Thursday, July 21, 2016

Customer Contact, East: Executive MindXchange Chronicles Excerpt
Strategic Thinkers Only: A Forum for Seasoned Customer Contact Executives

Moderated by Mary Tucker

Chief Executive Officer and Founder
UPIC Health



Where are contact centers going as the digital age eliminates the need to interact with a live person – or has it, really? Is disruption possible in the contact center space – where millions are employed around the world – and if yes, what does human disruption look like? Do contact centers complement digital technology, compete against it, or should they be the drivers of its design, development and adoption? Once the great white way of economies of scale, the time is now to rethink and redefine the contact center as not only Customer Service Channels but Brand Communication Centers of Exceptions Management! 

  • Insights on how to broaden organizational thinking to recognize the power of consolidated communications 
  • Best practices for developing service strategies supporting ever evolving end user demographic mix 
  • Success factors in organizational infrastructures supporting cultures of change, embracing of technology and supporting its development


Pressing Issues Facing Participants
  • How to engage executive management?
  • Care center – cost versus sales and how to integrate?
  • Team organizational structure
  • Where does end to end customer experience start and stop?
  • Training and communication of change
  • Steps to becoming an omni channel enterprise and how to navigate the change?
  • How to ensure consistently good customer experience in every contact
  • Cultural change management – particularly with M & A
  • Speed vs. quality
  • Forecasting for seasonality
  • Engagement at the front line
  • Employee experience and tools workflows
  • Maintaining knowledge in complex environments


Two key issues:
1. Engagement Conundrum
  • Executive
  • Frontline Leadership
  • Frontline Staff
  • All staff – around customer experience
2. Team Organizational Structures
  • Frontline roles are becoming more complex
  • Digital age brings intense environments of change 
  • Overwhelm sets in – frontline managers responsible for “too much”

  • Energize organization by putting Executive Leadership on the frontline for an hour (or 30 minutes or a day – however much they are willing to give)
    • Collect insights/surprises and communicate staff wide
    • Create culture of transparency and communication aligned with the shared frontline experience
  • Develop idea portal with reward/incentives for new ideas to elevate customer experience – commit to implementing and measuring impact 
  • Rethink job titles – does “Agent” mean anything anymore? What title reflects the true job function?”
    • Apply creativity – if what they do looks more like a liaison, draft titles that reflect the function. Engage team in developing responsibilities and measurements.
  • Rethink the role of frontline manager – including dispensing with them altogether
    • Elevate skill requirements and salary of frontline to include self- management  (i.e. maybe they are ultimately User Experience Specialists over Customer Service Agents….invest in understanding the details of their jobs)
    • If size of organization mandates point of contact communication by business unit, title the role “Frontline Representative” that rotates among the team.
  • Recognize “Time” is not as meaningful a measurement anymore – seek ways to measure end user “value” (Note: be aware of survey fatigue) including both internal and external points of view.
  • Embrace “Customer Service is not a Channel – it’s an INTENTION”
    • Model that intention across all business units – internal departments in service to each other ensures collective service to customers.

Front line customer service staff have among the toughest jobs in any industry – they are expected to be the brand voice, first (and often last) points of contact through all channels, they have to answer for other business unit’s challenges (or failures) and provide insights into consumer behavior. They use multiple systems to resolve issues and have more performance measurements than any other job in any other industry. They also usually have low wages and no voice in strategy development and tactical deployment!

Think about ways to address the above. Think about making the contact center job a sought after role. Pay equitably and reduce front line management.  Make a commitment to trust the team; toss them a problem to solve and test it out.  Give the front line a seat at the table – often they are the only ones who have the 360 degree view of what’s going on. Don’t fear disruption – encourage it! If your front line is on board with you, everything else falls into place.

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