Bruce Temkin of The Temkin Group has just written a very interesting blog post where he notes Comcast’s widely known and very commendable activity on social media such as Twitter. Comcast has become the stuff of legends for the way their team — and even their CEO — are always monitoring mentions of their name and responding personally to discuss how they can address the clients’ complaints. Impressive.
But as Temkin puts it, Comcast suffers from schizophrenia. Despite its exemplary interactions, the company still has a seriously troubled customer service record, ranking 125th and 126th out of 133 companies in Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index. They did manage to climb all the way to third place on one important list, but it was unfortunately MSN Money’s 2010 Customer Service Hall Of Shame.
What gives? How can a company get hugs and kudos for its proactive attention to its customers at the same time that so many of those customers give them a thumbs down? The answer comes down to that immutable business principle that we all learn way too early in life:
Talk is cheap.
It’s relatively easy to listen and respond with a caring voice. Companies around the world employ call centers like ours to do that. The good news at Tacamor and other quality call centers is that we genuinely do care. We’re happy to listen, and find it rewarding when we can indeed help. In fact, we are proud to have played a role when one of our clients, Thumbplay, won very prestigious customer service awards based upon their level of care and responsiveness.
However, it’s not enough to just have nice people answering your phones or emails or chatting with clients on Twitter or Facebook. A few things need to happen before having a great call center can really transform or even improve a company’s customer service:
- The call center agents and processes need to be good, able to accurately capture customers’ concerns and let those customers know that their cares have been heard and will be addressed.
- The call center should ideally be empowered to address client issues by having direct access to and the ability to update callers’ accounts.
- The call center and the head of customer service should have an ongoing dialogue, so that comments coming in from customers are being heard and responded to at the highest levels, rather than simply being addressed for each caller.
- The addressing and even prevention of customer concerns should be seen as one of the most important roles the company plays, day in and day out.
- New trends such as Twitter, Facebook and other social media should certainly be employed, but as a means to improve your core focus of customer care, rather than just a new marketing tactic.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of all of this is that there is nothing in there that will be completely new to most companies. Virtually any manager anywhere would say that it’s all stuff they already knew. Yet, as Comcast shows us all too well, knowing doesn’t necessarily translate into doing. Companies need to make sure their call center and other points of contact with customers are part of a seamless and continuous two-way flow of information, or else they may themselves be feeling some of the effects of customer service schizophrenia.
Take a look at your own organization’s call center, and your customer service and social media activities. Run through those points one by one, and ask how well you measure up. Now ask your call center team and your customers the same question. If the answers are not all what you want to hear, it’s time to start making some changes. Let us know if Tacamor can help. The good news is, that with modern business medicine and the right team, schizophrenia can be beaten.