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What Emily in Paris taught me about CX

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Here’s what Emily in Paris taught me about CX.

In the show, Emily in Paris, there’s a funny scene between Emily (the American) and her roommate Mindy.

Emily plans to write a letter in French and Mindy, who speaks French well, offers to help. But Emily declines the offer, saying something like, ‘No I can do this, my French is ok.’

To which Mindy replies, ‘Ok good…then maybe you want to stop washing your hair with dog shampoo.’

It turns out that Emily’s level of French wasn’t quite there yet – as evidenced by her misinterpreting the picture on the shampoo bottle of a pretty girl and a dog.

I laughed out loud – because that scene mirrored my own experience.

Three years ago, when I first moved to Germany, I stood in a grocery store aisle trying to figure out which shampoo to buy. And unable to interpret the words (with confidence) on the label.

It’s a humbling experience to reboot your life in a new language.

Put aside cultural assimilation for the moment – just figuring out what buttons to press on the ATM machine or trying to make out the return instructions to send back a shirt that didn’t quite fit.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/what-can-i-do-with-my-ccxp

There are parallels between rebooting life in a new language and  implementing a CX strategy

To successfully reboot my life in German, I went through a number of steps.

And I see some direct parallels to those steps – and how I see Clients implement CX into their organizations.

1.  I saw that the (my) world had changed – and if I was going to succeed in it, I was going to need to change too (and speak German!)

The CX Parallel:

At the heart of the launch of so many successful CX strategies is (drum roll)…dissatisfaction.  A gnawing sense – usually at the leadership level – that the world has changed and that our organization hasn’t changed with it – or changed enough to meet new realities.

2.  I set a vision for the future – if all my dreams came true what would the future look like

The CX Parallel:

The CX Vision is where it all starts – what kind of experience do we intend to deliver?  Because if all our dreams come true – that’s what will happen.  So crafting that great CX Vision is a vital first step.

3.  I evaluated my current state – how far away was I from my desired future state (with German fluency – pretty far)

The CX Parallel:

Before launching into the CX ‘doing’, it’s important to evaluate where you are now – across all the necessary competencies & domains – and how far away you are from where you need to be.

CX isn’t just Customer Service on steroids.  Your approach will need to be multi-pronged to be successful.

4.  I set the strategy & tactics – what I need to specifically do to close the gaps (so that I can speak fluent German)

The CX Parallel:

Equipped with my CX Vision and my ‘readiness’ benchmark results, I can now set out the short & long term activities needed to move forward.  Avoid complexity here – remember that short term wins build to longer term wins.

5.  I considered how undertaking this initiative would improve my life overall (ROI) – otherwise I might not carry through.

The CX Parallel:

It’s not really about CX – it’s about making the business better.  So I have to understand – and articulate – how the proposed CX work is going to make my organization ‘better’.

6.  I allocated resources into my plan – including time and money

The CX Parallel:

Describing and quantifying the specific resources you’ll need is necessary to win budget approval.  It’s overly simplistic to just say ‘CX is everyone’s job’ and hope your CX dreams come true.

7.  I set appropriate metrics to track my progress along the way (such as passing the European certification exams)

The CX Parallel:

Metrics inform me of my progress – and keep me and my organization’s CX efforts headed in the right direction,  Choosing and measuring the right things is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

8.  I shared with my family & friends to help build a culture of support & accountability

The CX Parallel:

It’s amazing how much easier things ‘go’ when everyone is rooting for success – and pulling in the same direction to get there.

What Emily in Paris taught me about CX – in closing

These days I can visit the dentist, buy new eyeglasses and make a dinner reservation in German. I’m not there yet but I’m closer than I was when I started.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/04/words-worth/

It will be the same for your CX work too.  You should never not have enough to do moving forward.

So thanks Emily in Paris – for that resonant moment with the shampoo bottle – and for helping me consider lessons around Customer Experience.

And thank you for reading!

Daniel

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

How to get better at writing

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I talk about how to get better at writing.

I wrote this as a response to a recent article written by Maurice Fitzgerald in which he wrote –

“The two most critical skills for managers”

“Quite simple really. We can have all the knowledge in the world. Unless we are able to communicate it effectively, we can’t get anything done.

The only ways we can get our teams and organizations to do what we want are:

  1. Writing.
  2. Speaking.

There is nothing else. There is no other way we can communicate. There is no other way we can get things done. The better you are at these two skills, the easier it will be for you to get things done.”

I’d recommend the entire article which you can find here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/only-two-ways-managers-get-things-done-2022-every-other-fitzgerald/?trackingId=CNRXgVmMQgWJ9CsXWUhfWA%3D%3D

Via the comments section on his article, Maurice asked me if I had any suggestions on how folks can improve their writing skills – largely because I spend so much of my time teaching communication skills.

And in this short article I respond to his question.

 

Let’s start first with context

No alt text provided for this image

It’s unlikely the people reading this are planning on writing the great American (or Malaysian or Irish) novel.

I think for most people at work, it’s about upping the levels of clarity & effectiveness in written communication.

So to get better at writing, I’d suggest starting off by improving how you write emails.

Because nearly everyone has to write emails – and yet the calibre and clarity of the email writing that’s out there is all over the place.

 

What I’m seeing in email writing

I’ve taught email writing for 20 years.

But what I’m seeing in the last couple of years or so is how Clients are embracing new ways of thinking about how their people communicate with Customers and with each other.

In the past, the training request I’d receive would sound like this – “Dan, we have a big Customer Service Team. Please help them improve their email writing skills.”

And that was all fine and good and I’ve very much enjoyed this work (and still do).

But these days, I hear a new variation on this request. It sounds like this –

“Dan, of course we want to improve our email writing with Customers. So much of how we communicate with Customers today involves writing – email, chat, text, social media and so on. So yes – let’s help Customer Service improve.”

“But we also want to improve how the people in our company write to each other. Because it’s not enough for us that our Customer Service folks can write well.”

They continue…

“To build our Customer-centric culture and our organizational effectiveness, we want everybody to write well – it’s that important to us.”

That’s the single biggest trend I’ve seen in email writing classes and I think it’s a terrific one.

If you truly want to build that desireable Customer-centric culture, then everyone should be able to write as if they were writing to a Customer.

 

 

A point I highlight, early on in email writing workshops, is this one –

Why would you write differently to a Colleague than you would to a Client or Customer?

Doesn’t your Colleague deserve clarity?  Don’t they deserve ease or recognition of their emotion?  And doesn’t everyone deserve more than an abrupt one word ‘noted’ in reply to their note?

Because everyone is a Customer.

And the way you write is a direct reflection of how you think and how you see the world.

When your Colleague opens your reply and reads it – how are they going to feel? What perception have you created?  How are they going to remember you?

 

“Business writing” has ruined some of us

One of the hallmarks of a great email is that it sounds the way we speak (as our best selves obviously).

Yet so much of what we see when we evaluate email transcripts is the use of heavy words, lengthy expressions, jargon, buzzwords and even the dreaded ‘we regret to inform you’ or ‘we would greatly appreciate if you would…’.

Some Participants tell us they learned to write this way in school – often under the heading of ‘business writing’.

That to dress up the email with fancy words & phrases somehow made it more ‘professional’. Oh dear.

Where business writing refers to recognizing the tone and content of the Customer – I say yes – go for it. That’s an approach to ‘business writing’ I can get behind.

But where business writing refers to being murky in word choice and stilted in how we present our ideas and suggestions – I’d say that’s an approach to ‘business writing’ that’s not doing anyone any favours.

It’s a strange turn world we all live in when a Chatbot ends up having more personality and better word choice than a human being does.

We actually came across such a case in a Mystery Shopper program we undertook last year. And it still haunts me.

In an increasingly digital world – when one human being chooses to reach out to another human being – don’t we have an inherent responsibility to be human?

 

Some ‘lenses’ you can use to better see your emails

This short article isn’t a replacement for a formal workshop or learning program.  There’s just too much ground to cover.

But there are a number of great lenses you can use to review your existing email writing and improve.

What I find is that people ‘look’ at their email, but don’t always ‘see’ their email.

What lenses do is provide new and powerful ways to relook (and rethink) how you write.

Here are three of my favourite lenses

Lens #1: The 9 Step Pattern

This is the essential pattern we teach in our email writing workshops and covering these steps:

1.     Interpret Tone & Content

2.     Choose the right Response Action (Clarify, Response Template, Free Form)

3.     Write the Opening

4.     Craft the Affirmation or Empathy Statement (this is where we spend a lot of time on empathy and what it sounds like).

5.     Structure the Response

6.     Invite Interaction

7.     Conclude

8.     Re-read

9.     Send

Having a chronological step by step framework makes email writing both better and more efficient.

And the 9 Step Process is effective as well – it helps ensure that the Tone & Content of the Customer have been considered and where appropriate ‘matched’.

It’s not meant to turn writers into robots.

Rather – like a great recipe – it ensures that all the key ingredients are gathered and blended together for a great outcome.

Lens #2: The Customer Experience Pyramid

The CX Pyramid is so simple and yet so powerful.

It’s part of our CX workshops and we often use the CX Pyramid in our Mystery Shopper and Contact Audit work for Clients as well.

The pyramid covers 3 levels – each level with it’s own question to answer.

1.     Meets Needs – Did I help my Customer accomplish their goal?

2.     Easy – Did I make it easy for and on the Customer to understand and use my email reply?

3.     Enjoyable – What kind of emotional perception will be left in the mind of the Customer once they read my email reply? Is that the emotion I was going for?

Considering the answers to these three questions is pretty much guaranteed to make your email better.

Lens #3:  The Customer Journey approach

This lens helps remind me that the Customer is on a journey to accomplish something. And that I’m just one point in that journey (something for Customer Service people to remember).

By stepping back and looking at the ‘bigger’ chronological picture – I can serve them better. And here are the questions I ask myself using this lens:

No alt text provided for this image

Sometimes people get very factory like when they’re handling email. Head down, fingers flying, responses sent.

But taking a few moments to consider the Customer journey starting with what motivated them to write, what their goal is (and how my reply addresses that) and where they are likely to go next (including what I can share with them about what comes next) leads to better outcomes.

Including reduced ‘back and forth’ email trains and improved Customer perception (I was listened to).

 

Are there more lenses that we can possible use?

Absolutely.

In CX we talk about data architecture. How different layers of data can be combined to provide a full picture of Customer perception & outcomes.

I think that idea works for email writing too. Different lenses can be ‘layered’ and combined to provide a complete quality framework for an email.

Another lens we could use is the Cultural lens. How does a German national prefer to receive their message as compared to a Japanese national for example.

Or how about the Value lens – in what way does or should our organization’s core values make their appearance in our communications.

But I’d still start with the 9 Step Pattern as my primary lens first.  And then layer on the additional lenses that I’ve chosen as the most relevant and meaningful for my work communication.

 

In closing

Thanks Maurice for what you wrote. I think that in today’s world, being able to speak well and write well matters more than ever.

So does Warren Buffet by the way – here’s an excerpt from a business article I came across –

Legendary investor and billionaire Warren Buffet has a tip for young people: Focus on learning how to write and speak clearly.

“The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now — at least — is to hone your communication skills — both written and verbal,” says Buffett.

I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for reading!

Daniel

[email protected]

 

 

 

What I learned from Thoreau about CX, Customer Service & Contact Centers

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

What I learned from Thoreau came from stumbling across his quote in a science fiction book I was reading –

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”

There’s so much wisdom packed into these few words. And for someone like me who teaches, it resonates. Because I think great teaching helps people ‘see’ more clearly.

In the domains of Customer Experience, Customer Service & Contact Centers, folks look at and see a lot of different things.

Let’s have a look.

Here are some examples of the difference between looking and ‘seeing’

Interpreting Quality

– When you listened to that call recording or read that email reply from Customer Service, what did you ‘see’ (hear)?  

Quality opinions tend to be all over the place – even amongst folks who’ve worked together for years. Was that a good email or a not so good email? What was great about that call? What could be improved in that call?

Getting people to ‘see’ Quality and align around a common understanding for Quality makes Customer lives better (yeah – predictablity & consistency!).

And it makes Employee lives better too (yeah, we know what we’re supposed to deliver and we get quality help from our company to deliver that).

What a great Quality Assurance professional can do

Interpreting Metric results

–  When you look at those 32 Contact Center metrics you report every week – what do you ‘see’?

Because I work inside so many Centers around the world, I see the level of variation in the ‘what’ people select and look at in their Contact Center KPIs.

So many Contact Center metrics are either unnecessary, secondary at best, interpreted incorrectly, are weighted too much (or too little) or are interpreted in different ways amongst the Team.

And because a Center is an ‘interrelated system of causes’, it’s important to understand the interrelationships and trade-offs that exist between metrics – not just metric performance in isolation.

Looking at a dashboard of metrics, and having the entire Team accurately interpret what they see – unlocks a world of potential.

What I learned from Thoreau?  Don’t just look at dashboards – see and understand what they’re telling you.

Why are you still talking about Average Handling Time?

Interpreting how Customers behave

– When that Customer scolded you while you were serving at the Counter what did you ‘see’?

Don’t be surprised when some Frontline folks – after being scolded by a Customer – say they saw a ‘jerk’. Or that they were being ‘abused’.

Some discussion on how to better manage difficult Customer situations can change the way folks ‘see’ some of these situations.

Because there is a distinction between Customer behaviour that is indeed ‘abusive’ vs. Customer behaviour that we just happen not to like.

Helping your folks see that – and manage those situations better – is an important leadership responsibility.

 

And for those in leadership roles, our job is to help others see things too

In management workshops Participants ask the following questions:

– How can I get my bosses to ‘see’ that our Contact Center is a profit center, not a cost center?

– How can I get my Employees to ‘see’ that the values we’ve chosen for culture change really matter?

–  How can I get other departments to ‘see’ how important CX is?

The cool thing is that when people see better, they do better.

They make better decisions. They align & unite around common language & goals. They improve their ability to influence & persuade others.

Not once in the 21 years I’ve been training has a single Client said, “Dan, we’d like to fly you halfway around the world and pay you some money to stand up and share your opinions with the Team for 1 or 2 days.”

Even writing that sentence makes me wince.

The way Clients put it sounds like this. “Dan, we have a challenge or an opportunity we’d like some help with.”

“Can you help our people see how to run our Center better? See what CX means and how to bring it to life. See how to be a better boss. See how to improve coaching outcomes. See how to communicate better with Customers.”

 

Not just look. But see

I like what I learned from Thoreau.  And I came across his quote purely by accident – in a science fiction book I was reading.

But it helped me reflect on what I do in my own work. And see it more clearly.

https://www.biography.com/writer/henry-david-thoreau

I hope in some way it is helpful to you too.  Thank you for reading!

Daniel

No alt text provided for this image

 

Why regular and ongoing Employee feedback matters – even if Employees have to go out and get it

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Regular and ongoing Employee feedback matters – even if Employees have to go out and get it.

There are cool things about being a Trainer. And some pretty intense things about being a Trainer.

Venn Diagram example

And sometimes, in the Venn Diagram version of the job, those two things overlap.

For example, when it comes to regular and ongoing feedback.

Every week, typically 2 – 3 times per week, a group of smart professional folks evaluate my work and give me feedback.

How much feedback has that been?

Using 2 workshop sessions per week x an average of 10 folks per workshop x  40 training weeks a year x 20 years of training and that works out to be 800 individual feedback reports a year or 16,000 feedback reports over the 20 years I’ve been teaching.

Excluding university classes, speeches, Emcee duties and keynotes.  

https://joshbersin.com/2021/01/the-crusade-for-employee-experience-how-did-we-get-here/

And what does all this feedback mean? 

It means that I’m up to date, on a regular basis, as to what’s going well, what could be improved, what’s ‘irrelevant’ (some is) and what actions I need to take – both short term & long term.

If I want great ‘scores’ and feedback I have to do something with it. Otherwise, I’d have been out of business long ago.

There are obvious parallels with what I’m describing here and the role of Voice of Customer.

But my purpose in writing this isn’t to explore those parallels.

It’s to share how important getting regular ongoing feedback at work is – no matter what you do and no matter where you work.

And how important it is to get regular Employee feedback even if you have to go out and get it yourself.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/what-conway-twitty-taught-me-about-agent-resilience

 

Regular Employee feedback – my old Corporate life

In my old life in the Corporate world, my boss(es) would perhaps 1x  or 2x per year take me out to a nice lunch.

Dessert at Performance Review lunch

And at that lunch they’d either skirt around a few issues in between courses or now and then shoot straight between the eyes as to what I needed to do better (usually after dessert was served).

They were almost always very uncomfortable. It showed – despite the fact they were all CEOs, VPs or Business Owners.

And for me, it felt like there wasn’t enough regular Employee feedback, or userful Employee feedback, to make concerted changes or develop myself.

I often found myself trying to read between the lines to see how I could be better.

 

Pretend everyone is an external Client

When you serve external (vs. internal) Clients you’re automatically in the feedback headlights. Over the 15 years or so that I employed Client Service Managers I found that most of them grew dramatically.

Invariably they told me it was because of the regular ongoing feedback they received from Clients – and that to succeed in the job required a lot more attention to external feedback.

Especially as compared to ‘old’ jobs – which were mostly in the Corporate world.

The realized that in their old jobs they could work for months with little or no developmental feedback from their bosses.

But Clients – who were paying for our services – never held back on how they felt.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/when-good-people-follow-bad-contact-centre-process

 

So what’s my point

No matter if you’re working with internal or external Clients. No matter what it is that you do.

Go out there and  ask others how you’re doing and what you can do better. Be proactive and fierce about it.

Don’t wait for the sometimes antiquated performance review process to guide you – that may come too little, too late.

And as painful as it can be, take (most) of that feedback seriously. Because there’s wisdom in it.

For me I knew I was always a good communicator. It’s a personal strength.

But remember those 16,000 individual feedback forms I had to wade through?Gosh they helped.

Thank you for reading!

DanielNo alt text provided for this image

What lessons can Contact Centre folks learn from CX folks?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

What lessons can Contact Centre folks can learn from CX folks?

I’ve written extensively about what lessons CX folks can learn from Contact Centre folks.

Here’s a link to my earlier article:

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

Today I flip the perspective and ask – what lessons can Contact Centre folks learn from CX folks?

Because the nature of the work between the roles is different – no matter how much Contact Center folks rebrand themselves as Customer Experience.

And there are so many lessons Contact Centre folks can learn from their CX Colleagues.

Here goes!

 

Is the work done in CX and in Contact Centres really so different? Yes it is. The Customer Experience and Contact Centre Big Top

When people ask me about what it takes to run a successful Contact Centre, I like to use the analogy of a circus tent.

Imagine a traditional red & white striped circus tent up ahead of you. Lots of things are going on inside that big top.

As you enter the tent you’ve got the high-wire acrobats up overhead, the lion tamers over there and the clowns driving around in funny cars in the ring by the entrance.

There’s a lot going on in that tent. And it all matters. The Fortune Teller has her role. The Weightlifters have their role.

You get the idea.

Now imagine that your big top tent is your Contact Centre. There’s a lot going on inside the Contact Centre big top too.

You’d find Quality Assurance – that’s a specialized role.

And as we look around we find Workforce Management, Training, IT, Human Resources, Finance.  They’re all specialized roles too.

They’re all contributing to Contact Centre success.

And of course you’d have all the people that get the work in and out each day – the Agents, the Team Leaders, the Directors.

In a great Contact Centre all the disparate roles work in harmony together to achieve results. Everyone knows what everyone else does and has a basic understanding of each other’s contribution – even if they themselves don’t ‘do that’.

All under the direction of a skilled & knowledgeable Contact Centre Head.

But the Contact Centre tent isn’t the same as the CX tent. Sure – they’re pitched on the same turf. Your entry ticket gets you into both.

 

So what’s inside the CX tent?

Like the Contact Centre tent, there’s a lot going on inside the CX big top too.

I’m a CXPA Recognized Training Provider and a fan of the 5 CX Competency Framework required for CCXP Certification.

The 5 CX competency domains are:

·      Customer Experience Strategy

·      Customer Insights & Understanding

·      Design, Implementation & Innovation

·      Metrics, Measurement & ROI

·      Culture & Accountability

Where each competency requires a specific set of know-how to succeed.

Just consider VOC (Customer Insights & Understanding) alone. By the time you factor in qualitative & quantitative research, triangulation, prioritization & actioning of results you’re covering a lot of ground.

CX isn’t just doing one thing. And it’s not Customer Service on steroids.

And just like in the Contact Centre, the disparate CX roles work in harmony under the direction of a skilled & knowledgeable CX Head.

With the added caveat that CX is at play across the entire organization. All functions, all departments, all Employees, all Partners, all Vendors.

When I listen to people talk about their work and Customers  I ask myself – are they talking about the work done that falls within a department – like Customer Service or Marketing?

Or are they talking about work done across the organization – such as prioritization of Customer journeys to be studied, rollout of Experience Design know-how organization-wide or Culture building.

It may not be a perfect dividing line but it helps me decide if the conversation is about Customer Service (we handle omnichannel service) or Customer Experience (we’re use a few key Customer metrics to understand their relationship with our organization).

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/cx-lessons-i-learned-judging-cx-awards-this-year

 

Ok, the tents are different. You made your point.  So what can lessons can Contact Centre folks learn from CX professionals?

CX Leader of the Year Awards Judge

I continue to be inspired by the level of CX work being done out there in the real world. I see this level both through judging I’ve been doing for various Customer Experience Awards as well as our own work with Clients.

CX Leader of the Year 2021

The lessons Contact Center folks can learn from CX professionals is tremendous. But for this article I’ve narrowed down to five points that really stand out for me.

Especially because of my background in the Contact Center industry.

1.   How to craft a CX Vision

I am endlessly blown away by the work that CX professional put into crafting a powerful CX Vision.

We teach the process and quite a few Clients have shared the outcome of their process with us – and it’s intensive and can take months.

Because it involves aligning to business strategy, brand values and Customer expectations.

And then blending all of these into a powerful statement that defines – specifically – what kind of experience we deliver around here.

It’s so much more than asking ‘what’s the industry standard for this or that’ – which seems to be a trap some Contact Center folks fall into.

Strategy flows from Vision – so getting that Vision right – and taking the time & effort to craft one that’s meaningful is something CX people do – and do well.

And if you’re a Contact Centre person lucky enough to work somewhere with a powerful CX Vision – you’ve got what you need to craft your Service Delivery Vision – one that can help you inspire the Service folks that work for you.

 

2.   Tie strategy to business results

Even after my 20 years of teaching in the industry, you’re still hearing consultants & practitioners debating whether Contact Centres are cost centers or profit centers.

I know it’s an important discussion – I’ve been in a few myself. I’m not minimizing the importance.

But really? 20 years? Why hasn’t more progress been made here? (and likely a topic for another article).

What the best CX folks are getting right these days is aligning the CX strategy they come up with to the overall business strategy.

And showing how and where their CX work can improve the business. And not at the ‘expense’ of Customers – but considering the Customer viewpoint.

What I still hear a lot in the Contact Centre industry is this – ‘what are the best practices’.  As if there was one playbook to use and everyone should use that same playbook.

And that playing to that playbook would be enough to be a great Contact Centre.

I think the additional question that would help would be ‘what are the principles or practices I can use to align our Contact Centre strategy with our organization’s business strategy to prove out how our work benefits the organization and the Customer.’

Asking that question can take some philosophical shifting – and a strong grasp of financial and ROI considerations – something that CX folks are getting better and better at.

And would be happy to help with.

 

3.   Start thinking in Customer journeys and not just in touchpoints

Contact Centres, by the nature of the work they do, become obsessed with what happens within that interaction.

Did we show empathy, did we solve the problem, did we use time well.

And mastering the Contact Centre touchpoint and delivering great conversations with Customers takes a lot of know-how and skill and it’s to be celebrated.

But if we think only in touchpoints and not in the totality of the Customer journey we’re missing the big picture. And how Customers think – which is in journeys.

Which is one underlying reason CX folks think & work at the journey level too.

So in addition to mastering that ‘touch’ the Customer has with us – such as that live chat or email – it helps for Contact Centre to consider what I call the Journey Perspective.

1.    Where did that Customer come from – and what motivated them to reach out to us? (the before)

2.   What does this Customer need from me right now in this touch? (the during)

3.   Where will the Customer likely go or need to go next – and how can I help them on their way? (the after)

I like to cover this when I teach touchpoint management because I think it’s important to use a broader Customer journey oriented ‘lens’ to consider what Customers are going through.

Over and above the single ‘touch’.

 

4.    Understand Voice of Customer Research practices & principles better

I was taken on a Centre tour a few years ago where the Director was so proud that the individual NPS scores given by Customers at the end of their calls were instantly flashed on large TV screens posted throughout the Centre.

All showing the Agent Names and the scores they had received so far that day.

Oh dear. (an article for another day)

Here’s another example.

When I ask Contact Centre folks the last time they invited in a small panel of Customers, bought them lunch and asked them questions about what they like or don’t like about Contact Centre service, they sometimes look at me like I’m speaking in tongues.

Bring in a real Customer to the Contact Centre? I’m not exactly sure why that would sound so outlandish. Just imagine how much you could learn.

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

To be fair, VOC is a highly specialized area. And it has a pride of place in the CX big top.

But having an essential understanding of qualitative, quantitative methodologies and principles and practices can only help Centres perform better.

And make better decisions on how they use the data & insights that come out of VOC work.

 

5.    Build cross-functional support

When you listen to CX professionals share their stories – there a common narrative arc amongst many of them.

Let me see if I can narrate that typical arc here:

“I was the first person in my company to take on the CX role – it was brand new. I had to create my own job, determine my own priorities and consider how to achieve both short term and long terms results.

And in all these I had to align myself with other stakeholders in other departments, heads of functions, senior leadership, finance, the COO.

And now – 2, 3, 4 years later I’ve been successful. You know how I know? It’s not just that our Team size has increased – though it has.

And it’s not just that we’ve achieve some cool results – though we have

It’s the people are starting to come to me and our CX Team. To ask for help. To get our opinion on how to handle something better.

That’s been the true sign of our success in promulgating a CX mindset throughout the organization.”

Don’t you love that story? I do.

And I think Contact Centres can only achieve their vision & purpose better when they also build powerful cross-functional relationships too.

Not just to get the basics done – like forecasting or training. But to share how the Contact Centre can help support the efforts of other departments and the organization at large.

 

In closing

Because I stand with one leg firmly in the Contact Centre world and another leg firmly in the CX world I enjoy comparing, contrasting and understanding how the two disciplines can work together better – to make Employee & Customer lives better.

I hope this short article has been helpful.

Daniel Ord of OmniTouch with a Participant

Thank you for reading.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Conway Twitty taught me about Agent resilience

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

 

In this short article I share how the popular country music Artist, Conway Twitty, taught me a life-long lesson about Agent resilience in the Contact Center.

 

What do I mean by Agent resilience?

Here’s a useful definition of resilience –

the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness.

Because given what’s going on in the world now, Contact Center folks at the Frontline are going through a lot.  Changes in work environments, work from home protocols, stressed Customers, stressed Bosses.

So while the topic of resilience is always relevant, it has a special resonance right now.

 

The background

Early in my career in the 90s, I was Vice President of Call Centre & Distribution Operations for Heartland Music.  Based in Los Angeles, it was the job that got me into the Contact Center & Customer Experience industry.

Heartland ran TV commercials and mailed out catalogues to millions of Customers across the US.

TV commercials and catalogues that featured titles like ‘All the Elvis Presley’ hits you need to own or the ‘Top 100 Love Songs’ of all time.

Customers then called into our Contact Centers to place orders which we packaged and shipped from our own warehouses.  And of course we provided Customer Service as well – anything from suggestions on what titles we should stock to ‘where is my order ‘enquiries.

It was a big and growing business.

 

So how does Conway Twitty fit into Agent resilience (and who was he?)

Country music was a big part of our offerings.  And country music fans were generally sweet, loyal and supportive.

And though it sounds a bit macabre, whenever a popular Artist that we carried passed away, there would always be a marked and sudden upsurge in sales for their work.

That’s still the same case today – though it’s reflected these days by increases in streaming figures vs. how many ‘units’ were sold.

And an Artist passing way was an event that a Workforce Manager couldn’t really plan for.

We relied on our own internal back-up plans and a strong committed Agent workforce to get through most of our unexpected surges.

But Conway Twitty was the surge to end all surges.

An American country music singer, he also recorded rock and roll, R&B and pop music. And he received several Country Music Association awards for duets with Loretta Lynn – another beloved country music star.

I don’t remember which day of the week it was, but when I entered the office, our Operations Manager made a beeline straight for me.

‘Dan, Conway Twitty died.’

That’s all Frank had to say.  We’d both been around enough years to shorthand the conversation.

The volume of calls in the Center had already picked up and we knew we were only at the beginning.

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

Six weeks later

I’m not exactly sure why Conway Twitty was different.  But we were now six weeks into the surge and his sales were still going up.

Great for business but not so great for our Agents.

Occupancy was through the roof, hours got longer, and admittedly a few people started to get edgy.

And while we were dealing with normally sweet country music lovers, long wait times and out of stock situations put them on edge too.  Meaning even more frustration for our Agents to deal with.

It ended up being about a 3-month period overall.  Much longer than the normal two or three week ‘lift’ that we had seen before.

 

And here’s what I learned about Agent resilience

My Operations Manager said it to me first.

‘Dan, they’ll be ok. Do you know why?  Because they know there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

What to look for when you hire a new Contact Centre Manager

The light at the end of the tunnel

If you’ve been a fair boss,  you communicate honestly, and you have a management team that’s aligned to the purpose – it’s amazing what your people will give back to you.

And I’ve seen them give back for a year and even more (in some cases).

But the real caveat for Agent resilience is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  You must be very open & honest about what you’re doing to bring things back to ‘normal’.

Even if what normal looks like coming out doesn’t look exactly like the way it did when going in.

 

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

[email protected]

10 Quiz Questions on Quality Assurance

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post I challenge the Reader to answer 10 Quiz questions on Quality Assurance.

Though the Quality Assurance function is most commonly sited with the Contact Center, its use and understanding can be broadened across any Customer Service environment including hospitals, universities, government offices and more.

Those of you that I’ve worked with in classes or talks around the world know how much I like to give out these kinds of Quizzes.

And this Quiz is free, doesn’t involve any registration and your name won’t be added to any list.  We do this just to help & inspire!

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

The 10 Quiz Questions on Quality Assurance

Here are the 10 Quiz Questions on Quality Assurance.

Reach each question carefully and then select the right answer which is either a, b, c or d.

Yes – there is only one correct answer for each question.

 

1.  Which of the following is the BEST example of a Compliance Standard?

 

a. Greeting

b. Tone of Voice

c. Rapport Building

d. Empathy

 

2.  The 3 most common inputs used in Performance Standard design are:

 

a.  Customer Expectations, Profit Forecasts, Manpower Requirements

b.  Regulatory Requirements, Customer Expectations, Market Share

c.  Customer Expectations, Regulatory Requirements, Headcount Requirements

d.  Organizational Vision, Customer Expectations, Regulatory Requirements

 

3.  The best description of a Service Delivery Vision is:

 

a.  A statement that lists out all the Compliance Standards to follow

b.  It is usually the same as the Organizational Vision

c.  It describes the kind of service we will deliver around here

d.  It is most useful for Contact Center Agents

 

4.  If you rely too much on Compliance Standards your Frontline Agents will sound:

 

a.  Friendly

b.  Robotic

c.  Warm

d.  Compliant

    

5.  Which of the following statements is/are TRUE?

 

I.  All Performance Standards on an “Interaction Audit” form should have equal weight

II. First Contact Resolution can be difficult to calculate

III. Customer Expectations are the main source for selecting Performance Standards

IV.  A high First Contact Resolution rate is always good

 

a.  II only

b.  II and IV only

c.  II, III and IV only

d.  I, II, III and IV

 

6.  Which of the following are included in the formal documentation of a Performance Standard?

 

I.   The purpose or business reason for the standard

II.  The scoring logic for the standard

III. Examples of how the standard is to be used

IV.  A formal definition of the standard

 

a.  I & II

b.  I, II and III

c.  I, II, III & IV

d.  None of the above

 

7.  Which of the following statements is/are FALSE?

 

I.  Normally Quality Assurance does all the interaction monitoring & scoring

II. It’s best to let Quality Assurance do the Agent coaching

III. Team Leaders should focus mostly on productivity

IV.  It’s ok to schedule one full hour of coaching per week per Agent

 

a.  II only

b.  II and IV only

c.  II, III and IV only

d.  I, II, III and IV

 

8.  Which of the following statements is/are TRUE?

 

I.  All Calibration sessions should incorporate a Scorecard

II. Calibration sessions should be held once a month

III. In Calibration make sure everyone agrees on every Performance Standard on an interaction before moving on

IV.  It’s a good idea to include Agents in the Calibration sessions

 

a.  II only

b.  II and IV only

c.  II, III and IV only

d.  None of the above

 

9.  If you had only one way to achieve behavioural change through coaching which one would be the BEST?

 

a.  Give detailed graphs showing the performance of all Performance Standards over a 3 month period

b.  Ensure that Agents are coached without a scorecard at least one time per week

c.  Ensure that Agents are coached with a scorecard at least one time per week

d.  Allow Agents to coach themselves

 

10.  When it comes to monitoring which one of the following statements is TRUE?

 

a.  Side by side monitoring doesn’t work well because Agents can ‘fake it’

b.  Mystery Shopper is one of the formal methods of monitoring

c.  Mystery Shopper research is best done ‘in-house’ rather than outsourced to a research company

d. It’s always best to let the Agent self evaluate first

What a great Quality Assurance professional can do

Would you like to know how you did?

If you’d like to know if your answers are correct we’re happy to help.

We’ve intentionally gone ‘low-tech’ here.  Once you’ve answered all (10) questions just drop an email to me at [email protected]

Let me know the question # and the answer that you chose (either a,b,c or d).

You can use the following format in your email to me:

  1. a
  2. d
  3. c
  4. c (and so on for all 10 Quiz Questions)

It helps also to tell me which Quiz you took. This Quiz is for Quality Assurance.

I always do my best to answer quickly and let you know which ones you got right.  And for the ones you may have gotten wrong I will let you know what the right answer is.

Thank you for reading and giving the Quiz a go!

Daniel

[email protected]

Good & evil in Customer Experience and why it’s like a Marvel Comics movie

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post I consider the role of good & evil in Customer Experience.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

I admit I’m not a follower of the Marvel comics movies.  But when stuck on a long haul flight or in a hotel room with nothing on but CNN, almost any Marvel movie is a welcome distraction.

So I never saw them in any order, nor do I grasp the entire mythology.

But in the movies I did see, it was always clear which characters were ‘good’ and which characters were ‘evil’.

The Marvel universe is a pretty binary place.

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

Good & evil in Customer Experience

Sometimes when I read articles & posts on Customer experience, I feel like I’m watching a Marvel comics movie.

Evil VillainThat happens when the author of the article positions the company they’re describing in one of two ways:

  • When the company described in the post does things ‘right’ or right in the author’s opinion – then they’re good
  • When the company described in the post does things ‘wrong’ or wrong in the author’s opinion – then they’re evil

It’s never in doubt who is good and who is evil.  The content & tone make it clear.

And when it comes to the evil companies – which are the posts you see most often –  look out for these kinds of words –

They’re dumb, apathetic, lazy, careless, wasteful, ignorant, greedy, selfish, OK Boomer (ok I added that one).

It’s practically biblical how evil they are.  And this is what worries me.

If a company doesn’t deliver the experience the writer likes, the default setting seems to be how dumb, apathetic, etc. they are.

But if Customer Experience is as binary as a Marvel comics movie, there’s not much room to manoeuvre.  Not much room to improve.

I don’t ever see Thanos becoming the good guy or Wonder Woman becoming the bad guy.

 

The real world is more nuanced than a Marvel comics movie

The real world is more nuanced than a Marvels comics movie.  Customer Experience deserves more than a binary good & evil measurement scale.

I had lunch with a Client in Asia not long ago.

She had navigated the pivot from Head of Customer Service to Head of Customer Experience.  And our lunch conversation turned to organizational culture.

She had built a great service culture in the Customer Service function.  That was one of the reasons she had been appointed the Head of Customer Experience.

And now she needed to develop that service culture across the entire organization.  Into departments & functions where service wasn’t seen as the most important characteristic.

With her usual pragmatism she told me –

“Dan, we’ve been around a while as you know. 

And we’ve got really great people in this company.  In all departments.  It’s not that we’re bad or we don’t care about Customers.  We care a lot.  

It’s just that we’ve become too comfortable.  Things have been good here for a long time.  The impetus for change is muted. 

I think my job is to help our folks understand our future desired state as a company and why being too comfortable in what we do and the way we do it isn’t sustainable going forward.”

Her people are good, her colleagues are good, the management supports the change and she’s successfully completed her gap analysis.

Do their Customers complain?  Of course they do.  But as an organization they’re working on it.  And as practitioners know, it takes time.

Saying they’re good or evil isn’t productive.  It’s not even accurate.

They’re working to be better.

What can I do with my CCXP?

Why I don’t publish personal complaint posts

If I have a personal complaint with a company I contact them directly and privately.  I give them the chance to address my issue.

If I was a ‘normal’ Customer I’d consider sharing my complaint on social media.  And I’d write a detailed post of the bad thing or things that happened to me.  And maybe I’d feel better having shared my tale of misery & woe.

But I don’t view myself as a normal Customer.  I’m proud to come from the industry.

And I think industry professionals look at the bigger picture.  We’re interested in the underlying dynamics or conditions that led to whatever it was that we experienced.  We dissect the ecosystem.

Leave it to ‘real’ Customers to sit in judgement. I’d rather look for the lessons.

 

Good & evil in Customer Experience

Marvel hero

Industry professionals don’t have to use ad hominen words like dumb, apathetic, lazy, careless, wasteful, ignorant, greedy or selfish to describe organizations.

They don’t have to rant.

I’ve never seen a conference event yet where the Host says “Welcome everyone, our next Speaker will rant and roll their eyes for the next 30 minutes or so.  We hope you enjoy it!”

It doesn’t have to be about the role of good & evil in Customer Experience.  It could be about the lessons to make things better.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

 

[email protected]

Daniel Ord speaking on Customer Experience

What can I do with my CCXP?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short and personal post I discuss the question – what can I do with my CCXP?

Someone wrote to me  a short while ago.  Here’s what they said.

“Dan, I have earned my CCXP.  But I’m not sure what to do with it.”

And I thought that he asked a fair question.  So I’ve written this short and personal post to discuss and answer that question.

What can I do with my CCXP?

(For those who don’t know, the CCXP stands for the Certified Customer Experience Professional certification credential).

 

Earning a professional credential like the CCXP

I think that the biggest benefit to earning a professional credential is the journey you take and the people you meet along that journey.

Whether that’s a 4-year degree or preparing for a few weeks or months (or more) for your CCXP.

Not just getting that piece of paper to hang in your office or show off to recruiters.

If you’re just after putting a few letters after your name, then you’re missing out on the most important part.  The growth, development & socialization that go along with earning those letters.

Bu with that said, getting that piece of paper is also a milestone accomplishment.  It deserves to be celebrated.

I still keep my university graduation photo in my office because I remember that day fondly and how happy my parents were for me.

But that piece of paper doesn’t do anything for me on its own.  It doesn’t have magic properties.

I have to proactively do something with it.

 

The role of leadership

I often get to work with Managers & Team Leaders in Contact Center environments.  And when we’re covering the topic of leadership, I like to use this definition –

Leadership is the combination of skills, knowledge and experience that enable a person to inspire others to accomplish a shared goal.

We begin by first defining the shared goal or goals.  What is it specifically that we’re try to achieve?  Because if you aren’t sure what you’re trying to achieve it’s going to be hard to get there.

Once we answer the shared goal question, we work backwards and brainstorm the specific skills, knowledge & experience we need to inspire people around us to achieve the shared goal.

And that can be a powerful exercise for people.  Because in the heat of doing our work, it’s not easy to step back and reflect on what we need to know and indeed what kind of people we need to be to inspire others.

So why do I bring up leadership in this post?

Because if you’ve earned your CCXP credential, I think it matters that you see yourself as a leader.

Regardless of what your job title is or what your work function is, you’re in a terrific position to inspire other people to achieve Customer Experience goals.

And with the CCXP credential, you’ve demonstrated that you have the required skill, knowledge & experience.  The credential measures and validates that.

So now that I understand that leadership & inspirataion are involved –  what can I do with my CCXP?

That’s the important question.

 

What can I do with my CCXP?

Whether it’s an MBA, a university degree or a professional certification like the CCXP, I think you can look at three ‘categories’ of doing.

Here they are.

1.  What can I do in my own job function?

One of the principles of Customer Experience management is that you maintain an ongoing pipeline of CX related projects to work on.

And given the breadth and depth of the topic, it’s unlikely that you’d ever run out of ways to apply what you know about CX to your job.  Whether you’re in Finance, Engineering, Operations, Customer Service, Marketing or a formalized Customer Experience function.

Creating new rituals, rewriting job descriptions, looking at how performance is measured, earning Employee engagement, considering specific ways to improve VOC results, designing new experiences or using strategy to prioritize decisions.

The list of potential CX related projects is nearly endless.

One of my favourite descriptions of Customer Experience is ‘thoughtfulness made visible’.  Of course being a thoughtful person is a great first step.

But for me this particular description refers to thoughtfulness in first understanding and then improving the experiences people go through. Whether for Employees, Partners or Customers.

You’ll never run out of things to do when you see things this way.

What behaviours do Customer Experience professionals display?

 

2.  What can I do with other job functions?

The famous leadership expert, John C. Maxwell writes, “The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”

That’s such a powerful statement.

Influence, Leadership and the CCXP credential. A big part of Customer Experience involves working across functional boundaries.  If you’re in a formalized CX function that’s pretty clear already.

But what about if you’re in a more discrete function such as Tech, Marketing or Finance?   Is it still appropriate to work across functional boundaries?

If the true measure of leadership is influence then the answer is a big ‘yes’.

Early in my career when I was in Finance, my big boss asked me to conduct some ‘How to Read a Financial Statement’ sessions for all the department heads.

And when I wrote the content for those sessions, my intent was not to just teach the department heads how to read financial statements. But to influence these important department heads to rethink about the our Finance function in general.

To see us as a trusted partner who could help them.  Not just the folks who nagged about budgets.

When I was managing large Customer Service operations, I regularly asked our company department heads across legal, marketing, finance & tech to come in and teach our Agents about what they did in their jobs and how it impacted Customers.

But I was also giving these departments heads a platform to positively influence our Agents about our company and our shared goals.

Whether you decide to bring in department heads like I did, or develop a series of short talks on Customer Experience – don’t underestimate your ability to positively influence those around you.

 

3.  What can I do outside of my organization?

I think every industry professional has a responsibility to write and/or speak and share their learnings, mistakes & perspectives.  And as a CCXP you are an industry professional.

You serve as a role model for the industry.  It’s an integral part of who you are and what you do.

I know that writing, speaking or recording videos takes time.  And that when you first begin it can feel overwhelming.

But through the process you find your voice.  You establish a perspective.  Your perspective.

And your writing and/or speaking improves.  These are important life skills.  And they enhance your ability to inspire and influence as well.

And finally, today there are so many groups, both virtual and offline, that have Customer Experience as their mandate.  It’s quite easy to find these groups and become an active part of the wider community.

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

My favorite John F. Kennedy quote

Perhaps because I grew up in a proud military family I’ve always loved this quote from President John F. Kennedy.

Using your CCXP credential to serve others. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

For me this quote embodies what it means to serve.  To look outside yourself to others.

As a CCXP, or MBA or degree holder or holder of any number of professional certifications that are out there, I think that looking to this quote as a touchstone can help.

It’s not what the credential can do for you.  It’s what you do with that credential for others.

And when you look at things this way, you’ll never run out of ideas or opportunities to serve.

I’m proud to be a CXPA Recognized Training Provider and help people on their CCXP journey.  But I still believe that it’s what you do with the credential after you earn it that matters the most.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

 

 

 

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I discuss the question – what kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

It ties together two of my favourite topics – Customer Experience & Contact Centers.  And it’s the title of one of my best Keynote talks for various conferences around the world.

The Contact Center in the context of Customer Experience

The Contact Center is a touchpoint that only some Customers will use across some subset of all possible Customer journeys.

And for some organizations it can be less than 1% of Customers who utilize the Contact Center touchpoint at all.

Daniel Ord speaking on Customer Experience

Daniel Ord delivering a keynote on what kind of Customer Experience does your Contact Center deliver?

For example, imagine that on the spur of the moment you decide to stay in a hotel this upcoming weekend.

You ask a friend to suggest a place, you do some research online and finish by booking a reservation on your mobile phone.  No Contact Center involved.

But with that said, when a Customer needs the Contact Center, it can be a real moment of truth.

An experience that has significant ‘weight’ in their overall perception of the organization.

So not every Customer interacts with the Contact Center.  But every interaction with the Contact Center is really important.

The Contact Center is the formal living room in a house

Formal living rooms may sound old fashioned – but they’re still around.

When I was growing up we had a formal living room to receive and entertain special guests or to use for special occasions.

It’s a room that’s always perfect. It’s got the best furniture, the best art and it’s always spotless.  Because even though it’s not used everyday, it must always be ready.

And I think of the Contact Center within an organization in the same way. It’s the formal living room in the house of your organization.

Not every Customer will need to use it.  Nor will every Customer journey involve it.  But for those Customers who do come into our Center, it’s our job to always be ready for them with our very best resources.

So what kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

Much of the subject matter for our keynote talk – and for this post –  is based on nearly 20 years of conducting Mystery Shopper research – especially for Contact Centers.

And most Centers have a list of ‘Quality standards’ they use to train Agents and measure their quality performance – and which they hope or believe will deliver a great Customer interaction.

Simple examples of Quality standards include:

  • Clarity in presenting the product or service
  • The level of Human Touch on display
  • The use of branded language
  • The conciseness of the email
  • The sales or upselling skill

The possible list of Quality standards is endless because there is no industry standard set of standards that work for every Center.  If that were the case, all Customers of all organizations would be happy all the time.  And obviously that’s not the case.

And what we’ve found in our research work with Clients is that there is a positive correlation between the sophistication behind selecting and defining Quality directives and the resulting Customer experience.

Or put more simply – when there’s more thought, effort and rigour put into selecting Quality standards – the resulting Customer interactions are better.  And Agents benefit from being treated like adults – and not compliance machines who have to do things like say the Customer’s name three times.

Let’s look at some example Quality standards now.

What to look for when you hire a new Contact Centre Manager

So what’s an example of a Quality standard that was impressive?

One of our most interesting engagements was as the Official Mystery Shopper Evaluator for the Singapore Government.  Which basically meant mystery shopping the quality of different government agencies for phone, face to face and email interactions.

And one of the standards set by the Singapore Government was amazing.  They practiced what they called ‘No Wrong Door’.  Let’s say the Customer had a personal taxation question but accidentally contacted the housing authority.

In most countries, the Contact Center Agent would tell the Customer that they reacehd the wrong place and perhaps give the number for the correct place to call – if that much.

But with No Wrong Door in Singapore, the Contact Center Agent will either arrange a connection to the right Agency or arrange for the right Agency to get back to the Customer directly.

And in a public sector setting that’s amazing.

Having lived in multiple countries, I sometimes joke that trying to get public service assistance through a Contact Center could be branded as ‘Every Door is the Wrong Door’.

That is unless you’re fortunate enough to live in Singapore.

 

What’s an example that wasn’t so great?

Isn’t it funny that we can sometimes come up with the not so great examples more easily than the great examples?

Here are three.

The ‘Ready to Serve’ Quality standard

The Client, a major mobile phone manufacturer, wanted our Mystery Shoppers to evaluate if the Contact Center Agent we reached was ‘ready to serve’.

Did you just read that twice?  So did we.

The question we had was this.  How is it possible for us to tell if someone was ready to serve?  In our opinion, that sounded like something a Team Leader should be doing internally.

We went back and forth with the Client to get some clarification.  But eventually our Client contact wrote us and said – “Look Dan, just ask the Mystery Shopper to do it”.  Which was shorthand for ‘we’re done talking about this.’

So we sat down and came up with our own logic for this Quality standard and moved on.

But here’s the thing.  If senior management selects a Quality standard that even they can’t explain clearly – how can we expect an Agent to bring that to life in their Customer interactions?

The ‘Tai Chi’ standard

For a University Contact Center, the Agents were instructed to immediately redirect the Caller to the university website if it turned out that the information was available there.  

Don’t answer the Caller question.  If it was on the website then send the Customer straight to the website.

I decided to call it the ‘Tai Chi’ standard because they really just tai chi’d Customers to the website!  And avoid answering the question.

And their rationale for this standard?

They had attended a seminar where the speaker told the audience they should focus on efficiency.  And to get people to use the website you have to force them to go to the website.

And you can just imagine the Customer Experience here.

After dialling, listening to the recorded announcements, punching through the IVR options, finally reaching a live Agent and asking their question – the Customer gets tai chi’d to the website.

Yikes.

The every Quality standard is measured as a Yes or No

For a few Centers we’ve worked with, management had decided that all or most of the Quality standards should be measured on a binary scale.  Yes / No.  1 / 0.  It happened or it did not happen.

Because they felt it was less complicated and easier to implement for them internally. That’s classic inside-out thinking.  Do what is easy for the Center – not necessarily for the Customer.

I bet you can imagine what those Agents sounded like when we listened to the calls.  Yup that’s right.

They sounded like robots.  There was no style, no articulation, no effort.

When every Quality standard is measured on a binary scale, that doesn’t just set a low bar for Quality.

There’s almost no bar for Quality.

 

There’s an art & science to selecting Quality Standards

There’s an art & science to selecting the right Quality Standards for your Contact Center.

If you’re lucky enough to have a well-defined Customer Experience Strategy in place that can help a great deal.  Because a Customer Experience Strategy describes the kind of experience you aim to deliver.

It provides a high level guide to coming up with the right Agent standards.

If you don’t have a Customer Experience Strategy, then a Service Delivery Vision can help.

A Service Delivery Vision is very much like a Customer Experience Strategy, but it tends to be focused only on the Customer Service function.  Whereas the Customer Experience Strategy is meant for the entire organization.

Now – if you don’t have a robust Service Delivery Vision then the next question is this.

How did your Contact Center choose its Quality standards?  What guided the decisions?

Here are some of the answers I’ve heard:

  • I think our Managers came up with these.
  • I think our Quality Assurance people came up with these.
  • The last Mystery Shopper provider we used came up with these.
  • Our Agents know how to talk to Customers – we don’t really use any standards.
  • I’m not sure but we don’t want to change them because everyone knows them already.
  • I’m new here and I don’t know – I was just asked to find a Mystery Shopper company.
  • We’ve used these for years and they’re ‘industry standard’ for our X industry 

Answers like these aren’t indicative of any level of sophistication in Quality standard selection & design.

And as I shared earlier, we’ve found a positive correlation between the sophistication of the Quality program and the Customer’s interaction experience.  And that makes complete sense.

Because when there’s more thought, effort and rigour put into selecting Quality standards – the resulting Customer interactions are better.

What we’ve learned about conducting Mystery Shopper Research on Chatbots

 

In closing

I may write a book sharing nothing but Mystery Shopper stories and the ins and outs of how to get Quality right.  There are just so many stories and learnings.

Because your Contact Center does deliver some type of Customer Experience.   The question is whether its the experience you wanted or planned for.

Thank you for reading,

Daniel

[email protected]