When it comes to customer support we all want the same things. We measure the efficiency metrics FCR (first call resolution), average wait time and talk time. We train our contact center agents to be personal and helpful. Some of us even build incentives around goals for ancillary sales. When it comes to delivering on those KPIs right, customer experience managers have a lot in common. None of us has figured out how to deliver on all metrics. We are happy if we get one of them right!
Making Customers Feel Good when They Call
At JetBlue, our contact center is our heart. Our Contact Center crewmembers live the company’s mission to inspire humanity. If you want to feel what JetBlue is about, dial 1800 JetBlue where the customer experience is driven by empathy and understanding. And that is before we even train our crewmembers on our hospitality standards (that will happen in a few months as planned on the rollout roadmap).
JetBlue further empowers those crewmembers to be BlueHeros – to act as citizens, protect the JetBlue brand, and do the right thing for the customer when things go wrong. This is how we approach contact center management.
Loyalty that’s Worth the Wait
T-Mobile, self-described “Un-Carrier” is taking on a different approach. Two weeks ago at the Forrester conference in San Francisco, Sid Bothra shared the brand’s new strategy of call centers management. Instead of having frontline agents work from home, T-Mobile launched mini-call center “pods” of approximately 50 people each that cover specific geography and have cross-functional agents. Those groups are managed as P&L centers, not only as cost centers.
This is a completely new and risky approach that maximizes FCR at the expense of wait and talk times. Yes, in the new world, customer calls will not be transferred a second (or third) time. With this design the agent who knows data sits next to the network specialist and the international calls expert. The agent’s efficiency loss, however, will be substantial and impact both wait and call times.
The results Sid Bothra shared were inspiring. As expected, customers now wait 2x longer (from 40 seconds to 1m-1.3m), but NPS went up by 50% and employee retention increased by 75%. In addition, customer share of the wallet also increased because now, callers are more open to buying ancillary products.
Sid Bothra’s plan is a great example of thinking outside of the box and challenging the norm. Very few traditional call center leaders would agree with this new approach. In the long run, though, giving employees a sense of ownership of the business is the best way to inspire excellent service and care. It sounds like T-Mobile has found one way to do just that. It is one thing to feel like a cost, a burden to a business. It is another thing to feel empowered to earn money for your company and manage profits for your investors.
There is a third view on call centers that contradicts both JetBlue’s strategy and T-Mobile’s. Matthew Dixon in his book states that “any customer service interaction is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.” Dixon argues that our efforts to make customers happy when they reach out to our contact centers is not the right approach because at the point of the call, we have lost their loyalty. Dixon recalibrates the goal of customer service to mitigate that negative impact by reducing effort because reducing effort is more tangible to the customer and more sustainable to organizations than our current work to delight our callers.
Regardless of the approach you decide to take with your call center management, I urge you to be disruptive, even to yourself, and not to look at the traditional models. Technology advancements are adding more tools to our toolboxes and the new workforce is looking for more meaning and impact in any job. T-Mobile has addressed both opportunities in a creative and innovative way that has potential to differentiate them in the future.
That could be you!
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.