Customer Experience in the UK: what is really going on?

What’s really going on the UK contact-centre industry?

Yesterday, I met up with a friend who works in the VoC and contact-centre space and we discussed the whole customer thing.  This is what showed up for me in our conversation:

- There has been a huge surge in people with Customer Experience titles. And mostly it is people in contact-centres taking on these titles.

- The customer experience is not the fundamental driver of how contact-centres operate.  The contact-centre industry is permeated through and through by a focus on processing transactions (calls) as cheaply as possible. This was so before Customer Experience titles became fashionable and it is still the case.

- Whilst some brave souls in the contact-centre industry (like my friend) are up for and focus on the customer experience in contact-centres.  The big outsourced contact-centre providers who dominate the industry are focussed on bums-on-seats, costs and meeting their transactional SLA.  They have no listening for customer experience.

- VoC has become the new black, just about everyone is doing it.  And there is big question mark over the value of this given the lack of genuine passion for the customer and the customer experience in the organisation.

- There is a lot of talk about social customer service and the reality is that very little is going on.  There is a tsunami of calls coming in from customers and only a trickle of contacts through social. This works for the people in the business because they are terrified of social and its impact on the carefully scripted brand image and messages.

Customer Experience: what is the cause of the gulf between the words and the reality?

What is going on here?  Why is there such a big difference between the words and the reality?  Why is it that whilst the words have changed from CRM to CEM, the indifference to building emotional bonds with customers continues?  Is it a lack of understanding?  Are people in business simply ignorant and so they need more education from the likes of customer experience gurus?

My passion is the being of human beings especially how we show up in groups and organisational settings.  And what it takes for us to shift our being-doing.  So allow me to share a story with you that I say sheds light on what is going on.

A holy man was meditating beneath a tree at the crossing of two roads. His meditation was interrupted by a young man running frantically down the road toward him.

“Help me,” the young man pleaded. “A man has wrongly accused me of stealing.  He is pursuing me with a great crowd of people. If they catch me, they will chop off my hands!”

The young man climbed the tree beneath which he sage had been meditating and hid himself in the branches. “Please don’t tell them where I am hiding,” he begged.

The holy man saw with the clear vision of a saint that the young man was telling the truth.  The lad was not a thief.  A few minutes later, the crowd of villagers approached, and leader asked, “Have you seen a young man run by here?”

Many years earlier, the holy man had taken a vow to always speak the truth, so he said that he had.  “Where did he go?” the leader asked.

The holy man did not want to betray the innocent young man, but his vow was sacred to him. He pointed up into the tree. The villagers dragged the young man out of the tree and chopped off his hands.

I say that a shift to an authentic customer orientation, one where the focus of the company is to come up with value propositions and customer experiences, that enrich the lives of their customers (and all the people who have to play their part in making this happen) requires transformational change.  It requires a complete break with the past and operating from a radically different context. It is the kind of break that the caterpillar makes in order to show up as a butterfly.  And that is a big ask for almost all of us especially large companies that are doing ok.

Posted on March 7, 2013, in CRM, Customer Experience, Customer Insight (inc VoC), Customer Service, Leadership / Change / Transformation, Management, Social and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Maz, I also work in the contact centre industry and have to agree with your summary of the situation.

    What causes it? I don’t know, maybe fear of the unknown.

    Believe me though, it is intensley frustrating. As the King himself said

    A little less conversation a little more action

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  2. I cannot understand what is so difficult? If you give your teams the training and tools to do their job then the customer experience takes care of itself. It’s a no brainer

    Unfortunately what’s happening is that large companies don’t know what’s going on as manager’s within the work place don’t take responsibility and it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s time to stand up and be counted as consumers are getting sick of poor service

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  3. Hi Maz,
    I share your frustrations. There’s a whole industry dedicating to talking about CEX or putting new wallpaper on old stuff that is then reinvented as new and shiny CEX stuff…..But, in my experience much of it is just talk.

    Why? Because the change that you are talking about and is required is hard and will take time and effort. And, it may require admitting that much of what we currently do is wrong or not fit for purpose.

    Or, maybe it is that firms are not in enough pain right now such that it stokes an urgency and need to change.

    Adrian

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