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The Do’s and Don’ts to Achieve Customer satisfaction in your contact center

We recently were asked this question by Call Center Life, a magazine serving the Turkish call center industry and wanted to share this content here…

Question: Can you briefly describe the “to do’s” and “not to do’s” when managing a contact center as a part of the customer satisfaction?

Answers: One of my matras has always been to make new mistakes, if we are always learning we will always make new mistakes. The person who never makes a mistake is the person who never takes a risk or achieves anything.

There are a lot of smart, very smart individuals managing and directing call and contact centers today. Yet, these bright, bright people still manage from time to time to do things that defy understanding. This is my ‘top ten list’ of really dumb things that smart call and contact center executives do. Each and every one of these ‘mistakes’ can undermine all of the good work a center has done to provide superior customer service and satisfaction. The following list of ‘mistakes’ highlights actual experiences we have witnessed and the corollary or ‘to do’ can be seen once you have reviewed the ‘mistake’.

1- Don’t invest in training or professional development.
We spent enough money to train them when they were hired, why would we want to keep them current on changes in the company our processes our customers or technology. They’ll figure it out. Besides we can always use the dollars allocated to training for other areas like executive retreats.

2- Don’t stay current on new technologies impacting on the call and contact center operations.
After all why would we want home agents, speech recognition, higher quality or better staff morale and management?

3-Don’t read trade press, blogs and newsletters.
We already know everything, and besides who has time to read when I an constantly in meetings.

4-Don’t include remote staff in your operational budget.
There aren’t very many of them out there…is there?

5-Don’t share new technologies and their capabilities with senior management.
They will just say no, so what is the point.

6-Don’t share ideas concepts and results with Marketing.
After all they never share with you.

7-Don’t consider the agents point of view when you examine new technologies.
Its just one extra open window on their desktop…they have done fine with the current 14 so what’s one more window?

8- Don’t give agents authority to make any decisions.
It is important that managers make all decisions…I know it is only a $.49 credit, but it’s the principal of the thing.

9- Don’t take a long term view of your incentive program.
Incentive programs are designed to generate short term results. I just don’t understand that while our incentive to reduce average handle time was so successful our call volume increased substantially.

10- Don’t share with HR the staff and skills/competencies work best in the center.
Turnover is a part of life in a contact center so we shouldn’t try to address it.

Each one of the above list reflects comments (or a paraphrased version) that I have heard from contact center executives. Each of the above points reflects a narrow and/or short term view of the center. Now as I said above these are clever people, so how can such ‘tunnel vision’ exist within a group of specialists? The can be many causes that can create situations of ‘tunnel vision’, these can include:

Lack of time: The old saw that “meetings are a nice alternative to work” rings true in many organizations and contact center are not exempt. Days filled with meetings, limits interaction with direct reports, free time to review news stories, white papers, technology articles etc. it also reduces time to speak with industry peers, to attend conferences or seminars. All of this leads the manager little option but to continue to rely on the status quo in operations as this is the only environment the manager is comfortable and knowledgeable about.

Conflicting objectives: Often contact centers are asked to deliver multiple objectives simultaneously: improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs, or increase first call resolution, but don’t spend anything on additional training. These examples of conflicted objectives are frequent occurrences in contact centers today. Mission Statements focus on “providing world class customer service”, but the contact center receives no budget to deliver this.

Unclear objectives: Centers are often charged with broad mandates to “deliver excellent customer care” but benchmarks and standards are not defined to allow the contact center to know how success will be measured.

Each of the above three examples leads the contact center management to revert to what they are most comfortable and those things that they can quantify without ambiguity. Further they tend to focus on the short term as there is no clear long term vision or plan. In short this is what they have done before and what they are doing now. This approach is not conducive to looking forward or acting proactively. To the contrary this approach ensures that the management focuses on the past. The end result is bright contact center executives, then make dumb decisions.

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