Poor service is a common reason for customers to churn. Research by Genesys last year showed that 72 percent of consumers had ended a relationship due to poor customer service, and 56 percent had an experience that made them more likely to do so in the past year.
Part of the problem is that contact centres are still counted as a cost centre. Instead, move the responsibility to the sales and marketing team, who has accountability for revenue and profit. Then you might find there’s more focus on delivering a level of service that will help to build a brand that retains and attracts customers.
Jason Stirling from Genesys suggests that technology can also help to lift service, particularly when it comes to ensuring calls are routed to the most appropriate call agent. For example, putting an elderly call through to an elderly call agent who is more likely to have empathy.
Ultimately though it’s people, not the technology, who provide the service. Denise Pitt from the UCMS Group, who provide outsourced call centres, says you have to screen your staff carefully, to ensure that you are recruiting people who really want to provide service. It’s not for everyone.
Outsourcing is the wrong way to provide service though says Niels Kjellerup, editor of the Call Centre Managers’ Forum. He says why get someone else to engage with your customer. How will you sell more, more often, if its not your staff at the end of the line. He says companies need to see the contact centre as a revenue opportunity.
You can go too far though. Bill Ellerton from Mainstay Business Services says don’t give everything away for free. Companies should look at differentiating service — the customer pays more for extra support. That way you accrue some additional revenue and set expectations for the level of service the customer receives. Just be careful that higher levels of support are not given away as a sweetener by the sales team. That denigrates the concept and devalues the premium service which should be seen as a product in its own right.