Power to the people: Three ways to empower your contact centre staff

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It is often said that people are your strongest assets. With the media continuing to report on the downward spiral of the country’s economic stability, businesses need to ensure they are maximising employee skill sets to deliver a continuous positive customer experience to help brighten the wider economic doom and gloom. Better customer management and the technology in place to support this will go a long way to improving operational excellence.

We recently surveyed 2,000 consumers across the UK, which revealed some telling insights of consistent mistakes and broken processes, resulting in lower than anticipated levels of customer satisfaction. Common failings such as long waiting times and unnecessary mistakes were cited as two of the biggest complaints among customers.

Interestingly, the findings highlighted that 45% of consumers consider service to be more important than price; making the most pressing objective for contact centres this year to deliver the best service possible. Getting to grips with mistakes commonly associated with the contact centre and back office functions and investing in the right tools to enable you to listen and understand what your customers want is vital to achieving success in these turbulent times.

Here are some key considerations to help re-focus your contact centre staff skills and knowledge to help achieve this: 

  • Communicate internally. Firstly, ensure there is enough internal contact and emphasis on the right areas of development. People often talk about processes - streamlining them, optimising them, making them customer centric and even simplifying them – yet in my experience, I rarely find someone who is responsible for these processes in their entirety. Some people from these faculties do meet periodically but most of the time is spent reviewing past performance and discussing short term plans and projects.
    Central to these conversations and meetings should be discussions around how to improve customer service levels. To do this silos need to be broken down - the organisations must look across all functions and departments that affect customer experience and make sure they are effectively communicating.
  • Re-focus your measurement. Secondly, review your measurement. Metrics regarding service level, quality scores and schedule adherence are important, to gain a more accurate view of your customer needs, organisations should combine these traditional techniques with more modern methods. They should be looking at what their customers really want by analysing the voice of their customers.
    This can be done by collecting and monitoring feedback via different channels such as surveys, discussions on social media and text (SMS), call and email interactions with agents. This valuable insight will help organisations make any relevant changes to their operations to not only meet customer requirements, but go the extra mile and provide the best service possible.
  • Maximise skills and knowledge in the contact centre. The bottom line is this: utilise the depth and breadth of your skills and knowledge and realise that your staff talent is largely going to waste without the relevant tools in place to manage processes. Staff training, reviews and scheduling practices can be done through the use of appropriate work force optimisation (WFO) tools. This will impact operations and improve customer service.
    It’s important to have a dedicated individual driving this, but also that the entire workforce buys into the changes and supports WFO initiatives. It’s about highlighting the value to everyone. Contact centres need to regulate quality management procedures and take heed from the findings of our research, as well as acknowledging how harmful lack of focus and poor attention to detail can be. The task of dragging the rest of the enterprise into the 21st century isn't going to be easy, but find an executive champion to implement these vital changes - then and only then will your business finally achieve greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Steve Rosier is director of analytics, EMEA. at Verint.

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