If Companies Care About Word of Mouth, Why Aren’t They Improving Their Call Centers?

If you can bear to read the meme-saturated twaddle of what Popken likes to call a “marketing douchebag”, Peter Blackshaw asks a crazy question: if companies are so interested in reaching out to their customers by having them make their ads and feel more involved in the business, why aren’t they paying any attention at all to the shameful service of their call centers?

On the flip side we have the consumer affairs department, the neglected stepchild of the organization. It’s usually stereotyped as the non-strategic cost center backwater where rowdy and atypical consumers direct complaints. The name of the game is operational efficiency. This group is rewarded by finding vendors that reduce the need to add more consumers to the database by creating FAQ engines and reducing time spent with each consumer.

Can You Say Disconnect?

Here’s the rub: consumer affairs is the most intimate feedback pipe to the same vocal consumers marketers are struggling to reach, understand, and leverage. At a time when marketers, in the name of entering the conversation, keep getting slapped, dogpiled, and embarrassed by clumsily stepping into hostile conversational territory, consumer affairs may well be the most controllable lever to manage today’s vocal, active, and influential consumers.

Why? Because the consumers most likely to express their feelings directly to brands are the same folks who create media (opinions, product reviews, blog posts, photos, homemade videos, podcasts) and post them on the Internet for other like-minded consumers to see, read, and share. The gold is actually right under marketers’ nose.

For us, actual consumers, the sentences of these few short paragraphs could as easily be punctuated with ‘No duh’ as it currently is with periods. If you listen to the customers who actually call you, try to help them with their problems, you’ll engage them more in your business. It’s refreshing to read a marketer figure out what we’ve known all along.

Word of Mouth Begins With Consumer Affairs [Clickz.com]