by Ernan Roman, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing
As a second-generation direct marketer, (my father, Murray Roman is recognized as the founder of the telemarketing industry), sadly, I cannot say that the quality of the telephone customer experience has improved significantly over the past 30 years. Speaking as a consumer who is either placing plaintive calls to customer service centers or receiving the usual dinner time calls, it is not a wonderful experience.
Consider these troubling findings from our ongoing research to quantify the impact of poor customer service call center experiences: Sixty-six percent of professionals rated their recent customer service call center experience as negative or neutral.
Professionals also state that poor experiences negatively impact three critical indicators: willingness to buy from that company (86.3%), perception of that company (98.9%) and likelihood to recommend the company to others (91.5%). For complete research reults, click here.
Clients and vendors have been seduced by more sophisticated call center technology, but this has clearly not worked when more than 150 million phone numbers are listed on the national Do Not Call registry. Here are some recommendations for improving the customer's telephone experience.
First, do not view customer service call centers as cost centers. Companies must consider the financial ramifications of losing customers due to poor post-sale experiences. Remember that it's seven to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell to an existing one. If companies measured the amount of lost revenueresulting from these self-inflicted customer losses, they would wake up to the importance of delivering high-quality call center experiences.
Companies should increase expenditures for training, quality control procedures and development of call center personnel. They should focus on the quality of the customer's experience with their call centers, regardless of where they are located. Plenty of horror stories were reported regarding in-house, US call centers as well as outsourced centers. Telephone interaction is first and foremost about people interacting with people. Invest the money in developing your personnel.
Ernan Roman is president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the February 25, 2008 Issue of DMNews