Costermer Service?

Is Customer Service a cost centre, a profit centre or the centre of your business?

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I can only assume that for my car insurance company, it’s a cost centre.  Serving the customer seems to be a bit of a drag.  Twice last night, I gave-up on calls, having been kept on hold for 20 minutes each time.
Overall, 40 minutes of hold music (the same tune…) with occasional interruptions to tell me:

Your call is important to us…

We know you didn’t call to be put on hold, but we’re giving another customer the same personal service as we’ll soon give you…

Sorry for the brief delay…

We all know that none of the above are true.  I was on hold because the company thinks it’s saving money by having fewer agents.

And here’s the result:

  1. I now think that I wouldn’t be able to contact them in an emergency – I’ve lost trust in them
  2. I’m now very unlikely to renew with them
  3. They’ll never know the reason they lost this customer

Beyond price and service, insurance companies don’t have many opportunities to differentiate. So it stands to reason that they should organise their call centres to give the best customer experience – instead, my insurer has organised their call centre to be as cheap as possible.

In his book Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh says:

…We run our warehouse 24/7, which actually isn’t the most efficient way to run a warehouse. The most efficient way… is to let the orders pile up, so that when a warehouse worker needs to walk around the warehouse to pick the orders, the picking density is higher…But we’re not trying to maximise for picking efficiency. We’re trying to maximise the customer experience.

And so it is with call centres.  Treat customer service as a cost centre and you automatically start looking for ‘efficiencies’.
You could treat it as a profit centre, but you’ll automatically start looking for sales and setting inappropriate targets for agents.
However, if you treat it as the centre of your business, the place where you create the longest-lasting impression and relationship with individual customers, you might start to transform the customer experience.

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