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The best $380,000 I ever spent

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”
Adam Grant

In our first year of operation, the company I founded earned a profit of $80,000.  That was in Singapore in 2001.

We had done well with two Customer Service workshops I had written and we’d landed two global Mystery Shopper research programs which were well underway.

Business was off to a great start.

But I knew that what had made us successful so far wasn’t going to necessarily make us successful in the mid to long term.

I hadn’t left working in the corporate world just to find myself having to go back in to that because I hadn’t helped my Clients solve problems.

So I took $40,000 of that first year profit, signed a contract with a consulting firm in California, and flew myself and a Singaporean colleague to live in the isolated mountaintop home of the firm’s founder.

For a month.

 

Why did we spend a month on a mountain top in California? 

It’s a reasonable question.

My colleague and I travelled to the U.S. to receive four weeks of private instruction in Contact Center management directly from the consulting firm’s founder.

I had done my homework before signing on the dotted line and everything went the way it was supposed to go.

It was a superb and intellectually intense month.

Every morning we were up and seated in our Instructor’s home office to start class at 9:00AM.

Our 12:30 – 1:30 lunch consisted of sandwiches that the Instructor made for us in his big kitchen downstairs (which my Asian colleague despaired of at one point saying, “Argh, in Asia we prefer to eat warm food!”).

To highlight how isolated we were, the Instructor had his own small plane and airstrip and he flew himself to most of his engagements.

But aside from those two or three outings, we lived as if we were in boarding school.  And I loved almost every minute.

I was in my element.

Over the four weeks we covered four (4) domains of Contact Center knowledge:

  • Operations Management
  • Leadership & Business Management
  • People Management
  • Customer Relationship Management (for CX folks remember it was 2002)

The deep grounding in know-how I went through in that month, coupled with my real world experience managing Centers, has informed my view of the Customer ecosystem ever since.

Which is essentially this –

I believe that leading & managing in the Customer ecosystem, whether Contact Center Management or Customer Experience Management, is a business discipline.

And as with any business discipline, there is a level of necessary know-how, across multiple domains, that an industry professional needs in order to avoid negative outcomes and achieve great outcomes.

In the Customer industry, as was true in my own case, people don’t typically go to school to learn these things.

Many people in the Customer industry end up in the industry by accident and then end dup learning on the job, which as you’d imagine can be very hit or miss.

I know this because I meet so many of them in our workshops and have the opportunity to listen to their stories.

 

By Year 6, I had signed checks for nearly$380,000 specifically for learning & development

By the sixth year of my company’s operations, I had signed checks totalling nearly $380,000 to cover IP & content rights, long distance travel expenses to join workshops and meetings (the days before Zoom) and to pay for various membership & certification costs.

And it was worth every penny.

By this time, Clients were flying me all over the world to teach their people how to succeed in the Customer ecosystem.

One memorable week I finished a class in Beijing in the evening, went to the airport to board a flight, landed in Delhi the next morning and took the taxi straight to the venue to begin a morning class there.

I also wrote extensive training content of our own and Partners and Clients began to approach us to buy or license our courseware.

.

 

I’m grateful I came up through Finance

I came up through Finance so the concept of a business discipline was natural for me. I had been through the gamut of formal learning required to succeed in the finance discipline.

I have never heard any VP, Finance say that their bosses were fine that they learn how to prepare financial statements on the job.

Of course you learn on the job.

But to get those kinds of senior level Finance jobs I had to have a relevant university degree and relevant industry certifications just to get an interview, much less get the job.

In my last Finance role, I worked at a direct marketing company in the US that sold products nationally via TV commercials and catalogs. We served Customers through our own big Contact Center & Distribution Center based in El Segundo, California.

I’d been preparing the financials and budgets for both the Contact Center & Distribution Center for a few years and knew the numbers inside and out.

Then a remarkable thing happened that changed my life.

The VP, Operations resigned from her post to take another job and an hour later the CEO called me up and offered me her position.

To move from VP, Finance to VP, Contact Centre & Distribution Operations.

I was honored and excited and said yes right away.

Looking back, I think my finance background was one of the key factors the senior team took into account before extending the offer to me.

The fact that I knew the numbers and was able to explain them had earned me face time and trust with very senior people.

I was also fortunate that the former VP, Operations had been so generous with her time, often explaining the art & science of Contact Center Management as we’d have lunch or take long walks around the grounds.

Of course over the next eight years of senior Contact Center positions in the U.S. and Asia I learned a lot on the job.

But let me tell you this.

I flat out knew that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I was the VP, Operations!

So when I left the corporate world and started my own company, I made the decision to close the gaps in my knowledge as soon as I could.

I mean how could I possibly help Clients solve their problems if I didn’t have the know-how and credibility to do so?

And that’s how I ended up on a mountain top in California.

 

You’ve got to know what you’re talking about

One of the most common feedback comments we get from Participants in our workshops is: “I wish I had taken this course earlier.”

To which I reply with some version of Maya Angelou’s wonderful quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And no, you don’t have to do what I did. You don’t have to start your own company and spend $380,000.

I know what I did is pretty unique.

But I would say that there is tremendous value in looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “I don’t know what I don’t know.”

And then doing something about it.

What lessons can Contact Centre folks learn from CX folks?

Thank you for reading!

If you’d like to stay up to date on our articles and other information just send me your email or add your details to the contact form on our website.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

Daniel Ord teaches the Customer Experience Team at Agoda in Shanghai.

Cover photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

 

 

I think our Reports Person has lost the plot

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

When you’re not sure why the reports you generate matter, or wonder if they even make sense, it’s time to take a step back.

“I think our Reports Person has lost the plot.”

That’s what one of our Participants said to the group after we had finished working through the Contact Centre metrics topic in a recent workshop.

“They generate these complex reports that no one really understands. It’s a big relief to know I don’t have to just accept them simply because we’ve always done it this way.”

That share prompted another Participant in the course to display a report that was being used in their Centre.

As we all stared at the screen trying to figure out what the report was meant to achieve, here is what she said:

“My predecessor who created this report had been in the role a long time.

So our big bosses and everyone in the team assumed that they were an ‘expert’. And that this report was industry standard or at least ‘right’ in some way. 

Based on what I’ve learned in this course so far I’ve already emailed our CEO and told them that we’re going to redefine some of the terms we use and present our performance to them in a better report.

I got a very positive response to that!”

 

I had my own story to share

I shared the story of how, after delivering a global workshop on-site with a Client, the reports person for that company spent nearly two hours explaining one metric that they created and used to track performance in their Centre.

That explanation was so confusing that even to this day, with half a dozen photos of the whiteboard in my phone, I still can’t quite make heads or tails of it.

And as it turned out – as I met others in that same company – nobody else could understand it either.

The calculations presented may have been highly accurate.  And may have served a higher level purpose.

But complexity in place of clarity is never a good idea.

If you’re running a Contact Centre or Customer Experience group and your folks need a PhD to understand a metric that’s supposed to guide their behaviour, you’ve already got a problem.

Because the very people who are supposed to make it ‘happen’ can’t explain it.Which means they can’t understand it either.

 

Sometimes people who are new to the role have an advantage over those with years of experience

I sometimes find that people who are new to the industry have an easier time to stand up and ask, “Why do we do this? What is this report supposed to help us with? Is it actually helping?”

Experience is great.

But be cautious about assuming that years of experience – and doing the same thing over and over – is a reliable indicator that we’re doing the right thing.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/the-london-tube-map-and-cx-strategy-a-story

Reports are more than just reports

It’s easy to say they’re just reports. But that’s a big oversimplification.

Reports – and especially what’s on them – tell people in a formal and structured way what matters around here.  If we measure it, then it must be important.

Which guides people’s behaviour. And people’s behaviour informs the work culture.

Challenge yourself from time to time to be really clear on which reports matter and which ones, perhaps, don’t.

Because it’s so worth it to get it right.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/why-years-of-experience-is-not-the-best-predictor-of-contact-centre-success

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for the time you took to read this today.  I appreciate it!

If you’d like to be kept updated on new articles and information just share your email address directly with my by email or on the contact form on our website.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

 

Should your CX Head be a Contact Center expert too?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

The people have spoken – should your CX Head be a Contact Center expert too?

Pretty much everyone would agree that Customer Experience Management and Contact Center Management are both important.

And they’re definitely not the same thing.

With that said, the question is – should your CX Head be a Contact Center expert too?

In this article we share some interesting findings to that question.

The poll I put up

I used the LinkedIn polling feature and here’s the poll I put up:

How important is it that your Customer Experience Head/Chief Customer Officer also be a Contact Center expert?

There were 3 options (where only 1 option could be selected):

• Extremely important

• Moderately important

• Not very important

Before you read further take a moment and choose which one you would vote for yourself.

Now assume that someone asks you, ‘Why did you vote that way?’

What would you say?  Take another moment now to think specifically about why you voted the way you did.

Cool.  Let’s move on.

I chose the phrase ‘Contact Center expert’ for the poll question very deliberately.

Not just someone who likes Contact Centers. Or thinks that Contact Centers are important.  Or has worked in a Contact Center for a long time.

An expert is someone credible that you’d hire – either as an employee or consultant – who can and will measurably bring the Contact Center to a higher level of performance.

We won’t go too deeply into what’s required to succeed in the Contact Center industry. That’s better suited for another post.

But with that said, it’s much more than a ‘passion’ for the industry or even ‘years of experience’.

 

The poll results

I allowed 7 days for the votes to come in.

And here I share the final results after the poll closed.

How important is it that your Customer Experience Head/Chief Customer Officer also be a Contact Center expert?

• Extremely important 50%
• Moderately important 26%
• Not very important 24%

Total votes received – 235

We also received some great qualitative comments as well, a few of which I share later on in this post.

 

The role of Qualitative Research

Before I dive into the results, a general comment on Qualitative Research.

Clearly a LinkedIn poll isn’t statistically viable. Results can’t be confidently extrapolated across the industry.

But that’s not the point of this poll. And it was never the point.

Polls like these provide interesting fodder for raising questions and pointing out where additional research might bring more insight.

That’s the power of qualitative research.

And that’s the spirit of this article.

 

So who were the people that voted ‘extremely important’?

Half of all the Voters chose the option ‘extremely important’, so I decided to dig into the composition of ‘who’ these Voters were to see what I could learn.

To do that I worked with a colleague to look at the LinkedIn profile of each person that voted to determine what they did at work.

Sometimes what someone did at work was obvious – for example Head of Contact Center for X organization. Or Voice of Customer Manager for Y organization.

Other times it wasn’t easy to understand what someone did. Often times these folks used hyphenated job titles such as:

CX | Data Analytics | Speaker | Employee Experience | Board Member

For job titles like these we had to dig deeper into the the LinkedIn profiles to figure out what they actually did.

It took some work but we were able to classify each Voter and here’s what we found.

72% of those who voted ‘extremely important’ that the CX Head also be a Contact Center expert worked in the Contact Center  function themselves.

A significant majority.

 

What about the people who voted ‘moderately important’?

Of the 26% who voted that it was ‘moderately important’ that the CX Head also be a Contact Center expert, 47% of those Voters worked in a Contact Center role themselves.

The balance, 53% of those Voters, worked in a CX role or as a CX consultant.

About evenly split.

 

And finally the people who voted ‘not very important’

Of the remaining 24% who voted ‘not very important’, only 30% of those Voters worked in a Contact Center role.

The remaining 70% of Voters who chose ‘not very important’, worked in a CX role or as a CX consultant.

 

Summing up the results

So while we know that correlation does not equal causation here’s what we can say about the poll results –

There was a positive correlation between the ‘belief’ that a CX Head also be a Contact Center expert and whether the Voter worked in the Contact Center industry themselves.

Or put another way, people that work in a Contact Center role found it more important that the CX Head be a Contact Center expert.

And though the correlation wasn’t as strong, as the percentage of Voters who worked in a CX role increased, the level of importance that a CX Head be a Contact Center expert decreased.

 

We did receive some interesting qualitative comments from Voters

Here are some verbatim comments received from the Contact Center ‘people’

“I can’t imagine not being a “well-seasoned” contact center manager, otherwise you will end up “well-seasoned” on a spit over an open fire on your way out as a failed CX Officer.”

“Maybe the word ‘expert’ is not the best, but CX Leaders absolutely need to know how best-in-class Contact Centres operate.”

“I voted extremely important not because I think they need to be hands on with the contact centre but they have to know how to influence the contact center managers in the grand scheme of strategic planning. If you don’t fundamentally understand how a contact Center manager goes about their day, you will undoubtedly be destined to fail.”

 

Here are some verbatim comments received from the CX ‘people’

“And this is the conundrum of CX professionals far and wide 😂 the dreaded contact centre box. CX is further reaching than just contact centre management.”

“Your chief customer officer has to be more aligned with the CEO than the contact centre. Perhaps at a lower level it becomes more important – but a CCO has to be an expert is overall operations, marketing, strategy, product development, legal, HR, etc – before specific contact centre knowledge comes into play.”

“My view has always been that the person at the top of the pyramid can’t be an expert in everything. But they need to have trusted persons who do master the various aspects and who can advise. That doesn’t mean that the boss shouldn’t be a specialist in one or more aspects of the job.”

For me these were fascinating results – both quantitatve and qualitative – and I hope you found them fascinating too.

 

Thank you for reading!

I appreciate the time you took to read this today! If you’d like to keep up on our articles and other information just add your name to the contact form on our website or simply email me and I’ll add you!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

Daniel Ord films segments as Emcee of the European Customer Centricity Awards in Santorini Greece.

Dear Trainers – engagement shouldn’t be the goal

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Everywhere you go Trainers and the people that employ them talk about engagement.  But engagement shouldn’t be the goal.  Here’s why…

Engagement. It’s a word that you’ll hear Trainers, would be Trainers and Clients looking for Trainers all use.

Engage our people.

But when we’re talking about training, I think sometimes the bus stops too soon.

Engagement isn’t the goal.  It’s not the final destination.

Sure, it’s an integral part of the journey. It’s important.

But it’s not the goal.

 

Changing business results is the goal of (most) training

If it’s Customer Service training, then decide what your goal is.  Should repeat calls go down? Should Customer satisfaction go up?  Should Employee Attrition go down?

If it’s Contact Center management training, should Service Level improve? Should leadership reallocate where they spend time? Should metrics be redesigned?

If it’s Customer Experience Management training, should we help people pass a certification exam?  Should new listening posts be identified?  Should new rituals be designed?

One of my best work moments was when I was watching a global Customer Service Director share with their Team how their Organization’s business results had improved over the last year.

How X measurement had gone up, how Y measurement had gone down, and how the work of the people in that room had contributed to that success.

His opening was a superb lead in to the workshop that I was about to conduct. Because he specifically addressed business results.

He brought up engagement as well in his workshop introduction.  He told the group, “And believe me you’ll have fun with Dan.  I know because I was in this course before.”

And that was fine too.  It was a lovely compliment.

Engagement matters.  It’s just not the end goal.

 

Don’t think about engagement as the final destination. Engagement is expected.

If you as a Trainer struggle to bring a group of people to life, your opportunity to deliver business results will be negatively impacted.

No matter how valid or good your content is.

On the other hand, if you think that getting a room of people hyped up and excited without any meaningful change in behaviour and outcomes is ok, well that’s a different problem.

We’ve all seen those trainings where lots of people jump up and down. A few may even cry.

But the following week they’re all back at work doing everything exactly the same way they did before.

Nothing’s changed.

I’ve always called that hoo-ha training.

And the term is not not meant to be complimentary.

And finally, there are some training programs – such as CPR or life saving – that may not have a specific business result in mind – but which are considered important too.  It’s good to understand when that’s the case.

 

Engagement matters. But it’s expected.

If you’re a pianist, you can play with feeling.  If you’re a lawyer, you can articulate the merits of your case.

If you’re a Trainer, you can engage groups of people.  It’s expected.

Remember that your end goal is one of impact.  To change those business results.

Because that’s what really matters.

 

Thank you for reading!

I appreciate the time you took to read this today.

If you’d like to keep up to date with our articles and other information just leave your email address in the contact form on our website.  Or send it to me by email.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

 

The London Tube Map and CX Strategy – a story

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share the story of how a strategy session went off track, even amongst CX experts, and an approach that works better.

“This photo of the London Tube Map is so cool.” 

“It sure is, I think it would be a great guide to our work.”

“I think so too.  We can design our strategy in a way that fits into the map.”

I had been invited to sit in with a group of CX experts to design a learning curriculum for CX practitioners.

And after the introductions, that’s almost word for word how the conversation amongst the experts had kicked off.

There had been an earlier meeting that I’d missed and it was during that earlier meeting that the group had landed on the map of the London Tube system.

And had chosen it as their North Star to design a CX learning curriculum

 

But this was the wrong starting point

By falling in love with a clever image – and I’m sure we’re all guilty of this at some point in our career – the entire project had been derailed.

Because rather than an open, structured and embracing approach to strategy, the discussions became tethered to whether they fit into the London Tube map – or not.

And those discussions were going to miss out on the questions that mattered more.

 

I teach a lot of CX and Customer Service strategy and here’s a better approach

I teach a lot of strategy in our various CX and Customer Service workshops and here’s some content that my Participants have told me helped.

This is wisdom from USAA, recognized as one of the world’s most Customer-focused organizations.

And it’s a company I have personal experience with as I’m the child of a military family and a USAA Member since the age of 16.

Greg Marion, the VP of Enterprise Strategy at USAA, shared that there are 4 parts to a business strategy:

His 4 elements are remarkably clear:

  1. What is our Vision?
  2. Who do we serve? (The Who)
  3. How will we serve them? (The How)
  4. How will we track our progress along the way?  (The Metrics)

Of course there are lots of things going on within each element, but my intention here isn’t to dive down into a strategy workshop.

It’s to introduce a framework that ‘starts at the top’. Which is what I think the group of CX experts I was sitting with had not yet done.

So using the 4-element model I introduced a question  – what’s the vision for the learning and development curriculum you’re putting together for the industry?  If all your dreams come true what will that look like?

And before we get into the nitty gritties of courses and outlines, who do we serve?  Who are we writing this curriculum for?

Ok – now we know what our vision is and we know who we’re serving.  How will we serve them?  What’s our product?  What will the delivery or distribution mechanism be?  Are we serving folks the way they want to be served?

And finally, how will we know we’re successful?  Or that we’re on the right track and can adjust/readjust as needed?  That’s where metrics come in.

I’m a big fan of determining the metrics up front before we start the initiative.  Because then there’s real world alignment to our work.  As well as accountability for our work.

 

This approach can help 

Not only is this approach more structured.  It’s more ‘outside-in’.

Because we’re looking out to who we’re serving, how we plan to serve them and metrics of success that keep us accountable and on track.

Or put another way, we discussed the problem we solve and how we’re going to solve it for real people in the real world.

Imagine how much differently the conversation would have gone if the group of CX experts had used a strategic framework to guide the development of the learning and development curriculum.

As compared to designing around a pretty picture.

 

Thank you for reading!

If you’d like to keep up with our articles and other information just leave your email address in our contact form or visit me on LinkedIn!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

 

Why Fortune Cookie Wisdom frustrates me and what you can do about it

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Fortune Cookie Wisdom dilutes the impact you want to make when you present to an audience. Here’s what to do it about it.

When I was a kid we loved fortune cookies

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, my parents would take us out to try all sorts of cuisine.

Perhaps a foreshadowing of my future life in Asia, I always enjoyed going out for Asian food.  And at the end of the meal, in many Chinese restaurants, we’d get tea and fortune cookies.

And we all loved the fortune cookies.  Less to eat I’d say, and more because of the fun in cracking the cookie open and reading what the future held.

If I got a particularly good fortune, I might fold it up and stick it in my wallet.

Like a little good luck charm.

 

But the fortune inside a Fortune Cookie isn’t all that useful

The fortunes that come inside the cookies are packed with buzzwords.

Fate, riches, longevity, health, love, career.  Maybe a word or two on lucky numbers or colours.

But what those fortunes aren’t is useful.

I mean how much practical advice can a fortune cookie hold?

Not much.

 

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

Years ago I was moderating a panel session at a big CX Event in Asia.

Hundreds of people were out in the audience. Eager to learn, to be entertained or, ideally, both.

One of the Panellists in our session grabbed his mic tightly and began to spout every single buzzword going at the time.

His share is still a blur in my mind.

But if I had to mimic what he said to the audience it sounded like this:

“We need to connect to our purpose and remember that CX = EX.  Only then can our vision accelerate and digitalization will reinvent our core culture. Unleashed, ROI will rise up and create tangible benefits for all Stakeholders with less friction and more delight.”

And on and on.

I wasn’t sure if he was running for office.  Or if his big bosses were seated somewhere out in the audience and it was important to make his company look good.

But I was sure that no one in that audience was learning anything from what was being said.

The share was so generic and so 5,000 feet in the air that it lacked any practicality or useful lessons.

And right there, on that stage, a new term struck me.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom!

Information. Not insight.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/cx-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-contact-centre-industry

Your talk is supposed to be about your audience

I am convinced that the folks who take the time and effort to attend conferences, webinars and events crave practicality.  And I’m convinced that they crave honesty & vulnerability too.

If they could have easily googled what you told them then they’re probably not getting what they hoped for or needed.

My favourite Presenters, on any topic, share their experience on what worked and what didn’t work.

What they got right and what they got wrong.

What they did and what they would do differently if given the chance.

Presenters like these don’t just demonstrate depth.  They serve our human need to hear stories and learn from them.

 

There’s lots of Fortune Cookie Wisdom out there

As a Trainer, Speaker and Emcee, I spend a lot of time at events.  And there’s still a lot of Fortune Cookie Wisdom out there.

Lots of buzzwords, statistics that anyone can google (1 in 5 people will neve come back!) and case studies about places like Amazon, Southwest Airlines and the Ritz Carlton though the Presenter hasn’t personally worked with or for any of those brands.

Information not insight.

Insight drawn from personal stories, lessons learned, mistakes made, successes achieved, what to do (or what not to do) and why.

All the things I think an audience member deserves.

It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking for the the local Lions Club or you’re on a massive stage in a big city beamed to thousands.

When you’re invited to present to an audience you’ve been asked to take a position of authority.

And with that authority I think we have a responsibility to do better than Fortune Cookie Wisdom.

 

We can always bring it down to Earth

I love the line, ‘be distinct or go home’.  I bet you want to make an impact.

I know I do.

So bring that topic from 5,000 feet in the air down to earth, make it personal, make it practical and help people benefit from what you what you’ve been through.

No one has your narrative but you.

I am sure they will appreciate it.

Thank you for reading!

I appreciate the time you took to read this today!

If you’d like to see more of our articles just share your email address with us in the contact form on our website or send me an email!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

Why years of experience is not the best predictor of Contact Centre success

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Why years of experience is not the best predictor of Contact Centre success

You’ve heard it, you’ve read it and you’ve seen it.

The years of experience line.

Whether it’s a conference speaker, a LinkedIn blogger or someone where you work.

Where they tell you some variation of “I have over 5, 15, 35 years of experience in the industry.”

But years of experience on its own has never been a reliable predictor of success in the Contact Centre profession.

Or arguably any profession.

 

Why not?  You’ve heard some of these too.

One of my favourite sayings is this one.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.

Which is what we see when we meet folks in training sessions who haven’t reviewed their metrics in years.  Or Frontliners in training sessions who haven’t reconsidered the way they speak to Customers – in years.

They just keep doing the same things over and over. The patterns are deeply engrained.

Sure, perhaps the calendar shows 10 years have gone by.  But this is really more the repeat of one year of experience 10 times over.

Not quite the same thing.

Another point is this one.  Who’s your boss?

Some bosses have the talent for growing and developing people.  For pushing them out of their comfort zone.

Other bosses are hands off.  Or don’t have the depth of their own to grow other people.

They leave the work of growth to the Employee.

I also consider this point.  Who is your Employer?

Years of experience working for a superb Employer beats years of experience working for an average Employer every time.

That Contact Centre across the street from you?  Or a few floors up in that office block?  They could be doing a much better job, simply because of ‘who’ that company is and how much they actually believe in the Customer.

There are very real gaps between average, good and great Employers.

If I hear Company Name A for example, I know that the people who work there know what they’re doing.  No matter where in the world they are.

On the other hand if I hear Company Name B, I might have to ask if Company B is known for its great Customer Service performance.

And even if it’s hard to find the relevant data for Company B, I can always still ask:

  • What do the Customers of Company B have to say about their experience?
  • What do the Contact Centre Employees at Company B have to say about their experience?
  • What does senior management at Company B have to say about their perception of how their Contact Centre performs?

The answers to these questions are the measure.  Because real world impact is what it’s all about.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/cx-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-contact-centre-industry

Impact doesn’t require years of experience

I’ve met Contact Centre Leaders who are literally brand new to the industry.  They were often transferred in from another department to take over the Centre.

Typically because they had achieved a great success in another function, so they had been reassigned to the Customer Service function ‘do it again’.  To fix and/or reinvigorate the Contact Centre.

And of these people I’ve met, nearly without exception, they come in to the Contact Centre, bring an open mind and completely reimagine and redefine Contact Centre success.

I think this works, in part, because these people don’t carry the baggage of years of experience.  And the hard coded beliefs that can come with that.

They don’t have to unlearn and relearn.

They can just learn.

Sometimes a meme says so much – and this is the one I created for this post

A bit too harsh?  Well memes aren’t known for subtlety.  And I think there is a valid point here.

There’s no question that experience matters.

That being in the trenches gives one an understanding of the job that can’t be felt via a job description.

But what about the know-how?  The essential dynamics, principles & practices that have been examined, tested and used successfully in your industry?

These have their role too.

Surgeons aren’t expected to learn everything they know on the job.  You definitely wouldn’t want your appendix removed by someone who wasn’t, in some way, formally taught to do so.

Nor would you want someone to do your taxes just because they have a ‘passion’ for taxes. Without some validation or educational background in tax preparation.

Speaking from experience here, that can be a costly disaster for the taxpayer.

Yet in Customer Service and the Contact Centre industry this is often the reality.  Many people end up in the Contact Centre profession by accident.

They didn’t go to school to be in the industry.

So they learn ‘on the job’.  Which can be very hit or miss.

As the calibre of what they learn is so dependent on the level of Contact Centre mastery found within the organization.

New Team Leaders were promoted up from Agents. So they often replicate what they were told when they were Agents.

And the bosses who teach the new Team Leaders learned on the job too.  From their own bosses.

So the know-how gets passed on (and watered down) from generation to generation.

Without someone taking a big step back and asking – ‘Why do we do the things we do around here?’ or ‘Are we actually doing the right things in the right way?’ or ‘Has what has made us successful so up to now, going to make us successful into the future?’.

 

What’s the better formula for success?

Know-How + Experience

When you’ve got the mastery level know-how you avoid wasting time and effort on topics that were solved long ago and by others.  You don’t make rookie mistakes that can last for years.

You gain clarity around what great looks like, what it takes to get there and how to communicate that to everybody around you.

Which means that you can face an ever changing world – and all those new developments – with greater confidence and success.

The best Contact Centre professionals that I’ve met treat the industry like a business discipline.  No different than the rigor expected in fields like finance, the law, engineering or medicine.

They study formally.  They learn.  They apply their know-how to the matter at hand.

And rather than talking about how many ‘years of experience’ they have, they talk about the specific impacts they’ve made across Customers, Employees and the Organization at large.

That always gives me a lot more confidence.

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

Thank you for reading and if you’d like read more simply add your email address to our contact form!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

10 Contact Center Operations Management questions – how well do you do?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this post, I share 10 Contact Center Operations Management questions for Contact Center leaders who want to gauge their mastery of specific Contact Center know how required for successful operations management.

Because while passion and experience are helpful, Contact Center know how matters too.

A bit of background on the Contact Center Operations Management questions

Managing a Contact Center is a business discipline.  It requires very specific know-how. And when I teach Contact Center operations management I cover four modules:

  1. Managing Wait Time
  2. Creating Efficiency
  3. Forecasting the Workload
  4. Contact Center University

The questions presented below are in multiple choice format and are drawn from the Contact Center management workshops I’ve run around the world for over 20 years.

Read through each question and choose the answer that you think is correct – that’s either a, b, c or d.  There is only one correct answer for each question.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/what-kind-of-customer-experience-does-your-contact-center-deliver

 

The 10 Contact Center Management Questions

1.  Which accessibility metric gives management the clearest indication of the wait time a typical caller experiences?

a) Average Speed of Answer

b) Service Level

c) Percent Abandoned

d) Percent Answered

 

2.  Which of the following is the industry standard Service Level?

a) 80% answered in 20 seconds

b) 90% answered in 30 seconds

c) Industry standards only exist by industry (finance, hospitality, healthcare, etc.)

d) There is no industry standard

 

3.  When managing the queue in real-time, which of the following real-time reports should you look at first?

a) Agent status

b) Longest current wait

c) Number of calls in queue

d) Average time to abandonment

 

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

I. Occupancy is the percentage of time agents spend talking to customers or completing After Call Work.

II. Occupancy is a result of random call arrival.

III. When Service Level increases, Occupancy increases.

IV. When Occupancy is extremely high for extended periods of time, Agents tend to work harder to clear out the queue.

 

a) II only

b) I and II only

c) II and IV only

d) I, III and IV only

 

5.  Which one of the following statements is true about Adherence to Schedule?

a) Adherence to Schedule measures the actual login time of an Agent compared with the scheduled login time.

b) The percentage of time Agents spend waiting for calls to arrive is the inverse of Adherence to Schedule.

c) When Adherence to Schedule increases, Utilization increases as well.

d) Within the context of Adherence to Schedule, login time does not include time Agents spend in After Call Work.

 

6.  If an Agent arrives 30 minutes late to work at a Contact Center, which of the following actions would benefit the Center the most? Assume the Agent is unable to consult with his/her Team Leader on the most appropriate action.

a)Stay 30 minutes extra at the end of his/her shift.

b) Skip his/her morning and afternoon breaks, each of which is 15 minutes.

c) Come back from his/her hour lunch break 30 minutes early.

d) Take his/her breaks and lunch as normal and leave at his/her scheduled time.

 

7.  Which one of the following statements is FALSE?

a) Measuring the number of calls handled by Agent is a good productivity standard.

b) Adherence to Schedule is typically an important productivity measure for a Contact Centre Agent handling Service Level-based contacts.

c) When Adherence to Schedule improves Service Level improves as well.

d) Most of what drives the Average Handling Time lies outside the control of the Agent

 

8.  The best definition of Time Series forecasting is:

a) A method where the past is a good basis for predicting the future

b) A method which is only used in rare circumstances

c) A method that covers the qualitative side of forecasting

d) A method that does not require judgement

 

9.  Your Call Centre supports email and is expecting 200 email messages to arrive between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. The Average Handling Time of email messages is 8 minutes.  Your promised response time is 4 hours.  Assuming the Agents can work uninterrupted on these email messages only, which of the following staffing scenarios would meet your response time objective for these email messages?

I. 4 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

II. 9 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

III. 14 Agents working from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

IV. 40 Agents who each spend at least an hour working on email from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

 

a) II only

b) III and IV only

c) II, III and IV only

d) I, II, III and IV

 

10.  Which of the following are ‘factors’ you need to incorporate in a monthly Agent labor budget?

I. Is my Agent in the building?

II. What is the monthly weighted average Occupancy rate?

III. Is my Agent on a break?

IV. Is my Agent on leave?

 

a) III only

b) I and II only

c) I, II and III only

d) I, II, III and IV

 

Would you like to know how you did?

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/contact-centre-kpis-the-green-jaguar

If you’d like to know if your answers are correct I’m happy to help.

I’ve intentionally gone ‘low-tech’ here.  There’s no need to register anywhere, set-up an account or pay to access answers.  Your name won’t be added to a mailing list unless you give specific permission for it to be added.

Once you’ve answered all the questions just drop me an email to [email protected]

Let me know the question # and the answer that you chose (either a,b,c or d).  Remember there is only one correct answer for each question.

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

  1. a
  2. d
  3. c
  4. c (and so on for all the questions)

I always do my best to answer quickly and let you know which ones you got right and what the right answers are for the one(s) you got wrong.

Of course taking a few specific know-how questions won’t fully reflect the experience and effort that have gone into your Contact Center management work.

But it helps to know that it takes more than passion and experience to succeed in the industry.

And it’s the folks who have that know how, combined with their passion & experience, who create great outcomes for their Center.  And that’s good for everyone.

Good luck with the questions!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

 

 

 

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 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’ll want to stop washing your hair with dog shampoo.’

It turns out that Emily’s level of French wasn’t quite there yet.  She clearly couldn’t read the label on the shampoo that she was using.

I laughed long and loud at that one.

Because that scene mirrored my own life experience.

Six years ago, when I first moved to Germany, I stood in a grocery store aisle trying to figure out which bottle of shampoo to buy.

And I couldn’t guess at the words on the label with any level of confidence.

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

Put aside cultural assimilation for the moment.

It was tough just doing daily life stuff.  Like figuring out what buttons to press on the ATM machine or how to correctly fill in the mailing label to return 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 think there are some direct parallels to my steps and how I see Clients implement CX in  their organizations.

 

1.  My world had changed and if I was going to succeed in it going forward, 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 that the world has changed and that our organization hasn’t changed with it – or hasn’t changed enough to meet new realities.

 

2.  I set a vision for my future – I imagined myself speaking fluent German everywhere I went

The CX parallel:

What kind of experience do we intend to deliver? The CX Vision is where it all starts.  And crafting a great vision for the future requires us to artfully blend who we are as an organization with what our Customers want and need from us.

 

3.  I evaluated the gap between my current state (of German fluency) and my desired future state (of German fluency) – how big was it?

The CX parallel:

Before launching into the CX ‘doing’, it’s important to evaluate where you are now.  A strategic gap analysis across all the vital CX competencies including VOC, Metrics & Culture.  By knowing where you are now, you can determine what you’ll need to move forward.

 

4.  I set my strategy – my plan of action to achieve my vision

The CX parallel:

Equipped with my CX Vision and my readiness analysis, I can now set out the short, mid & long term activities needed to move forward.  Avoid complexity here – remember that short term wins build and provide credibility for longer term wins.

 

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

The CX parallel:

It’s not really about CX per se – it’s about making the business better.  So I have to understand and articulate, how the proposed CX work is going to make help my organization do better and be 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. And it’s not about having a huge CX Team (those are rare).

You’ll be asking others to allocate their time and resources too.

 

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

The CX parallel:

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

 

8.  I shared my vision and progress 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.

 

In closing

These days I can visit the dentist, buy new eyeglasses and make a dinner reservation in German. I’m not where I want to be with my vision 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.  Your successes will begin to accumulate.  And people in your organization will come to you for advice – perhaps one of the best signals ever that you’re on the right track.

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

 

Thank you for reading!

I appreciate the time you took to read this.  And if you’d like to follow along with our articles and other information just leave your email address in our contact form!

Daniel Ord

[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]