Getting Top Level Support
Illustration by Claire Jones

How do you dispel the cost center image and focus your top-level executives’ attention on the value that great service provides? That has been a long-time challenge for many contact center leaders. The answer may lie in the information that you’re sharing with senior execs.

“The main reason why executives are not tuned in to our economic value is because it simply has not been defined in those terms,” says Service Agility’s Jay Minnucci. “Strategic documents focus on improving customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores, and our performance reporting focuses on tactical, logistical items, such as volume and handle time.”

Kathleen Peterson of PowerHouse Consulting refers to this as “bottom-up thinking,” which she says leads to bad technology choices, poor process design and inefficient crossfunctional relationships.

Think Like an Exec

You’re not likely to have much success getting executive support for your cause by presenting them with reports filled with performance metrics like service level, quality or abandonment rates.

“You shouldn’t stop reporting on classic contact center metrics, but you need to contextualize those in formats that the senior level will understand,” Peterson says. “It’s how you manage how you’re seen. If you only report on productivity, then you’ll be seen as a factory. Start thinking the way that executives think, in terms of revenue, margins, market share and customer experience. Every time you make a recommendation for process improvement, an investment in systems, training or staff, relate it to a senior-level category, such as the impact on the overall vision, financial growth and efficiency, and the customer experience. Adopting top-down thinking will allow you to build a relationship of mutual respect.”

Practical Pointer IconPractical pointer: Most contact center reports focus solely on how well the operation performs (service level, quality rates), not how much value it generates (cross-sell opportunities, loyalty rates), says Minnucci. He recommends changing your reports to show the value metrics first and competency metrics second.

Watch Your Language

Senior executives will find it easier to relate to you if you know how to speak their language. Make sure you have a firm grasp of financial terms, and avoid using call center-related acronyms and jargon when speaking with execs. Think in terms of the company’s pain points and solutions you can provide.

“Your language is probably dominated by discussions of competency and related activities,” Minnucci points out. “Your communication with internal decision makers should also be infused with the value of what you do. How do you contribute directly and indirectly to loyalty and repeat revenue? What does your organization know about customers based on your work, and how has that influenced other key decisions in the business? How have you provided nearly instant feedback on new issues or problems, and how has that helped to avoid complaints, lawsuits and negative publicity? You want people to know that your team does their job well… but first they have to know that the job matters.”