Customer Experience Happens in the Contact Center

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Call center leaders are canny and battle-tested enough to know that each and every customer touch is a test of the service organization as a whole. But not everyone realizes that each and every customer touch is a test of the entire brand and its promise to that customer. All the advertising, promoting, manufacturing, marketing and selling are challenged when a customer and your representatives make a connection. That one experience will be the culmination of all the time, money and materials invested by both the call center and the customer—and the outcome of that call center encounter will be the memory the customer has of your company and therefore his/her propensity to return.

When your brand goes on trial, the only way to succeed is for your call center to deliver the kind of experience that transcends the ordinary and the everyday, and reaffirms the company’s entire brand premise. In the call center, the front line of so many businesses, revenue is made and lost every day not on price or performance, but by the quality of the customer experience with the call center representative.

It may sound like a huge burden to place on the shoulders of an individual call center representative and that is exactly the point—managing the customer experience is not about abdicating responsibility for customer satisfaction to your call center representatives. The organization and its call center management are on the line every time the customer phones the call center. Customer experience expert Shaun Smith of Shaun Smith + co, former Head of Customer Service, Sales and Marketing Training for British Airways and more recently, VP of Customer Experience for the Forum Corporation, warns against looking at customer interactions as compartmentalized moments in time, particularly in the call center. "Experience is every firm’s value proposition because no company can avoid delivering a total experience extending through to the call center. A customer cannot not have one," he says. "The million dollar question is: ‘Was the experience the one you intended?’"

Like it or not, consciously or not, customers evaluate their business relationships every time they touch your company or phone your call center. Learning to manage the experience every time the phone rings or the inbox chimes is an essential skill to maintain and build business with customers who are empowered to be brand-agnostic and effortless switchers.