Your Contact Centre is not the Problem, but a Symptom

Photo by Charanjeet Dhiman on Unsplash

Contact Centres are often in the news. They receive much bad press, both from customers and company management. There are often complaints of missed and unreturned calls, rude and uncaring agents, ignorance of processes, delayed responses to mails, and many others. 

The typical response is to drill down to specific  cases and figure out what went wrong (which is necessary). But alongside specific complaints is the general criticism of the department as a whole. In many service organizations, it is not unusual to have sales, customer service, and other departments descend on the contact centre as the source of all their woes.

What organizations seldom realize is that the challenges with the contact centre are ultimately a reflection of problems with the entire organization. Contact centres don’t operate in isolation. They are a result of how your entire team thinks, what is considered a priority, and where you think utmost attention should be given directed to. I think of them as a converging point, a destination where several streams of inefficiency and challenges meet.

If your contact centre is generally poor, it indicates how poorly the company views its customers. Where agents are not well trained or are inadequately equipped, it indicates that the organization is not truly interested in providing assistance and support to its customers. Poor tools and infrastructure in the contact centre affect turnaround time as well as quality of interaction. Where an organization is content to keep using outdated equipment or archaic systems, it says much about its vision and growth plans.  A rude and uncaring set of agents are often a reflection of staff attitude generally. And when the company culture is boorish, insensitive, and elitist, don’t expect your agents to be much different.

In other words, to fix your contact centre, you must look beyond the contact centre. You need to address the general orientation of the organization. 

• Who are you?

• Where are you headed?

• What principles guide life within the organization?

• Are your processes really oriented towards your customers?

• Do your staff really believe this?

The term engagement has been around in management circles for a while. According to Gallup, it denotes the extent to which employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. Engaged staff gladly serve with a smile. Without engagement, you can’t get your staff to go the extra mile for your customers. And you can’t build engagement without a clear sense of what your organization stands for.

Don’t fix your contact centre by merely fixing your contact centre. It is a mirror that reflects the health of the company as a whole. Getting your contact centre right starts with aligning the entire organization around the customer- listening to her, meeting her needs, and gaining her loyalty. You can’t have it any other way.

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