Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Ashley Furness, Software Advice Analyst.
In today’s Yelp and social media-obsessed world, customers are increasingly turned off by traditional marketing messages. Advertising, PR and other promotional spending falls on deaf ears while bad messages travel further, faster.
This has prompted a sea change in the way many companies approach their marketing budget. Could a Zappos-level of customer service provide the better return on investment in a world of diminshed marketing returns?
“Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market,” Joseph Michelli explained to me recently. He authored a whole book on the concept, called “The Zappos Experience.” This has resulted in as much as 75 percent of their sales coming from return customers, who on average, spend 2.5 times more than first timers.
So how do you create this Zappos-like culture. It starts with the basics – performance metrics.
Still Measuring Call Quantities?
Zappos’ longest call on record lasted more than eight hours, and guess what? This interaction was lauded by leadership as a stellar example of serving the customer.
“It’s more important that we make an emotional connection with the customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,” says Derek Carder, customer loyalty operations manager for the Zappos.
Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of a time an agent spends on the phone. Every agent is expected to spend 80 percent of their time on the phone, in chat or in an email response. This metric–personal service level–is a way to empower the team to utilize their time how they see best promotes customer loyalty.
It’s all about the Wow Moments
Zappos grades calls on a 100-point scale they call the “Happiness Experience Form.” Every agent is expected to maintain a 50-point average or higher. This score is based on several factors, including:
- Whether or not the CSR tried to create a personal emotional connection with the caller
- Whether or not the CSR continued the conversation if the customer responded positively
- Whether or not the CSR identified and responded to the customer’s unstated needs
- And whether or not the CSR gave a “wow” experience or went above and beyond.
Why You Should Care about Idle Chats
Zappos also monitors “abandonment time,” or periods when an agent has a chat session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat. The reason this is so important is two-fold:
- Idle chats are a symptom of chat avoidance – or the agent purposefully creating conditions so they don’t have to respond;
- and two, when agents aren’t responding, customers wait longer. The longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session.
This strategy zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity in the chat setting–idle chats–without deterring CSRs from expressing the values in the Happiness Experience Form.
Keeping Agents Present and Present
Absenteeism can be a huge detractor from your customer service productivity. Zappos combats this trend with a program they call Panda. Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.
This decreases the days missed by employees, but also increases job satisfaction. What other Zappos-level strategies does your company use to create a customer-centric culture? Let us know by commenting here.