What’s New for Contact Centers in 2015

How appropriate.

While here in London on business, I find myself sitting at a Starbucks staring out the window at a very old Windsor Castle as I write this blog. It’s fitting that I’m at Starbucks given that my blog is about the customer experience. Love them or not, Starbucks epitomizes a great customer experience. Why? Because they cater to their customers and their customers feel catered to.

That’s the experience we should all be giving to our customers. The good news is that, today, we have the technologies to achieve this. The challenge is selecting the right technologies and applying them in […]

A Logical Approach to Setting a Schedule Adherence Goal

The dynamic nature of contact centers require us as leaders to have a keen awareness of what our contact center volume and staffing will be at each daily interval. As a contact center matures, a typical growth step includes the addition of resource planning teams and tools to plan workload and resources needed to meet service goals for each of those intervals.

Agents following an assigned schedule, which is known as schedule adherence, have a profound impact on how well a contact center operation can perform. By using a schedule adherence key performance indicator (KPI) your operation team is able […]

How to Put Serve Back into Customer Service

Two of my passions outside of work are baseball and ministry. Nine years ago these two worlds collided as a youth baseball ministry formed to train young athletes to lead and play differently than the example set for them in the media.  Serving at the annual leadership and skills training camp has been one of the greatest joys in my life. Camp is one week away and I can’t wait!

I was just reading Joe Staples’ call to empower agents to deliver a great customer experience and it really struck a chord. Common sense but so uncommon in practice.

Reflecting, […]

Want to deliver a great customer experience? Empower your agents.

An experience last week at an airport “golden arches” emphasized the need to give employees (in contact center speak, those are the agents) the power to deliver a great customer experience.

While I waited for my food, a woman came up to the young man working the register and complained that her order was wrong. She would explain the mix up and the worker would explain which sandwich comes with which combo. This went back and forth several times, with neither of the two of them budging on the point. As an observer, I could see the frustration in both […]

When it’s OK to Give Less Than 100%

We are always being told to give 110% or pushed to always strive for 100%. Sometimes that just isn’t possible. Take schedule adherence in the contact center, for example.

Schedule adherence = are my agents doing what they are scheduled to do?

Typically your contact center has a percentage goal that the employees strive to reach. If your center is anything like the one I used to work in, management may decide to be a little lenient at first and let something like 97% be the goal. You are able to marry-up the idea that you need agents to be there […]

Why Scheduling Alone Can’t Fix a Bad Workforce Management Plan

If your contact center was overstaffed, how well coordinated do you think your schedules would be? How nimble would your workforce management process be?

How about if your contact center was understaffed -would your schedules be efficient? What would your workforce management staff spend their time doing? (Hint: They’d be scrambling to get agents to work more overtime every day.)

I was at lunch yesterday with a workforce managementexecutive whom I really respect, and we were discussing the various components of workforce management processes. His take was that the long term plan was the most important—if unappreciated—aspect of the workforce […]

Four Best Practices for Resource Planning in the Contact Center

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to sit in a planning meeting at a very large insurance provider.  In this meeting they were looking at the contact center network’s performance in order to forecast expected performance, and develop new resource plans going forward. It was neat—the center managers, the capacity planning team, the customer service VP, and the finance manager were all on the conference call.

This was a regular weekly call and I was both encouraged and discouraged by a lot that I heard.  Here are a few observations, with my take on best practices:

Best Practice […]

In a Customer-Centric Contact Center World, Does Agent Satisfaction Really Matter?

For some non-forward-thinking contact centers, the satisfaction of the associates, or agents, isn’t relative. For these centers it is all about efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. What we’ve found is that the best producing contact centers also look at the satisfaction level of the associates or agents. This metric is based on the premise that more satisfied agents will offer a better service experience to the customer, and that more satisfied agents will lead to reduced turnover and in turn create a more experienced workforce delivering a higher level of service. WAIT, before you stop reading with a thought of, […]

How to Strike the Balance Between Customer Experience, Workforce Management, and Efficiency

A few weeks ago, Joe Staples chatted on this blog about the trade-offs between efficiency and customer experience.  In his post, The Answer to the Contact Center Debate Over Efficiency vs. Customer Satisfaction, he discussed a personal experience with an airline that seemed to value efficiency over customer experience. His observation is that companies tend to gravitate toward one primary goal while relegating other goals to a secondary place; in the airline’s case efficiency was the primary goal and customer experience seemed to take a backseat.

But there are always exceptions to the rule (and Joe posited this in his […]

4 Facts Not to Ignore When Designing Your Customer’s Experience

I was having lunch with a call center executive and the conversation drifted to contact center metrics, and more importantly, how she was measured by her boss.  Since a great deal of her job was centered on workforce optimization, I expected her to speak of service levels or service consistency.  But she didn’t.  She told us that her performance and her bonus were tied mostly to customer satisfaction scores and other customer feedback metrics.  Of course service levels and service delivery were important, and she would certainly hear it whenever there was a service delivery failure, but her main goal […]