Friday, February 27, 2009

Sitel: The Call Center People

In the Star Gazette of the Buffalo, New York area, they share that Sitel is hiring more customer service representatives to man customer service calls. This company provides the customer service call centers for many of the Fortune 500 companies, and fields an average of about 99% incoming calls. Each employee answers 25-30 calls a day.

Sitel site director Jeffrey Mortlock said
"It's a hard job. Ninety-five percent of the people calling in have a problem or they are upset about something. We have to teach employees how to solve people's problems, and that's what our goal is."

For more, read the article here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Customer service and customer experience

Recently at Retail Customer Experience Magazine, the address the issue of customer experience versus customer service, and how the two should not be confused. Bruce Temkin, a Forrester blogger, said, "For most companies, customer service deals with some key 'moments of truth' for customers," he writes. "So that function is an important participant in most efforts to improve customer experience. But firms can’t just focus on customer service interactions or offload responsibility for customer experience to the customer service organization." They also provided the diagram to the right.

How do you keep the two separated for your customers?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

5 Recession-Busting Customer Service Strategies

Christopher Musico of, reports that the one thing that happens in a downturn is that everyone is focused on keeping customers," explains Natalie Petouhoff, senior analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report "The Economic Necessity of Customer Service." "Don't you spend on advertising? Of course you do, and it costs money -- but it has value if it's done well. The same goes for investment in customer service."

Petouhoff's 5 Recession Busters:

make self-service work across all channels;
be proactive about chat;
invest in online social-networking communities;
explore unified communications (UC); and
empower sales agents with co-browsing tools.

What do you think? Could you add a few more to the list?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Customer service and your stock value

According to a new article at Business Week, researchers at the Michigan Ross School of Business and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, customer service has a direct impact on the investors. The study comparing customer service and stock performance showed that as customer satisfaction scores rose over time, stocks outperformed the market.

When a company’s customer satisfaction score has improved over the prior year’s results and is above the national average (currently 75.7), studies show its shares have a good chance of outperforming the broad stock market in the long run.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wachovia ranked first for customer service

Its not often that a large corporation, so poorly managed receives awards for customer service--perhaps something was right after all. Wachovia, who has recently been purchased by Wells-Fargo, has received top ranking among U.S. banks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. According to Birmingham Business Journal, although Wachovia led the banks for customer service in the last eight years, its score fell to 76 from 79 in 2007. The bank scored 79 in 2005 and 80 in 2006, on a 100 point scale.
Can customer service be outstanding even when business is failing?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are you Tracking Customer Feedback?

Jackie Huba recently posted on the Church of the Customer Blog that a CMO survey showed that most companies are not tracking customer feedback. This poses as a huge problem because companies can not improve if they do not track what is being said about them. Here’s a recap of the findings of the survey conducted on 400 senior marketers.

Of the survey participants:
  • 56% said their companies have no programs to track or propagate positive word of mouth
  • 59% don't compensate employees based on improvements in customer loyalty or satisfaction
  • only 16% said their companies have a routine system in place for monitoring what people are saying about them or their brands online
How is your company listening to customer feedback?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bringing customer service back to the company

Customers of SourceGas will soon be receiving better customer service. The company will be bringing both billing departments and customer service call centers back into their company.

Director of Corporate Communication Lin Mize had this to say about the service overhaul:

"We are bringing the billing and the call center in-house to be staffed and managed by SourceGas employees. We apologize for the inconvenience this [billing issues with the current system] has caused, and our employees are excited to get this opportunity to directly help customers."

There will be extensive testing of the new billing system. They will also use the working in-house call center they acquired when they purchased Arkansas Western Gas Company.

For more information, visit

This company sees a need to bring customer call centers in-house. What do you think about providing customer care call center in house? Is this something that could improve your relationship with your customers?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Understanding the Customer Lifetime Value

Earlier today I came across this post on Performix Integrated Marketing in which they highlight a recent article that Michelle Eggers of SAS Institute wrote about the importance of implementing marketing metrics and Customer Lifetime Value in your business.

Here’s a brief summary of the article as described by Performix:
  1. Look at the processes your marketing department is using. Are they ahead or behind schedule on jobs? Efficient, or chaotic? Keep a grasp on the people part of the process to be able to increase productivity.
  2. Distinguish between measuring campaign performance (e.g.. how the cross-sell campaign did online in the last 3 months) and look at the OVERALL effectiveness of all marketing programs, direct and traditional or broadcast media. You need to have the data on how all are performing in order to develop the right media mix.
  3. Develop and focus on broader business metrics that are not specific to any marketing program, like: sales growth, market share, total sales and total profits, Are they aligned? How do they interact?
  4. Look at the customer: except for managing marketing processes, all of the above relate to the customer. Are they affecting the customer positively or negatively? Create customer metrics, for things like: products (owned) per customer, customer profitability, customer satisfaction, net-adds, and customer lifetime valiue.
Does your business fully understand CLV?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hospital provides customer service training at the request of employees

Recently in the Wichita Eagle, they reported on the efforts of the staff of Wesley Medical Center to improve their customer service. Human Resources Director Lisa Becker said that an employee engagement survey showed an overwhelming number of employees requesting training in the area. The hospital is now offering a one hour refresher course on customer service basics, and managers attended the course first. The employees could attend the session voluntarily, and 40% of the employees at the hospital already have done so. The course covers basics such as how they view customer service in other areas, attitudes in uncontrollable situations, and teamwork.

Are your employees asking for training? What have you done to educate them on customer service in your field?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free Webinar: Unlock Survey Secrets: Turn Text Responses into Insight

SPSS will host a complimentary web seminar presented by Jane Hendricks, Product Marketer, SPSS Inc and Frank Maduri, Sales Engineer, SPSS Inc. This web seminar will take place on Wednesday February 25th from 2:00 to 3:00 PM EST. Reserve your webinar seat by registering now. Mention priority code MWS0021BLOG.

Here’s a brief recap of the webinar:

Open-ended survey questions allow people to express themselves in their own words; and give researchers rich new insights into attitudes and preferences regarding service, purchase decisions, product design, employment, operations, whatever the issue under study.
If you’ve limited your surveys to close-ended questions due to the time and expense of reading and manually coding text responses, this session can be your organization’s first step toward maximizing the value of your survey data.

Created specifically for open-ended survey responses, SPSS Text Analysis for Surveys uses proven technologies in computational linguistics to make it far more powerful than typical text-coding procedures. It allows you to categorize hundreds, even thousands of responses in a fraction of the time it would take to do so manually. Then easily export results for further analysis and graphing.

What you will learn by attending:
  • How to turn text into quantitative data
  • How to save even more time by automating the creation of categories and the coding of responses
  • How to uncover category relationships using visualizations such as bar charts and tables
  • How to export results to Excel, SPSS or other software for analysis
  • And more!
Don’t miss your chance to view this free webinar. Click on the link below to register.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rethinking customer loyalty

In a recent post at CustomerThink, Robert Howard looks at the way that customer loyalty works. In today's world, customer loyalty programs have become the norm, and everyone is using them. Sometimes, they find ways to drive away the customers with the fine text included in the sign-up forms. He wonders if customer loyalty should be turned upside down, and a company should measure how loyal they are to their individual customers. How are you treating your customers that are loyal to you? Are you recognizing them as loyal patrons of your business?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Verizon creates one number for customer service

In an effort to better serve their customers, Verizon has created one number for customer service, 800-verizon. This idea isn't too new has large U.S. cities have been using 311 has an all inclusive information hotline from noisy neighbors, civic programs to homeless outreach. The idea makes it very easy for customers or citizens to get the help they need. Do you think more companies will follow Verizon's lead?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Connecting Employees with Customers

Becky Carroll recently posted on the Customers Rock! blog that taking the time out to listen to what customers are saying is an important part of the customer experience. The old age saying is that a happy customer tells a friend and an unhappy customer tells 10 people. Becky goes on to explain that social media is important because it gives customers a platform to leave feedback and opinions, and if you can somehow meet and solve problems live online, well that’s even better!

How good of a job is your company doing in interacting with your customers through social media?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In N Out -- Fast Food Service Champions

Recently at the Wall Street Journal, they looked at the recent survey released by Sandelman and Associates which polled 94,000 as to their preferences in fast food. The survey looked at things including quality of food and service, cleanliness and value for the money. The winner of the 2008 Quick-Track Awards of Excellence was burger chain In N Out.

Do you see any chains that weren't recognized for their great customer service?

Here's the complete list of fast food that made the survey for quality experiences:

1. In-N-Out Burger, Irvine, Calif., 60%
2. Raising Cane’s, Baton Rouge, La., 59%
3. Giordano’s Pizza, Chicago, 56%
4. Chick-fil-A, Atlanta, 55%
5. Panera Bread, St. Louis, 54%
6. Chipotle, Denver, 52%
7. Pei Wei, Scottsdale, Ariz., 51%
8. Firehouse Subs, Jacksonville, Fla., 51%
9. Taco Tote, El Paso, Texas, 50%
10. Qdoba, Wheat Ridge, Colo., 49%

(Photo: Seattle Weekly)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Singapore launches S$100m plan to improve customer service

According to, Singapore is one of the top ten customer-oriented countries in the world. It successfully climbed up the World Economic Forum's service ranking from 26th in 2006 to 10th place last year. But with the current economic downturn, there is a worry that service standards will suffer as companies may cut down service capabilities, thereby worsening the overall economy.

Lim Swee Say, Minister, Prime Minister's Office and Secretary-General, NTUC, said: "It is very important that we step up our efforts rather than scale back the effort because if you look at the service sector on the whole, customers will be more careful with every dollar that they spend. They will be more selective in terms of where they spend the money and what they spend it on.