RANTS & RAVES!
Randomly Timed Musings
Dear Santa …
By Kathleen M. Peterson
Chief Vision Officer, PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.
Another year has passed and it is time once again to celebrate this year’s Contact Center achievements. It is a time to ponder all those wonderful "learning moments" and the TONS of accomplishments we have made. However, I must alert you to some "gifts" that Contact Centers need this year because there is still so much more to be done. I guess you can think of it as a "Wish List" for 2019.
Santa, we could all use stronger and better COMMUNICATION. Much of what happens within companies impacts the Contact Center. It sure would be nice for people to know about new programs, products, services, and objectives … to name a few! I know it is hard to share all the right information with all the right people all the time. But how about making it somebody's job to keep information flowing all the way to the front line?
Now that I mentioned COMMUNICATION, is it too much to suggest that some attention be paid to CHANGE MANAGEMENT? Just imagine how your reindeer would feel if they found out on Christmas Eve (just before the great ride was to begin), that you had decided to go with an alternative to reindeer power! An "engine" had been installed in your sleigh and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen would no longer be needed. Only Rudolph would be retained to ride along with Santa for the sake of the brand! I know that with your very high standards for team management something like this would never be allowed to happen. However, things like this occur often to Contact Centers.
You see Santa, Contact Centers sit in the center of the enterprise. When initiatives are underway or when "things" change in one part of the company, the Contact Center is very likely to be impacted in either process, policy, procedure, or Customer Experience. When Contact Center leadership is not included or the change is not integrated within the operation, the likelihood of failure increases greatly. When CHANGE MANAGEMENT is left off the list of things to do, the change may lead to more chaos and confusion rather than to efficiency and productivity.
Speaking of “SPEAKING UP” … Can you please help Contact Center bosses talk back to their bosses when they make up dumb stuff for the Contact Center to do? For example, you ask. How about a scripted greeting that is uncomfortable for the front line to say and difficult for the callers to hear that says, "Thank you for calling XYZ company; how can I brighten your day today?" Callers tend to respond with cryptic statements like, "You could brighten my day if I didn't have to call you because my order was wrong." Now where is the frontline agent supposed to go with that?
If you can, please help us find a way to make executives actually SEE and FUND the Contact Center appropriately for the objectives that have been set. And while I am at it, might I include on my “Wish List” that Contact Center leaders are able to interact effectively at the executive level? They need to represent clearly and succinctly customer needs that are being met, brand activity that is taking place, processes that are being improved upon, and all the contributions the Contact Center makes to the strategic mission of the enterprise.
Santa, there is a lot of talk going on in the executive suite about the Customer Experience; what we really need is to know exactly what we are trying to accomplish. Contact Centers need to craft a set of behaviors to teach and monitor in order to deliver on this important objective.
Santa, please build some SUCCESSION PLANNING into hiring for the Contact Center. It is crazy how difficult it has become to fill even supervisory positions. Every time the Contact Center engages in hiring full-time, frontline staff, some percentage of those candidates ought to be dedicated to people with potential to grow. There was a time when companies formalized management training for programs and hired people to actually advance through the ranks! If you could bring back this mentality, I think it would be wonderful for Contact Centers and for businesses overall.
And please, please get us TRAINING for frontline managers. So much talent is twisted up and wasted in not quite knowing to do and being forced to draw upon one’s own inexperience to lead. This is frustrating, confusing, and a fast way to lose great potential.
How about some TRAINING for frontline staff in de-escalating emotions and handling difficult situations? There is a lot of anger in the world today; many people seem to be angry and there are a lot of short fuses out there. To avoid suffering the wrath of the masses, the Contact Center front line must master the ability to de-escalate a potentially emotional situation. This is a win-win-win skill. The agent wins because they become more professional (less frustrated), the customer wins because their issue has been heard and resolved professionally, and the company wins for obvious reasons. It is a good return on investment, but this investment is more like a 401(k) because deposits must be made routinely to grow the investment. The skill of de-escalation requires focus and attention. It is not a two-hour program; it is not a full-day program; it is an all-the-time program. Once mastered, this skill changes people's lives professionally and assists many, many, many, people personally.
I know I am asking for so much Santa, but I do have two last quick requests. First, is any chance we can inspire today's men to be more chivalrous? I cannot tell you the number of times I have witnessed women carrying heavy loads in the presence of men with empty arms. Offering to help carry a heavy load, move chairs around a room, or lift luggage in our “faced-paced” and “you’re on your own” world would go a long way to building a better personal brand and demonstrate a chivalrous knack. And if you can help men become more chivalrous, maybe there is hope to make women less gossipy!!!
Anyway dear Santa, I hope your season goes as planned for you and all your reindeer! It has been a great year and we looking forward to a healthy, happy, productive, and chivalrous 2019.
Almost forgot, you might ask friends on your “Contact Center” list to purchase Backstage at the Customer Experience: Musings for Contact Center Leaders (Kindle Edition) on Amazon.com.
PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.
360 Route 101, Suite 6, Bedford, NH 03110
(Dear Santa, December 2018)