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Recalibrating customer service: Your checklist for a better 'new normal'

A list of deflection and operational actions for contact centres and back offices. How many of these have you done? 

22nd May 2020
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I talked previously about daily reflection diaries, shared reflection and documented learnings - so you can design you new normal and avoid accidentally sloping back to the old normal (see How to ensure a better 'new normal' for customer service after COVID-19).

Have you done this groundwork? Here's a checklist. 

new normal

So what have been your success factors?

What about using one of your quarantinis to look at this list of deflection and operational actions below for contact centres and back offices. Did you do them yet, or not? My colleague David Jaffe in Aus and I constructed it. It's top of the head, so by no means everything. Please comment and contribute others things you did too!

Maybe some of the items below are in your list of things you've done or not?

  • Drop old world personal metrics, if you didn't before. Get people really clear on their mission to do what’s right for the brand, to help customers, to make them feel safe. To keep themselves up to date in rapidly changing times and to know how to get help. Do your best. Be your best.
  • Change shift management as you knew it. Domestic needs dictate what hours suit best over the day and the week. Best fit exercises and consultations for shifts must be reduced from months to days. But they can include patterns without commuting. Market places for hours to work. What can your existing workforce management tools support? What can you do outside them?
  • How are you replacing floor walking and team management - supporting calls and contacts, supporting people, supporting resolution and process improvement. Coaching and training. I'm stuck and FAQ. Open chat behind the scenes, conferencing in chat with customers, call escalation. Better use of support knowledgebases and AI functionality to improve them. Open live sessions for staff to join, with or without customers. Rolling video-radio Q&A for customers and staff to join. 
  • It’s a scary change for team managers, coaches, support staff too. Are you clear what you want from them and giving them the tools, skills and tips?
  • What is a ‘team’ anyway? What should be in it? Who should do what ?
  • Frontline process redesigns at pace, including self service solutions. Hit the top customer intents first. Just do it. Let agents talk to anyone upstream instead of following ‘normal’ production metrics. Buddy website and app designers with the contact centre staff. Form Quarantini hit squads. Sadly, make sure your bereavement processes are fully tested for effectiveness and emotion.
  • Raise the deflector shield! Proactive deflection through proactive comms, self-serve channels and communities of partners and customers. Look at top intents, educate comms teams and top facilitators on the best FAQ and knowledge. JFDI. And of course phone messaging, in app and screen messaging.
  • Switch or choke channels. Tech companies know to answer certain intents received by chat and email by phoning back to avoid endless email strings and partial understanding. Shut down channels you can’t support well and get customers to use your best channels. Many people are at home and you can reach them more easily on outbound calls.
  • Real-time routing & contingency scenarios. The routing plan probably went to hell in a hand basket anyway. Understanding what your telco teams can do to support you - you may get nice surprises about time of day switches, threshold switches, groups and queues you can reconfigure in conjunction with messaging.
  • Virtualise training so everyone has access to the 90% of the job they can do. Multi-skill teams to at least handle top customer intents. Adopt the 80/20 approach and hand off to your specialists
  • All hands to the pumps, expand the workforce, cross train the back office using the virtual training. Invent the right confidence support, so they can explain and help, not drown. Give them the queues with the easiest intents.
  • Spare time for the feedback and the metrics, dig deep. Watch for significant shift in intents and emotions over time eg from ‘I want to rebook’ to ‘I want to cancel’ to ‘where’s my refund’ to no calls. Don’t get too excited if the NPS goes through the roof or through the floor. It could be shift in their intents or in your policies. It could be a wider frustration in society or an impossible demand. Or a bereaved customer. Don’t over react.

Please add more ideas in the comments!

For each factor think maybe about:

  • What is working?
  • What we are learning?
  • What risk was taken and what happened?
  • What wasn’t risked in advance and is killing you now?
  • Who changed and how?
  • What boundaries were broken?
  • What prior and at the time investments are paying off?
  • What is in our metrics and feedback?
  • What regrets of no action from before it?
  • What regrets in crisis?
  • What regrets of ‘didn’t do’ vs did do?
  • How is decision-making different?
  • What decisions are working and why?
  • How are values being lived/broken?

Woah! These questions are all good, but the list is endless. How can you focus your reflections so they are most useful to your collective resistance against the 'old normal'?  

The answer is simple. Start with a simple prioritisation question. Shared reflections on a simple question such as "What changed most in the past four weeks / last week?" and then qualify it "Which of these things will make the biggest difference to our new normal, if we keep them going?"

Keep reflecting and capturing in your daily diary and sharing in team sessions. A free Quarantini to each person adding more to the list by commenting!

This article adapted from an original piece posted by Peter on LinkedIn

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