Contact and Call Centre managers and directors are highly occupied with helping customers connect in the best way possible with their brand. Central to achieving that is a focus on designing and building the ideal contact centre strategy.
Where should managers be directing their efforts? What will their customers be expecting from them, and what are their main to-do list items over the next few months?
We’ve put together an informative set of steps to help contact centre managers create a strategy. The ebook draws on some contrarian thinkers, and also traditional sources.
The following is a summary of our ebook on Contact Centre Strategy. Download the full ebook, which contains more details and tactical tips on following through with your programme.
Step 1: Define “Strategy” For Your Team
Strategy is an over-used term and is often used to describe a list of goals, tactics, or technology options. At its core, ‘strategy’ means defining a specific problem, documenting a guiding policy that deals with the original diagnosis, then taking coherent step-by- step action that aligns with the guiding policy.
As US management professor Richard Rumelt has observed (‘The Perils of Bad Strategy’), there’s a lot of poor decision making in the workplace; however, managers who recognise bad strategy are better at designing good strategies. Here are some things to look out for.
- No defined problem – a business projection that doesn’t acknowledge the issues will scupper its chances of success. If you don’t identify and analyze real world obstacles, there isn’t a strategy but simply a list of desirable things you wish to happen.
- Goals without context – This builds on the last point: without detailing how to get to where you want to go, not just ‘This is where we want to go,’ there is no helpful way to get what is needed.
- Unclear objectives don’t help – A leader may successfully identify the key challenge and propose an overall approach to dealing with the challenge, but if the ‘strategic objectives’ are just as hard to achieve as the final goal, then the exercise has not achieved anything. In sharp contrast, a good strategy that takes into account actual resources and competencies will make progress.
- Fluff is unhelpful – By ‘fluff’, Rumelt means stating the obvious but under a fog of buzzwords that seem complex or expert, but which don’t deliver much insight.
As Rumelt writes, “Despite the roar of voices equating strategy with ambition, leadership, vision, or planning, strategy is none of these. Rather, it is coherent action backed by an argument. And the core of the strategist’s work is to discover the crucial factors in a situation and design a way to coordinate and focus actions to deal with them.” In other words, managers need to be honest, clear, make the tough choices, and they will reap the rewards. They might even win a decisive encounter or two.
Step 2: To Serve Customers, Put Your Team First
Putting the customer first starts with empowering your team to make decisions, letting them know what the right thing to do is, and making sure they have the tools they need to get the job done. In an environment where employees dictate how customers feel about your business, putting the employee before the customer is important and decisive.
“By putting employees first, you can deliver your promise of customers first. If the business of management and managers is not to put employees first – there is no way you can get the customer first.” Karl Moore, Associate Professor of Management at McGill University
Step 3: Know The Customer’s ‘Jobs to be Done’
Demographic data, conversion rates, A/B testing, RPC rates, all essential. However, the data inundation can be overwhelming. A remedy for this is to focus on our customers ‘Jobs to be Done’. What the authors of this Harvard Business Review article argued is to, “Home in on the progress the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance – what the customer hopes to accomplish.”
If managers start thinking about the customer, not as an abstract set of data points but as an individual who needs/wants to accomplish an end, that will get them into their heads far quicker, say these thinkers.
Before you look for a disruptive strategy to create and launch a new product, make sure you understand what Job prospective customers are looking to do — and who you are competing with. That is the foundation of successful innovation. If you nail that, the rest will fall in line..” Karen Dillon, Former Editor of Harvard Business Review
Step 4: Re Visit Or Create Your Call Centre Strategy’s KPIs
The last step mentioned data inundation. That being said, stats and figures are the lifeblood of any large contact centre. They drive the decisions day-to-day, and at a larger strategic level.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Having the right ones will mean your business is much more likely to be getting things right if it makes sure its agents are performing efficiently – as the right measurements will make an important difference. What KPIs could contribute to a successful contact centre strategy? As you will know, contact centre metrics tend to fall under the following categories.
- People Management: Am I getting the best out of my people?
- Customer Satisfaction: How well am I serving my customers?
- Operational Efficiency: How well is my operation performing?
Step 5: Enable Great Customer Experience With Great Technology
The last step in building a convincing, attainable and sustainable contact centre strategy is to ensure the infrastructure to support your customers, your agents and your business goals is in place.
Customer Experience is becoming more of a focus for brands achieving competitive advantage. Technology is key to this (after employee/customer interactions). Therefore, businesses should take note of the top technology trends at the moment, which are omni-channel solutions that integrate enterprise systems and connect customer journeys.
According to Gartner, technologies and approaches for the call centre that are proven within the industry or on-the-rise include Proactive Communications, Contact Center as a Service, Work-at-Home Agent Technology, Social Media Engagement Apps and Customer Engagement Centre Quality Management technologies.
Call Centre Strategy: Summary
Bold contact centre strategies lead to overcoming a seemingly unbeatable odds. This means assessing the decisive factors in each circumstance, considering the options, and then focusing resources to make a decisive difference.
Step 1: Be bold, but avoid the self-delusions that can accompany bad strategic thinking. Question yourself, your motives – and then diagnose the problem, identify ways to cope with the obstacles, and lay out coherent steps to accomplish the revised policy
Step 2: You will achieve far more if you get your team behind you. Treat them well and with respect and make your behavior accountable to them and they will back you
Step 3: Strive to think yourself into the customer’s shoes. Avoid seeing them as an abstract set of data points, but as an individual who needs/wants to accomplish an end. Everything has a human dimension. Think about how to sell an experience not just a ‘solution’.
Step 4: Look to measure everything you can. Have KPIs and make sure to adjust and readjust to make sure they always stay 100% relevant. Having the right measurements will make an important difference around customer satisfaction, efficiency, business value and sales and people management
Step 5: Finally, ensure you have the right technology in place. Make sure not to buy tools for the sake of it, or because they are the latest thing – use technology to deliver your business strategy. Good luck as you plan your best approach to contact centre strategy success!Published on: 25th June 2018