Customer Service "Best Practices" Simply Aren't Good Enough

Posted: 08/21/2011
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Says Tom Graves, director of customer service for Carolina Biological Supply: "World class for some companies is 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds or less. For us, that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for the educators we serve."

Everyone has heard variations of the so-called "best practice" metrics for evaluating call center performance. Many follow them religiously, using them as a primary barometer for the health of their customer care function.

But today’s customer is beginning to expect more, and Graves joins a growing contingent of customer service and call center leaders who know it is imperative to go beyond those benchmarks when satisfying customers. The fact that his company’s audience consists of "some of the most highly-educated customers a contact center or a company is going to work with" only makes the need for custom, elevated metrics more imperative.

Given that reality, it is no surprise that Carolina Biological’s early NPS score of only 33 was particularly troubling.

"At 33, your customer service sucks. A lot of it was validated when we listened to the calls," explains Graves, who has since led an effort to significantly boost that score.

Part of Graves’ strategy involved rethinking the so-called "minimums" for call center performance. Instead of striving for a 3% abandon rate, Graves and company eye 1% as the goal. Instead of answering 80% of calls in twenty seconds or less, why not do 87%?

Another component involved getting customer experience buy-in from every wing of the company.

Graves explains, "It is not just a customer service job—it’s the role of every single person at Carolina Biological. What makes it easy for us in our company is that it starts at the top. Our CEO, VPs are all on board, and that makes the director of customer service job easier than some who do not have that support."

A third focus required Carolina Biological Supply to analyze its shortcomings and develop custom, proactive strategies for addressing its unique customer base.

From overhauling customer feedback surveys to adding new customer service channels that better align with the needs of the audience to developing a specific campaign for cultivating loyalty from new customers, Carolina Biological looked at how its audience’s expectations differed from status quo notions of quality customer care delivery.

So, how exactly did Tom Graves so notably improve his company’s NPS score? What is Carolina Biological Supply doing to better satisfy its specific audience? Find out in this exclusive CustomerManagementIQ.com video interview.

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