DMG’s Top 10 Pet Peeves (and How to Fix Them)
There are so many new and exciting things happening in contact centers that we sometimes lose sight of the fundamentals. The goal of customer service organizations is, of course, to provide outstanding customer service. This is easier said than done, as contact centers and customer service organizations are often pulled in many directions. These departments are being asked to provide an excellent customer experience, generate revenue, identify and retain at-risk customers, gather voice of the customer information, identify enterprise trends, clean up social media messes, adopt new channels (including social media, video and mobile apps), improve productivity and reduce operating costs. Making this situation all the more challenging is that customer service and contact center staff are often the lowest paid employees in organizations. It’s time for some change. The excuse of “it’s always been done this way” is no longer acceptable (actually, it never was). So, here is DMG’s list of the top ten contact center and customer service pet peeves, along with suggestions for fixing them.
- Issue: Contact center leaders do not get enough respect from their peers and are not invited to be part of the management committee.Resolution: Effective contact center leaders know more about customer needs and wants than almost anyone in a company. The challenge is to convince peers and executives that contact centers are extremely important to the enterprise. One way to begin to change negative perceptions about contact centers is to use a contact center performance management solution to feed into the corporate or enterprise performance management solution, so that senior executives become aware of the department’s performance and contributions.
- Issue: Customer service and contact center staff is frequently underpaid, even though more is asked from these employees than others in their salary grade/range.Resolution: Increase the job classification and then increase their salary. Additionally, introduce pay for performance for sales activities. Being recognized and appreciated will improve agent satisfaction, retention and results.
- Issue: Contact center staff members have few career opportunities because contact centers are pyramids with few management positions.Resolution: Top-performing contact center agents and managers often acquire deep knowledge of their company’s products and services. Work with HR and other departments, such as marketing and sales, to create a rotation program that gives top performers new opportunities in other departments after they’ve spent a certain amount of time in the contact center. This will help improve contact center retention rates AND provide outstanding employees for other departments.
- Issue: Contact center agents are being asked to generate incremental revenue without the necessary tools.Resolution: Use analytics to identify the right opportunity for each caller. Train and motivate agents to take the risk and attempt the sale; reward them for succeeding. Many executives believe that agents are already being paid to do a job and should not be rewarded for taking on additional responsibilities. This is wrong.
- Issue: When budgets are tight or call volume is high, training is cut.Resolution: Training is a necessity. Cutting it is short-sighted and will cost more than it will save. When the training budget is tight, look for creative ways to coach and instruct the staff, such as using agent downtime.
- Issue: Contact centers and customer service organizations are not consulted or included in building the enterprise social media strategy.Resolution: As the service organization is always involved in responding to social media interactions and handling service challenges – even when those issues come from other departments – they should be invited to take an active role in building the social media strategy. This will save the organization and its customers a great deal of pain.
- Issue: Contact centers add new channels without integrating them.Resolution: Re-think your service challenge. Integrate new channels into the servicing flow, and don’t treat each one as a separate entity. This will vastly improve service quality and customer satisfaction.
- Issue: IT does not understand contact center priorities.Resolution: This has been an issue for as long as there have been call centers. In too many organizations IT still doesn’t appreciate the concept of “contact center time”, where tomorrow is often too late. Contact center leaders need to sit down with their IT counterparts and create acceptable service level agreements (SLAs). Furthermore, if IT resources are limited, they should consider using hosted solutions where the vendor provides the support and commits to meeting very specific SLAs.
- Issue: Capital budgets are tight and contact center investments are on hold, despite the availability of many new and highly beneficial applications that could yield quantifiable contributions to the enterprise’s bottom line.Resolution: The best contact center solutions improve the customer experience while reducing costs. Many of these solutions pay for themselves in 3 to 9 months. Managers should create a business case with a return on investment (ROI) analysis to justify new contact center technology investments.
- Issue: Every year, contact centers are asked to reduce operating costs.Resolution: This is not going to change, as contact centers are people-intensive organizations. Ask agents for ideas and recommendations to enhance performance, instead of imposing new goals and requirements. The best ideas in contact centers always involve enhancing service while reducing operating costs. Agents are on the front line, and the good ones have already figured out how to do their jobs very efficiently, or else they would not be thriving.
It may not be possible to fix everything, but don’t settle for the status quo. Pick one or two of these challenges and try to make some progress. And, if you need some help, call us.
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Ask the Experts
The management team is implementing a desktop analytics solution in our contact center. As a supervisor in the area, I am hearing a lot of negative “big-brother” type remarks from agents about desktop analytics. How can we better prepare the agents for this implementation and assuage their concerns?
It is totally understandable that contact center agents, who are already some of the most rigorously scrutinized employees in the enterprise, would balk at having yet another application monitoring their every move. Desktop analytics is misunderstood as just another “gotcha” application. The lack of clarity about DA solutions is causing confusion and does not do justice to the complete range of DA capabilities. Sure, desktop analytics can track agents’ time spent on screens and in all applications (whether the usage is sanctioned or not). But that is only a small part of what DA applications offer.
More than most contact center applications, desktop analytics can significantly empower agents and transform their work experience. Agents benefit from the three primary uses of DA: real-time process guidance to help employees do their jobs correctly; performance monitoring to identify systems, process and employee operational and training opportunities based on an aggregate of all desktop activity performed by agents; and desktop automation to eliminate redundant tasks and reduce errors…
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.