How to change the call centre culture
Call centres are a part of the way we live today and in many ways, they represent a significant improvement over the old way of doing things, providing a personal service at a time to suit us.
Although millions of dollars have been invested in sophisticated technology, improved business processes and complex performance metrics, the industry’s customer experience is entirely hinged on the interaction between the contact centre staff and the customer.
Have we been guilty of focusing too heavily on improving processes and systems and ignoring the (more complex) human factor?
Dunk claims that there are five distinctive steps in delivering real improvements in customer satisfaction.
These steps are central to aligning the way that front-line staff are recruited, managed and developed.
She suggests that rather than the ‘sheep dip’ training approach, we should be implementing this five-step approach, which focuses on embedding change into day-to-day activity to drive real CX improvements.
Five key steps to change the call centre culture
1. Agree on what ‘good’ looks like
Here, we need to ensure everyone in the organisation is on the same page when it comes to the customer experience the organisation is aiming to deliver.
This must fit closely with the marketing brand strategy and provide a clear, practical description of the customer interaction that will be meaningful to front-line staff.
This action should be performed by a senior cross-business group, encompassing all relevant areas of the business, including marketing and branding, operations and human resources.
2. Line it all up
We need to make sure that the way front-line staff are managed and developed is aligned with the customer experience, providing them with an unavoidable message about the way in which they are expected to behave with customers.
The wider range of development activities conducted in your organisation, including call monitoring processes, career paths, remuneration, training courses and development materials should be refocused to reflect the skills and behaviours that deliver the customer experience.
3. Make sure your managers are equipped to embed the new pathway
Without the ongoing support of line managers who are needed to embed the new skills, behaviours or ways of working, many training programs fall short.
This is an essential step as it builds the understanding and support of line managers and equips them with the tools they need.
Ordinarily, this will include improving their one-to-one and team coaching skills and possibly providing useful tools such as a toolkit of development exercises that they can use with their teams to build an understanding of the customer experience and the skills and behaviours that underpin it.
4. Train new skills and behaviours
Training must be aligned with the customer service experience if it is to provide a consistent message to staff about the skills and behaviours that are important.
It’s important to make sure that any training and development is carefully designed to reflect the customer experience that the organisation is aiming to deliver.
It’s important to note that Frontline staff will generally prefer practical, hands-on training as opposed to a classroom style education, so remember to utilise tools at your disposal, such as the wide range of interactive media that we now have available to us to keep your trainees engaged.
Keep face-to-face training focused on developing customer-handling skills.
5. Measure Progress
Drum suggests that “Change programmes often start in a flush of enthusiasm, which can quickly be followed by pressure to change the approach or cut costs if there is no concrete evidence of progress or return on investment.”
It goes without saying then that the most important aspect of this step agrees to the measures that can be used to benchmark performance and track improvement, before delivering any new concepts on how to improve customer experience.
These steps seem simple in theory, but it’s especially important not to have unreasonably high expectations at the onset.
Performance targets should be set with allowance for training to embed and deliver improvements.
Drum closes by saying “This simple five-step process is a proven approach to delivering effective, memorable customer service through call centre front-line teams.”
Recommended reading: 20 small changes you can make to create a customer-obsessed culture
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