At this time, it is pretty much a given that you know consumer behavior is changing. People are relying on the telephone and postal service less and less as digital communications take over our lives. So my question is why do we still call these departments “call centers”? If it were up to me I would call them “brand experience centers”.
Think about it, we’re now using e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, online chat windows, review sites, forums, and a whole lot of other channels to communicate our praise, dissatisfaction, questions, problems, and what have you – in addition to the telephone. In fact, according to this study from the Harvard Business Review, people still rely on the telephone for purchase and customer support, BUT they rely on it less in two ways:
- They don’t connect with a salesperson on the phone until later in the buying cycle
- They don’t connect with a customer support rep until after they’ve gathered enough information in their answer seeking process.
This isn’t necessarily meant to be the status quo for every industry or company, but it certainly is a signal of the shifting consumer behavior.
Now given what we have before us, I suggest a couple of things to move the “call center” into the “brand experience center”. This is meant for the discovery phase of the shift in your organization:
- Research where people are hanging out online, what information they are seeking: pre-purchase and post-purchase. You can gather this type of information from asking your prospects and customers, social media listening, web analytics, and customer relationship management reports.
- Start actively listening using software like Radian6 or Alterian SM2. Find out where your support representatives can activate conversations, and build this into their job descriptions, or hire a team to monitor and route conversations to the appropriate rep.
- Work on making content more available as a sales and support mechanism. Blogging, online communities, ebooks, webinars, videos, and more will help the buyer journey. For customer support, a tool like Zendesk is a good start.
I’ve spoken about the ROI of social customer support before, so keep that in mind as your company makes the shift, both mentally and physically. ROI does not happen immediately. Rather it is a return that compounds over time much like you’ve learned in your finance classes.
Hopefully this is good inspiration to get you thinking and acting on the new buyer journey. Have you started orchestrating your brand experience center?
photo credit: the social workplace