I bet you I know why your call center is struggling!
In helping companies with call center outsourcing, we have seen many reasons call centers and customers service struggle in many organizations. I bet as you read through this section, some of these will ring true in your organizations. The ﬁrst step in correcting a problem is knowing you have one. This is not meant to be an absolute list, but these tend to be the seven cardinal reasons we see why call centers struggle.
The ﬁrst core reason we see centers struggle is an unneeded focus from speciﬁc organizational departments that don’t understand the impact they are having on the call center and on
the customer experience.
1) WHO HAS THE SAY IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE CALL CENTER
Who is running your customer service call center? Is it your ﬁnancial department, your marketing department or your sales execs? Who has the most say, who is the squeaky wheel that always seems to have to be appeased? The mindset of the people running your center has a lot to do with the culture and the personality of your center.
Now a great center can still balance all these different aspects but when one takes over as being more important, as what happens in a lot of companies, you can have a disconnect, and the customer takes the brunt. If…
FINANCIAL IMPORTANCE IS THE KEY DRIVER
When this happens, you feel the pressure of being efficient even to a fault. High service levels do not mean as much as low AHT, Wait Times, and Wrap time. You get pressure to handle more calls in a shorter period. When this happens, of you have a couple issues, ﬁrst; you already will get irritated customers before they even get to an agent because of long wait times in queue, second; when reps feel the pressure of quicker calls the service of the call drops. This has a snowball effect as well because the bigger the queue, the more pressure you and each of your supervisors put on the reps to handle the next call!
We have all been there! It’s funny when you look at the SL and the wait times for people calling in to buy something from the company, those skills/queues gets overstaffed while the customer service skills for questions is understaffed.
This is true in so many companies. COMPANIES STILL DO NOT REALIZE SELLING TO AN EXISTING CUSTOMER WHO IS HAPPY WITH THEIR SERVICE IS SO MUCH EASIER AND CHEAPER THAN GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS TO BUY FOR THE FIRST TIME!
In these companies run this way, it’s like pulling teeth to add staff yet there is little technology spend either. I am sure a lot of you can relate.
MARKETING/SALES IS YOUR KEY DRIVER
So many USA customer service centers, rightfully so, are trying to make their center not just a customer service center but a proﬁt center. Nothing is wrong with cross-selling your customer service calls if we all understand it is an add-on.
Some mistakes we see here is when:
A) Your cross-sell effort does not match your call type (we have seen crazy things clients have tried to sell just for a quick buck)
B) Your selling effort takes over as the main reason for the call:
Then this happens not only are you not getting a sale, but you may be losing a customer. You must handle the customer’s issues ﬁrst; build a rapport and then try to cross-sell a product that meets the needs of the customer. Do you just keep track of how many sales your reps have in a day, probably posted in the room right? Do your top salespeople get all the rewards? I hope you have your quality scores and reps satisfaction scores posted as well… most don’t.
Most companies put all their education (Notice we said Educa- tion, not Train, you TRAIN animals, you EDUCATE people) in how to run a speciﬁc program, skill or channel. What to look for, what screen do you have to be on, what button do you have to click.
They do NOT do a great job of facilitating tone and delight in their calls. Most companies want to educate as fast as they can, so they can have reps producing quickly even to the detriment of the customer. Remember you must understand that in the age of social media your customers will talk to others. We want them to be evangelists for our brand. We must understand this as we educate.
3) NO FLUID PROCESSES
Large and small companies can all have this issue, but most of the time, you see it in large companies. When multiple departments have a say in how the customer service for their speciﬁc channel is to be handled, you can get inconsistent and confusing service.
Different 1-800 numbers, transferred calls, multiple call resolution. It’s super frustrating! When told by a company associate, “they do not handle that issue in his/her department” the frustration level rises, and you may have already lost that customer. Disjointed departments all handling sales/service is a huge reason for the lack of service in the marketplace.
4) WRONG METRICS (Moneyball stuﬀ!)
So many companies have in-house USA customer service centers stuck on metrics such as First Call Resolution, SLA, Talk Time or proprietary formulas to tell if they are good at service. These metrics should diagnose and put service issues and techniques under the microscope, not be the goal. Your goal for world-class service should be to have your customers become so loyal they become evangelists for your brand to all their friends. In the age of social media, this is the direction your company must be moving towards. NPS and speech analytic sentiment reporting are ways of accomplishing this.
5) DEPENDENCE OF SELF-SERVICE CHANNELS ONLY
Many organizations believe by FORCING self-service they are saving money by stopping calls going to a live agent. Show me a company doing this and I will show you one with low Customer Sat and Net Promoter Scores.
Just because huge companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook go this route does not make it right for you. When you get a monopoly on a speciﬁc service like those big boys do, it’s another story. You are competing with many other companies, and your service will be a HUGE factor in customer doing business with you. I will say though that just because they can do it still doesn’t mean they should do it.
Self-service is a powerful tool when done the right way. It is a needed channel; it’s just not done correctly. Too many organizations frustrate customers by forcing you into a long, painful IVR, or even worse; they HIDE their 1-800 numbers. YOU WANT TO TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!!! You have limited
chances to build loyalty with your customers… don’t push them away!
6) POOR CALL CENTER CULTURE
If your customer service call center is a miserable place to work, then how can you expect great service from its associates?
The contact center can be a place where you can do things you cannot do in any other department. You can yell out loud, high ﬁve, cheer each other up! You can’t do that in accounting! Show me a quiet contact center ﬂoor, and I will show you one with high turnover, low quality and more importantly, one that reﬂects associates are not enjoying themselves.
It does not matter if you are running a center with an insur- ance, banking, pure customer care or sales vertical. You can, and in my opinion, must make the environment enjoyable.
7) POOR MANAGEMENT TRAINING
How do you educate the supervision in your USA customer service center? Do you have an education plan at all or do you just take long-tenured associates and make them supervisors/team leads when a supervisor leaves with minimal education? If you hire a supervisor off the street what educations do you give them?
Most call center organizations I have seen do not do a good job in preparing their supervision for the job at hand. Many call center managers assume because an associate did a tremendous job on the phones they will be a good supervisor. Big mistake.
We have found having a solid management trainee program not only educates your future managers on their job but also shows career progression to all employees limiting turnover.
Customer service is as much an art as it is a science. Many impressive companies do a fabulous job with this. Unfortunately, there are also too many companies not understanding the impact of what poor service has on the company.