Congratulations to Customer Service Industry Leaders

Today is the first day of Customer Service Week, so it’s a great opportunity to once again congratulate the industry leaders in the 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings (60% or more is a strong score):

  • Airlines: Alaska Airlines (67%)
  • Appliance maker: WhirlpoolSamsung (51%)
  • Auto dealer: Toyota (62%)
  • Bank: USAA (75%)
  • Computer maker: Apple (57%)
  • Credit card issuer: USAA (63%)
  • Fast food chain: Chick-fil-A (70%)
  • Grocery chain: Hy-VeeTrader Joe’s (69%)
  • Health plan: Kaiser PermanenteTriCare (59%)
  • Hotel chain: Marriott (65%)
  • Insurance carrier: USAA (76%)
  • Internet service: AOL (47%)
  • Investment firm: Charles Schwab (71%)
  • Parcel delivery: FedEx (58%)
  • Rental car agency: Advantage (68%)
  • Retailer: Ace Hardware (71%)
  • Software firm: Blackboard (56%)
  • TV service: Bright House Networks (46%)
  • Wireless carrier: Virgin Mobile (46%)

I also want to congratulate the organizations that are improving. These firms earned 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings that are 15 percentage points or more higher than their 2012 ratings: Citibank, U.S. Bank, Hyundai, Nissan. Citigroup, and Old Navy.

It’s also a good time to reiterate the distinction between customer service and customer experience. I like what Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos had to say on this topic:

Internally, customer service is a component of customer experience. Customer experience includes having the lowest price, having the fastest delivery, having it reliable enough so that you don’t need to contact [anyone]. Then you save customer service for those truly unusual situations. You know, I got my book and it’s missing pages 47 through 58

The bottom line: Happy Customer Service Week!

USAA On Top of 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings

We just released the third annual Temkin Customer Service Ratings of 235 companies across 19 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers (see full list of firms).

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

Here are some company highlights:

2103TCSR_TopBottomFirms2103TCSR_IndustryLeadersLaggards

  • USAA earned the top two spots for its insurance and banking businesses. Other companies at the top of the ratings are credit unionsAce HardwareCharles SchwabDollar TreeChick-fil-ASonic Drive-InHy-VeeCostcoTrader Joe’s, Advantage, Publix, and H.E.B.
  • TV service providers and Internet service providers earned nine out of bottom 10 spots in the ratings.
  • For the second straight year, Charter Communications took the bottom spot. The rest of the firms in the bottom five are Time Warner CableCox CommunicationsOptimum (i/o), and CareFirst.
  • The following companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points above their industry averages: USAA (insurance and banking), Alaska Airlines, credit unions, Advantage, Kaiser Permanente, TriCare, Charles Schwab, and Bright House Networks.
  • Five companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points below their industry averages: Apple Stores, US AirwaysRadioShack, HSBC, and 21st Century.
  • Twenty-three percent of companies earned “strong” or “very strong” ratings, while 37% earned “weak” or “very weak” ratings.

Temkin Group also examined year-over-year results for the 171 companies that were in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings and found that:

  • Forty-four percent of companies improved their ratings while 47% experienced a decline.
  • Twenty companies showed double-digit increases, led by: Citibank (banking and credit cards), U.S. Bank, Hyundai, Nissan, Old Navy, Charles Schwab, Continental Airlines, and Piggly-Wiggly.
  • Eleven companies showed double-digit decreases, led by: LG, Giant Eagle, Toshiba, Cox Communications, ING Direct, and Budget.

Industry Results

Here are some industry highlights:

2103TCSR_Industries

  • Grocery chains, retailers, and fast food chains earned the highest average Temkin Customer Service Ratings, while TV service providers, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, and health plans earned the lowest ratings.
  • On average, credit card issuers, banks and fast food restaurants improved the most while appliance makers, TV service providers and investment firms declined the most.

Calculating the Temkin Customer Service Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to identify the companies that they had interacted with on their websites during the previous 60 days. These consumers were asked the following question:

Thinking back to your most recent customer service interaction with these companies,
how satisfied were you with the experience?

Responses from 1= “very dissatisfied” to 7= “very satisfied”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net satisfaction” score. The Temkin Customer Service  Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Customer Service Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: TV service providers deliver terrible customer service

IBM’s Watson Hopes To Be Your Customer Service Agent

IBM’s Watson was a runaway winner on Jeopardy, but that game show victory wasn’t the ultimate goal for Big Blue’s analytical monster. It turns out that IBM is focusing Watson’s power on a new domain, customer service.

IBM will be rolling out an “Ask Watson” capability that provides customers with answers across several channels:  Web chats, email, smartphone apps and SMS. Companies will eventually add a voice recognition front-end to Watson, which will allow Watson to answer direct calls. Initial users of the service include Australia’s ANZ Bank, Nielsen, Celcom, IHS, and Royal Bank of Canada.

My take: Yes, yes, and yes! Self-help analytics such as Watson will become a critical, mainstream capability for most large companies.

Natural language processing (NLP) has reached the stage where this type of self-service analytics can provide enormous value for customer service. We already see companies making use of virtual agents/assistants from companies such as VirtuOz and Oracle in narrow domains. Think of a smarter version of Apple’s Siri, an application that can tap into all of the company’s databases to understand who the customer is, what products and services she may own, and any previous interactions that she’s had with the company. Using that information, an analytical powerhouse like Watson should be able to deal with an increasingly larger portion of customer issues.

Will Watson and its peers be able to handle all customer service inquiries? No. But they can be smart enough to understand what they don’t know and transfer the request to a human agent.

The bottom line: Prepare for more interactions with Watson and his friends.

The Excellent Economics Of Service Recovery

Most customer service and CX professionals intuitively understand that their companies need to do a good job in recovering from an experience miscue. An unhappy customer is never a good thing. So we decided to do a quantitative analysis of the relationship between service recovery and consumer spending. As you can see in the chart below:

  • Any improvement in service recovery has a positive effect on future spending patterns.
  • Moving service recovery from very poor to neutral limits the amount of decrease in future spending.
  • Moving service recovery from neutral to very good not only limits decreases in spending, but also increases the number of people that will spend more in the future.
  • Companies that do a very good job with service recovery have more customers planning to increase spending than decrease spending.

Companies that want to improve their service recovery should follow our C.A.R.E.S. model:

  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations)
  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem or getting an answer)
  • Responsiveness (don’t make the customer wait for your communication or a solution)
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer)
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the issue or answer the question)

The bottom line: Mistakes are inevitable, so recovery is critical.

Customer Service Drives Sales

This past week was National Customer Service Week. To celebrate, I’ll start by giving kudos again to the leaders in the 2012 Temkin Customer Service Ratings.

  • Publix
  • Hy-Vee
  • Credit unions
  • Chick-fil-A
  • H.E.B
  • Sam’s Club
  • Winn-Dixie
  • ShopRite
  • Aldi
  • Starbucks
  • Giant Eagle
  • JCPenney

I also decided to look deeper into our customer service data to examine the relationship between customer service and repurchasing. It turns out that we have data on over 90,000 customer service interactions. As you can see in the chart below, consumers that have a better customer service experience with companies are much, much more likely to buy from them again.

The bottom line: If you care about sales, you need to care about customer service

2012 Temkin Customer Service Ratings

Temkin Group has just released the 2012…The 2012 Customer Service Ratings covers 174 companies from 18 industries and is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012.

Congratulations to the 2012 customer service leaders:

1) Publix
1) Hy-Vee
1) Credit unions
4) Chick-fil-A
5) H.E.B
5) Sam’s Club
7) Winn-Dixie
8) ShopRite
8) Aldi
8) Starbucks
8) Giant Eagle
8) JCPenney

At the other end of the spectrum, consumers gave the lowest ratings to Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Citibank, Qwest, Road RunnerCigna, and Bank of America.

The ratings covers the following industries: Airlines, appliance makers, auto dealers, banks, car rental agencies, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, parcel delivery services, retailers, TV service providers, and wireless carriers.

Temkin Group examined industry averages and found that grocery chains were the only industry to earn a “strong” rating. Retailers, fast food chains, appliance makers, and investment firms round out the top five. But consumers gave very low ratings to TV service providers and Internet service providers.

The research also examines how individual companies are rated relative to their industry peers. Led by credit unions (banks), Kaiser Permanente (health plans), Bright House Networks (TV service), and American Express (credit cards), 15 companies outperformed their industry average Temkin Customer Service Ratings by 10 percentage points or more.

Sixteen firms fell below their industry average by 10 or more percentage points, with Charter Communications (TV service & Internet service), Citibank (banks), Hyundai (auto dealers), Bank of America (banks), and Super 8 (hotels) falling the farthest behind.

Temkin Group also analyzed changes from the 2011 Temkin Customer Service Ratings. Led by computer makers and health plans, 10 of the 12 industries that were in both the 2011 and 2012 ratings improved since last year.

Seventy-five percent of companies that were in the 2011 and 2012 Temkin Customer Service Ratings showed improvement. Fifteen organizations improved by at least 10 percentage points, with these five firms leading the way with improvements of at least 20 percentage points: PNC, Gateway, Toshiba, Farmers, and HSBC. Only two companies had double-digit declines: Edward Jones and Old Navy.

Do you want to see the data? Go to the Temkin Ratings website where you can sort through all of the results for free. You can even purchase the underlying data if you want to get more access. The bottom line: Web experience is not good enough for how important it is

Lessons From Best Buy’s Online Order Fiasco

Best Buy recently announced that it was canceling a number of orders that it took on its website on the weekend after Thanksgiving because of “overwhelming demand of hot product offerings.” This move comes after aggressive promoting and discounting to draw consumers to its online channel.

So what is Best Buy doing besides just canceling orders right before Christmas? According to one of the affected consumers, Best Buy tried to get him to take an older model or a more expensive model, both of which wouldn’t arrive until after Christmas.

According to Susan Busch, senior director of Best Buy’s public relations

What was wrong is that there was an unacceptable delay between order confirmations and cancellations, and for that we are very sorry. It’s important to note that this was a rare situation based on a high volume of orders over a short period of time.”

My take: Sorry Ms. Busch, there’s much more wrong than that. The problem started at the point when Best Buy actively promoted products that it couldn’t fulfill. Then the problem continued when it took orders for products that it couldn’t deliver. That’s the point where it gets to the problem of an unacceptable delay in notifying customers. But, the Best Buy problems don’t even end there. Best Buy completely failed to recover from the service miscue.

Here’s how I’d rate Best Buy against our C.A.R.E.S. model for service recovery:

  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations): D
  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem or getting an answer): D
  • Responsiveness (don’t make the customer wait for your communication or a solution): D
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer): D
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the issue or answer the question): D

Here’s how Best Buy could have better handled this situation:

  • Put together a plan for each element of the C.A.R.E.S. framework
  • Communicate immediately with affected customers
  • Give everyone a Best Buy gift certificate (amount based on order size) to acknowledge the inconvenience
  • Provide a coupon code for free expedited shipment, so they can order something else and get it on time
  • Setup a toll-free number and a special support site (with chat representatives) to deal with any special issues
  • Get the CEO (Brian Dunn) to communicate the apology, don’t offload it to PR
  • Explain what you are doing to make sure that it doesn’t happen again

The bottom line: Companies need to plan for major problems BEFORE they occur

Customer Service And Forgiveness

In honor of the last day of Customer Service Week I did an analysis that cuts across two recent reports, Temkin Customer Service Ratings and Temkin Forgiveness Ratings. The question I explored is what portion of consumers are dissatisfied with customer service and are not willing to forgive that company. That represents a group of very unhappy consumers. Here’s the data:

TV service providers, ISPs, and health plans have the most of these very unhappy customers, which shouldn’t surprise too many people. Banks, on the other hand, have fewer of these sulking customers, but they have the highest percentage of customers that aren’t satisfied with customer service who aren’t forgiving.

The bottom line: Don’t count on forgiveness to overcome your customer service miscues

Kudos To Customer Service Leaders

The annual Customer Service Week starts today and goes through Friday (10/7). Given the occasion, it seems like a good opportunity to acknowledge some of the better performers in our 2011 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, which ranks 129 large companies across 12 industries.

First of all, kudos to the top 25 companies in the ratings. led by USAA, Edward Jones, Courtyard by Marriott, and Sam’s Club:

But, overall, companies aren’t very good at customer service and there is a wide difference across industries…

…so I want to give a shout out to companies that most outperformed their industry averages. Led by USAA, Southwest Airlines, Discover, American Express, and Edward Jones here are the top 25:

The bottom line: Happy customer service week!

Morton’s Story Is Not About Great Customer Service

Over the past few days, I’ve been bombarded by emails telling me about “The Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told.” It’s a blog post about how Morton’s Steakhouse delivered a steak dinner to a traveler at an airport after he tweeted the following…

Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks :)

My take: This is a great story and is getting Morton’s a lot of exposure. It’s wonderful that Morton’s delivered the unexpected steak dinner, but it’s not great customer service. As a matter of fact, it’s not even good customer service.

Here’s how I would dissect the story:

  • Some person joked on twitter about wanting a steak (the tweeter admits he was joking)
  • Morton’s sent an employee 24 miles to deliver a steak dinner to the Newark airport

So Morton’s spent valuable resources (the food, deliver person for at least a few hours, etc.) to respond to someone who was joking.

I often tell companies that “heros don’t scale.” Great customer experience (and customer service) is demonstrated by repeatable processes, not by periodic heroic behavior.

Are more people going to tweet Mortons about delivering a meal? Yes. Is Morton’s planning to respond to all tweets with a personally delivered meal? Probably not. Are there going to be many people disappointed that they’ve been left hungry? Probably.

Having said all of that, I like what Morton’s did. It was great marketing.

The bottom line: Don’t bet your customer service on heroics

P.S. Morton’s: I love porterhouse and prefer it medium rare. I’ll be in Stockbridge, MA tomorrow :-)

Report: 2011 Temkin Customer Service Ratings

We just published a new Temkin Group report, 2011 Temkin Customer Service Ratings.

Companies are recognizing that customer service is more than a cost-center; it’s often a critical moment of truth that drives customer loyalty. But how effective are companies at delivering good customer service experiences?

Here’s the executive summary:

USAA and Edward Jones took the top spots in the 2011 Temkin Customer Service Ratings. We asked 6,000 US consumers to rate their recent customer service experience. This data allowed us to rate 129 companies across 12 industries. Only 12 of those companies received a “strong” customer service rating. Retailers, hotel chains, and investment firms have the highest average rating, while Internet and TV Service Providers are squarely at the bottom of the ratings. To improve customer service, companies should look at the experience holistically, using Temkin Group’s SLICE-B methodology.

Download report for $195

First of all, kudos to the top 10 firms in the ratings:

1. USAA (insurance)
2. Edward Jones (investments)
3. Courtyard By Marriott (hotels)
3. Sam’s Club (retail)
5. Kohl’s (retail)
5. Lowe’s (retail)
5. Marriott (hotels)
8. BJ’s Wholesale Club (retail)
8. Costco (retail)
8. Hyatt (hotels)

Here are the results across industries:

The report also looks at how companies perform relative to these industry averages. In that analysis, we find that USAA and Southwest Airlines are the most ahead of their industries while RadioShack and HSBC are the farthest behind.

Download report for $195

If you want to get access to all of the data in this ratings, check out the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Customer service needs an experience makeover

The 6 Levels Of Proactive Support

I’ve noticed a lot of discussion lately around proactive support. A host of technologies (analytics, alerts, mobile, etc.) are creating new ways for companies to better help customers with their problems. But the discussions often talk about “proactive support” as if it’s one thing.

Proactivity is not a single attribute; it’s actually on a spectrum. To make that clear, I’ve identified six different levels of proactive support.

Here’s an example of different levels of support, from the least to the most proactive, for a customer who’s flight was cancelled:

  1. Ignore: Customer gets to airport and finds that flight is canceled and can’t seem to find anyone who can help.
  2. React: At airport, someone successfully helps her get a new flight; consistent with Temkin Group’s C.A.R.E.S. model.
  3. Alert: Airline sends message to customer letting her know right away when the flight is cancelled; so she can make plans before going to airport.
  4. Self-heal: Airline sends message to customer letting her know right away when the flight is cancelled; and provides simple options for her to quickly find an alternative itinerary.
  5. Pre-empt: Airline sends message to customer letting her know right away when the flight is cancelled; and rebooks her on a couple of flights that make sense given her itinerary and her travel profile. If it requires an unexpected overnight stay, the airline also books a hotel room.
  6. Avoid: Airline finds way not to keep from canceling the flight.

Leading-edge companies should be aiming for the top three: avoid, pre-empt, and self-heal.

The bottom line: Simple proactive support is not good enough

8 Customer Experience Trends For 2011

Download report for FREE

It’s the time of year when prognosticators drag out their crystal balls and divine about next year. Well, I’m not too different. But instead of a crystal ball, I’ll tap into the 8 customer experience megatrends that I outlined earlier this year. They remain the key trends that I think we’ll see in 2011.

Here are the 8 megatrends along with my thoughts about how they’ll play out in 2011:

1. Customer Insight Propagation. Most decisions in companies are made without any real customer insight. Companies will increasingly recognize that they need to integrate a deeper understanding of their customers throughout their company. That’s why Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs represent one of the most popular customer experience efforts. A new cadre of vendors are making it easier to collect, analyze, and share customer information broadly across just about any organization.

2011: I’ve written a lot about VoC programs this year. Companies are beginning to figure out how to better use the insights and an emerging set of vendors have deployed customer insight and action (CIA) Platforms that can help considerably. But there’s still a long way to go. In the research report The State Of Voice Of The Customer Programs, we found that only 1% of large companies are “Transformers,” which is the highest level of maturity. In 2011,  I expect to see many companies move up on the VoC maturity scale as this continues to be an increasing area of focus next year. Don’t be surprised to see CRM players like Oracle and SAP acquire some of the CIA vendors.

2. Unstructured Data Appreciation. Deep feelings that customers have about a company often get truncated into a 5-point, 7-point, or even 11-point multiple choice scales; making it difficult to understand “why” things are happening. New text analytics applications can quickly process thousands of pieces of unstructured data and discern what’s making customers happy or what’s making them upset; pushing a dramatic rise in companies analyzing rich unstructured data like comments on surveys, call center verbatims, or social media discussions.

2011: As I said in a blog post earlier this year, it’s time for text analytics. I’m working with many companies on strategies for getting deeper customer insights and just about all of them involve a component of text analytics. In 2011, I expect there to be twice as many text analytics pilots as in 2010 and a lot of companies touting success stories at conferences. I expect IBM to make a big push in this area next year with SPSS and I would not be surprised to see Big Blue acquire either Clarabridge or Attensity.

3. Customer Service Rejuvenation As companies do touchpoint analyses and customer journey maps, they often find that customer service is a key “moment of truth” for customers. Unfortunately, the cost-cutting in this area over the last several years has created many poor experiences. Companies are recognizing that poor customer service is creating a very negative perception of their brand and will increasingly make investments to improve these experiences.

2011: During customer service week in October, I discussed how companies sometimes seem to care more about saving $1.50 in transaction costs than they care about $60 worth of business. But, I am seeing some changes. I’ve actually been working with a number of contact centers that are transforming the service they deliver. In 2011, I expect to see more contact centers drop average handle time (AHT) as a core metric and revamp quality measures based on customer feedback.

4. Loyalty Intensification. Over the last several years, many executives have realized that shareholder value is not an objective; it’s actually the outcome of building stronger customer loyalty. As companies starts using measures like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to track loyalty, more firms will elevate these metrics to their executive dashboard; pushing companies to think and act more strategically about loyalty.

2011: Many companies are developing loyalty metrics and infusing them into their management dashboards. We found that 45% of companies tie compensation to some customer feedback metrics, but don’t push too hard, too early with compensation.  We also found that only 25% of respondents think their senior executives are willing to trade-off short-term financial results for longer-term loyalty. In 2011, it will become much more common for companies to balance loyalty metrics with financial ones. And many companies will evolve beyond fixing problems that cause dissatisfaction and start designing experiences that inspire advocates.

5. Interaction iPod-ization. QWERTY keyboards help make PCs so universal. But a keyboard-based QWERTY device is not the ideal interface for the next generation of digital devices. Fortunately, Apple’s iPod (and iPhones, iPads) are doing the same thing that QWERTY did over 100 years ago, teaching myriads of people how to interact with a touch-screen. As a result, a new wave of touch-pad based applications will emerge.

2011: Add Nooks, Android, and Windows Phone to the list of devices that will be teaching people how to touch, drag, shake, pinch, and tap to get what they need. In 2011, Mainstream PCs with a keyboard and mouse will seem even more like relics’ as people increasingly transition to iPad (and iPad-like) devices.  I also expect to see more voice interfaces emerge.

6. Social Media Assimilation. Social media is a hot topic. But Social Media is not really a new thing for companies; it represents just another interaction channel with customers. Companies will increasingly fold Social Media activities into the core activities of the company; especially within customer service.

2011: I created a term called “Social Schizophrenia” which describes companies that provide levels of service in social media that differ significantly from service levels in other channels. That still describes a lot of companies. In 2011, focus on social media will continue to grow but I expect much more mature approaches as the tools and processes are evolving.

7. Digital/Physical Integration. Consumers increasingly go online with their cell phones while they are doing activities like walking through a mall or eating at a restaurant. At the same time, iPhones have introduced consumers to the notion of task-specific application downloads. In this environment, companies can no longer think about online as a separate and distinct channel. They will start designing more experiences that blend together online and offline interactions.

2011: Mobile applications will increasingly take advantage of location-awareness to provide services and capabilities that are specific to the store, restaurant, hotel, ball park, intersection, or wherever you are. In 2011, we’ll also see more adoption of recognition-based services like Shop Savvy that can scan barcodes and Google Goggles that recognizes landmarks, text — pretty much anything you can take a picture of with your phone. Given the capabilities, I think we’ll see a bunch of integrated digital/physical offerings in the second half of the year.

8. Cultural Renovation. Companies are increasingly recognizing that “unengaged employees can’t create engaged customers” which is one of my “6 Laws Of Customer Experience.” That’s why many firms are starting to focus on the culture of their firms; trying to align employees with the vision, mission, and brand of the company. Cultural change takes several years to take hold; so significant changes won’t show up in companies immediately. But when change happens, it will very difficult for competitors to replicate.

2011: It’s great to see many executives ask for help building a customer-centric culture. I often compare customer experience to quality, which is captured in my manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free. I also like usurping this quote from the quality movement: “Great customer experience is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization, not part of the fabric.” We gauge customer-centric culture with Temkin Group’s Four Customer Experience Core Competencies. Our assessment of 144 large firms showed that only 3% are customer-centric. In 2011, I expect many companies to put in place the foundations for improving their customer-centricity while a few will revert back to their old ways; this stuff is not easy.

The bottom line: Hopefully you’re ready for 2011!

A Bit Of Customer Service Data

For my second post in honor of National Customer Service Week, I’m sharing some data.

Tealeaf commissioned a consumer study by Harris Interactive about online interactions. I was struck by the data on customer service. Over the last couple of years, consumers have been more inclined to contact customer service after a problem with their online experience… especially over the phone:

What is it like for consumers when they contact a company’s customer service organization? Not very good. Considerably less than half of companies regularly delight customers in any channel:

The bottom line: Customer service needs more attention.

Happy National Customer Service Week!

One of my 8 Customer Experience Megatrends is Customer Service Rejuvenation, which I describe as follows:

As companies do touchpoint analyses and customer journey maps, they often find that customer service is a key “moment of truth” for customers. Unfortunately, the cost-cutting in this area over the last several years has created many poor experiences. Companies are recognizing that poor customer service is creating a very negative perception of their brand and will increasingly make investments to improve these experiences

Customer service has been a very under-appreciated interaction, so I am thrilled to celebrate National Customer Experience Week this week. Hopefully all companies will take this week to rethink their approach to customer experience. If they do, we will no doubt see changes to a critical element of the customer service mix: Contact Centers.

I was recently commissioned by Jacada to write a series of blog posts about the intersection of customer experience and contact centers. I began the first post called The Customer Experience Evolution of Contact Centers by asking the question: Are contact centers becoming extinct like dinosaurs or typewriters? I used Darwin’s model of evolution to make the case that contact centers need to evolve in two areas:

  • Collaborate contact centers need to connect with other channels. They need to augment and support Web, store, branches, mobile, and social media interactions. It’s no longer viable to think of phone interactions as standalone experiences; they’re an integral component of multi-channel experiences.
  • Improvise: contact centers need to redefine their purpose; their raison d’être. For many years, contact centers have been considered cost–centers; companies did everything they could do squeeze every last penny out of the cost of every last phone interaction.

I also touched on the need of contact centers to “improvise” in this recent graphic:

Hopefully National Customer Service Week will act as an evolutionary catalyst for contact centers.

The bottom line: Every week should be National Customer Service Week!

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