Ms. Yellin is the author of 'Your Call Is (Not That) Important To Us'. It's a riveting read of all that's wrong with customer service.
She calls customer service the “ghetto of the workplace,” a twilight zone in which people are overworked, underpaid and stressed to the max.
In her book, Ms. Yellin explains why so many organizations see customer service as a necessary evil and why so few treat it as a strategic competitive advantage. She was also nice enough to discuss the subject on a recent PepperTown Hall podcast.
Yes, says Ms. Yellin, there ARE a few enlightened companies that actually stress quality over quantity and believe that customer service is the new PR. Zappos is one example. CEO Tony Hsieh made the decision to move his strategic, front-office executives to Las Vegas so they could be housed right alongside their call center peers. Why? Because Hsieh believes the phone is his “…best branding device.” Zappos receives 2 million calls a year, so the better the user experience, the more repeat customers it will have. It seems so simple. So, why do so many of us still have horrific user experiences?
Ms. Yellin says poor customer service is the direct result of an indifferent management mindset. Most companies, she says, marginalize customer service in their corporate hierarchy. They'll spend millions on branding, but a mere pittance on competent, quality-focused customer care. Is it any wonder then why there are so many loutish, insensitive CSRs?
Ms. Yellin asks how our lives would change if, say, the head of customer service at an airline or cable company was the second highest paid officer. Or, if being a customer service agent were a well-paid, coveted career position that led to office management. So far, only a few brave companies have taken those steps. But, she says, they've thrived as a result.
I'm all about improving Peppercom's customer service. We've already conducted a 'customer journey' that examined 20 separate communication touch points potential customers and other key audiences have with us. We fared well in many but fell short in others. Recognizing that customer service is, indeed, the new PR, we're making quick upgrades, though. And, we're forcing ourselves to experience Peppercom the way a prospective client or employee would.
Oh, and one more thing. I'm going to walk the talk when it comes to better understanding the experience of our most crucial customer service employees as well. I'll be sitting at the reception desk all day tomorrow. Trust me, your call WILL BE important to me.