The contact center is a necessity for any mid-large size organization. It is where customer inquiries are handled across multiple channels, such as the phone, email or live chat. It is a bustling place of energy, activity and collaboration and often a starting point for many who want to forge a career in corporate.
When built and supported the right way, the contact center can be a highly engaging and interactive environment. Palpable energy can be felt if you were to walk the floor and observe employees in action. It is a place of discovery, learning and, most importantly, the hub of customer information. No other place in a company can provide the same insights regarding how customers are feeling.
Too often, however, contact centers are undervalued and underappreciated, and the broader organization is unaware of the value it brings. As a result, employees feel as if they are working on an island without the needed support, communication and framework to be successful.
Why are contact centers seen as less important?
There are few reasons: Firstly, contact centers are places where customers go to resolve problems, and that can often involve frustration, anger and hurt – this can make for a difficult job (for the employee). Secondly, contact centers are sometimes micro-managed by extensive metrics making for a rigid and suffocating environment. Combined, this can lead to a stressful workplace.
Finally, stress negatively impacts front-line employee performance and ultimately causes attrition, if not addressed. With employee attrition, the consistency of service provided wanes, leading to reduced customer satisfaction and ultimately, customer attrition. Lather, rinse, repeat.
To prevent this cycle from starting, a lot must happen, starting with:
- Making an enterprise-wide commitment to leverage the contact center to its fullest potential
- Developing a mandate for how the contact center will be empowered and supported
- Establishing a regular forum to hear from contact center leaders and employees
- Defining the contact center as an extension of the customer and treating it as such
- Financing the framework required to make the contact center a differentiaton
- Empowering the contact center as a real-time decision maker
- Compensating employees well and facilitating a path for career progression
- Investing in processes and technologies that make the employee experience simpler
The contact center is a strategic advantage. It is the center of multichannel customer engagement, a starting place for future leaders and a major source of customer information and insight. It represents a substantial portion of the corporate workforce and is a center of data gathering and analysis.
When leveraged to its fullest potential, the contact center offers monumental value. With unconditional enterprise support behind it, the possibilities are limitless. The front-line employees who interact with customers are a company’s most valued asset. They can help senior leaders understand what’s working well and what isn’t (for customers) and play an instrumental role in making things better.
Creating a contact center capable of reaching its full potential takes a cohesive and concentrated effort. It begins with a plan for how to make it a strategic priority. Strong leadership is crucial to champion its needs, especially awareness and support from the entire enterprise. Along with a highly engaged workforce and the right tools, technologies and processes, the contact center can be exactly what it should be: A customer experience differentiator creating competitive advantage.
By: Eli Federman, Omnichannel and Contact Center Practice Lead at Burnie Group