interested. I’ll get back to you within a couple of days, to let you know how we are going to get this done and how you can contribute (and benefit from joining in).

Looking forward to the collaboration journey. Are your in?

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