Customer Service: The Saddest Thing I've Seen This Year

This post was written by Penni Wells, one of the finest experts in customer service I've ever encountered. When you read this, you'll agree with me completely.
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The saddest thing I've seen this year was in Liz Gaines’ recent column about Directly.com - a new service that allows users to pay/donate funds for an answer to their questions and/or to solve problems with one of a couple dozen national and multi-national business.  I’ll bet you can guess some of them already: AT&T, Chase and, my personal favorite, Bank of America.

It was sad enough when American business saw Customer Service as one of the first areas to compromise in the name of cost cutting...by outsourcing and off-shoring the ongoing needs of their customers to low-paid, minimally trained individuals with little or no knowledge of their product or the profile of their customer.

But we have come full-circle. And because nature abhors a vacuum - and an innovator will always see an unmet need and work to fill it - here is a whole new company that will make money...and probably lots of it...because the Big Dogs' decision-makers have moved so far from their core business that they've forgotten how valuable ‘first-person’ information can be.

If you peruse the majority of Call-Center analytics you'll see the statistics they bank on:
  • The number of calls per minute
  • Average hold time
  • Average length of call, etc. 
Call-Center staff are rewarded on how fast they resolve a call, the number of calls they complete in a shift or something similar.

But what are the metrics a Call Center should be looking at? Just two:
  1. The number of calls successfully completed vs. those that could not be resolved, and 
  2. How quickly the number of calls is diminishing regarding any given issue.
There will always be calls from customers - complaints, concerns, confusion, etc. But what companies should be looking at is how they can use the calls they receive to improve what they’re doing. In all areas, all the time. This is continuous improvement.  This is using your resources. This is serving the customer and improving the organization.

Sadly, the Big Dogs won’t have a chance at this much longer. Because really smart people like the folks at Directly will have the data on the customers, the loyalty of the customers and probably end up as the Big Dogs’ consultants.
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More about Penni Wells
Read Liz Gaines' article