What is happening in this world when you sit down for the opening speech at a call center conference and the speaker asks, “What’s love got to do with it?”
I think Tina Turner would have cringed. I know I did. But, it ended up making sense.
Joseph Michelli, motivational speaker, psychologist and author of such well known books as “The Starbucks Experience,” referenced Ms. Turner’s song at the ICMI ACCE conference in New Orleans to convey the importance of developing connections with customers.
Michelli is currently writing on a book about Zappos.com and related a few stories about how this online shoe company connects to the customer. First, the company really wants their call center agents to love what they are doing. He said the company requires all employees to go through rigorous training and to understand the company’s core values as well as its goal to deliver “happiness’’ to customers. In fact, when new call center employees completes their training, they can decide to opt out if they believe Zappos.com isn’t the right fit for them and the company will pay them up to $4,000 as a goodbye, Michelli said.
But these agents need to be really good at what they do. Michelli recalled an instance when a customer wanted to place an order for a certain kind of sneaker. When the customer service agent discovered it was not in stock, she directed this customer to a competitor that did have the shoe by sending the customer the competitor’s link and then giving them a coupon for the next time they did business with Zappos.com.
“They want to say they are more concerned about you than that particular sale,’’ Michelli said.
Also, there is a high probability that customer will tell that story to friends, who will most likely consider Zappos.com the next time they want a pair of sneakers.
Michelli said the true art to managing the customer experience is to create “a unique, memorable and easily relatable experience.’’ It costs a lot less than traditional advertising and can have much longer lasting impact.
The author said the companies most successful at managing the customer experience are the ones who have a clear “why we serve’’ statement.
The “why we serve’’ message needs to be precise and shouldn’t be mixed up with mission statements or company values, Michelli said.
At a book signing after his speech, Michelli said a company needs to figure out this simple statement by asking itself what it is that it does very well. The call center, he added, could likely give the company great insight because it should know what is going on with the customer.