How Global Response Takes Care of The Met Brand
Ten years ago, the call center that The Met Store was using closed its doors with less than two weeks notice to clients. With time for only an expedited search process, The Met Store evaluated call centers, took into account the recommendation of a partner, and selected Global Response. Taking on the new account even before systems were put in place, Global Response quickly got up to speed on The Met Store’s business and wrote orders on paper for weeks to send to the client to be keyed in. The Met Store was impressed with Global Response’s willingness and ability to support its direct-to-consumer business with almost no ramp-up, and has continued to expand the relationship, which now includes order management for their catalog and 24x7x365 customer service for the company’s catalog and website.
Recognizing a Core Competency
Shopping at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store (The Met Store http://store.metmuseum.org/page/home/) creates a connection with the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and with the world of art. Revenues from the store play a significant role in helping to maintain the high levels of service the museum provides, with proceeds from the sale of all products directly benefiting the museum’s collection and programs. The Met merchandising staff includes specialists in jewelry, home décor, textiles, stationery and printed reproductions, and specialty publications. The museum’s products are sold direct-to-consumer through a mail-order catalog established in 1921, and online since 1999.
For Ken Weinstein, General Manager of Merchandise, Finance, Operations, Systems & Wholesale at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the decision to outsource order management and customer service is a matter of recognizing that organizations have core competencies. “A third of the museum’s $67 million in annual revenue comes from our catalog and website,” he says, “and it’s by far our fastest-growing business. It would be difficult for us internally to handle the volume of customer calls for a business that size.”
The volume of calls peaks during the holiday season: Last year, The Met Store received 19,000 calls per week and around 3,600 on the busiest day. “Our core competency is being an art museum and developing unique products for sale that relate to the museum collections,” says Weinstein. “The core competency of Global Response is speaking with customers, efficiently processing orders, and resolving customer service issues. We know those tasks can be handled better by experts, so we outsource them to Global Response.”
Weinstein says the positive customer experiences Global Response delivers translate into more-loyal customers and a better overall impression of the museum and the store. “Customers see the store and the museum as one entity, so Global Response’s performance reflects not only on our merchandising operation, but also on the museum as a whole,” he says. “That’s why it’s critical they create a positive impression, which leads to more customer engagement and sales. We’re very pleased with the job Global Response is doing on that front.”
Involving Product Developers in Training
The Met Store regularly sends a staff member to Global Response to train the agents on the store’s product lines, and twice a year sends a cross-section of products from the catalog so agents can speak about them from hands-on experience. In addition, the store sends two product developers to Global Response headquarters to introduce new products to agents. “They show the products they’ve developed, tell the story around the products, and describe their characteristics to the agents,” says Weinstein. “That insight into the products really helps the agents understand them, sell and cross-sell them more effectively, and convey our brand image to consumers.”
The Met Store also relies on Global Response agents to sell memberships to the museum. “A membership has several benefits for customers,” says Weinstein, “including giving them a discount on their current order. Turning customers into museum members also creates loyal customers, who are more likely to order from us in the future. It’s a real value-add for both The Met Store and the museum. Global Response agents do a great job explaining the benefits of memberships and selling them.”
Expanding the Relationship
Global Response currently provides customer service over the phone for Met Store customers, but that role is changing. “We’re expanding our relationship with Global Response by adding email customer service and all customer service for our website and retail stores,” says Weinstein. “We’re doing that to give customers a consistent experience at all our touchpoints. We knew we wanted to consolidate services with one partner, and the solution was obvious: If we’re pleased with the job Global Response is doing—and we are—they’re the logical choice. It makes more sense to consolidate services with the contact center that’s already doing a stand-up job for us.”
Weinstein adds that when The Met Store starts communicating with customers via chat and social media channels, Global Response would be a natural choice to provide service via those channels as well.
“The overall impression you get when you visit them is of a company where the staff enjoys taking care of customers,” he says. “You always see so many smiles there that you know they’re real; the staff can’t be faking it. You can tell Global Response is a business owned and run by a family that really cares about the staff and the clients.”