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Mr. Spock Meets The Contact Center

September 17, 2015 - 4 Comments

One of the most enduring characters introduced in 1960’ television vas the venerable “Mr. Spock” of Star Trek fame. Leonard Nimoy played Spock after having only modest acting success before being cast as the half-human, half-Vulcan in 1964.

Among the many attributes Spock had, two relate to the modern contact center and customer experience paradigm.

Spock Logic 

First, Spock’s primary attribute was an extreme affinity for logic. No matter how far off the handle Captain Kirk had gone, he could always be counted on for a logical response to any situation  His almost robotic responses were cold, even if they were effective.

The tides are shifting in the contact center world in this regard.  Companies are revisiting the notion of scripted and tightly controlled customer conversations with contact center agents.  Since most of the calls, chats, and texts come into contact centers as exceptions after customers have attempted other business processes, it is imperative agents use positive language and more conversational approaches.  This is critical with customers who may be as “off the handle” as Captain Kirk could become!

The Human Focus

Second, Spock had an affinity for calling humans “carbon based units”due to our chemical makeup. Fact:  “Carbon based units” make up a majority of the cost of running a contact center – and are “inflationary” by definition. Hence, entire industries have evolved around optimizing the human element. These include staffing and workforce optimization technologies that ensure you have the right amount of “carbon” are in the seats.

Cost optimization is only part of the story. Many companies are looking to self-service and automation as the fastest path to lowering customer engagement costs. What’s left after automation are those exceptions that humans still handle best. (See

The Starship Enterprise developed a nice balance between the engaging and emotional Kirk and the logical and bucolic Spock – and so should your contact center.

The Call to Action

Leading companies are finding the winning combination is to first bring more natural methods to engage with non-human elements of their service capabilities. First, inspect your self-service processes to see if they suffer from “Spock-like” coldness and rigidity. Then, in turning to live support, empower your resources by training them in positive language and empathy. Your contact center will hit warp speed!

Check out how Cisco’s Customer Collaboration Solutions help in “humanizing” your customer engagement with this informative podcast with Saddletree Research.

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  1. spot on analogy! Leonard Nimoy is a legend...

  2. Very true! I enjoy using self-service if it is self-explanatory and user friendly.

  3. Good perspective to help make sure customer relationships "live long and prosper."

  4. When we conduct contact center business discoveries, we generally focus most intensely on process and technology issues. It is imperative that we do this, however, without overlooking the human component of the customer experience. We need to also think about engineering the human experience. Our recommendations around process and technology are helpful, but they are incomplete without any attention given to evolving those "carbon based units" in a way that best reflects the business mission, vision, and values. Thank you, Zack, for using this wonderful analogy to make another important point around customer experience in the contact center.