The Call Center Profession … and Metrics
A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards. This group positions itself as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognized body.
I learned this definition of profession many years ago. I believe our industry – the customer care industry, should be defined as such. We say we are the experts, we sell it, and the public believes it. Well, we need to live up to it.
I am sure I will catch some flack about “being negative” and “too critical”. That is fine, I can handle it. What concerns me more is the other component of a profession: self-policing. A profession should be self-critical, questioning, re-evaluating and being honest – capable of saying we are screwing up, this is why, and this is what we need to do to fix it.
I have watched for two decades, the general unravelling of customer care. Yes, there are exceptions, to which should be the rule. Be honest, we are all consumers. The last time you picked up the phone as a consumer to call on an issue, what were your thoughts? Unless it was one of the exceptions – hmmm?
Again – there are some great companies who are delivering exceptional service. Hats off, you are the exceptions. But I could reference study after study that shows the consumers think customer service in general is poor. Why? Well, one of the first things that comes to my mind is metrics.
I like numbers - give me a math problem and I’m in heaven. I know for many people, that’s not their cup of tea and I get it. What I cannot understand, though, is how so many people in our industry are so laser-focused on metrics that the proverbial tree isn’t even in the forest.
Metrics are incredibly valuable, if used appropriately, and can help detail how well (or not) the operation is functioning. But metrics cannot tell you what? What is the whole reason for our existence?
Are we actually helping the customer to their level of satisfaction? Spewing out numbers, and acronyms and the latest buzzwords across the conference room and back-slapping ourselves like we just won the big game on Friday night makes who happy? Maybe those in the room, but it doesn’t achieve the goal: make the customer happy.
According to a Consumer Reports survey, even the latest (it’s going to save us!) “technology has not made the customer experience much less painful”. Look at how they wrote that: “customer experience much less painful”. It’s almost an associated given today: customer experience and pain. I mean – can you say whiskey-tango-foxtrot?
To me, the first fix of the problem is simple and requires a mantra: we are here to make the customer happy! Now everyone – we are here to make the customer happy! One more time – we are here to make the customer happy!
What are you really, honestly, truly focused on?
Oh. PS: I know – some of you may be screaming “CSATs” at your computer screen. Yes – and no. We plan on discussing customer satisfaction surveys in a future blog and see if the tail is really wagging the dog. ;)
About the author
CEO, Apollo blake
Mark started his career in call centers as an agent over 20 years ago, then held increasing positions of responsibility in operations, training, quality and regional directorship culminating in the co-founding of Apollo blake in Mauritius. Mark has worked closely with small/start-up, medium and Fortune 100 companies throughout his career to develop and deliver superior customer service solutions across all channels of communication: voice, email, live chat and social media channels. He holds a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy, West Point.