February 2016



February 2016
Over 12,000 Downloads Monthly! )HEUXDU\ 2016 Web Newsletter
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Fix Your B2B Telemarketing Sales Program:
Start with Asking 5 Tough Questions
By Nathan Teahon, Vice President of
Operations, Quality Contact Solutions
Case Study: A Telecommunications Carrier’s
C-Level Account Management Improves Call
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Submitted by Televergence Solutions, Inc.
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Zappos or Zapatos?: Walk in the Customer’s
Shoes to Understand the Customer Journey
By Amy Novak and Bruce Belfiore,
Building Rapport With Your Customers
By John Tschohl, Founder and President,
Service Quality Institute, Minneapolis, MN
Call Centers Taking VoIP To The Next Level
By Frederic Dickey, VP of Product
Management, Marketing and Services,
Best Practices For Delivering Excellent
Customer Service Across Channels
Submitted by Talkdesk
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HELP ME, please!
no side noise to be heard.
A Personal Perspective on the
Customer Experience
By Kathleen M. Peterson
Chief Vision Officer, PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.
It had been quite a while since I personally had to contact
anyone in Customer Service … that is, until this week
when I had the opportunity to interact with six Contact
Centers. I now have a fresh perspective. Bottom line: experiences vary widely from business to business. However, the elements of good and bad experiences have
much in common.
My six experiences were all voice contacts. One call was
for Technical Support after having my account “locked”
for my own protection! I struggle a bit with user names
and passwords!! That was a good call with little delay, a
qualified responder, and a problem solved. I did not mind
at all that the agent was not a vivacious “interactor!” He
more than made up for that with his knowledge and quick
resolution; the company also helped by providing a short
The Platinum Travel unit of my credit card company also
did a good job. I had a complicated travel situation that
involved several contacts. (If you manage a complex operation, not all contacts can be “one and done.”) The first
was easy and the agent made a point of telling me she
was putting all the notes of travel dates, etc., into my
record so that when I called back the information would
be there … a nice proactive touch!
When I did call back I had to ask the agent to be transferred because the sound mitigation was nonexistent; the
side noise was distracting enough for me to ask to be
connected to another agent which she gladly did. The
next agent’s line was as quiet as the first’s was noisy.
When I asked, “How come?” the agent told me it was because he was a work at home agent so there simply was
The side noise heard in the initial contact was not in a
Contact Center off on a distant shore. It was in Phoenix,
AZ where I am guessing some genius decided they could
save money on headsets by buying a “cheap” version. Or
perhaps they could sit more agents by using tiny cubes
stacked up next to each other. Well guess what? These
are bad, bad places to try and save money. Headsets
need dual microphones - one to pick up the agent’s voice
and the other to mitigate (minimize) the side noise - and
that costs more! Many times inexperienced purchasers
don’t recognize the difference. As for squeezing agents
on top of one another, that is just another short-sighted
solution. Contact Centers saving money in areas like this
may ultimately pay a whole lot more than can be saved
because of the number of times information must be repeated. And that is hard cost in minutes, with even higher
costs to the experience and the brand. Noisy is NOT the
expected environment for “platinum” service. While the
agents were all excellent, the environment cast a poor reflection.
I had to call two major airlines. Delta had a long delay,
but the agent was qualified for the relatively simple task
of cancelling a flight due to a sudden illness. It will be
weeks before I am able to determine whether his recommendations for action violated any of my trip insurance
I would say the best call of the six was my second call
with Emirates Airlines … a quick answer and an informed,
engaged agent who provided excellent service and addressed many questions I didn’t even know I had. Taking
a proactive approach, the young man appeared to understand what the passenger may not know enough to ask!
My two worst calls were both to insurance companies.
One was a provider of travel insurance; the company had
a speech enabled IVR configuration which one might
think was designed to make sure the caller never made it
out of the automated system! The system had me repeat
responses ... repeatedly … and made it nearly impossible
PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.
360 Route 101, Suite 6
Bedford, NH 03110
to find any way to escape to an agent. These configurations incite irritation in the caller; once exhibited to an
agent, that irritation can make the call longer and much
less pleasant.
headed in a very bad direction! All she had to do was
“empathize” with me. It sounds so easy, but for some
(and maybe many) it is not.
The absolutely WORST call I had was with my medical
insurance provider. I recently spent 18 minutes on the
phone; I received a FINAL NOTICE on a policy that was
most definitely not delinquent! Otherwise, I can assure
you I would not have waited on hold for so long. (Caller
tolerance for delay is closely related to the reason for the
Interestingly enough, when I told the agent it wasn’t
WHAT she was saying that caused my impatience; it was
that she said everything with “a sharp tongue.” For some
reason, this seemed to cause her to reflect and she proceeded to find my account and straighten out the issue. It
is hard to feel good about the outcome with the time and
emotional energy I had to spend on an issue that was
100% the company’s own doing. No apology ... must be a
company standard.
When I finally finagled my way to an agent it might as
well have been a robot. He essentially read from a script
which pretty much redirected the caller (me) back to the
website to resolve the question. It is not customary for me
to purchase travel insurance; in fact I bought it quite by
accident while booking the flight. As fate would have it I
was stricken with the flu the night before my departure.
Right now I feel like it will be a miracle if I ever settle this
claim! However, more attempts to interact will require
good research and good research always brings good results.
I was on hold for 1,080 seconds, during which relatively
inoffensive music was playing except that every 45 seconds the pointless “Your call is important to us” message
played for roughly 22 seconds. I heard that message 24
times … yes, 24 times! I ask myself why it is so difficult
for people to correct something so simple. All this particular technology configuration (how about mis-configuration?) managed to do was irritate the hell out of me when
I was already irritated!
When the agent answered, I made some crack about the
delay and that I listened to the recording of how important
I was 24 times. The next thing out of her mouth was NOT
“I apologize for the delay.” No, she went right for the fight
and said, “WELL, WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” I intentionally
put that in CAPS because it was a demand not a request.
From a human perspective, she decided to terrorize
rather than empathize. Now the spiral of emotions
Sadly the interaction did not get better. The agent
couldn’t find my “account” (I’ve been insured by this company for literally decades) and took a posture as if I was
misrepresenting my status. When I said, “You cashed my
check,” she decided it was time to “scold” me: “I’m just
trying to do my job” and “You need to calm down so I can
….” Well, I am a bit of a tough customer since I bring to
these encounters not only my personal but my professional interest. I confess that the agent did not finish her
sentence; I interrupted her to ask if she felt it appropriate
given the circumstances to “scold” me. She denied doing
any such thing.
After all this, I am able once again to confirm that success in managing the Customer Experience is a matter of
balancing the human and the technical. If you have great
humans and crummy technology the experience suffers;
if you have technology configured in such a way as to
cause customer frustration the inevitable occurs. And if
you can’t staff to avoid lengthy delays, please STOP the
recorded announcement from looping back endlessly
every x seconds. It is an easy fix that greatly reduces
caller frustration. Finally, teach de-escalation skills to your
agents. Demanding, scolding, and reprimanding have no
place in Customer Care as those communication approaches ultimately damage the Customer Experience.
(#93 HELP ME, please!, February 2016)
PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.
360 Route 101, Suite 6
Bedford, NH 03110
P. O. Box 118451, Carrollton, TX 75011-8451
Bus. 972-395-3225 Fax 972-395-9205
tin# 75-2915747
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