Improving Relationships to Boost Contact Center Performance

Oct 28, 2009 4:12 PM  By

Stymied how to improve the performance of your contact center without adding to your current budget? If so, you’re not alone.

In conducting numerous contact center best-practice studies, I’ve discovered what stellar organizations do to be the best–even in lean times. These are just a few practical, low-cost, “start today” relationship strategies that reap incredible company, customer, and employee rewards.

1) Advertise what your contact center can do.

The contact center is often viewed as the “necessary evil” of the corporation. The truth is that contact centers add value, but not everyone in your company knows how and how much.

Best-practice managers invest heavily to increase the awareness of their contact center’s value throughout the company. When they do, studies reveal that agents express their appreciation by staying longer.

This reduction in negative attrition saves the company thousands of dollars. And this renewed corporate awareness is communicated through to the customer. Our studies have shown a positive correlation between customer satisfaction and how “aware” the rest of the company is of the contact center’s value.

You need to enlighten the rest of the company about what your center can do. Become a PR master. Use all of the tools available to you—print media, Intranet, signage, liaisons, speechmakers, etc., —to establish not only your contact center’s present value but also its potential value.

Get that inner marketer revved up. Make it a priority to sell what you do–and can do–on the rest of the company.

2) Develop strong interdepartmental relationships.

Once you have that PR campaign going, start building your relationship with other departments. Strong interdepartmental relationships ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to corporate strategy.

Leading managers assign interdepartmental liaisons to ensure a continual “cross pollination” of ideas. They adapt presentations to ensure the nuanced “language” of the other department is mirrored and only share customer intelligence that is relevant to that specific department. The last thing any department head wants is to be swamped with data that has no value to his objectives.

Don’t wait for other managers to include you. Go ahead–get involved.

Talk with managers to see what kind of customer intelligence they need to succeed. Create easy-to-read, targeted summaries just for them.

Discover what meetings are scheduled and ask permission to send a liaison when you know you can contribute something of value. This continual exchange of interdepartmental intelligence is well worth the effort.

3) Involve senior management in contact center activities.

There are numerous benefits to involving senior management in contact center activities. For one, you’ll have more motivated agents.

Best-practice managers ask senior management to speak in new hire orientation about the role agents play in the success of the customer experience. This sets the tone for an agent’s career and makes it easier for him or her to understand the importance of their role in developing a positive customer relationship.

The increased motivation also extends to top management—especially when you invite senior executives to shadow agents during customer contacts. This enables them to listen not only to how agents handle the contacts but also to the voice of the customer. This “first-hand” knowledge of what customers are saying motivates senior management to take action.

Finally, you may find you get greater support when management is aware and involved. Best-practice studies reveal these engaged executives invest more in contact center initiatives than do noninvolved senior management.

Kathryn E. Jackson, Ph.D, is president of Ocean City, NJ-based contact center consultancy Response Design Corp.