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 image.

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 practices:

  • 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 levels?
    • 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 customers.

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.

Read the full story here.


 

Contact Center Pipeline is focused on driving success through effective contact center management. Each issue features in-depth perspectives on the call center market, best practices and trends, technology and people issues that impact the customer experience. Draw upon CCP's incisive analysis to help you make better decisions about your career and your center. Visit us at www.ContactCenterPipeline.com

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