I’ve been on my soapbox for years touting the importance of aligning the business strategy, the contact center operations strategy, and the contact center technology strategy. Strategies are aligned when:
- You can map the relationship between business and contact center goals.
- The center is equipped with (or pursuing) technology that enables both.
- Operational practices and staffing enable the center to meet target metrics.
- The contact center budget is synchronized with plans to support business growth and change.
Although there have always been clear benefits to connecting the strategic dots from top to bottom, the global pandemic has changed this persistent recommendation into an imperative. Social distancing guidelines have transformed many in-person sales and service engagements into assisted service and self-service interactions. As such, contact centers now feature far more prominently as the “face” of the organization. Frontline staff needs to be updated on their organization’s latest developments, priorities and messaging and have the bandwidth and tools to deliver excellent service.
Not surprisingly, many centers have seen considerable upticks in their contact volumes and handle times. We applaud the heroic efforts that contact center managers have put forth to sustain business-as-usual in a decidedly business-isn’t-usual time. They have found the way to adapt to the increased workload while shifting a substantial percentage (if not all) of their employees to work from home. Senior management needs to be apprised of these dynamics and make appropriate provisions in the center’s budget to support both self-service and assisted service capabilities.
The theme for contact centers going forward is agility. As you plan and prepare for what’s next, make sure the ability to adapt your technology and human resources is front of mind. Our current situation puts extra value on things like self-service, cloud-based solutions and outsourcing partners, and may catalyze use of innovative staffing models that include gig workers. You and your management team should have an open mind to new possibilities like never before.
In short, given how much more important its role has become in the organization, the center needs assurances that leadership “gets it” and has their back. It’s time to help leadership understand contact center operations as never before and consider what’s required to deliver a consistently good customer experience… in good times and in bad times.