Off Center
Until relatively recently, there was a freeze on back-pats for the contact center from executives. As hard as managers like you have worked over the past couple of decades to delight customers and generate/protect revenue, the contact center’s value has been under-appreciated by the big boys and girls.

But thanks to a horrific economy, many executives’ country clubs have recently closed down, leaving C-Level folks with a lot more time to recognize the true impact the contact center has on the business.

So, now that you have their full attention, it’s time to drive home the fact that the contact center is one of the most critical components of the enterprise, deserving of much respect, support and even a window or two.

Here are some best practices for making CEOs and senior managers see the light.   

Share the wealth of customer data and feedback. The contact center is a gold mine of key customer information, insight and insults. Every single customer call, email, chat, tweet and post-contact survey provides data and profanity that, when properly harnessed and shared, can lead to product/service improvements and dramatic increases in customer loyalty and revenue.

It’s critical to communicate this to senior management, and to provide specific examples of how key data and trends uncovered via quality monitoring, speech analytics, and C-sat measurement have helped to make the enterprise suck a lot less.

You’ll also want to share key customer data/trends with other departments like Marketing, Sales and Product Development to enhance interdepartmental relationships and strategy. Just be sure that the contact center gets the credit for any improvements and related revenue increases that come from the data gathered and provided by the center. Consider requiring other departments to sign a formal document stating that they won’t take all the credit when senior management asks who is responsible for such improvements. If the other departments refuse to sign, then you are perfectly within your rights to make them pinky swear. If they still refuse, you have no other choice but to threaten to release footage of them trying to breakdance at the last company Christmas party on YouTube. 

Edu-tain execs and members of key departments on contact center essentials. To ensure that your center gets the support and resources it needs to make customers not want to punch you, it is essential that execs and key members of other departments within the organization have a solid understanding of how contact centers function and are managed. While some centers are fortunate enough to have company execs with ample contact center experience and who thus don’t need to be schooled on how things work, such instances are rare since people who manage contact centers typically go insane long before they get promoted to an executive position in the enterprise

Consequently, many senior officials are relatively clueless when it comes to queues, quality and customer relationships. To help reduce such cluelessness, you must find a way to communicate the fundamentals of contact center management to execs in a way that is palatable for them. Keep in mind that most senior officers are accustomed to being constantly entertained on luxury cruise ships and first-class flights, thus they easily get bored whenever somebody tries to deliver information in a traditional, static manner – such as via meetings, memos, reports, etc. The best contact centers take a much more dynamic approach, captivating and educating execs by creating customized puppet shows and/or musicals that have contact center themes. To add more interaction/participation, you might consider creating a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style game show where execs compete to demonstrate their contact center knowledge. Then again, such an approach might not be very effective with your C-level officers since they already are multi-millionaires and thus likely won’t give a damn about a $100,000 play-money question on what happens to occupancy when service level increases. 

Stick a headset on execs. Smart contact center managers as well as those who read my blog don’t just tell execs all about what happens each day on the center; they show them. Consider inviting several C-level officers from your organization into the contact center to sit in and listen to a few customer calls. Then, when your invitation is rejected, consider drugging several C-level officers and carrying them down to the contact center to sit in and – once the tranquilizer wears off – listen to a few customer calls.

To enhance the chances of getting the support and empathy the center needs, be sure to route at least one crazy caller to each exec plugged in with an agent. This will enable the execs to experience first-hand how challenging and maddening the contact center can be, which will likely lead them to increase the center’s budget – or at least to agree to install anti-depressant dispensers in the restrooms.

If your center doesn’t usually receive calls from any maladjusted sociopaths, just enlist somebody from your IT department to call in as a customer.

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