Just as I put the finishing touches to my paper for the Communications Policy and Research Forum I found that Shirli Kirshner has made a guest blog post entitledThe gift of complaints – how to turn misery into brand equity.
It is interesting that Shirli, who knows a thing or two about disputes and telcos, has a view of turning complaint management to an advantage. The analysis of telcos is that no one is doing this at all well. In part that might reflect the fact, even included by example in Shirli's post, that bad news stories are carried more than good.
But ultimately the good example Shirli uses of good service - a Virgin customer service rep - didn't need to be "empowered" by management, the circumstance could still be a tightly scripted case where the decision is still controlled by the process, just the process is better able to predict what circumstances might affect the agent.
Telcos need to undertake fundamental redesign of their customer service functions that needs to be focussed on the language of the transaction, not just the metrics of call handling performance. A good step would be to go back to calling the institutions "customer service centres" rather than "call centres" - focus on what they do not how they do it. And there is nothing about "sales" that means it can't live in a customer service centre - after all, one of the most important parts of customer service is making sure I get the right product for my needs.