Best of Call Center IQ 2011: What Mattered to Customer Management Professionals

Brian Cantor

If the main focus of customer management for the past few years has been the promise of new channels like social media, 2011 has centered on a renewed appreciation for the basics of customer experience and call center management.

Make no mistake—the past twelve months have been significant for social media, with analysts better understanding its limitations, better understanding how to measure success and better understanding how to employ networks like Facebook and Twitter for more than broad marketing and PR campaigns. But to the extent that more and more companies have been hit by the disillusioning right hand of social media—that it is not yet a silver bullet for endlessly converting and engaging customers and that its impact on revenue remains elusive—these companies have also been reminded not to ignore the strategies and functions that have historically defined the notion of customer management.

With the need for a tangible business impact more prominent than ever, customer management professionals have been forced to consider which elements of their departments truly benefit the business, not which ones seem the most trendy and exciting. 2011 was thus a valuable one for those who believe in the traditional call center—alongside all the data showing that many customers still see phone calls and emails as preferable to Twitter for customer service were examples of companies like Google and NH Hoteles showing that live, one-on-one interactions remain pivotal to parlaying customer interactions into valuable business opportunities.

Companies like Zappos and Apple consistently enjoy their statuses at the top of the customer management heap, and when 2011 began, Netflix was right there with them. Unfortunately, the lattermost company found its customer experience stock plunging following a summer incident in which it seemingly abandoned the commitments to transparency, simplicity and customer-centricity that made it so popular. Customers found little positive in Netflix’s blunder, and the company lost two-thirds of its value as its subscriber growth came to a screeching halt and market sentiment plummeted.

It was neither as sexy as social media nor as tragic as Netflix’s struggle, but the discussion on customer management "best practices" reached a new level of importance in 2011. With anecdotes of successful customer service and a "customer as an individual" mindset driving strategy for many organizations, some are arguing that the overarching benchmarks once revered as standard are now obsolete. Others, however, believe customer experience metrics like first-call resolution and Net Promoter Score remain greatly correlated with the overall health of the business, and they took to avenues like Call Center IQ to state their cases.

Over the past year, Call Center IQ has featured commentaries, news stories, interviews, survey reports and case studies—across platforms like articles, podcasts and videos—to investigate how these overarching principles are affecting today’s customer management leader. To celebrate the year in customer management, we are proud to reveal our top-performing content pieces for each month of 2011. Whether you want to re-experience our most-read pieces to see how the conclusions held up or whether you are encountering this content for the first time, check out the Best of CCIQ 2011!

Q1 (January-March): Content on the rise of contact center complaints, Charlie Sheen’s Twitter, Disney’s customer experience and process excellence in the call center

Q2 (April-June): Content on why Twitter is overrated, how to track social media metrics, mistakes made on social media, Sprint’s customer experience overhaul and LEGO’s customer management culture

Q3 (July-September): Content on mistakes agents make when dealing with angry customers, Zappos’ and Apple’s customer experiences, Netflix’s pricing fiasco, why teenagers hate certain brands and why Google loves its call center

Q4 (October-December): Content on why Disney and Bank of America are hurting the customer experience with their IVRs, how Southwest Airlines delivers an elite customer experience, nine steps for improving customer experience and the role of live agents in 2011