Invite contact center agents to spend time in the call center
Illustration by Cindy Hu

Inviting other department leaders into the center is a great way to provide them with first-hand knowledge of what goes on in the contact center.

Some customer-centric organizations make it an essential activity for new leaders. At ING Direct, department leaders spend a month in the contact center jacking in with agents and listening to calls—and even handling customer complaints. They not only develop a better understanding of the frontline agent’s job, they realize how their own processes impact the contact center, and ultimately, the customer experience.

It doesn’t need to be a month-long commitment to make an impression. The contact center leadership team at Unilever found that a well-planned open house could make a significant impact. Various brand teams were invited into the center for an afternoon. The teams were given an overview of the types of information the center collected and how the frontline agents interacted with callers. Each brand team was asked to discuss the new products being released with the frontline team so that agents could offer their suggestions and ideas.

After the open house, contact center leadership followed up with the various departments to reinforce the idea that the center was willing and able to do more to support each area. The team also asked for feedback on the value of the reports the center was providing to each department and whether there was other information they could be providing.


Make it convenient for unit leaders and execs to spend time in the center by setting up a permanent listening post. As Service Agility’s Jay Minnucci explains: “A listening post is a workstation in the contact center that is always manned with a strong agent and has an extra chair and headset available for anyone who wants to sit and observe call handling” (see “Your Relationship with IT,” Pipeline, October 2011).

An alternative to live listening: Provide peers and execs with access to a library of recorded calls. Classify the calls into categories that will be relevant to different internal functions, Minnucci adds, “such as ‘slow computer response’ to describe calls where agents had to suffer through long response times between screen changes.”

Wisconsin Physician’s Service used a similar technique to help marketing and sales groups understand the benefits the center could provide. Following the release of a promotional mailer for a new product, call center leadership scheduled a meeting with marketing and sales to listen to recorded calls so that the two groups could learn what customers understood, what they didn’t, and what led to more questions. The ability to hear what actual customers thought about the mailer and what their questions were was an eye-opener for the other departments.