Connie Chan, Principal of Chess Media Group, is guest posting today.
Remember the days when we picked up the phone to call the toll-free number to contact a customer service representative when we weren’t happy with the product or service we received from a company? It was normal to dial in and wait to speak to a real person, sometimes with little wait time: “Your call will answered in the order in which you called. The estimated wait time is 12 minutes.” Wait 12 minutes! At least I could air my grievance with a live representative of the company and hope to get my issue resolved after listening to an 80’s music track.
Overtime, companies realized that the cost of employing domestic customer service call center staff was having a huge impact on profit margins and they had to find a way to slash labor costs. Enter the outsourced customer service call center.
I recall about 8 years ago I had to call American Express Customer Service. I was somewhat surprised to hear a strong Indian accent answer my call. I had just read an article about call center outsourcing in Fast Company, so I asked the agent where he was located. He told me Bangladesh. No matter. His command of the English language and accent were not communication barriers and the agent was effective in quickly resolving my issue. I know that many others, including myself since then, haven’t always been as successful in overcoming language comprehension barriers.
As we all know, consumers are rushing to social networks to air their customer service problems online, whether directly or indirectly with companies. Comcast Cares employs a team of 10 people to respond to problems, comments, suggestions, etc. that its Twitter followers leave on its account. How long will it be before the Digital Care Team needs to grow to 20 or 50 or 100? Will the high Customer Service call center labor costs of old be revisited and even increase due to the exponential nature of online customer service?
Digital Customer Service departments are staffing up with social-trained agents to respond. With consumers now expecting response, acknowledgment and resolution in almost real-time, the old days of Customer Service call center wait times seems almost inevitable, except now, consumers want you also understand their personal needs and wants, another wrench in a company’s Social Customer Service strategy.
I’m curious how long it will be until Social Customer Experience is also outsourced. Do you agree that this will happen? If so, how do you think outsourcing will affect a consumer’s social relationships with companies?