What March Madness Can Teach Us About Customer Service


Unless you spent the last 4 days holed up in a remote Alaskan cabin free of Wi-Fi or anything connecting you to civilization, you may have noticed that a little sporting event called March Madness has been going on. From underdogs to buzzer beaters, cinderellas to bracket busters, the 68 team NCAA basketball tournament takes up the time and attention of sports fans across the U.S. It also takes attention away from corporate productivity.

According to new data from Office Pulse by Captivate, businesses face an incredible $1.6B in lost productivity during the tournament. And no one hates losing productivity more than contact center management. But can contact centers learn something…anything from March Madness? I think so. Here are a few takeaways:


Talent is only going to take you so far this time of year. If you want to advance, your talent needs the right advice to help your team succeed. But don’t equate good coaching with loud instructions from the sideline. Be specific and make the instruction relevant to their day-to-day activities and what is important to the business. Give your agents tricks and tools they can use now. They should also be measurable. Like any good coach, when improvement isn’t made, hold them accountable. Bring them aside and discuss how those goals can be met.

Good Defense

Any basketball coach will tell you that a good defense leads to fast breaks and fast breaks lead to easy points. Contact centers can apply this with proactive communication. Proactive engagement can turn one-way interactions into two-way conversations. Notifications could be prescription renewals rescheduling appointments, or paying bills. Even a simple ‘how are things going?’ message can reduce inbound. Being proactive will not only prevent a small issue from becoming a big one, but it will help you score points by saving costs in the contact center by encouraging customers to use self-service options that can deflect calls (and costs) from your contact center.

Make your Free Throws

A free throw in basketball is a simple, uncontested shot 10 feet away from the hoop. Easy peasy right? Not exactly. Missing free throws can easily cost your team a victory. The same holds true for customer service. Things like knowing and acknowledging your customer and his/her history early on a call can go a long way. Prevent them from having to repeat themselves as well. One of the single most frustrating things for consumers about customer service is having to repeat themselves.

There is no final four in customer service though. There are no timeouts either. Delivering great customer experiences is an ongoing contest between you and your competition with your customers’ loyalty and future business as victory. But it is a contest with some easy fixes and continual improvement.