While it would be nice to think that the goal of every contact center is to achieve excellence, we all know from extensive experience that for many contact centers, the only possible goal is to “keep your head above the water.” The best laid plans can go awry in the contact center, and this often leads to a “putting out fires” approach that simply means going from disaster to disaster and trying to correct them.
It’s no longer enough today. Customers expect top-quality customer service, and they expect it now. High agent turnover, disengaged channels, long wait and hold times and other inconveniences are enough to literally drive customers away, even after the first mistake. The stakes have never been higher to attain and maintain great customer service.
Matthew Storm (News - Alert), director of strategy and innovation at NICE, told CMS Wire four essential elements of great customer service that companies can put into action: know your customers, engage your employees, provide real-time information and “stay restless.”
Knowing your customers, of course, involves keeping a 360-degree picture of the client regardless of media channel, and looking across all customer channels to identify ways that communication can become individualized. Engaging your employees requires a skillful performance management approach that encourages and rewards behavior that improves the employees’ connection with his or her job. Real-time information means monitoring contact center behavior and using the information gleaned to gather real-time intelligence about operations, which can be used to make changes or improvements on-the-fly instead of at the end of the week or the month when the opportunity may be lost.
So what about “stay restless?” According to Storm, this means that companies should always be striving to deliver better customer service experiences and solving customer problems.
“However, it's important not to get stuck in a constant cycle of change. Make sure you're evolving strategically. It's okay to plateau once in a while as long as you’re committed to learning, listening and leveraging feedback to your advantage,” writes CMS Wire.
What all these things have in common, of course, is a strong foundation in contact center solutions. A cobbled-together “Franken-call center” of legacy solutions and out-of-date technology isn’t just not ideal, it can actually kill a business today. It will certainly prevent a business from attaining those four essential elements of great customer service.
To know your customers, companies need a robust, multichannel platform that will allow them to manage entire customer relationships, not just transactions. A customer isn’t a series of transactions, he or she is an individual with preferences and a history with your company. If you can’t see it at a glance, you can’t service the customer.
To engage your employees, you need a performance management solution that will allow you to monitor and evaluate employees very regularly – smart companies do it weekly or monthly – and ensure that employees understand their goals and mandates and aren’t straying too far from them. These solutions can also encourage employees to take a more active role in cultivating their own career, rewarding good behavior and encouraging them to work on areas that are lagging.
Real-time monitoring requires a recording solution that is immediate and “smart” enough to understand where the problems are right away (This is often achieved by coupling recording with analytics and alerts and dashboards).
Finally, staying restless means never sitting back and relying on routine or technology to diagnose and solve issues within the contact center. Strong managers and supervisors will operate day-to-day with these four goals in mind, and encourage agents to be their partners in excellence.
Edited by Blaise McNamee