Brendan DykesBrendan DykesApril 24, 2019
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7min1211

Everyone is someone’s customer, and every single one of us knows how we want to be treated.

Yet we’ve all had experiences that have influenced our opinion of a brand, but actually little or nothing to do with the product or service itself. It is why the quality of service and experience provided by contact centres is critical to the well-being of any organisation that prides itself on the quality of its CX.

As the late Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Intensifying competition and the growing power of consumers have together made customer experience the only means by which you can achieve truly durable competitive advantage in retail today. 

It is not possible, however, to provide a joined-up customer journey if the tools you have to manage it are incomplete. Simply throwing cash at CX technology will not lead to success. Here then is a seven-step plan to guide your contact centre transformation.   

1. You must acknowledge the need for change.

The first step towards the recovery of your CX is admitting you have a problem and having a genuine and consistent commitment to solving it. Don’t focus your energies entirely on customer complaints as a guide to your transformation. These are negative emotions. Look at positive feedback as well, to identify what your organisation is getting right so you can start replicating it. 

2. Be clear about the Customer Experience you are trying to deliver

Unfortunately, many organisations still have an incomplete definition of CX. Either that or their division into functional silos means that CX has become the proverbial elephant being examined by three blind men. In other words, everyone comes up with their own idea based purely on knowledge of their own silo, mistaking or misconceiving the true nature of CX and what it should deliver for the organisation.

3. Ensure you have executive buy-in

It is vital your CEO or CFO is on board to sponsor any contact centre transformation initiative and lead from the top down. But also consider whether you need a dedicated position such as a Chief Customer Officer. Whoever fulfils this role owns the Customer Experience and has the authority to ensure the requisite focus.

4. Work hard to ensure your organisation is fully on-board and aligned

Remember that people are capable of being very parochial, which is often caused by anxiety  about what change will mean to their own work and targets. To counter that, consider establishing a ‘CX Council’ to bring together all departments that have any role in the Customer Experience and empower them to work as a team with a unified vision of putting the customer first, no matter what.   

5. Get on your benchmarks

After mapping the customer journey, your next step should be to assess the current state of your strategy, people, processes, and tech. Come to a decision about how you are going to measure the delta of change in terms of positive customer emotion, not just reduced holding times or other operational metrics.

6. Collaborate to differentiate

This is an important one, because by working with a true solution partner, rather than simply a software vendor, you can set yourself on the right path to true omnichannel engagement and avoid the all-too-common operational pitfalls. Use the expertise of your partner to identify opportunities for business alignment along with ways of applying technology to speed up your transformation journey.

7. Build your business case

Providing good Customer Experience will have a positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line, which is certainly a legitimate justification for any CX initiative, but you still need a solid business case based on logic and metrics rather than intuition. If you have the right partner, they should be able to direct and inform this process.

These are seven great steps to set any organisation on the path towards recovering its CX and providing great customer service again. We cannot pretend it is always easy. Such a journey does inevitably involve a substantial measure of cultural upheaval. Customer experience needs to become a collective obsession within the enterprise.

CX culture and practices have to evolve every day and encompass what is always a changing technology landscape. But once this mindset is firmly embedded right across the organisation and all those internal barriers and silos are banished, at least as far as CX is concerned, the tangible bottom line benefits will flow in. You will also have a much happier and more fulfilled workforce.


Cassie WalkerCassie WalkerApril 23, 2019
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6min1542

In order to run a successful contact centre, operational efficiency needs to be continuously upheld.

There are different components to contact centre efficiency, including how your staff interact with customers; how streamlined procedures are; and whether operations are running in a cost-effective manner that does not impact the Customer Experience.

Despite the varying definitions of efficiency, it all boils down to two things: supporting customers and improving performance. It’s important to keep these two goals in mind and implement basic practices to drive efficiency.

Optimise team efficiency through training

Making use of team productivity is important to ensuring efficiency. A study by Aberdeen Group found that contact centre agents spend around 25 percent of their paid time idly and not communicating with customers. Therefore, it is vital that this time is dedicated to developing your agents’ skills and knowledge surrounding best practice and customer service.

This is achievable through continuous, digital training. Agents are consistently sat at their desks with a computer. Therefore, during their idle time, it would be a great opportunity for them to complete quick online learning on their computer, or even mobile. This is why digital learning is an extremely beneficial method of training for contact centres, as a learning can take a few minutes a day, which is equal to 0.7 percent of a 35-hour week.

Investment in training means companies will see significant drops in average handling time (AHT), as the consistent level of training creates more competent employees who can apply their knowledge in real life call situations. This increases first-call resolution (FCR), which then reduces AHT. A lower AHT drives efficiency, as customers are dealt with in a quick, coherent manner.

Leverage experienced agents

Another basic to maintaining contact centre efficiency is having a system in place that helps new staff get up-to-speed as soon as possible. Contact centres face a very high employee turnover rate: they have a 26 percent employee turnover annually, whereas the average rate for the UK is 15 percent. Therefore, effective onboarding is vital. This can be done by utilising more experienced agents and drawing on their knowledge to help new staff adjust to the business’s processes.

As part of the onboarding process, experienced agents can help to coach and monitor live calls. Monitoring calls and having a support system of more existing agents will give new staff more confidence in their job and ease the onboarding process. A high level of employee confidence is key to increasing efficiency.

Measure performance and set targets for achievement

It is important to measure performance within any organisation. Having a clear set of data can help not only evaluate, but also benchmark individual and team performances. Analytical dashboards help identify knowledge gaps and the areas that need improvement, meaning contact centres can administer valuable, cost-effective training that will improve performance.

Focusing on targets can also enhance performance, as employees are aware of what is important to achieve within the centre. Aligning metrics with goals and making them clear to employees gives a purpose to their work and encourages collaboration.

Boosting efficiency in a contact centre isn’t done overnight; it requires measurement and consistent tracking of what is affecting performance. However, being able to identify areas for improvement is the first step, as these can then be resolved. Implementing these basic procedures, like using idle time for productive and effective onboarding, will have a significant impact on each agent’s performance and confidence. Competent and knowledgeable agents will then increase customer satisfaction and overall efficiency within the contact centre.


Daniel OrdDaniel OrdMarch 22, 2019
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9min1112

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:

Operations!

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. 




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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


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