Tiger Woods Falls; Will Your High Performing Call Center Be Next?

Steve Cohn
Posted: 12/17/2009

Tiger Woods fools around. OK … apparently, he fools around a lot. But ask any 10 people on the street if they think the super-golfer fools around any more often than many other male celebrities, and they’ll probably say, "no." Then why is Tiger getting pilloried not just by the media, but by the very public that held him so highly just a few weeks ago? And why is he being criticized for actions that we know other celebrities do and that we ignore or look away from?

It’s really very simple. Our expectations of Tiger were incredibly high, and not without reason. Every message the Tiger publicity machine and the media that followed him sent to the public was that this celebrity was of a different breed–focused, clean-living, determined, clear-eyed and a role model any mother could hold up for her children. He has a stunningly beautiful wife, beautiful children and best of all, all of the kudos and acclaim were actually based on a level of accomplishment higher than most people reach in their lifetime.

The Fallen Hero, the Fallen Brand

Tiger was one of the biggest and untainted brands in the history of sports. Then he turned out to be human. Not only was he human, but capable of betrayal on a tremendously high level. And so he, and his brand, have fallen … down, down, down. Yet we know that there are celebrities who take part in such activities every day. We hear tales of entertainers who engage in debauchery and we just shrug our shoulders.

Why the difference?

The difference is we expect our rock stars and rap stars to play the role the world created for them. We expect them to be that way and don’t think much of it when it happens. But Tiger was a different story. The Tiger Woods brand was unique. Our expectations were extremely high and those expectations caused the public to believe Tiger wasn’t capable of such things. So the public quickly pulled back its faith in Tiger when he turned out to perform far short of our expectations.

Fulfilling the Brand Promise in the Call Center

Is it fair? Yes, it’s very fair. Tiger has built his brand and financial empire on the persona that created these expectations. Because our expectations of the product that was Tiger were so high, we rewarded him handsomely for living up to those expectations. And when the product (Tiger) didn’t live up to expectations, we became very angry and told the world not to buy his brand. In turn, the companies that provided Tiger with celebrity are now deciding to go somewhere else.

Expectations drive the way we determine how we feel about celebrities but also how we feel about the products we buy, the services we use and the experience in phoning the call center. Customers have specific expectations when it comes to the brand they buy from. Customers also have great expectations when it comes to experience with the call center and the brand on other channels.

And if your call center does not live up to those expectations, no matter what the expectations of the call center are, customers will penalize your call center greatly. But if your call center does live up to those brand expectations, or exceed them, customers will reward you handsomely.

Avoid the Call Center Free Fall

Companies who charge a high price create high expectations just because customers are parting with large sums of money. Should a Lexus be held to a higher standard than Chevrolet? Considering I would be spending $85,000 for a car, I’m holding Lexus to a very high bar. If Lexus performs like Chevrolet, I’m going to be very angry and Lexus will experience my wrath. But if Chevrolet performs like Lexus is supposed to, I’m going to be beyond thrilled. If the Chevrolet performs like a Chevrolet, well, I have nothing to be disappointed about.

Tiger didn’t perform like Tiger was supposed to. In today’s commercialized world of celebrity endorsements, Tiger Woods was bought like any product would be. The products Accenture, Gatorade, Gillette and others bought included the way he looked, the way he acted, the way he carried himself, the way he played golf, whether he won or lost and also, how closely he adhered to the standards—moral or otherwise—we attached to him. Your call center’s customers attach certain standards to your product and service too. They expect the call center to live up to a certain standard.

If your call center does not meet customer expectations you’ll find yourself free-falling with Tiger.

First published on Call Center IQ.

Steve Cohn
Posted: 12/17/2009

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