According to the New York Times:
“As part of what Wal-Mart is calling its “Customer Contact Reduction” program, by next week, Walmart.com, the company’s online arm, will no longer give customers a toll-free phone number to call–or any phone number, for that matter–if they have a question.
Instead, they will have to rely solely on the Wal-Mart Web site as their guide to the solution for whatever problem they might have, whether it is a question about a credit card charge or the status of an online order.”
Now, they can move their support centers anywhere in the world without getting middle America upset.. because emails and help files have no accent. Mr. Sam Walton might frown on this. But Sam Walton knew a good deal when he saw it.
Some CRM solutions that are entirely web-based can save a company $20-25 per customer interaction. And if these people are already using the Wal-Mart website to order items, this is not a huge leap.
Seth Godin focuses instead on a system where efficiency (i.e. customer buy or repeat buy rate) is the reward offered to successful operators.
I’d focus on building a system that measures [sales rate before call] vs. [sales rate after call]. If the sales rate goes up, give the call center person a raise. It’s that simple.
I’m trying to envision how one could set this up for customer service organizations. Sales call centers, yes, but service oriented businesses? Now we’re thinking long-tail. We’re talking relationships. You would need some rather sophisticated operators to think in terms of the long tail, but if the philosophy was drilled in from day one, you’d get service centers that acted a lot like brand welcoming committees, who are there to improve your brand BY WAY OF fixing problems. THAT sounds good.