I am a Customer Experience and Contact Center Manager with over 15 years of contact center experience. My years in contact center leadership have provided me a solid understanding of the call center environment.
I have a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center having implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.
We know that the answer is often somewhere in between, but the fun of this section is that you have to pick just one!
Paper < Plastic
Personalization < Privacy
In-Store Shopping < Online Shopping
Mac > PC
Customer Service > Customer Experience
Captain Kirk < Dr. Spock
Talk > Text
Dog < Cat
Movie Theater > In-Home Rental
What was your first job and what did you learn about customer service in it?
My first paying job was shoveling snow when I was around 8 years old. As I was competing against several other boys in the neighborhood, I learned early on to treat customers with respect and exceed their expectations. This would ensure return customers, new customers, and most importantly, more money for me.
However, I’d be untruthful to say these lessons were learned immediately. Despite the advice of my mother, I cut corners a lot. This resulted in upset customers and a loss of customers. This was my first introduction to the saying, ‘the customer is always right’. While I think much can be said about that expression, at the time, it was the first time I recognized that I had customers. They depended on me to do a job!
Tell us how one outside influence impacted your customer service or customer experience thinking. (For ex. book, movie, sporting event, relationship, travel)
There are so many people and relationships that have influenced me along the way. I’ve been fortunate to get advised by, and watch many people over the years. They taught me the value of helping others because it is the right thing to do. My parents, grandparents, and in-laws come to mind.
Professionally, I have had some great leaders who allowed me to grow while offering sound advice. From my time in the Navy, until now, I’ve been fortunate to learn from people I respect and admire.
Perhaps most influential was having a family. Their well being and concerns are very important to me. I don’t like to disappoint them. This has translated into always thinking how to improve their well being and growing our relationships.
It’s only natural to take this same approach with customers. Most of my efforts are spent identifying ways to improve customer effort and experience.
In your own personal experience, has customer service gotten better or worse in the past five years?
It depends on the industry and brand.
I feel customer service has improved. New channels have been introduced; big data allows for deeper customer insights, all of which is being used to allow for a better customer experience. Furthermore, C level is taking an interest in customer service, as they see it as a way to reduce shrinkage and maintain customer loyalty.
While there are still improvements to be made, the last 5 years have been a very exciting time in the customer service arena. I’m excited to see what is in store for the next 5 years. Video, SMS and self service are taking off and are proving to be well accepted by customers. One can only guess where these channels will lead with additional innovation and improvements.
> I consider it a bad customer experience when I am placed on hold for more than 2 minutes.
> In five years, the most important social media channel for customer service will be Twitter unless someone takes video to the next level.
> The best book I read in the last twelve months was Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sean Hawkins.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.