Contact Center Vital Signs


Contact Center Vital Signs

Congratulations Pipeline on 15 years of being a vital resource for thousands who toil tirelessly every day to meet customer expectations and to do so within what is often challenging financial constraints. You rock!

As a long-time consultant, conference speaker, and practitioner, I’m often asked what the key attributes are in an organization when seeking a contact center leadership opportunity that has potential for success and advancement. Below are my top five recommendations. If you are recruiting and struggling to attract good talent, consider these gaps in your organization that may need to be addressed.

After all, who talks more to customers in the organization other than the agents?

1. Does the organization have a clearly stated mission, values, customer commitment, and strategy? Are there clear objectives for your role? What are the measures of success? What will be the cadence to meet with your boss to review performance, obstacles, and plans to overcome them? If these questions are unable to be addressed with clarity and conviction, it raises leadership concerns. The organization may lack a clear cohesive strategy that is a hallmark of high-performing organizations.

High-performing organizations share cross-departmental CX objectives and collaborate obsessively.

2. Does the senior leadership value the contact center as a strategic asset? I met a woman who recently became president of a large company. Within her first two weeks, she sat side-by-side with contact center agents. Instant rock star status, right? She was new to the industry but clearly an experienced leader. She learned a ton about areas in her new company that needed her immediate attention by listening to customers and observing agents’ ability to resolve customer issues. After all, who talks more to customers in the organization other than the agents? No one, right? Ask if leadership regularly spends time in the contact center listening to calls, conducting agent focus groups, and talking to the contact center management team. If none of this is happening and you hear complaints that the contact center payroll is too expensive, read the tea leaves.

If you have a budget based in an alternate reality, you will be destined to fail.

3. Do they have a culture of collaboration? Contact centers are typically impacted by the performance of other departments across the organization. High-performing organizations share cross-departmental CX objectives and collaborate obsessively to meet these objectives with a maximum level of efficiency. Meet with the leadership of those departments to gauge the level of collaboration. Low levels will likely impede your path to success. Ask for examples of how issues impacting the CX were resolved through cross-departmental collaboration. Be prepared with questions and examples that would be relevant to their organization.

4. What is the contact center budgeting process? “All departments are taking a 5% cut to last year’s budget?” We have the tools to accurately forecast our workload and the resources required to meet CX objectives. Make sure you will have the opportunity to present your zero-based staffing plan outlining your accurately forecasted workload, line time shrinkage factors, and other WFM factors (occupancy, schedule adherence). Let’s be real here. If you have a budget based in an alternate reality, you will be destined to fail. Do you want to face that every day?

5. Do you really want this job in spite of the red flags? Do you just love a challenge? Then let it rip. Express your concerns and demonstrate how you can be an asset to the organization. Present what your strategy would be to transform the operation, your past successes, and what your top three objectives would be for your first six months. Most importantly, ask what level of support and decision making you would have. You may be exactly who they need but they don’t know it! Before you accept the offer, request another meeting with your future boss. Restate your understanding of the role, responsibility, level of authority, and his/her commitment to support you. Go for it.

Marilyn Saulnier

Marilyn Saulnier is a consultant with extensive experience in contact center operations, frequent speaker at industry conferences and has published articles in industry publications. She can be reached at [email protected].