Inside Access: Reporter's Notebook, Reader Feedback

Customer Service
Customer Service


Christie's Understands the Voice of the High-End Customer
Last year Christie's auction house worked with more than $6.3 billion worth of art and collectibles. But even with its high profile and high price tags, the company wanted to get a better understanding of what drives loyalty among its buyers and sellers.

"We wanted to gain clarity into what drives our clients' loyalty [using] data," said Adriano de Cardenas, vice president of marketing research and client experience for Christie's, at the recent Conference Board Customer Loyalty conference. The company began surveying all of its clients to learn about what they considered most important in their relationship with Christie's. One thing Christie's learned, for example, was that the assumption that clients were most interested in having a beautiful "view room" to see the art and collectibles up for auction was incorrect. In reality, clients wanted better boxes when items were shipped.

Based on the survey data, employees in relevant departments (like shipping or facilities) receive alerts when their department is mentioned, to either take action to improve a negative experience or be recognized for a positive experience. In addition, any negative feedback is immediately addressed by a client services employee, to show a personal touch and that Christie's values the relationship. Every incident is tracked through resolution.

"Creating a closed loop where clients are in the forefront helps employees understand how they can help the overall business," de Cardenas said.
-- Elizabeth Glagowski



Re: The Decline of Call Center Service
Issue Date: June 30, 2008

The decline is twofold. Time spent on hold waiting for a customer service representative, and the quality of service once contact has been made.

The first area usually has to do with staffing; there's not enough to manage the volume. The second is hiring and training. It seems that the representatives are not versed in the slightest of common manners, and are trained only to the point that they can barely follow procedure. Hang-ups and insults are now the norm rather than an exception.

The majority of these companies need assistance in this area.

Yolanda Washington
Senior Vice President
Vivere Management Group
Miami, Florida


I believe service has improved over the years. But what companies have to look for is personnel that really qualify for the job, and to have some type of premiums for those who have done an excellent job of providing service to customers (which for any company should be the number one asset they have). So while the techniques and processes are present, what most of the time lacks are those who put in practice these techniques in order to provide a good customer experience.

Agustin De La Garza
DeGarvi Consultants


As a former call center representative (and former call center supervisor) I feel that call center customer service has declined tremendously. It is disturbing that common courtesy and customer satisfaction have declined. It seems that proper training of customer service reps has become too costly and unfortunately, the customers are the ones who suffer.

Annette Franke
Colorado Springs Service Center
Colorado Springs, CO

*Letters may be edited for clarity or length.