Goodbye call centre, hello experience centre
One of the fundamental differences between a ‘call centre and a ‘customer experience centre’ is the extent to which brands value this vital function in carrying out its role. We carried out research with Smith+Co (1) which showed that for distinctive brands, the contact centre is never seen as a necessary evil, or just a cost of doing business, but instead an opportunity to drive advocacy with both the customer and the employee.
For many market leaders and influencers, the brand-defining lesson learned from the evolution of customer experience relates to what is regarded as the ‘call centre’. When a customer engages with a brand in today’s competitive digital environment, that engagement can’t be pigeonholed as just a ‘call’. It should instead be regarded as ‘contact’, part of a seamless and continuous process of engaging with the customer.
When a customer makes contact with the front-line staff of any brand, this engagement has to be seen as more than just a call if there is to be an opportunity for differentiation and inevitably, advocacy to grow. When a brand leadership team sees the CX potential in delivering a brand aligned contact centre experience, what was previously seen as just the ‘call centre’ soon becomes much more than a functioning arm of the business. It becomes an experience platform that identifies and maximises the drivers of CSAT, NPS, sentiment and ultimately revenue. It becomes the heartbeat of the brand, responsible for informing marketing campaigns with real customer stories on what matters most.
The ICMI 2016 Customer Service Benchmarking Report revealed the top fifty companies for customer service in the U.K. Chaucer Direct, the car insurance company, was voted top performer. Russell Wilson, Direct Operations Manager explained the important role that an engaged culture plays in his award-winning contact centre. “There is no silver bullet, but I believe our secret lies in the way we treat our advisors. We have a positive coaching culture, with one-to-one ‘call listening’ sessions to encourage communications between Team Leaders and Advisors, and our customer service training covers soft skills, compliance and legislation. We invest time and money in making sure our teams have the right knowledge and attitude, but most importantly we trust our people to do the right thing by the customer.”
Time, money and trust are three foundational investments from the top performing brand to its employees, according to Wilson. This sort of cultural investment will always increase advocacy more than any one-off technical quick fix. Before any contact centre training or repositioning, it is vital for brand leaders to start by engaging the team with a compelling reason to proceed. This ensures an aligned and committed unit behind any plan to transform the contact centre into an experience centre.
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Fabrice Martin is Chief Product Officer at Clarabridge. Fabrice brings to Clarabridge 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship, product management, marketing, and enterprise software sales, with specific domain expertise in SaaS/PaaS, data visualization/discovery, Business Intelligence, and analytics for marketing and contact center...