Are You Headed
Toward a Perfect Storm?
By Marilyn Saulnier
Many organizations are headed toward a perfect storm. Empowered
customers with increasing demands, expanding access channels and diverse preferences
for communication are all converging upon contact centers that are unprepared to
meet the demands of a new era.
The good news is that companies are investing in upgrading technology and infrastructure.
The bad news is corporate leaders are not addressing the growing gap between emerging
technologies and the contact center’s capacity to meet the challenges in supporting
complex new communication channels. More sophisticated technology and tools do not
automatically equate to a good customer experience. Rather, it can simply mean that
a company has more sophisticated ways to disservice customers and damage the brand
The bottom line is, you must be “easy to do business with” across all
access channels if you expect to earn your customers’ loyalty. If customers
continually wait endlessly in queue, deal with poorly trained agents who are unable
to resolve their issues, receive no response or a poor response from emails or other
access channels, they will take their business elsewhere.
Customers expect you to be available when it is convenient for THEM to contact you,
not when it’s convenient for YOU to contact them. That’s the deal you
make with customers. If you’re not easy to do business with, you risk losing
your customers. In this age of empowered, Internet- and social media-savvy customers,
the world will hear about your customers’ experience. If you don’t meet
your customers’ expectations, be prepared for major damage control. It’s
much easier to do it right the first time.
To ensure that your contact center’s mission, goals and processes always keep
the customers’ perspective top of mind, consider the following leadership
- Review your mission. Is it still relevant? Do you continually identify the gaps
and take action to close them? Is the contact center aligned to the mission?
- Review the contact center’s plans. Does the contact center develop long-term
(one- to two-year) plans? Are they based on collaboration with senior managements’
future plans? Sales and Marketing? IT strategic plans? What new customer access
channels will you support? Do you conduct “what-if” planning?
- Do you have effective measures of success in place? KPIs? Are the metrics driving
the right behaviors vs. negatively impacting the customer’s experience?
- Do you hire and train the “right” number of agents to handle call types?
Eighty percent to 90% of the time, calls should go to an agent who is skilled to
handle the transaction to completion without transferring or putting the customer
on hold. Customers hate being transferred and being put on hold.
- Do you have a culture of first-contact resolution? Do you have effective processes,
policies, procedures, empowered agents and efficient systems that support the contact
center’s ability to resolve the customer’s issue on the first contact?
- Do you scrutinize every activity, task and decision against the mission? If it does
not support the mission, it’s out. Done. No further discussion.
- Is there accountability at all levels?
- Do your reports have integrity and are they actionable?
- Does everyone clearly understand their roles, responsibilities and measures of success?
- Do you hold employees accountable for performance?
- Do you have a track record of not tolerating poor performers? Do you effectively
performance manage your people and move them out if performance does not reach acceptable
- Does your organization capitalize on the contact center’s value? Do you share
customer and business intelligence across the organization?
- Have you spent a day immersing yourself in the contact center? Do you make it a
practice to spend at least one to three hours per month in the contact center listening
to customer calls, observing efficiency of agent desktop tools, and conducting agent
focus groups? You will be amazed what you will learn about your company and your
INSIDE VIEW: Vegas.com
In an industry known for high attrition, contact centers with single-digit turnover
rates are rare. That’s why, when we heard that Vegas.com’s contact center
enjoys a remarkable zero percent turnover rate, we had to take a look inside the
unconventional culture of this high-performing center. Vegas.com’s contact
center is staffed by 100 full-time agents who are motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic
about the company, as well as the city in which they live and work. Unlike the typical
call center environment, agents are given an enormous amount of autonomy in determining
when and where they work. Since implementing a home-agent program a few years ago,
the contact center’s performance has soared. And while interactions and revenue
have tripled in that time, the center hasn’t had to hire a single agent.
full story here.