In my Multichannel Forensics and Online Marketing Simulation projects, I repeatedly find that anytime a customer has an actual interaction with a human being at a brand, long-term customer value increases.
Best Buy is an example of a company that is working on making human connections easier in the online world.
For instance, their Best Buy Connect program helps illustrate how their "Twelpforce" assists customers who are having problems. For instance, @cookbookguy tweets the twelpforce with the comment "audio issues w/Samsung HTZ320&Toshiba46 plus INSIG bluray". Just one hour later, @agent1834 replies "What kind of audio issues? Syncing? Skipping? No audio at all?"
Now, granted, I have no idea if this exchange resolve the issue or not. Still, 24,285 folks are following the Twelpforce, and that's probably about 24,000 more folks than are following your contact center staff, right? And from time to time, problems are solved.
It isn't like Best Buy offers unique products ... you can pretty much buy Best Buy merchandise anywhere you want. So, this strategy creates a "point of view", a reason for Best Buy to exist in a sea of sameness. And it looks like Best Buy Connect is managed via Twitter and via Google's Appspot cloud computing platform --- hint, that means you get to go outside of your IT team to execute a marketing and customer service strategy --- that's a big deal!
Again, in all of my Multichannel Forensics and Online Marketing Simulation projects, I repeatedly find that when customers interact with an actual, live human being, long-term customer value increases. Best Buy is taking one approach to connect with customers. Certainly, there are lessons here that apply to your business --- especially for catalogers who staff a call center that is absolutely brimming with talent, talent that could certainly rival that of the "twelpforce".