By Colin Taylor
I have often heard that just one good idea can change everything. It can make a conference worth attending, change the course of history or even make a meeting worth attending. Now I can’t guarantee that we can change the course of human history or even make a meeting productive, but hopefully the ideas I share can make the reading worthwhile, though you will need to be the judge of that. Now if one good idea can do so much, what can we achieve with 5 Ideas?- The mind boggles.
The objective of this post is to share some brief ideas and thoughts around call and contact center management and operation and ask for your feedback on which ones you would like to see a deeper dive into. I will listen to the wishes to the people, at least those who vote and deliver a detailed follow up to the 5 Ideas topics within a few days.
Here is the first in our series of 5 Ideas for your call/contact center
Forecasting and History may not repeat itself.
Forecasting is arguably (and yes, I would be open to a debate on this), the single most important support activities to equip the call/contact center operator with this understanding to meet the centers’ goals and objectives. The ability to forecast cannot accurately be completed by ‘bumping up’ last year’s volumes or by a Workforce management (WFM) application. The ability to actually construct a forecast from scratch is an essential tool in any center managers’ toolkit. Historical volumes, daily distribution, Erlang algorithms, service level, handle time and abandoned calls are the building blocks of a forecast. However, the key to long term success is often meticulous record keeping.
Maybe, just maybe, those folks in marketing aren’t there solely to make your life difficult.
Marketing has often been purported to be the bain of the call center operator. They visit new campaigns upon the call center without proper disclosure or notice. Any of us who have had to ask our customers where they saw this ad and ask if they could email a link or fax a copy have cursed the marketing department. The truth however is that marketing exists to sell and promote our products and services which is a good thing and to gain more customers which is essential for any call center to continue to operate. The key to building a productive and cooperative relationship with marketing starts with communications and breaking down the ‘silo walls’ that separate the call center and Marketing.
Turnover is good.
Every call/contact center needs some turnover. It is important to get ‘new blood’ into any center periodically. Turnover that is so high you can barely finish the new hire paperwork before you begin the termination paperwork however is great way to stay busy, but not a smart strategy to achieve your customer satisfaction or customer experience goals. In most centers the problem of turnover has been omnipresent and a truism, like death or taxes. The truth too often is that the people being recruited into the center should never have been hired in the first place. Creating a skills and competency map that matches the skills demonstrated by your best performers is just the first step to improve your hiring process and reducing your turnover.
If you want to pursue Certification, does that make you Certifiable?
Certifications can be important. Certifications can be significant in confirming a level of attainment and professionalism that sets those certified apart from the rank and file. Think of passing the Bar, or getting your iron ring. Or they can be little more than diploma mills or the participant ribbon for attending. Certification of anything to be effective must be tied directly to standards that can be objectively measured and analyzed. Any certification that appears to be based upon ‘smoke, mirrors’, years of experience or any consultants’ expert opinion should be treated with suspicion. Before you invest in any form or certification ensure that the underlying objectivity can be proven and confirmed, that is unless you are looking for a diploma mill certification.
Quality Coaching is not a performance review.
Many call/contact centers view quality coaching as a mini-performance review. The coaching session takes a single call or contact out of the hundreds the agent completed that week, and scores the contact against a set of criteria. Too often this becomes an exercise in ‘catching them doing something bad’. Center management may then be puzzled as to why performance and morale aren’t improving given the additional coaching the agents are receiving. The truth of the matter is that we cannot even know if this call or contact is representative of the agent, the sample size is too small. Explaining what the quality criteria is to the agent is likely redundant as they are already aware of the standards. What needs to occur in an effective coaching session is to understand why they took the approach they took, what they would change if they could, examining the contact with perfect 20/20 hindsight, and lastly to identify what they did well (catch them doing something well).
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