'A 'must-read' for managers; this is a great guide for pulling the customer back into your management loop.' — Jerry Vass, author of Soft Selling in the Hard World 'Lior Arussy spins a cautionary tale for the transition companies m
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Lior Arussy is corporate vice president of global marketing at NICE Systems, responsible for strategy development and marketing activities worldwide. In his position at NICE, Mr. Arussy initiated, launched, and developed the product roadmap for the revolutionary Customer Experience Management strategy, and transformed it into a global market segment. His articles have appeared in many publications including Harvard Business Review. As a thought leader, he has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, ABC-TV, and other media outlets.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Joe hung up the phone and noticed that his familiar headache was crawling up his neck and intensifying. It was the tenth call that had escalated to him, this morning alone. The customer demanded to know why he was constantly being put on hold, only to end up talking to clueless representatives with a "we don’t care" attitude. Like many before him, this caller had demanded to speak to the manager; the representative was more than delighted to send the call to his boss, thereby relieving himself of yet another annoying customer. For what felt like the thousandth time, Joe Jacobs, the call center manager, had to apologize for the behavior, tell the customer that it was an isolated case involving a brand new representative, and promise that it would never happen again.
He was tired of this game. It had been going on for months. He had long since quit bothering to take the customer’s information or check the complaint. In the beginning, he was diligent about following up, hoping to solve the problems and improve the service. By now he knew it was useless. His representatives answered the phone with no interest whatsoever—they simply did not care. They now came to work only to earn their money with minimal effort and go home. Customers constantly complained that basic requests were not being answered, and simple issues were taking several calls to resolve. He saw how eager his representatives were to leave for break. Last week he caught a group of them joking during lunch about how stupid their customers were. They were even sharing war stories about how they convinced customers to call at another time.
Joe was embarrassed to be part of all this. This was not the reason he took the job. It was not the reason he joined the call center. He had an ideal of serving people and making them smile. He used to be able to do it when he was an agent himself, but those were the old days. Things had changed, people had changed. His people were different and they simply did not care.
Joe was reviewing last week’s performance reports and the trend was clear: more customers placed on hold, more calls escalated or transferred to someone else. It seemed that fewer than 20 percent of the calls were resolved right away. The rest had to wait far too long. The center’s ability to resolve customer issues on the first call was decreasing at a frightening pace. As if this were not enough, another ten representatives resigned last week, creating a void—and an additional load on the remaining agents. Turnover was growing, making his hiring and training costs soar. Even more frightening was the fact that the good agents were usually the ones that left. Those agents who stayed either couldn’t get better jobs or simply did not want to work hard. No wonder performance was deteriorating at a fast pace.
Just yesterday, he saw a group of his employees in a downtown café. They seemed to be happy and having fun. None of them even bothered to say hello to him. They noticed him, but preferred to ignore him. How can they be so happy outside the center and so unhappy inside? he wondered. Why do they prefer to ignore him? Was he such a bad manager?
To take his mind off his problems, he turned to his mail. On top of the pile was a brochure from a technology company. He opened it and took a moment to read it. "If your customers are angrier than ever, it is time to treat them well, with our CustomerUno Software. With our technology, your representatives will serve their customers with a smile and deliver excellent customer satisfaction. With CustomerUno," the text continued, "your customers will truly be Numero Uno in your company—they will be treated like kings! We will increase your customer satisfaction by at least 75 percent, or you’ll get your money back." The brochure included a set of testimonials from other companies who had turned to CustomerUno to deliver excellent customer service. It seemed that all these companies were happy with their choice. It sounded too good to be true, but Joe was desperate for just a few happy customers. Even if the promises were exaggerated, he mused, he would gladly settle for a 10 percent improvement. He could definitely use a break.
Joe decided to stop being a victim of his miserable situation, and take action to change things. He immediately called the toll free number on the brochure, requesting that a salesperson contact him for a product demonstration and price quote. To his amazement, the agent on the other end was very pleasant and was happy to assist. After asking a few probing questions about Joe’s current problems, she immediately connected him with a local sales rep and scheduled a meeting for the next day. In addition, she suggested he visit the product Web site to pick up tips on how other call center managers were benefiting from CustomerUno software. "It will give you some good ideas and show you that you are not alone in these challenges," she said encouragingly.
Joe was impressed. If this call was any indication, he was on the right path. CustomerUno’s people seemed very nice, helpful, and caring. He deeply wished his people would be the same. He spent the rest of his afternoon reading customers’ stories on CustomerUno’s site, happy to see that his challenges were not new or unique. More importantly, he was excited to see that there was a solution out there—a cure for his problems—called CustomerUno.
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