Call Center Week Producer Interviews Call Center IQ Advisory Board Member John Cushman, VP, AT&T eSales and Service

Posted: 04/16/2010

John Cushman has his finger to the pulse of the next generation technology. He also is a believer in making global customer data actionable. AT&T believes in innovation especially when it comes to serving its customers. In this exclusive interview Lisa Schulman, Call Center Week producer, sits down with Cushman, Vice President at AT&T eSales and Service to talk customer-strategy and technology.

Cushman manages the global operation for the AT&T business direct portfolio and knows the importance of strategically placing talent. Key executives at AT&T are regionally deployed improving customer relationships. Cushman encourages businesses to evolve into the global operating model, veering from a US-centric model.

Cushman implements futuristic business models for AT&T. Due to the nature of his work he makes it a point to always have his eyes open for culture and technology trends. In addition to market research he makes it a point to talk to his children to understand the buying culture of the average American, including generation Y. Cushman understands the importance of simplicity and the mobility aspects of supporting your customer base.

In finding better ways to create the ultimate customer experience, Cushman taps into his frontline team. AT&T employees are encouraged to question the business challenges and contribute ideas. Cushman calls it "freedom to fail." He encourages his team to innovate, take chances, and look outside the box. Cushman says his call center representatives to think differently. He strives to blend technology with the human touch in the call center. One of the challenges most call centers run into is turnover. Cushman knows his tool set needs to be simple to work with so the needs of the caller can be satisfied. Effective call center technology is critical to the improvement of the entire operation improving first call resolution and customer satisfaction.

Most people don't equate customer satisfaction with self-service. But Cushman reminds us that self-service can be a positive aspect of the customer experience, if leveraged correctly. Cushman reminds us of the kiosk at the airport check-in. In the same way self-service should not be a hindrance to your call center. But simplicity should always be applied--however at AT&T business direct, the product is a complex communication solution. Simplicity is Cushman's secret weapon and he wants to break down the common denominator for the customer. This includes training, online tools, or tutorials. These are critical components for a higher level of service.

Cushman and his team look at the user community and the "wifms" (what's in it for me?). Cushman reminds us that it costs more to create a customer that you've lost than retain a customer so maintaining relationships and constantly proving to them on a day to day business is the key and solution set. What does a customer-centric vision look like? In this interview you will hear about the customer-focused vision at AT&T.

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