Understand Your Business Better: Take a Walk in the Contact Center
While it’s a practice as old as commerce for employees to complain about the boss, it’s not just a symptom of class envy. Decisions made in boardrooms high above the fray are often disconnected from the way business actually plays out in sales and marketing offices, warehouses, production facilities and contact centers. Decision makers often have too little insight into their products, services and customers to make smart decisions or engage in meaningful workforce management.
It’s the contact center where the business’ pulse can be felt the strongest; after all, it’s the point where the company and its customers meet most often. Contact center agents are ambassadors for the company they work for, and they have more direct contact with customers than anyone else in the organization. To truly understand the business, the C-suite may wish to begin paying a bit more attention to contact center operations. In some cases, executives would benefit from rolling up their sleeves and working there for a day.
In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Alan J. Murray, President and CEO of CareConnect Insurance Company, Inc., noted that nothing taught him more about his company and his customers than spending time in the contact center.
“I make sure to clear a few hours every week to head over to our call center and get on the line, if only to listen in,” he wrote. “I also require every new employee, no matter his or her position or seniority, to start their tenure with the company by undergoing training that includes something similar.”
Murray notes that he and other company employees have learned some important lessons in the contact center. For starters, listening and empathy are the most critical tools for building a great customer experience. (So if you’re trying to save money by shaving minutes off customer calls without regard to quality, you’re going to lose in the long run. It may mean forgoing scripts and encouraging an actual conversation between agents and customers.)
“Like very few other human interactions, a customer service call really teaches you to listen,” wrote Murray. “Is the caller calm and patient, expecting a prolonged and detailed conversation? Or is she rushed, talking on her car’s speakerphone with three kids screaming in the background? Different people have different needs, and if you fail to acknowledge that basic fact – if you fail to empathize with each customer as an individual – you’re never going to run a great company, no matter what business you’re in.”
Succeeding in providing a great customer experience with workforce management is not about winning at all costs, but about fostering a sense of community, both with your employees and your customers. It’s easy to forget, up in the C-suite, that your business lives and thrives or shrivels and dies with customers. When you start to see customers as an afterthought and contact center operations and workforce management as an expense, you may find that you have fewer and fewer customers. By emphasizing customers and the contact center agents who support them, you’ll narrow the gulf between company management, customers and the workers who support them.