Jul 06

A new digital divide

July 6 - customer service Most large organizations today are living a lie. On the one hand, their marketing communications staffs are rushing pell-mell into the blogosphere to learn the rules of social media and how best to 'engage' with customers and prospective customers.

Simultaneously, though, these very same organizations are pushing their customer service departments to 'disengage' with customers as quickly as possible. Customer service is a quantity game, so the more customers that can be handled in the shortest period of time leads to the greatest profits.

According to Emily Yellen's 'Your call is (not) important to us,' the approximate cost of offering a live American-based customer service agent averages somewhere around $7.50 per phone call. Outsourcing calls to live agents in another country brings the average cost down to about $2.35 per call. Having customers take care of problems themselves, through an automated response phone system, averages around 32 cents per call, or contact. Guess which option more and more companies are choosing?

Is it any wonder why American business is so dysfunctional? The organization is in a constant state of civil war. The answer may seem obvious: an enlightened CEO should simply mandate that marketing and customer service huddle up and find a win-win solution. Sadly, solutions take time (and lots of money). And, with the change of pace measured in nanoseconds and the economy continuing to slide, the average CEO, CMO and head of customer service instead adopt a 'Let's make do with what we have' mentality.

Ah, but the consumer is king and, if we rant and rave loud enough, or, better yet, buy a competitor's product, corporations will have no choice but to close their digital divide.

Until then, please press 'one' for a service disruption, 'two' for a service disruption of one hour or more, 'three' to ask about our new service offerings, or 'four' for recommended methods of committing suicide when caught in voicemail hell.