Why the ‘Cookie Cutter’ Call Center Doesn’t Deliver High Quality Customer Experiences

by Andrew O'Brien in Andrew O'Brien, Customer Experience, Order Management

There’s something to be said about the consistent messages that are advertised by call center outsourcers. When companies are seeking a partner to handle their customer service calls, most organizations hear the same age-old promotions: “we’re different,” “we provide outstanding customer experiences,” and “come read our case studies to see why we are so great!” But when the truth is told, most centers are the same: cookie cutter operations with different agents. Swapping people from one center to another would give the exact same customer experience, providing the exact same outcome at the end of the day. No matter how many cookie cutters talk about their unique culture and approach, they fail to deliver high quality customer experiences.

What are the reasons behind the lack of meaningful and quality differentiation amongst call centers?

Pricing Becomes a Blood Bath

When cookie cutter centers (CCC’s) spew value propositions on sales calls and in RFP‘s, pricing is noted as the predominant competitive advantage. There is substantial cause for this claim: the outsourcer has cut corners at every turn to drive cost down to its lowest levels, and they want to brag about it. Hundreds of these providers mention low cost and high savings as a key competitive advantage. Usually and unfortunately the correlation between cost and quality is clear.

Culture is a Ghost Town Concept

Again, cost cutting measures that are used to create competitive advantages result in universally poor customer experiences. This also applies to the investment made into culture and company character: when any type of business invests in the satisfaction of its people, great things usually happen – including increased efficiency and productivity.

A work quality study performed by Cornell University cited that 67% of all agents work in low to very low quality jobs. Another study by Kerry Bodine, a leading Forrester researcher, found that cultural change is the most effective tactic for improving the call center experience. Agents at companies who placed the highest importance on culture (ironically also the most successful) were happier and more passionate about their work performance.

Without Context there is No Meaning

Ask a person who works on a Mercedes Benz assembly line what they are doing – and no matter how specialized their specific task is, the answer you’ll get is: “I’m building a Mercedes Benz.” What would your contact center agent say their job is? Would they be able to tell you what the goal of the day, the week, the year – the project is? Too many cookie cutter centers keep their agents in the dark about the bigger picture. Agents log in at the start of a shift and log out eight hours later mostly clueless about what their effort has produced. Nurturing a culture of satisfaction starts with transparency at the agent level. When agents can track and measure and manage their own performance, their individual effort takes on greater contextual meaning. Culture begins with engagement and engagement begins with finding meaning in your work – no matter what job you are doing. In our contact center world, there is a clear line from transparency, accountability, and meaning at the agent level to a strong, productive culture at the corporate level.

Are cookie cutter centers a good match for your business? When you’re searching for the right call center, keep these items in mind. Consider the facts and feel free to reach out to us to talk about what matters most in delivering great experiences for your customers.

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