Thursday, 4 January 2007

Customer Service as Brand Conversation Centres

Listened to a great podcast on customer service by Jon Udell with Paul English who started the website Paul had apparently gotten a bunch of press in the States for his IVR cheat sheet where he helped people get through the mire of IVR systems to speak directly with a customer service rep.

Having seen the inner workings of how large corporations deal with customer service, it's pretty easy to see why and how we get the service we get. Ops is completely separated out from marketing and in fact, view the notion of Brand as witchcraft that has no inherent value. This leads them to provide little value in building that brand as they are not bonused on satisfying customers and building relationships (because how could you measure that anyhow?), but rather reducing call volume and shaving seconds off per call.

This age old problem of customer service centres being viewed as cost centres has to change. In this day and age of brands and their customers becoming more intertwined, these service centres should in fact be looked at as brand conversation centres, where brands have a unique opportunity to directly communicate with their customers. Customer service agents could then be seen as they should, not the evil face of the company you are ready to do battle with, but brand officers and ombudsmen who you come to as 'agents of the consumer'.

Slightly off topic but worth quoting, Paul's own companies service solution which is making his engineers directly responsible for customer service. According to Paul it has:

"done wonders for the software development process. Because they’re on the front lines dealing with the fallout from poor usability, they’re highly motivated to improve it."

Hum....wonder if that could apply to Operations executives as well?


Real Time Web Analytics