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Whether You Think Customer Service is a Cost Centre or a Profit Centre – You Are Probably Right!

There is a famous quote:

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re probably right”

Often you will see these motivational words on office walls, intended to remind you that you are in control of your own destiny.

As part of our community engagement work we spend a huge amount of time speaking with people who work in the contact centre industry. We regularly hear that there is a change afoot in the customer service industry with a move away from metrics and towards customer experience.

The battery hen ‘take your 5 minute break exactly on time’ mentality is supposed to be replaced with a Zappos-style ‘stay on the phone as long as you need to keep the customer happy’ culture.

And yet in many contact centres, from the largest to the smallest, we don’t often see this happening – Average Handle Times and Workforce Management are still the order of the day. Why is this the case?

For many of those we speak to there is still a break in communication between the Exec level of the business (primarily the CFO) and the Contact Centre. The CFO still sees customer service as a cost centre and is therefore focused on delivering that service for the lowest possible expense.

In contact centres that really are evolving the CFO sees the opportunity of customers calling or emailing in both for retention and upsell and the culture of the business reflects that understanding. Companies like Zappos, First Direct and John Lewis have chosen to differentiate by delivering amazing service at (almost) any cost.

We’d like to re-write that motivational quote:

“Whether you see customer service as a cost centre or a profit centre – you are probably right!”

The value that customer service adds to your business is entirely dependent on your perception of the team’s role. If you look at it as a profit centre then the people, processes and culture will reflect that.

If you haven’t read it I’d encourage you to read Delivering Happiness – the story of how Zappos became a $1 billion company by focusing on customer service. Other companies sold shoes cheaper, but Zappos was the business that won in the end.

What do you think about our re-worked quote? Do you think customer service is a state of mind? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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