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Transforming Your Contact Center Into an Essential Corporate Contributor

Transforming Your Contact Center Into an Essential Corporate Contributor

It’s no longer enough to deliver an outstanding customer experience, something too few organizations do anyway. Contact centers that want to be relevant in the era of social media need to transform from slow-moving, reactive organizations into real-time and even proactive departments that are a step ahead of customer needs.
 
Warning Signs
Here are some signs that your contact center is at risk of being marginalized:
  • You provide only customer service
  • You support only calls, emails and possibly text/chat sessions
  • Peer organizations, such as marketing and sales, as well as senior executives, refuse to meet with you to understand trends and customer sentiment
  • Your budget is cut annually, and you are asked to “do more with less”
  • It’s extremely difficult to get approval for a system upgrade or new investment
  • Your contact center has been outsourced to an offshore location, or outsourcing discussions are underway

These are some of the warning signs, and there is little doubt that more than half of the customer service-oriented contact centers in the United States are currently at risk, or will be in the next few years. Senior executives in many enterprises would gladly eliminate their support organization (despite their desire to deliver great service) if they could figure out how to do it without alienating their customers.

 

Changing You Destiny
If your organization is at risk based on the criteria above, it’s time for change, and it’s up to the contact center manager to lead the charge. Sure, this may stir up trouble, but the risk of doing nothing is far greater. While customer service downsizing will reduce operating costs in the short-term, the long-term impact to the company’s bottom line will be negative, as evidenced by well-publicized examples, like Dell and United. Senior executives have a fiduciary responsibility to improve the profitability of their companies, and too many have already shown a willingness to make radical changes to enhance their short-term financial position.

Getting Started
 
The steps for getting started with contact center transformation may vary, but the guidelines below lay the foundation for change. Each contact center should implement the changes that best position them to become relevant within their organization, so that senior management sees them as an important contributor to the company’s bottom line rather than a low-value cost center. Here are three high-value approaches to consider:
  1. Transform the contact center into a revenue-generating profit center
    1. Work with sales and marketing to formulate a plan to convert your contact center from a cost center into a revenue-generating organization
      1. Reach out to sales and marketing and ask for their support in transitioning the contact center into a sales organization
      2. Establish realistic departmental sales goals
      3. Keep start-up costs low and prove your ability to meet them before asking for major investment dollars
    2. Retrain agents so that they can identify sales opportunities and close them successfull
  2. Assume responsibility for handling social media interactions
    1. Work with marketing to take over the responsibility for handling social media interactions
    2. Draft new policies and procedures jointly with marketing and legal departments
    3. Establish rules of engagement for consistently representing your brand in a professional manner
    4. Define social media metrics for measuring the performance of the service organization
    5. Select and retrain staff, or hire and train new agents to handle social media interactions
    6. Establish social media service levels to set appropriate response time objectives for each social media channel
  3. Take on back-office processing
    1. Identify back-office tasks that can be handled by contact center agents during slow periods
    2. Determine the best way to identify contact center slow periods
    3. Establish a process for distributing and managing the new work
    4. Train agents to handle the back-office tasks

For all three of these transformational initiatives, contact center leaders will need to modify their key performance indicators and quality assurance, agent evaluation, and rewards and recognition programs to support the new contact center mission.

Final Thoughts
Contact centers are essential to the long-term viability of most enterprises, but they must do more than deliver an outstanding customer experience in order to be considered essential corporate contributors. Contact center leaders need to take the initiative and implement the changes necessary to make their department highly relevant to their enterprise. There are many ways to achieve this essential goal, but the best one is to transform into a revenue-generating profit center that builds outstanding and lasting relationships with customers in their channel of choice.

Ask the Experts

Question:
What are some of the most common metrics used to evaluate contact center and agent performance when handling social media interactions?

Answer:
As with any servicing channel, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are needed to track and measure the volume and service level of social media customer service transactions. Contact centers that handle social media interactions also need productivity, effectiveness and quality metrics to measure how efficiently agents are handling these types of interactions. These KPIs and metrics are just starting to emerge, and are expected to grow and change during the next few years as organizations gain experience using social media to address service issues. Here is a list of some of the KPIs that are being used to measure the number of social media interactions handled, and how they can be calculated:
  • Abandon Rate: Percentage of total posts that are not answered
  • Applicable Volume: Total volume of social posts received that require a company response … Read More

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.