Monday, November 23, 2009

Twitter in Contact Centre & Customer Service

I had a very interesting comment from Simon on a past post, where he asks,

"What's the best example you've seen of a company embedding Twitter in its suite of contact centre channels? I'm interested to know what's seen as the best of the best."

I've covered Twitter in quite a few recent posts ("Cisco Contact Centre on Twitter ", "Cisco Contact Centre on Twitter - part two " and from back in February "Google and Twitter for Customer Service? "), but I haven't really talked much about Twitter as part of customer service in the contact centre.

Part of the challenge is that very little has yet been done beyond trial stages, and as result there's very little research on what best practice might be. It's also the case that a lot of the trials are in B2B environments (such as the two Cisco Twitter feeds I've blogged on), rather than the more traditional B2C environment of contact centre. Datamonitor have a short but interesting report "Twitter and Google as Customer Service Tools" and Forrester have the interesting report: "Using Twitter As A Customer Service Channel".

Forrester cites the US company JetBlue and mentions Bank of America and Comcast. I'm interested to see Jet Blue as an example and their Twitter page is here. To be honest, Twitter is clearly about much more than the traditional narrow definition of 'customer service'. My suspicion is that is about 'customer relationship' but with the focus on the 'relationship' part of things that CRM so completely missed by focusing on 'customer' and 'management'!

The other interesting thing is that JetBlue has always been innovative around customer service. They were one of the first companies to really use home contact centre agents extensively (there's a write up on the business model in Fast Company magazine here), and so it's not a huge surprise to find that JetBlue is they type of company innovating with Twitter.

The interesting thing about Twitter is how fast it all moves, so my suspicion is that best practice will evolve very rapidly as firms practice and play with it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The UK Contact Centre industry - a snapshot & top contact centres

I was very interested to see the Times carrying a "Top 50 Contact Centres" supplement on the 7th November. It was backed with a decent sized event in London and accompanying website.

This is tied to the CCF (Call Centre Focus) magazine and aims to recognise outstanding customer service. I have no quibble with the aim of putting customer service higher up the business agenda, but my concern is that there is a real danger of too many awards from too many organisations. Afterall, the 4th & 5th of November was the CCA (Customer Care Association) awards, where I had a vested interest because I had provided some sponsorship and where Cisco's own customer service operation has previously done very well (see the past post: Congratulations to Cisco's own contact centre team ).

I don't think we're quite at the stage of world professional boxing with the alphabet soup of title awarding bodies, like the WBC, WBA, IBF, etc..., but we are getting close.

There is, though, a decent argument that this shows that the UK contact centre industry is in good health and extremely vibrant. I think there may well be an element of truth in this and that the number of associations is a reflection of that.

I was also particularly interested to see that the excellent Australian blog "Your Call" on had also seen the Top 50 supplement and provided a snapshot from it of UK Contact Centre Industry stats:

  • 5180 contact centres in the UK
  • 48 billion calls received by companies from customers annually
  • 3% of UK workers are employed by call centres
  • 53% of employees would recommend the job to a friend
  • 84% is the overall average performance score for the Top 50 centres with regard to timeliness, ease of use, personalisation, reliability and knowledge
  • 94% of queries are answered in the first call.
While it's hard to draw quick conclusions from such high-level stats, this looks like an industry that is generally coping even though the downturn has made things quite challenging. This was the impression I got from the rather good Contact Babel report, "The UK Contact Centre Decision Makers Guide". A decent range of statistics but from my reading of it, supporting the view that the UK contact centre industry is generally very capable, even if under pressure due to the economic circumstances, and is a significant part of the UK economy.