As a consultant, I get the opportunity to provide an outside-in perspective to clients. Some of them request this perspective asking questions such as “What is the rest of my industry doing?” or “How do other contact centers approach this problem?” They are genuinely curious about how to leverage the learnings of others and apply it to their own business problem. Others are not so open to this type of outside-in perspective. Often times, clients take a defensive stance trying to justify that their operation is so unique, benchmarks or best practices just don’t apply to them. Usually, this feedback comes from leaders that have grown up in the operation for many years. These leaders get so attached to their own operational construct, that any process or operational suggestion meets with a closed minded and defensive response. The resulting business outcomes are predictable, little change in customer satisfaction scores, operational metrics, and employee engagement scores. Worse yet, your company gets outpaced by your competition.
The challenge comes in how you get your leaders into a position to see things with a different lens. Many companies send their teams through some kind of packaged leadership training program. Others, send them to conferences where they see presentations / best practices from others who have faced the same business challenges in the hopes that they will come back and try to apply some of these to their companies’ operation. In either case, there isn’t enough emotional investment to make real change happen. Some minor changes may occur, but nothing of real business value.
From my experience, the most material changes in operational results occur when leaders have an emotional and vested connection with overall company outcomes. Instead of holding them accountable for handle time, utilization, productivity, and other standard contact center metrics, try holding them accountable for company level metrics. Sales / revenue growth, customer acquisition, shareholder value, and other top level score carded metrics for the company’s executive team. This will force contact center leaders up and out of the operation and talk to other leaders about how the contact center contributes to the company bottom line. So, instead of looking at handle time as a measure of success, they will start looking at company value per contact. This will result in your contact center connecting the dots to other business processes throughout the company, which will in turn drive real business value.
I often ask “C” level leaders what value their contact center provides to the company. More often than not, they can’t answer the question. I have a standard response for these situations. “Close down your contact center for a week, and your customers will certainly tell you where the real value is.”
Now, go change something!