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Let’s Not Forget the Human

by Rosanne D’Ausilio, Ph.D., President Human Technologies Global, Inc.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked CSRs third in the top 10 occupations likely to provide the most job growth in the next decade.  In 2008 it accounted for 2.3 million jobs and is expected to grow almost 20% boy 2018.  (Forbes.com, Leadership, 2/26/10)

“It turns out that success is coming from the atypical organizations, the ones that can get back to embracing irreplaceable people, the linchpins, the ones that make a difference. Anything else can be replicated cheaper by someone else.”  (Seth Godin’s Blog 3/7/2010)

When we look at companies and their assets, I’d like to reframe it such that it’s not only the furniture, fixtures, hardware, software, but the real assets and the only thing you have control over is the relationship with the customer.

Where does it begin? 

To create the right experience, companies must make a fundamental shift from managing the numbers to managing the relationships.  But again the feet and the mouth don’t always go in the same direction.  Upper management needs to support the customer service initiatives.

The book The Cluetrain Manifesto (Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger) which I’m reading now said something really interesting:  It’s about the internet and the global conversation and the power of it.  And I quote “But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers.’  They will only sound human when they empower human beings to speak on their behalf.’

According to a study done by DMG Consulting, 77% of consumers still consider the telephone the best way to interact with companies.  And Forrester Research found that when it comes to customer service, even the most highly digital consumers—Gen Y—prefer phone calls (41%) over store visits (35%) and email (6%) [CRM Magazine “Calling All Social Customers, August 25, 2009).

And if we look at First Call Resolution for a moment, according to a recent Yankee Group study 30 – 35% of calls coming into the average center are unnecessary repeat calls.  For instance, 65% of all repeat calls are reportedly the result of agent errors, such as: No confident answer, the wrong answer, someone doesn’t follow through on commitment and the customer has to call again.

We believe these are all human or training issues.  And training is more critical now than ever before, yet the first thing to go during hard times is the training budgets.  I think it’s a grave mistake for companies wanting to survive.  When organizations downsize they cut key people with talent and skills and then you are forced to operate with less people.  Some of these people are less or unqualified, lacking the skills to perform well. 

What differentiates one company from another in today’s economy is its relationship with the customer, and who has that awesome responsibility?  Your front lines, and/or anyone who has interaction with the customer, current, potential, or future.  You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

We, the people, the humans, are who make the difference.  Technology support us, they do not replace us.

About the Author
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., industrial psychologist, President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management for contact centers, providing needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live, world class customer service skills trainings.

Known as 'the practical champion of the human, she authors the best-sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th edition, Customer Service and The Human Experience and Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack You Personal Deck, and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips as well as her popular ‘tips’ newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! available at http://www.HumanTechTips.com. Reach her at Rosanne@human-technologies.com.