This is not the usual place where I post interviews but I thought I’d share this anyway since it still holds value.

Regardless of your business, customer satisfaction is arguably a high priority in 2009. Industry observers believe this will remain true in 2010. How companies plan and execute strategies to achieve better than ever customer satisfaction is the question to ask.

What is also certain is that this drive towards better customer satisfaction [7] is helping boost the business of contact center operators worldwide. In Asia, it is fueling expansion among the large contact center operators like Convergys.

A Callcentres.net [8] Asia Pacific survey [9], touching more than 2,100 consumers across six countries in Asia Pacific, suggests that customer service is a key differentiator today. The survey found that over 58% of respondents identified receiving polite and friendly service, having their calls resolved efficiently and receiving the right information from agents were the most important factor in driving ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ Customer Service.

Contact center associations recognize this and continue to promote it through education, training, recognizing and rewarding the best in the industry. At the 10th annual Hong Kong Call Centre Association [10] (HKCCA) Awards [11], 61 individuals and companies were recognized for their achievements across a broad spectrum of innovation including customer service, training and development, and corporate social responsibility. Among the winners were call center operators from Southern China and Macau.

No one argues that 2009 was a very challenging year for all businesses. Despite rhetoric from the Obama administration about making it tougher for US companies to outsource jobs that could be filled by local hires, outsourcing to low-cost locations remains a strong and viable alternative for many US and European companies looking to cut cost and keep afloat in a volatile global market.

According to Paul Chen, systems engineering director for Avaya [12] Asia Pacific, productivity, efficiency and customer service excellence were key concerns in the contact center industry in 2009. She notes that while the technology is available to help businesses to transform their contact centers into strategic assets that enable them to deliver better customer service more profitably, there are still companies out there which are outdated in their approach. (more…)

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I have had my fair share of travels overseas. The most logical, and most times, only way to get to the other side is by air. And whether you travel on business class, first class or economy, you have to contend what with to do for the duration of the flight.

Most people who travel by air will do one of 5 or 6 things: work on their stuff, chat with a flying friend or a friendly neighbor, read, sleep, and watch the inflight TV or listen to music. But what do you do when you have none of those and can’t sleep?

When you travel on budget carriers, there is a good chance that inflight entertainment is non-existent. So what do you do?

On board Cebu Pacific, traveling from Hong Kong to the Philippines, you cannot possibly escape the unorthodox way of entertaining bored travelers. Flight attendants will engaged customers by playing some parlor games. The most common is what locals call “Show me” contest where participants will produce an item or article that the game show host will call out on the airplane’s PA system. Another game is singing a tune. The whole experience will bemuse first time flyers of the airline.

I will probably never expect to experience something similar onboard any of America’s low cost carriers. Americans can be too uptight about propriety to entertain an entire complement of passengers. But a SouthWest Airlines flight attendant did make a very amuzing, if not certainly, very entertaining event out of the ordinary, mundane and often ignore pre-flight announcements that all carriers are mandated by law to perform – whether passengers like it or not. Click here to watch it.

On average it doesn’t take a lot of effort to give customers a measure of comfort, that feeling of satisfaction, the experience that they would bring with them for as long as memory serves them. The added bonus is that word of mouth, coupled with Internet-based social networking platforms like youtube and facebook, have made it relatively inexpensive to create new and future business.

Its not everyone’s cup of tea I am sure. But when you have to cram yourself into a tight seat and get elbowed by your next seat neighbor. A good distraction can be welcome and entertaining. The trick we’ve learned here is to be honest, entertaining and charming.