In the contact center, workers often report feeling undervalued and their work misunderstood. In fact, this is often one the reasons cited for disengagement and high turnover in call center jobs. There is frequently a huge disconnect between the orders management hands down from on high and what really goes on at the agent-customer level. Agents are often tasked with upselling customers products and services to the point where they feel they have to rush the real reason the customer is calling. Management may order the rank-and-file workers to take steps to improve customer engagement while simultaneously putting pressure on them to keep call times short.
While customer support software today can go a long way toward cutting out extra processes, errors, duplicate work and administrative tasks, it’s not a replacement for good management. As a result, companies should be sure to hire contact center or customer support managers who truly understand the process and have insight into how difficult (and important) the job is. According to Laura Ballam (News - Alert) writing for Business2Community, senior management of contact center and customer support operations need to “walk the walk.”
“As customer service becomes increasingly important to business success, managers need to be extremely customer-centric. If a customer support rep is dealing with an extremely unhappy customer, it should be SOP for managers (even senior level) to step in and speak with the customer directly. This accomplishes two things – first, the customer gets to feel heard. Speaking to a senior manager shows the customer that their business is important, and they are valued as a human being. Second, the rep feels supported and validated – creating highly satisfied employees.”
It will help with morale for agents to see managers and even executives “step into the trenches.” It will also help managers appreciate the kinds of pressure that agents are under, often simultaneously being pulled in different directions at once by the customer, supervisors and somewhat arbitrary company metrics. And when it’s time to choose new customer support solutions, it will give management insight into what is truly required in the call center.
“Senior management controls and makes decisions around purchasing and implementing new customer service software tools,” wrote Ballam. “Executives need to ensure their team is well-equipped with up-to-date technology so they can perform their job efficiently. A survey or questionnaire sent out a few times per year can ensure reps’ concerns about the tools available to them are heard.”
Many enterprise software decisions have been doomed in the past because they were chosen by executives who didn’t understand the needs of the people using them. Executive management can avoid this pitfall by spending time in the contact center, speaking to agents and even handling customer transactions. Agents will feel that they are being heard – an important component of employee engagement – and management won’t waste time and money buying solutions no one wants or needs.
Edited by Maurice Nagle