Nobody Wakes Up Wanting to Call a Contact Centre


It’s a beautiful summer’s morning and, as I wake up, the very first thought that pops into my head is: “Today, I want to call a contact centre!”


No, not really. And yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds because no-one, not even me – who works in the industry – wakes up wanting to phone a contact centre.

It’s about the same feeling you have about visiting the dentist. You go because you have to, because there’s a problem or you’re in pain, but you don’t want to go to the dentist. You don’t want to go because you know it’s only going to cause you more pain and cost more money.

Yet, in the contact centre industry, this is something we often forget because we are too busy focussing on what it’s costing us to serve these customers. We look at metrics, systems and staff, embrace new technologies and engage in training, but to what end?

We’ve built divisions, businesses and careers around the contact centre industry focussing on customer service and how to get it right. But does it really make a difference to the customer?

Are we really addressing what they want, what’s causing them pain, what’s costing them time or money?

The customer journey

Even within the same demographic, customers have different buying habits. Some are impulse buyers and won’t think twice about returning an item if it doesn’t work properly. But for others, returning an item is a real hassle.

Many people live time-pressured lives, so they need things to run smoothly when it comes to customer service and their own individual journey.

How can contact centres help?

By recognising the hassle factor for the customer and taking that load off them.

Empowering agents to be able to quickly recognise and resolve the problem behind the call, making the customer’s life easier with minimal fuss.

Recognise where customers are in their customer journey, as well as where they have been.

What customers don’t want is a drawn out process, especially after they’ve reached a purchase decision.

What they want most of all is a quick resolution, no hassle, no fuss.

The next best thing

The unfortunate reality about contact centres is that agents are already at a disadvantage before a call has even been answered. People don’t want to make a call in the first place, but it’s the next best thing to finding a solution.

Often there’s a lot of emotion attached to the problem: disappointment, frustration, confusion or anger. This is quite understandable when someone has gone to a lot of effort to get a special gift for a loved one, for example. Or if they’ve saved up for a specific item, only to discover it isn’t what they expected.

By understanding where the customer is coming from and why they feel the way they do, you’re already on the right track. The stress and frustration they feel up until that point will go away because there’s someone else to take on the burden, and that person is equipped and empowered to be able to find a solution.

Working in a contact centre requires selflessness. It’s not about where you are, what kind of day you’re having or how many angry customers you’ve already had to field in a day.

Yes, it’s a job. And, there’s a business to run and systems in place to help make things more efficient. But problems are seldom resolved by a one-size-fits-all solution, because behind the problems are individual people and, more than anything, they need to know they don’t have to figure things out on their own.

The human touch, empathy and empowerment to be able to find an efficient resolution are what makes the biggest difference. However, even with the will to do that, your frontline teams will be working blindfolded and with their hands behind their back if the systems don’t work for them. More than half of all the agents I speak to say their current systems are a bigger hindrance than they are a help.

Your systems should show omnichannel contact so the agent has full visibility of the customer journey at their fingertips. The lifetime value of the customer should be taken into account when the agent makes empowered decisions for resolutions.

Customers do not want to phone you in the first place, so give them a choice of contact channels and make sure their customer records are connected.

From the moment they call, they are expecting their situation to improve, so give your agents the best chance at doing so by connecting the dots.

How do you create an omnichannel customer engagement strategy?

Learn more by attending Customer Contact Expo 2016 where you can listen to my upcoming session on Sept. 28 and demo the omnichannel customer engagement cloud solutionPureCloud Engage℠, from Interactive Intelligence Group by visiting booth C540.

Carolyn Blunt

Carolyn Blunt

After completing a degree in Management Sciences at Manchester University, and a post-graduate Diploma in People Management (CIPD), Carolyn worked in HR and L&D for both large and small employers before becoming an in-house Training Consultant at Fujistu Services in the Service Desk division. In 2003 Carolyn set up Real Results Training Consultancy and remained very much in the world of Service Desks, Contact Centres and Customer Services, working with clients such as United Utilities, Bupa, Serco and the Co-operative Insurance designing both front line and leadership programmes and huge culture change programmes. As well as running the company, Carolyn still loves to get stuck in with clients and relishes training design, delivery, coaching and speaking engagements. In her down time Carolyn enjoys relaxing with her family and horses.