Leading contact centre teams through change

5th Apr 2021

For people working in contact centres, change is constant. Most recently the pandemic has redefined contact centre operations and the lives of colleagues, most of whom have been working remotely.

To explore how contact centres are managing through this tumultuous period and how change is affecting colleagues on the front line, the CCMA conducted a research study comprising two phases, with the support of RingCentral.

We wanted to understand in depth the types of changes people have experienced during this extraordinary period, how it impacts their lives and their ability to serve customers. We also sought to uncover the process of change in contact centres: how does it come about and what are the things to be aware of when orchestrating change?

The result is this report. It’s one of the most comprehensive studies of life on the ground in contact centres ever published. You may find things that you recognise from your own working environment, as well as helpful advice to support you and your teams to navigate your ongoing journey as you seek to improve the experiences of colleagues and customers alike.

Health and medical workers excepted, no-one has felt the uncertainty and turmoil of COVID-19 more than contact centre colleagues. With customer expectations evolving and businesses operating not as usual, this is taking its toll on the operation. The research suggests that internal alignment is essential but varies between organisations and there are plenty of tools available to help with collaboration, but they require managerial resource. 

There is a much greater onus on people managers at a time when they are under significant pressure to manage remotely and deal with the eomtional toil of the pandemic. And this is not helped by legacy systems and an understandable reluctance to invest when costs are being squeezed.

However, for change to happen, it must be handled sensitively if it is to have the desired impact. The research reveals that frontline managers and contact centre leaders unanimously stressed the importance of bringing colleagues on the journey. Communication which is mainly 'top down' in nature can be frustrating for the front line – 'bottom up' engagement is essential.

In 2021 managing change is a fundamental part of the job description for contact centre management. They must be able to communicate and implement changes effectively within their
teams, be constantly vigilant to the impact of change on colleagues and influence the organisation to prioritise changes large and small that benefit customers and the front line.

The research presents a number of strategies for leading through change. It lays out the challenges uncovered by the research and poses a strategy to overcome the challenge.

"This research from CCMA is a must-read for contact centre leaders. As CCMA conducted its investigation at the intersection of rising customer expectations and a global pandemic, the findings are doubly relevant. Overlooked issues have truly come to the fore in these conversations," said Steven Rafferty, UK Country Manager at RingCentral.

"The value of connection between the contact centre and the rest of the business comes into stark contrast, along with the challenge to agents’ wellbeing. The gaps in technology, training and staffing are also apparent, indicating an opportunity for improvement. The first step is awareness. Through these conversations, we’ve become much more aware of the difficulties faced by contact centre staff. The next step is for businesses to investigate solutions that will give agents the support and tools they need.

"With CX a key brand differentiator this year, the findings in this report will be valuable in informing your contact centre strategy through the advent of hybrid work and beyond."

You can download the full report here: https://www.ccma.org.uk/leading-contact-centre-teams-through-change/ 

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