Keeping Customer Contacts In-HouseBy Kim S. Nash | Posted 2005-12-07 Email Print
Megachurches like the 25,000-member World Changers of Atlanta can teach corporations the true meaning of customer relationship management. How? They can look at their data and identify members, determine who could be volunteering more, contribute how much
Because call-center interactions are so valuable, Goodison ended World Changers' phone center outsourcing contract with MicahTek, a call-center services company in Broken Arrow, Okla., in April 2004.
MicahTek's agents weren't hired to pray with callers, merely to take orders and fill out forms. Anyone calling to pray was told that a prayer counselor from World Changers would call them back. Also, MicahTek agents didn't know World Changers' products as well as World Changers staff, Goodison says.
Relying on callbacks was inefficient for the church and annoying to callers, he adds. Taking the operation in-house, Goodison bought Nortel's Symposium call-center management software. It can track volumes, wait times and call-abandonment rates.
Goodison's most important metric for measuring call-center success is what he terms "serving the customer best to first resolution." That is, his agents strive to answer all questions a caller may have during that single call.
They have access to the product database as well as membership files on the church management system. Most are also able to pray with callers because they are members of the church. The staff numbers five to 21, depending on call volume.
Best-in-class companies know customer retention matters. General Electric sets CEO Jeff Immelt's pay partly on how well he uses technology to deepen customer relationships. At American Express, the compensation committee can give or rescind bonuses for top executives as the customer base expands or contracts.
Yet across industries, surveys show consumer satisfaction dropping. Consider the University of Michigan's American Consumer Satisfaction Index, launched in 1994, which evaluates factors such as customer expectations, complaints and retention to calculate satisfaction every quarter, from a dismal score of 1 to a top score of 100.
Insurance and gas companies have skittered to all-time lows—67 and 70, respectively. Manufacturing and electronics have declined for two years in a row, groceries for three and autos for five.
- The Principle and Practice of Prosperity:Pastor Creflo A. Dollar Jr. built a congregation on a message of prosperity and conservatism; he built an organization on the practical application of those principles.
- Megamodel:The size of megachurches seems impersonal, but the customer-relationship model is as high-touch as you get.
- Pastor's Proposition:Give to the church and you'll prosper; buy a CD and you'll learn.
- Using Technology to Minister:Live Webcasts of sermons, Bibles on handhelds, daily e-mail blasts, online donations, and—everywhere—collect data to know who your congregants are and what they need from you.
- Keep Attendees Involved:Getting them to services and into volunteering is only the start of an effective member-loyalty program.
- Quick Member Integration:Right after first contact, the church reaches out to potential members with packets of prayers and information tailored to their interests and even their proximity to the church.
- Meet Customer Needs:Give 'em what they want and they'll keep coming back for more.
- Keeping Customer Contacts In-House:Running call centers and other contact mechanisms is tough, but World Changers keeps the core contacts in-house to keep the services focused.
- Preventing Churn:Spotting the members who might be ready to decamp and bring them back to into the fold.
- Mixed Blessings:The Rev. Dollar's methods and success—not to mention his last name—raise hackles.
- Base Case:Snapshot of World Changers' business, size and growth.
- Evangelicals' Lead in Technology
- Software that Binds, and Converts, and Retains Members
- Creating Touch Points to Keep Members Involved
- Megachurch Player Roster
- Blackbaud: Nonprofit Fundraising Out of the Box
- Building your own customer relationship management software is fraught with pitfalls
- Megachurch Player Roster