In this MVP Quality and Speech Technology Excellence Award issue, I have the great privilege and honor to congratulate several industry leaders and pioneers who have earned such highly respected awards in teleservices, outsourcing and speech technologies. Please refer to my October and November 2004 editorials titled “Speech Technology Analysis And Justifications,” Part 1 and Part II, for more information regarding the importance of speech technology early adoption in contact centers.
As the industry’s preeminent publication since 1982, it is our paramount responsibility to not only offer our readers the highest caliber editorial, but also to provide appropriate recognition to the industry leaders and pioneers who continue to offer outstanding quality services and promote excellence in speech technology.
The American Heritage dictionary defines quality as, “An inherent or distinguishing characteristic; Superiority of kind; Degree or grade of excellence.”
Let us all remember that companies live or die from repeat business. I would also like to make one assumption that hopefully our readers would share with me: the genuine belief that our customers and our employees are our most valuable assets. For without them, quality customer service is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Henry Ford’s Philosophy Of Quality And Marketing
As the inventor of the automobile, Henry Ford once said, “A good design sells cars, but quality brings them back.” These words of wisdom are so powerful that they are still true today, as they were back then. However, where Henry Ford failed was on the marketing side when he said customers could buy a Model T Ford “in any color so long as it’s black!”
What a shame! A man who made such a brilliant comment about the value of quality practically destroyed it by being completely insensitive to the needs of the customers. To make a long story short, others came along and offered other colors, which customers wanted, and partly as a result, Ford lost its number one position in the industry. I believe that there is a great lesson in this for all of us, for without an effective combination and convergence of quality and marketing, companies stand to lose significantly.
In today’s extremely competitive business environment, nearly everyone claims to offer quality service, but how many are actually delivering? Furthermore, one might say that perhaps quality should not be considered a differentiator! I believe people who think that way are 100 percent wrong, for without outstanding quality, no company can expect repeat business and therefore, it is only a matter of time before the company goes out of business.
The million dollar question follows: how, then, would you differentiate yourself from the rest of the world when they make the same claim about quality? In my judgment, there is no other way than offering converged 24/7 quality and marketing, and just as important, third-party endorsements from a respected source. In most cases, such commendations are extremely powerful differentiators. It is only common sense that third-party recognition is, by far, the most compelling reason for customers to choose award-winning products as opposed to unrecognized products or services.
When To Outsource Your CRM, Customer Care And Other Sales And Marketing Functions
If the above processes (i.e., CRM, customer care, etc.) are not your company’s core competency, then don’t try to do it yourself. There is no room in customer care and CRM for rookie mistakes! The best solution is to find a reputable teleservices agency, visit them, check references and then outsource with confidence.
Perception Is Reality
It is a known fact that effective marketing can create perception, and having quality nurtures perception. I hope it is becoming clear how these two seemingly unrelated disciplines are, in fact, extremely intertwined. I feel that without convergence of marketing and quality, many companies would leave millions of dollars on the table.
Not A Part-Time Job
Over the years, I have observed many companies that literally and, perhaps unintentionally, consider both quality and marketing to be part-time jobs! You can usually spot such companies by observing their lack of success, profitability and growth, and more often than not, the companies that are not going anywhere are those that conduct business backed by part-time quality and part-time marketing!
You Cannot Be Too Conservative
I know many companies that offer truly outstanding customer service, but they are too conservative in marketing. That is why such companies, in spite of their outstanding performance, are “best-kept secrets,” which means a loss of revenue.
Conversely, I have known several companies that had a lousy product, but they enjoyed a significant market share only because they had an outstanding marketing program! Through powerful marketing, these companies created a misleading perception of themselves as leaders, and many buyers (who did not do their homework) fell for it and bought the lousy product in question. Obviously, this is not the way it’s supposed to be. But believe it or not, a true marketing genius can make it happen.
A Message To Senior Management
The message to senior management is that even if you have the best quality product or offer the best quality service, in today’s highly competitive marketplace, if you don’t market, you don’t exist.
Positioning Your High-Quality Product Or Service
I have always admired the first law of positioning, which says, “It is better to be first than to be better.” It is very simple to prove this law by considering that everyone remembers the first person who accomplishes a great task, but no one remembers the second person who does the same thing. For example, let me ask you a question: Who was the first man who flew over the Atlantic? No doubt, you have answered “Charles Lindbergh.” Now tell me who was the second man to fly over the Atlantic? Nobody knows and nobody cares about number two. I am sure you can reach into your memories and find the above powerful phenomenon to be true in virtually every case.
If we apply the above fantastic powerful concept to marketing, it should be simple to realize that if you don’t position yourself as number one in your field, life could be very difficult because if you are not number one, you are probably number two, number three, number four or number five, and in that case, no one knows who you are. You will waste a lifetime explaining to the marketplace who you are, and by that time, you’ll find you are far behind in the race. Common sense dictates that no one buys anything important from an unknown or second-class company. The moral of the story is that if you are number one in anything, market it 24/7 and position yourself as such. Exploit an empty niche. You will be amazed at the results.
Become An Early Adopter Of Speech And VoIP Technology
In recent Publisher’s Outlook columns in Customer Inter@ction Solutions® magazine’s October and November 2004 issues (www.tmcnet.com/cis/1004/po.htm and www.tmcnet.com/cis/1104/po.htm), we discussed the extremely important role of the above technologies for the call/contact center and CRM industries. I urge you to read these Publisher’s Outlooks as a prerequisite for you to appreciate how important those technologies are to the contact center. Briefly stated, as an early adopter, you will vastly improve the quality of your customer service and reduce your costs by as much as 175 percent. May I take this opportunity to invite you to join me at Speech-World™ Conference, co-located with the IP Contact Center Summit™, located at the Westin Park Central Hotel in Dallas, Texas May 24-26, 2005. Please refer to www.speech-world.com and discover the comprehensive conference program that these shows will offer. I strongly urge you not to buy the above technologies until you have attended all of the conferences and spoken with all the exhibitors and your colleagues who will attend that particular convention. During that conference, you will be able to compare products side-by-side and benefit from the experts’ advice as well as the experience of your colleagues.
Don’t send your most important assets (your customers’ databases) halfway around the world. Sure you may save a few dollars, but you may lose many of your customers due to poor quality of services, rudeness, cultural problems, language problems, possible use of your customers’ database by your competitors, a lack of security and poor compliance with FTC requirements, not to mention hidden charges, terrorist attacks against American businesses, poor morale, a lack of proper training, high turn-over and the current 12 percent annual raises in salaries. Some of this may explain why Dell, Inc. and many other companies closed down their customer support departments in India and returned them to U.S.-based teleservices companies. In fact, those companies returning from offshore outsourcers account for significant growth of domestic teleservices. Please refer to my January 2005 Publisher’s Outlook for more information.
Eight Practical Guidelines For Success In Convergence Of 24/7 Quality And Marketing
1. Blend 24/7 award-winning quality with 24/7 powerful marketing and dominate your market.
2. Be a good listener. There is nothing like being a great listener to find out specifically what the customer’s needs, concerns and problems are. Train your people to be good listeners, not only good talkers!
In fact, there is a great lesson here for sales people: great sales people are not those who are good talkers. The good listeners will always out-perform the good talkers because by listening, a good sales person can find out what the customer’s needs are first and then by positioning his or her product as a solution to the customer’s needs, such a sales person will always outperform others.
3. Be an early adopter of Six Sigma awareness program. (Please see Roger Lee of etalk’s article on page 44.) Here, in a nutshell, is how companies can benefit from implementing Six Sigma:
- Improvements can be tracked;
- Decisions are made based on tangible data, not merely “gut feelings”;
- Cross-functional team involvement;
- The focus is on the process; and
- It creates an avenue for customer concerns to be heard and acted upon.
4. Establish a system of measuring, monitoring and tackling customer satisfaction.
5. Be an early adopter of advanced speech and IP contact center technologies.
6. Service companies must feature the following attributes:
- Offer unsurpassed quality service;
- Service must be seamless;
- Must have attentiveness;
- Must be resourceful; and
- Must be customer-focused.
7. Train workers so they can be of maximum assistance to customers.
8. Last, but not least, remember that low-cost customer service means high-customer turn-over.
As always, I welcome your comments…please e-mail them to me at [email protected].
Executive Group Publisher
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