Getting a Great Start in 2023
Welcome to 2023. It’s a new year which gives us a fresh start; one with new opportunities, hopes, and challenges. This is also the case for your contact center and other front and back-office service and sales organizations. While we cannot forget the past, we can’t alter it, so let’s concentrate on what we can influence and change – the future – and, the opportunities have never been better.
We enter 2023 with an appreciation that contact centers are getting more positive attention than at any other time in their 50+ year history. Executives recognize the role and contributions of their customer-facing sales and service (collections, help desk, field service, etc.) organizations in building and enhancing their brand. This, along with the Great Resignation (even if we are past the worst of it), is influencing their perception of contact center agents and the need to pay them a fair wage for the essential but difficult job they do. Then, there is a new generation of highly useful and effective systems and applications available for contact centers of all sizes. If it wasn’t for the high inflation and pending recession (if we are not already in one), 2023 would be the best year in the history of contact centers, as these departments are finally getting the respect they deserve. Below is a list of initiatives that contact center leaders should prioritize as they enter this new age of service; even if you cannot put all of them into action this year, get them queued up, as they are foundational for the future of your contact center:
- Review and revamp the salary grades and pay scales for all contact center jobs – work with your human resource department to benchmark them to appropriate job categories, including retail associates and Amazon associates
- Retrain all contact center managers, leaders, supervisors, quality management specialists, coaches, and everyone who interacts with agents – training is highly under-rated in many contact centers, but it makes one of the biggest impacts on the satisfaction and retention levels of agents
- Build bridges to other operating departments – starting with those that generate the largest volume of inquiries (or complaints) for the contact center; put in place a formal communication mechanism to share insights and opportunities on a timely basis. (This is likely to be enabled by sharing findings from speech/text analytics and automated quality management (AQM) applications that clearly reflect the underlying reasons why customers and prospects reach out to an enterprise for assistance.)
- Improve relationships with IT – work with senior leadership to put in place a service level agreement (SLA) that includes response times that are appropriate for contact centers
- Review all policies and procedures – look at everything you’ve got in place and update them to reflect current expectations of customers/prospects, including the unique requiements of new digital channels
- Conduct an audit of all systems/applications – identify which ones need to be updated or replaced and where new ones can greatly enhance the operation of your department
- Perform a security review – work with your company’s security department to identify ways to enhance the security of your contact center
- Assess potential of consolidating front and back-office functions – take a close look at the functions performed by all organizations that handle customer-facing activities; identify redundancies and opportunities where automation will reduce errors, speed up processing and decrease operating costs
The objective of these initiatives is to position your service and sales organizations (front and back-office) to increase their contributions to your company, customers, employees, and bottom line. It’s taken 50 years, but contact centers are finally being recognized for their contributions by enterprise and IT executives. Please use this opportunity to make the necessary investments to continue to move your service organizations forward.