A call to end call centers
I just finished reading a great book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com.
It’s a must read for many reasons, but I want to touch on one thing he briefly mentions: call centers. In the book, he writes about how one of Zappos’ core values is customer service. For this reason, he thinks call centers is not for Zappos.com.
Too many companies think of their call centers as an expense to minimize.
I thought that was a telling quote. He says companies should see each interaction with a customer through “a branding lens” instead of through “an expense-minimization lens.”
He also talks about call time, noting that most companies track how much time each representative spends on a call. The shorter, the better, because the company can handle the volume. But Hsieh notes Zappos does not do so, instead focusing on whether “the rep goes above and beyond for every customer.”
So why can’t his view be held more universally? Companies should focus inward and figure out their core values. Is making a dollar really the most important thing?
As a consumer, I need to stop and think more about business that don’t make customer service a priority. Should I be spending my money, giving it to a business that insists on minimizing its interaction with me?
But one thing is for sure: Call centers must end. You should want to interact with me and other customers, instead of treating us like numbers.
[UPDATE: 11/18/10, 11:30 a.m.] OK, I should clarify just a bit. Call centers are OK. It’s the mindset and core values of the companies that use them that must change. Representatives should not be working under a quota or any system that encourages a quick conversation. Customer service issues should continue as long as needed until the issue is resolved.