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Today's Customer Expectations of Contact Centers

This post originally appeared on the Call Center Demo and Conference website.

Welcome to the world of the new normal-- picky, fickle, vocal and wired customers!  The challenging recession has made customers keenly sensitive to value—especially the quality of the experiences that accompany getting their needs met.  Their super stimulated, sensory overloaded world has elevated their expectations for all service providers.  Customers expect experiences to be engaging, not functional; unique, not ho hum.  And, because they are socially connected via the Internet, their vocal likes and dislikes today carry far more influence and much greater reach.

What does this mean for contact centers around the world?  They want call center reps who act like people with sincere hosting personalities, not people who sound like robots following a script.  They want a sparkly conversation with authentic listening at a customer-centered pace. They don’t want to get shoehorned into a pattern forced by an operator more concerned with handle time than first contact resolution.  They require their experience to match the mission of the organization and fit their needs, not be carbon copied from best-practice exemplars like Zappos or USAA.  And, they want channels of communication that have consistency and enable ease of movement from one to another. 

Customers today gravitate toward organizations with contact centers that take the effort out of every contact.  They prefer organizations that know a call to their contact center might be a customer’s third channel used to resolve an issue.  Wait time more than a few seconds puts you one down; forcing customers to repeat anything puts you down even more.  They would rather have adequate staffing than virtual hold.  The IVR was not something they requested!  They prefer lots of options to one size fits all...including what they hear during wait.  And, they wonder why reps too often have limited knowledge of the products and services they front. 

Contact centers, for better or worse, are not just avenues that enable customers to get their needs met or issues resolved.  They are portals customers use to peer into the heart of the organization.  It telegraphs the organization’s personality and priorities.  It means call center reps are not just sources of information or means of assistance; they are chief ambassadors for the organization’s brand.

To learn more about this vital topic, join me in Atlanta for ICMI’s Call Center Demo and Conference.  I hope to see you there!

About Chip Bell

Chip R. Bell is a customer loyalty consultant and the best-selling author of such books as Wired and Dangerous (with John Patterson) and Managing Knock Your Socks off Service.  His newest book is The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service.  He will be a keynote speaker at Call Center Demo and Conference in October. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com