Call centers bridge disjunct customer journeys and facilitate touchpoint transitions. And if that’s not enough, they turn disappointed customers into happy ones.
Too often, call centers are considered part of the logistics of a business instead of a central component of company branding. Many retailers are unfortunately stuck with the idea that the customer experience is best relayed through marketing and in-store encounters. Of course, nothing is wrong about this, but only if we don’t count the fact that it prevents contact centers from claiming their well-deserved throne as the champion of the branded experience.
Your customer service agents, the ones who interact with your customers on a daily basis, play a crucial role in keeping your identity intact. Whether you admit it or not, they’re really the ones who foster customer relationships. Customers light up when an agent solves their complaints, while poorly delivered services dampen their enthusiasm about a brand. All these instances, including both pleasurable and negative experiences, represent your brand.
So why is the role of customer service in company branding still being overlooked?
Too much focus on technology?
When technology started creeping into the business arena, it did so in a stealthy manner, until entrepreneurs came to realize that they can’t do much for customers without it. All these advanced software, the Internet, cloud platforms, and gadgets constitute major “wow” factors for customers. They improve the way brands create products. They aid innovation. And combined together, they form the spine of physical and digital marketing.
But perhaps this unabating focus on technology stole the attention that customer service deserves. Managers still need a reminder every now and then that technology is not everything. It can’t make up for lost trust and it can’t do much during online reputation crises, but your customer support representatives possibly can. A heartfelt apology and a sincere effort to correct mistakes could go a long way. Plus, when brands after brands are already impressing customers using the most advanced tools, customers would start looking for a different kind of value—one that only service-oriented professionals can deliver.
Consistency across touchpoints
It is therefore crucial to invest not just in technology and marketing but also in relationship building as facilitated by call centers and their employees. Several factors should be considered, including the availability of multiple touchpoints and the decision to leverage all of them. Of course, brand managers wouldn’t want to spread themselves and their employees too thinly only to find out they can’t efficiently manage a multichannel contact center just yet.
And that’s just the technical aspect. There are bigger considerations to think about, such as uniformity of performance and adherence to the same standards. Both of these principles are at the heart of company branding.
Call center agents, no matter what platform they’re using, must carry with them the same brand values as they interact with customers. This is the secret to creating a memorable and outstanding customer experience that people can attribute to no one else but your brand.
Quantitative + qualitative KPIs
These factors are easy to explain in theoretical terms. However, if you want to really know whether you’re doing a good job, trust your key performance indicators (KPIs). But don’t just focus on quantitative ones, as most contact centers do. The richest reservoir of qualitative KPIs is customer insights, those that are lurking, perhaps unread, in an endless comment thread on your Facebook page. You’ll also be surprised by what simple customer conversations, which take place everyday in your stores, can tell you.