What Call Centers Can Learn from Amazon, Starbucks & Target
When people are praised for success at work or in life, they sometimes utter this phrase. “I learned from the best.”
That’s how a lot of us learn – by watching and emulating how others do things.
That said, businesses seeking to improve their call center operations may find it instructive to look at others in this arena (or other customer experience leaders) who have had success. A blog Chuck Ciarlo of Monet Software posted a year ago this month aggregates some best practices from leading call centers.
One thing the best call centers do, he says, is remove friction for customers.
“Make things as easy on the customer as possible,” Ciarlo writes. “Some customers may appreciate exceptionally friendly service, but for most the top priority is getting an anser, placing an order (or whatever prompted the call), and then moving on with their lives.”
I could not agree more. In fact, removing the friction has been a cornerstone of Amazon’s strategy – and look at where the company is now. It started as an unknown online bookseller. And it grew to be the world’s leading online retailer, the third largest retailer, the leader in cloud services, and to have a $544 billion market cap with expectations of reaching a $1 trillion valuation within five years.
Amazon removed friction by enabling people to buy books and an array of other products and services with just a few mouse clicks. It added value to that with its suggestions to help in upselling. And it continues to rev up the pace at which orders are delivered.
Other retailers – like Target (News - Alert) and Walmart – now have no other option than to follow suit. In fact, just today Target announced plans to acquire same-day delivery company Shipt for $550 million.
"Target's acquisition of Shipt represents a realization of the pressures on retailers to increase the digitization of their supply chain so that they can meet the demands of consumers for quick, streamlined deliveries,” says Greg Ng, vice president of digital engagement at PointSource. “As we continue to see companies like Amazon and Walmart duke it out for customer approval, Target’s move to incorporate same-day functionality to their arsenal will be essential.
“Moving forward, I expect to see Target and other retailers continue to roll out similar capabilities across the country and focus on adding features that enhance the user experience,” Ng added. “I expect some of these features to include more frictionless experiences like self mobile checkout and quickening the delivery time from store to home."
Ciarlo says fully integrating different communication channels is also key. That way, your business can deliver a more consistent experience to customers.
(Indeed, that’s what CX poster child Amazon is doing as well, as it aims to improve point-of-sale experiences as its bricks-and-mortar books and grocer outlets in the same way it has already done online.)
Engaging agents is another call center best practice, notes Ciarlo. And to do that, call centers need to create a positive work environment (by offering things like flexible working hours, reasonable workloads, and the potential for career advancements) and the tools they need to get the job done.
(Companies like Southwest Airlines and Starbucks have shown how employee engagement can lead to truly fun and memorable customer experiences that keep people coming back for more.)
But while it can be useful to look to other successful companies and call center operations, or other sources, to figure out how you can improve your business, looking within is also valuable, Ciarlo suggests.
“Companies routinely hire outside consultants to tell them what their customers are thinking, what they want, which products should be introduced, and which should be discontinued,” Ciarlo says. “Before paying someone else a fee to deliver this data, investigate whether your agents and managers already have this information, and put them in charge of putting it together.”
Edited by Mandi Nowitz