For many medium to large businesses, their call centers are the primary point of contact with consumers. Whether someone is calling to place an order, request information about a product, inquire about a delivery date or voice a complaint, a call center is expected to handle everything pleasantly, informatively and efficiently. Put simply, a call center is the backbone of almost every business — not only for business leaders, but for consumers as well.
If you manage a call center, you probably understand the importance of your contact center’s role to your company’s overall fiscal performance. If you work in another department, you may not fully appreciate how much your employer’s success or failure is influenced by the customer service your company’s call center provides every day. To get an idea of how heavily your company’s bottom line can be influenced by its call center, consider this: 78 percent of consumers have abandoned a transaction or decided not to make a planned purchase because they received poor customer service.
In her role as The People Skills Coach, Kate Nasser often uses examples of real-life customer service situations that have gone awry to train customer service representatives to provide the best service possible, or at least to avoid making some of the costly gaffes others have made. Nasser recounts an instance in which a consumer contacted a cable company about the specific groupings of channels that were available to her. The call center agent she was talking to was unable to explain the groups to the woman’s satisfaction, so she asked to be transferred to another agent. Instead of abiding by the customer’s request, the agent called the paying consumer stupid and disconnected the call.
Nasser cites another example of a failed call center interaction when a woman called a computer company because 12 new laptops wouldn’t power on. After explaining her dilemma to a contact center agent, the employee explained that there was no way to troubleshoot the computers if they wouldn’t power on. The agent then accused the caller of doing something to the computers to prevent them from turning on.
In yet another example, Nasser tells the story of Julie, a woman who contacted the maker of a printer for help interfacing her computer with her printer. Julie waited on hold for hours before she was told that she had clearly done something to prevent the printer from interfacing properly and the problem was simply not the company’s issue to resolve. Julie then called her computer company and the issue was resolved quickly.
If you were Julie, who would you do business with in the future, the accusatory printer company or the helpful computer company? Would you buy laptops from the same business after one of its employees suggested you damaged the new computers you received? Would you consider buying something from a business in the future after one of its call center agents insulted you?
If you are like the vast majority of people, you will seek another business for your future needs if you receive poor customer service. In fact, 91 percent of consumers will not readily do business with a company again if they are dissatisfied with the service they receive. Unhappy customers will find another company to do business with, and they will also tell their friends, family members and colleagues about their negative interaction with your call center. Twice as many people hear negative customer service experiences compared to positive ones.
With consumers feeling that customer service representatives only provide sufficient answers to their questions 50 percent of the time, it’s easy to understand why 59 percent of American consumers are willing to try a new brand or business for a more satisfactory customer service experience. It’s also understandable why 70 percent of Americans polled in 2011 were willing to spend more with businesses they felt provided superior customer service over their competitors. That number represents a significant increase over the previous year, when less than six out of ten Americans said they’d be willing to spend more in exchange for better customer service.
The Advantages of Contact Center Culture
The numbers provided above highlight the importance of a call center in business because they show the significant impact that poor customer service can have on customer loyalty and your bottom line. While that’s true, they also show that you have a great business opportunity to make your company stand apart from your competition and increase your revenue by improving the customer service your call center provides.
One of the most meaningful things you can do to improve your customer service is establish a strong culture in your call center. If building call center culture is something you haven’t considered before, you may be asking yourself, “What is contact center culture?”