Why Do I Have To Give You That Info Again?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Why Do I Have To Give You That Info Again?

Speaking with Fonolo CEO Shai Berger and I were talking last night about Call Centers and the lousy customer satisfaction. All the M&A activity creates pockets of technology and data and apps that cannot integrate easily with other pockets of apps, systems, data.

For example, a customer calls an 800 number of a company that bought two companies - and integration is complete. Except it isn't. The company uses a couple of call centers to fulfill customer service. Maybe one call center in Iowa on Genesis handling Product A; another in Chaicago on InIn handling Product B. These systems do not inter-operate. So the customer has to input his account number or other info more than once. Very frustrating.

Berger mentioned that zero out rates are between 30 to 50%! And companies spend lots of time and money on IVR systems, menus, choices. to no avail.  Worse, he continued, is that customers then spend time venting at the CSR's, which translates into even more money burned up.

Call center jobs have already increased about ten thousand this year, as more business moves to the web. Probably the bankruptcies of brick-and-mortar stores like Borders/Waldenbooks and Blockbuster will ultimately result in less retail jobs, but more customer service jobs - at a call center.

It's an interesting case, as VoIP companies want to have zero touch installs, etc. However, they will need to ramp up call centers to handle the instances when that fails and other ancillary issues, like PC support that ISP's ultimately ended up handling.

VoIP companies likely won't have the same silo issue that telcos have, where the call center is a separate business from the marketing department, who ultimately owns customer satisfaction metrics. The call center people care about metrics - call times, zero outs, etc. - but those are just numbers. The bottom line is that the call center is not incented for customer satisfaction. (As I blogged yesterday, Retention is key as product pies flatten or shrink because customer acquisition costs rise.)

Fonolo's answer to the call center frustration is to offer an over-the-top IVR that will help increase customer satisfaction. It will also put some of the IVR power back in the marketers hands as opposed to the call center ops team.

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