Customer Service Initiatives for 2011: Tough Economy Erodes Customer Loyalty, but There Are Ways to Rebuild It

Article excerpt

IT'S TIME AGAIN to assess our performance of the past year, perhaps write our own performance reviews, and plan in earnest for 2011.

After surviving a couple of tough years, service and contact center managers can breathe a sigh of relief. Senior executives have paid lip service to the importance of the customer experience, while CFOs have cut budgets. Approved projects intended to improve productivity and reduce operating costs were put on hold, and so the process of reapproval begins anew.

The unemployment rate is above 9 percent, which lets companies justify either tiny or no raises, while the best agents and support personnel go elsewhere to get the salaries they deserve. Moreover, the social media juggernaut barrels toward us, and with no one taking the lead, customers are more frustrated than ever.


While I know the story isn't this bad in every organization, some of this description must resonate with you. Enterprises have to take a critical look at their businesses and figure out what they must do to reinvigorate their customer base and employees. Customer--and employee--loyalty is at an all-time low and must be earned, daily, from customers who have grown cynical.

Like it or not, the responsibility largely rests with the customer service or contact center. This is also the group that should lead enterprise social media efforts but is often stymied by marketing groups with great intentions but no skills or resources to respond to feedback.


With the 2011 planning cycle in full swing, here is a list of projects and investments that enterprises should consider for their service and contact centers:

1. Renewed interest in traditional quality assurance programs would provide more consistent feedback and coaching to agents.

2. Critical operational assessments must identify activities and systems that need to be updated, including outdated policies and procedures that drive away customers; ineffective and costly systems that need to be enhanced or replaced; and ill-advised human resources policies that contribute to staff attrition. …


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