The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

I’ve long lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked by a client to make their customer contact center “World Class.” There have been several responses I’ve used over the years, but the most effective approach is the most direct. The truth is that there isn’t any such thing as “World Class;” the term is essentially meaningless. I don’t know anyone who ever describes any product or service as being “World Class” in casual conversation. Do you? But I do know lots of people who have told impressive stories about quality products and exemplary service, and/or about disasters and disappointments. Those stories are important. People like to tell them and to hear them, and their buying decisions are very definitely influenced by those tales.

The World Class Label

The “World Class” label is not what enables some companies to charge and consistently get premium prices for their products. Anyone can be World Class; all it takes is a declaration in your paid advertising. But to achieve the true goal, significantly enhanced profitability, something more is required. You need your customers to do something for you to cause increased demand for your products and services so that you can command premium prices. You need them to talk, to brag about your brand to their friends and associates, to pride themselves on their purchasing choices in such a way that others are inspired to tell their friends in turn about the quality you offer. To start legends percolating through all levels of society that will take on a life of their own, spreading even amongst those who may never actually own the products themselves. Marketing people call those stories Word Of Mouth advertising, or WOM. I prefer a more accurate term, legends, for it points at the desired effect. Anyone can advertise. Not everyone will do what it takes to become legendary.

The Contact Center as a Legend-generator

What does a company’s customer contact center have to do with being legendary? A lot. Every interaction in the contact center is an opportunity to generate legends and to further their spread. (It’s also a chance to hear confirming whispers of them coming back if you are truly listening.) The difference between a base hit and a home run in baseball, or a ball that lands on the green instead of short in the fairway in the game of golf, is aim and follow-though. If you stop short at the moment of impact, you won’t get the full benefit from the swing. If you design and build a high quality product but don’t provide an equal level of service, you may have aimed well but the lack of follow-through will deny you the victory — and leave a lot of money lying on the table.

If you’d like to take your customer contact center to the next level, to turn it into a powerful legend-generator, business intelligence listening post and an authentic strategic economic asset, give me a call.

April 16, 2007