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Our contact center and back-office operations don’t get along and don’t work well together, which is hurting the customer experience. How do we fix this? What are some ways to reverse this and foster collaboration?

Question:

Our contact center and back-office operations don’t get along and don’t work well together, which is hurting the customer experience. How do we fix this? What are some ways to reverse this and foster collaboration?

Answer:

Customers (or members/constituents) think of an organization or company as a single entity, not as a group of independent departments. Although front-office (contact center) and back-office operations have traditionally been treated as independent silos, savvy organizations now view interactions from the same perspective as their customers, who expect – or demand – a smooth and seamless experience. Here are some best practices DMG recommends for reducing friction and improving the working relationship between contact centers and back-office operations.

  • Manage both operations to a set of shared goals. Even if the two business units do not report to the same department, reaching toward the same objectives ensures the two groups are not working at cross-purposes.
  • Establish a cross-functional team to identify better ways of working together and expediting workflow. This team should consist of a cross-section of roles in each area, including front-line employees, supervisors, subject matter experts (SMEs), etc. Provide recognition and incentives for ideas that are implemented.
  • Set up a “buddy system” to match employees in the contact center and back office with their own “go-to” resource as an escalation path for time-sensitive or critical issues.
  • Cross-train employees in both areas to provide contingency resources who can assist the other department when customer calls or back-office work volumes out-pace staffing levels. Formalize this process by establishing levels associated with competencies, e.g. Tier I, Tier II, etc., with pay differentials.
  • If the front- and back-office operations are co-located, bring the two groups together whenever possible, e.g., cross-departmental focus groups, executive town halls with employees from all areas rather than discrete sessions, monthly or quarterly “meet and greet” pizza lunches, etc.
  • Enhance the new-hire training program in both areas to include a module on workflow. Employees in the front and back offices will interact more effectively if they know where their work is coming from and where it is going. This allows everyone an opportunity to understand how their job performance impacts the process and, ultimately, the customer experience.