Daniel Ord is the Founder of OmniTouch International, and one of the global Contact Centre industry’s most influential figures.
With over 30 years of experience under his belt, Daniel is bringing his expertise to a wider audience with a new Masterclass on High Performance Management for Inbound Contact Centres. The two-day Masterclass will take place in Manchester in July, and in London in October.
Have you attended any conferences lately?
After the speeches are done and the workshops concluded, you have the chance to cluster around a table in a coffeeshop or bar and get to know other people who attended the event.
This is when one of my favourite questions comes up: “So how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?”
If you’re an introvert and get goosebumps around networking, then I guarantee you that this question works as a great ice-breaker.
A happy accident?
Whether it’s Customer Service, Customer Experience, or the Contact Centre, I’ve rarely met anyone who doesn’t have an interesting story about how they accidentally ‘fell’ into the industry.
Some folks come up from being an Agent. That’s cool, because we all know you’ll never forget what it was like to talk to customers. Learning how to persuade, calm, and influence is one of the biggest gifts you get from doing this work.
Others – like myself – fell into the job through management level transfer or acquisition.
I’m lucky enough to have transferred over from Finance to Operations, and I’ve always been grateful to have that background in numbers of logic to call on when running large centres.
The higher up the management ladder you go, the more you need to work ‘up and out’ in your organisation
When I first got into the industry, I faced the common challenge I think many of you have – most of my seniors thought my job was easy. I mean after all, on paper you just put a bunch of ‘operators’ in place and answer calls or emails or chats… where’s the complexity there?
As time and market forces increasingly put the customer in the centre of the organisational universe, things got a little better. However, I found that at least half my time as a VP Operations was spent talking to senior folks across the organisation – time well spent.
Teaching them about the industry, about customers and about our value proposition. Helping them ‘get it’.
Today, in all my management level Contact Centre courses, I advise folks to make a real organisational impact by getting up and away from your desk and office….and not just walking around your centre, though of course that has value!
I’m talking about booking time with the heads of other functions and getting yourself invited to senior level meetings. You’ve got to make yourself visible and talked about. You’ve got to help people in other job roles solve problems or create opportunities, because if you don’t, your centre – and everyone who works there – will suffer benign neglect.
It’s not an easy industry
I always say that in the Contact Centre industry we have to be masters of many domains. That includes:
- Operations – after all everything starts here
- People management & organisational design
- Leadership & financial management
- Customer Service & Experience
- The role of technology in the lives of our customers & people
I can’t think of another industry that places this many demands on its leadership.
And a word of caution…
If you’ve worked a long time for one or two centres, you begin to think that the way ‘you’ work here is the way the ‘industry’ works. Nobel-Winner Daniel Kahneman talks about the danger of ‘WYSIATI’: What you see is all there is.
He teaches that we humans tend to make decisions on incomplete information, thinking that what we see or know now is all there is. Do your best to push back against WYSIATI – I think the best Contact Centre leadership does.
But no matter how you got there…it’s what you do when you’re there
So you’re there. That’s so cool.
You’re the Contact Centre Manager or Director, and they’re counting on you to be efficient and effective.
When asked what I think is the most important thing to learn first about Contact Centres, I always give the same answer:
I can hear some people say “no, it must be customers!”, or “no way, it’s people!”
But Centres are unique and complex ecosystems. You’ll make better decisions about both your people and your Customers when you’ve mastered Operations.