Contact Centers Enter The Loyalty Mix

Over the previous decade, companies have squeezed costs out of their contact centers through automation, offshore labor, and self-service alternatives. But no matter how hard they try, most companies can’t take human contact out of the service mix.

Many companies are realizing that some of their contact center interactions represent more than just costs; they’re moments of truth for customers, points in time that significantly impact customer loyalty.

I’ve been doing a lot of work around contact centers lately. It’s clear that companies are beginning to reinvest in these important customer contact points. So I’ll be writing more about contact centers in the near future. But for now, I just want to introduce the idea of viewing contact centers as loyalty drivers, as opposed to the historical view that they are cost centers.

Here’s how I’d compare the two approaches.

Loyalty Drivers also tap into the deep customer insight from their contact centers within their voice of the customer (VoC) programs. This goldmine has been completely untapped in most contact centers, but the rise of voice and data analytics is helping to unlock this valuable asset.

The bottom line: Contact centers affect loyalty whether you take advantage of it or not.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

6 Responses to Contact Centers Enter The Loyalty Mix

  1. Ray Brown says:

    Hi Bruce I agree with your assessment of the changing role of the “call centre.” I’ve been writing about this recently and believe that we may be seeing the creation of a new communication channel between business and customer. Seeing the call centre as a cost centre is very much of the B2B and B2C era. I believe that most businesses will now have to master the B2Me channel. The context of the traditional call centre is as a necessary evil in the creation of revenue. The context for B2Me communication is understanding and insight. Obviously revenue will be an eventual outcome but it will be a longer process whose success will be measured in lifetime value, referrals and increased share of wallet. Both channels will be required in future but I see a shift in emphasis coming, where more resource, new technology and new skills will be applied to the B2Me channel.

  2. I very much agree with your post. Loyalty centres and contact points in general have been pretty much researched.
    As I’ve written many times on my blog (http://blog.intotheminds.com) the importance of contact points is crucial and outweighs the quality of the product itself. The latest studies based on the pioneer work of Parasuraman show that service drives loyalty.

  3. maziqbal says:

    Does senior management’s view of the customers services and the contact centre need to change – absolutely. We all know that in this day and age the contact centre is a critical touchpoint. Those of us who can use the internet to bypass the call centre do so for obvious reasons . It is also a moment of truth as the encounter is initiated by the customer who clearly needs something from the organisation. Put differently he/she has nowhere else to go and is relying on the contact centre to help her. I would argue that the many millions spent on marketing only payback (as far as existing customers are concerned) if the contact centres deliver the kind of humane interactions that customers crave.

    Will senior management change their views of the role of customer services and contact centres? I hope so. I hesitate because mindsets are difficult to change especially when the C suite is completely divorced from customers.

  4. I completely agree with your post Bruce. Call centres are an incredibly powerful tool when interacting and communicating with customers. A key priority for organisations who wish to take customer feedback seriously should be to empower call centre employees to be able to act on customer feedback. This will of course require some changes to the skill sets required for this type of position, and perhaps in the technology used to store customer information. We have written a couple of posts about this on our blog if anyone is interested – http://blog.syngro.com

  5. Ray Brown says:

    @maziqbal You make a number of great points. The changing role, skills and importance of the “call centre.” Surely the key is to reduce the number of inbound calls (by developing better customer management processes) and to improve the quality of these priceless moments of truth. You point about the C suite is so true. I met with the senior partner/CEO of a large accountancy firm this week and he did not know how many customers his firm had and worse he had no idea of the attrition rate in the business. Divorced from customers or what !

  6. Chrystal says:

    This is a great little snipplet, and a brilliant reminder. I love the visual graph.

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