What are the priorities for contact centre managers in 2018?

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Coaching is the #1 agent experience focus for 2018. Yahoo!

At least it is as stated in CCW’s Executive Report Contact Center Priorities for 2018.

I am thrilled to see the importance of people development being a lead focus for 2018.

I am just praying that this year we will not see many of the people development intentions fade or never come to fruition like I’ve seen happen in the past.

As you see below, in the “workforce empowerment” segment of the report there are several categories to consider when thinking about supporting and uplifting employee skills, abilities and ultimately the customer experience.

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Workforce priorities

As I mentioned, we are all aware that intent and execution are often times two separate elements in contact centres. What I think would be great to see as a follow-up report is which of the contact centre executive priorities were actually accomplished at year’s end.

I want to see what their intentions were and what actually happened…and why. Why they were successful, why they failed, why they were sidetracked, undermined, and so forth. We all have good intentions; but I need help in preventing the same intentions next year. Don’t you?

Are intentions driving change?

Kendall Lyman, author of Change the Way You Change! : 5 Roles of Leaders Who Accelerate Business Performance shared during an interview on the Fast Leader Show something extremely important about change.

He mentioned that in over 25 years of consulting, he learned, that we are pathetic at change. Research shows over and over again that only 30% are successful at change. While it’s known that we need to reverse the trend and help leaders get better at change, it’s not happening fast. Definitely not fast enough for customers.

Reducing customer effort

Reducing customer effort ranks as the #1 customer experience priority for the coming year. But effort is not all about speed. It’s about speed, accuracy and meeting customer needs. Looking at the results, you can see the intention of delivering service based on speed, accuracy, and needs is evident.

Customer effort

Several others areas of the report focus on this entire concept of customer effort as being a major priority. From gaining insight to providing automation, to improving systems and processes, to improving the human service delivery.

There is a lot to consider and to prioritise. Can you do it all?

Focus your effort

There are so many priorities listed throughout this report that it’s overwhelming. And if you are like me and most other people, you want things to change for the better…now.

But there is no short cut to improving the customer experience. It is a team effort that can seem like it’s a moving target at times. In order for you to not have a repeat of last year’s priorities you need a better approach. You need more than intentions.

Do change better

As Kendall points out in his interview, the change approach that we have today is incomplete. What he sees many people suggest is that change happens one of two ways. It either happens with the individual we call that inside out and then you get a chance to change the environment or it starts outside in. Change the strategy, change the organization design and hopefully it makes its way to the individual.

But after doing that for 15 years he discovered, changes weren’t successful when he did inside-out change. He’d put people through workshops and help them individually learn the skills of change but they get back to the organization or get back to the team and they’re not changing and so their motivation runs out.

Or he’s done strategy work and he’s done execution work and he’s done lean manufacturing, but it never quite makes it to the desktop of the employee and then leaders get frustrated that employees aren’t changing behaviours.

So, your customer-centric change can’t be either/or it’s got to be both.

Interpreting contact centre executive priorities

It very well could be that what Kendall has found to be the best way to change is exactly what you find in the data. It’s that while you are implementing system and organisational changes you must train and coach your people. The inside-out and the outside-in approach.

You might think that one happens faster than the other. But which one? Maybe it doesn’t matter. I guess the real truth is that neither is fast and both are continuous.

One thing is certain. For those with experience in contact centres, we know that the frontline supervisor is the linchpin that connects the organisation and the frontline. Neither an outside-in or inside-out effort is possible without skilled supervisors. So, start with developing your supervisors.

Yes, a great customer experience is the sum of many parts. It is about understanding what customers want and being able to deliver that with systems and higher performing agents. But most importantly it’s about moving your intent to execution…and that’s about leadership.

About Jim Rembach

Jim Rembach - Call Center coach

Jim Rembach is a twenty-five year contact center veteran, Host of the Fast Leader Show, and President of Call Center Coach

“…His past experience in contact center operations builds the credibility that follows.”

Jim is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, Certified Contact Center Auditor, Better Place to Work Expert, and is a CX Expert panel member for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). He is the author of nine books, introducing leading insights into contact center quality, analytics, surveys, employee engagement, customer experience, Voice of the Customer, Big Data, and Customer-centric Leadership Development. Jim helps frontline contact center supervisors improve their skills in the six core competencies found in high-performaing supervisors.

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10th Feb 2018 10:20

I really think that training and re-training have to be one of the chief priorities for call centre managers. With new changes coming in processes and evolving products and services, many times there is a need to re-train your call centre team to ensure they are on top of things.

Regards,
Sahib Ahluwalia

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