Home Archives for OmniTouch International

Author: OmniTouch International

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 2 Comments

In this article I look at the CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry.

Let’s consider – what CX lessons can we learn from the Contact Centre industry?

There’s no question that Customer Experience as a recognized business discipline is gaining traction around the world.

Over the past decade, CX consultants, practitioners and associations have identified competencies & practices for success – such as those established by the CXPA in their CCXP Certification program.

And the public relations buzz around CX isn’t too bad either.

Conferences, whitepapers, training providers have all expanded around the topic.  As a good friend said to me, it seems like everybody is a CX expert these days.  And everyone is looking for the (right) answers to to achieve their CX ambitions.

But wait.  Are the opportunities & challenges presented by CX all new?

Or are there some CX lessons we can learn by examining past work done in successful Contact Centres?

As you’ll see, I think there are.

Your friendly neighbourhood Contact Centre Manager

I came to CX through the Contact Centre industry.  And I couldn’t have asked for a better path.

That’s because great Contact Centre Managers have tackled some of the challenges – and realized some of the opportunities – that are talked about today in CX forums.

Sure – the Contact Centre is a subset of CX.  And yes – Contact Centre Managers who rebrand themselves as Customer Experience Managers – with no significant change in functional responsibilities – cloud the full meaning of CX.  (more in this in another upcoming article)

But successful Contact Centre Managers  have navigated – for years in some cases – some of the things we talk about in CX today.

So if you’re after some answers to some of your burning CX questions – I’d consider talking to my Contact Centre people.

Here are some examples.

So how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?

 

Example #1 – Are you a Cost Centre or are you a Profit Centre?

For you Contact Centre folks out there – did that header just make you shudder?

I’m with you on that.

One of the most discussed topics over the past two decades has been whether the Contact Centre is primarily a bottomless money pit or a strategic function that delivers value.

To shift the organizational discussion away from the cost-centre mentality, I think successful Contact Centre Managers have been able to:

  • Prove the Centre’s impact on Customer satisfaction and related loyalty metrics
  • Present logical business cases to senior management in the language of numbers & outcomes
  • Provide useful business intelligence to other departments & functions

For CX folks, does any of this sound familiar?  It should.

Because in CX we have to make the connection to ROI.  We can’t rollout CX because we think it’s a moral imperative – an approach doomed to fail.

We have the obligation to link our CX efforts to improved organizational results – based on the metrics that matter most to us.

So if you’re working on CX ROI, it’s worth checking in with successful Contact Centre Managers to see what strategies they used to demonstrate Contact Centre ROI – and shift mindset away from ‘cost centre’.

 

Example #2 – Got a Service Culture?

Nobody goes to school to work in a Contact Centre.

And that means a lot of bright and often very young folks end up working in the Centre without prior experience or know-how.

So every Centre faces the need to transform raw human potential into industry professionals who have great conversations with Customers.

And that usually has to be done quickly – within months – sometimes even weeks.

To achieve that relentless focus on service requires strong culture building practices.  Because you can’t mandate culture.

I’ve seen the best Centre management do the following:

  • Develop a Service Delivery Vision to help everyone understand what kind of service we deliver around here
  • Select & define a focused set of principles that guide decisions about the behaviours we exhibit with Customers and each other
  • Ensure regular and frequent sharing of successes – and misses – with regard to Customer interactions – because storytelling & rituals are always a big part of culture

In CX you need to build a Customer-centric culture.  That marvelous CX transformation won’t happen without it.

But at the organizational level a culture transformation will take 3 – 5 years to succeed.  Assuming that it’s successful at all.

So if you want some lessons on how to build and even accelerate a Customer-centric culture – talk to your successful Contact Centre Manager.

They’ve been cracking this code for years.

 

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/what-i-learned-running-60-classes-on-cx-values-and-culture-for-one-client

 

Example # 3 – Oh baby, don’t leave me this way

Attrition.

That word encapsulates what happens when Contact Centres fail to provide meaningful work and opportunities for their Team Members.

Recently, I listened to a podcast by Horst Schulze (the co-founder of Ritz Carlton Hotels and founder of Capella Hotel Group).  In that discussion he shared how the Ritz Carlton managed to reduce attrition to only 20% of the level experienced by the hospitality industry at large.

Largely by creating a clear vision and giving people a sense of purpose and belonging.

Contact Centre Managers who’ve  gotten a handle on attrition – and retention – have learned a lot about Employee engagement and experience.

Lessons about the application of purpose, opportunities for development and the use of appropriate reward & recognition programs as a starter.

And while the topics of attrition & retention won’t address all the requirements to unlocking a great Employee experience, successful Contact Centre Managers have improved life at work for dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who deal with Customers day in and day out.

It’s worth taking a look at what they did.

3 Suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to transform into Customer Experience Leaders in 2019

 

In closing

For the CX industry, there are some great CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry.

Go in and talk to the Managers there.  They’re sure to appreciate it.  They have a lot to share.  I often remind people that some of the answers to their questions lie within their own people.

And for the Contact Centre Managers out there.  You have earned the know-how, hard knocks and learnings that have made you a master of the Contact Centre domain.

So when you’re ready – and take the time and make the effort to master Customer Experience as a discipline –  you’ll be in an unbeatable position to take everything you know and get out there and make Customer lives even better.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel Ord

I’m a CXPA Recognized Training Provider as well as a global Contact Centre expert with 30 years in the industry.

[email protected]  / www.omnitouchinternational.com

Public Programs

 

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Experience Design, Improvement & Innovation

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post we share 10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for the Experience Design, Improvement & Innovation component of the overall CCXP exam.

CCXP = Certified Customer Experience Professional.  We’re proud to be a CXPA Recognized Training Provider and help people earn their CCXP credential as well as grow in Customer Experience.

A quick look at the official CCXP Exam

The CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association) has identified six (6) Customer Experience competency areas for certification and each area is covered in the official CCXP Exam.

The (6) Customer Experience competency areas are:

  1. Customer-Centric Culture
  2. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight and Understanding
  3. Organizational Adoption and Accountability
  4. Customer Experience Strategy
  5. Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation
  6. Metrics, Measurement, and ROI

There are currently 100 questions in the official CCXP Exam.

To learn more about the CCXP credential and the CCXP exam process please visit cxpa.org.

Our aim with sharing these practice questions

Our aim is to help and inspire folks who want to gain their CCXP credential or simply improve their understanding of Customer Experience as a business discipline.

That’s why we have developed a bank of more than 250 practice questions for the CCXP Exam. We use these practice questions in our Customer experience training workshops as well as publish selected questions from time to time.

In the next section, we share 10 of our CCXP exam practice questions related specifically to the Experience Design, Improvement & Innovation competency.

These 10 questions are designed to address specific know-how related to this competency and are written in the same multiple choice format found on the official CCXP Exam.

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

Remember that the official exam is no books, no notes. So answer as best you can from your current knowledge & experience.  Don’t look up any answers!

Here goes – and good luck!

The 10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions

  1. Which of the following is the BEST description of a human centered design process?

 

a.  Analyze, prototype, ideate

b.  Using empathy in your design

c.  Ideas need to be restricted to only those that can be funded

d.  The right Customer experience changes done the right way

 

 

  1. Select the option where the design steps are in the correct order:

 

a.  Analyze, Research, Ideate, Prototype, Test

b.  Test, Prototype, Ideate, Research, Analyze

c.  Research, Analyze, Ideate, Prototype, Test

d.  None of the options are correct

 

 

  1. The concept of co-creation is BEST expressed as:

 

a.  Asking Employees for their opinions on Customer experience

b.  Asking Business Partners for their opinions on Customer experience

c.  Asking senior management for their opinions on Customer experience

d.  Involving Customers, Employees & Business Partners in the design of Customer experiences

 

 

  1. The best definition of a Prototype is:

 

a.  An early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from

b. Involving Customers, Employees & Business Partners in the design of Customer experiences

c.  A tool used by car manufacturers to show off their new models

d.  None of the above

 

 

  1. If Employees and/or Business Partners will be involved in a new or improved Customer
    experience it’s important to:

 

a.  Incorporate their needs and motivations in the design process

b.  Ensure that their Standard Operating Procedures are updated and communicated out

c.  Conduct a fishbowl analysis to understand the best way to proceed

d.  All of the above

 

 

  1. Once a problem or opportunity has been defined the next step is:

 

a.  Research

b.  Analyze

c.  Ideate & Prototype

d.  Prototype & Test

 

 

  1. The risk in creating a ‘prototype’ report or PowerPoint presentation is that:

 

a.  It may have to be translated into multiple languages

b.  Usually reports and PowerPoint presentations are not detailed enough

c.  They don’t make the proposed improvement or innovation compelling for a broad audience

d.  Rituals and storytelling are better methods for communicating proposed innovations

 

 

  1. The concept of a Customer experience ‘sandbox’ is best expressed as:

 

a.  Designated place/location where new ideas can be tested and tried out

b.  A calming location where Frontline Employees can relax after dealing with Customers

c.  An innovation centre where hackathons can be run

d.  The idea of a ‘sandbox’ is an intellectual not physical concept

 

 

  1. The term ‘ideation’ refers to:

 

a.  Involving Customers, Employees & Business Partners in the design of Customer experiences

b.  A symbiotic method of idea creation is when multiple ideas are combined, using different elements of each to make a whole

c.  Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas

d.  All of the above

 

 

  1. Complete this sentence: “Customers _________________________.”

 

a.  Get engaged when they help companies improve processes and experiences

b.  Get offended when they help companies improve processes and experiences

c.  Don’t feel one way or the other about helping improve processes and experiences

d.  None of the above

 

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.  There’s no need to register anywhere, set-up an account or pay to access the practice questions.

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).  It helps also to tell me which Quiz you took.  This Quiz is for Experience Design.

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 Practice Questions)

I always do my best to answer quickly and let you know which ones you got right and which need correction.

Of course taking 10 CCXP Exam Practice questions won’t fully reflect the experience and effort that have gone into your Customer experience work and goals to date. It’s a lot more than answering multiple choice questions.

But in all these many years of running high level certification programs, we find that the more practice questions you take – and learn from – the better prepared you will be.

Thank you for reading!

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Voice of Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding

Daniel

It’s time to rethink targeting Net Promoter Score at the Frontline

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

It’s time to rethink targeting Net Promoter Score® at the Frontline.

In the old days, suspected witches were tested by throwing them into the water.

If they sank, they were innocent. If they floated then they were indeed witches.

And if they were deemed to be witches…well you know how that went.

Today, some Frontliners go through an equally questionable test with regard to their service on a call or chat.

Let me explain.

I toured a big Contact Center that targeted Net Promoter Score at the Frontline

I was touring a big Contact Centre that conducted a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey at the end of each call.

As soon as the survey was completed by the Customer, that score – along with the Agent name – was beamed across large wall monitors placed around the Centre.

There was even a large lounge area with monitors so that Agents could watch the screens and see the scores for themselves and others scroll by.

But NPS is not really useful as an individual performance metric.

And much of what can go into a Customer NPS score – or overall CSAT score – lies outside the control of the Agent.

NPS is best and most used as a measure of overall brand value.

When it comes to your Frontline, it’s more effective to identify and set goals around the drivers of ‘good’ NPS scores.  What drivers positively impact the NPS and what drivers (or behaviours) to avoid.

Drivers that Frontline folks can support and realistically achieve in the work they do.

That takes some research of course.  But doesn’t that research pay off for everyone?

Sure – measure NPS or CSAT and take the actions you need to take. That’s a given.

But targeting Net Promoter Score scores for Frontliners isn’t much more sound than throwing suspected witches into the water to see if they float.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Voice of Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding

The big German bank

We’re in the process of finalizing the set-up of OmniTouch International in Germany.  Exciting times.

So a few days ago we went to the bank here in Wiesbaden Germany to open our official company account.  And here I should mention it is one of the top 2 German banks.

And our experience turned out to be a classic case of targeting Net Promoter Score at the Frontline.

There was the Corporate Banking Officer and a university student doing a work-study assignment attending to us.  The service was fine, the setting was fine and in 45 minutes it was all sorted.

At the end the Officer asked – “Is it ok if someone calls you to rate the service I provided to you today?”

He has to ask for this permission before a call is made.

We said yes.

Then he said, “You will be asked to rate us on a scale of 1* – 10  and in our bank a 9 or 10 means you are satisfied.”  *(Not a typo on the “1” but the NPS scale actually begins at 0).

He continued, “So may I know what score you will give?”

To which my partner Marcus answered, “7”.

The room got quiet.  Then Marcus explained.

“If you had pre filled up the forms for us you would have saved us 20 minutes time and I would have given a 9 for this interaction.  But we understand the forms part is a process issue and not you – you were great.

The ‘7’ is my honest assessment of this interaction based on the 1 (sic) – 10 scale.”  It’s not an assessment of you personally.

It was so awkward but instructive to watch this dialogue.  To see the anguish.

I piped in, “I have to ask guys.  Do you find this rating question that you have to ask very stressful?”

They both nodded emphatically.

Because to be fair to them – the question isn’t fair to them.

In closing

I think what surprised me the most was that we were told that 9 or 10 represented ‘satisfaction’.

But that’s not at all how the NPS scale works.

And I don’t think the banking staff misrepresented NPS to us.

I have a feeling that NPS was misrepresented to them – and they were simply sharing what they had been told and what they are measured on.

I’m looking forward to seeing if we receive the follow-up survey call and I’ll report back if/when that happens!

Thanks for reading,

Daniel

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Voice of Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post we share 10 CCXP Exam Practice questions for the Voice of Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding component of the overall CCXP exam.

CCXP = Certified Customer Experience Professional.

And we’re proud to be a CXPA Recognized Training Provider – providing workshops that help people enhance their know-how around Customer Experience, as well as prepare for the CCXP Exam.

A quick look at the official CCXP Exam

The CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association) has identified six (6) Customer Experience competency areas for certification and each area is covered in the official CCXP Exam.

The (6) Customer Experience competency areas are:

  1. Customer-Centric Culture
  2. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight and Understanding
  3. Organizational Adoption and Accountability
  4. Customer Experience Strategy
  5. Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation
  6. Metrics, Measurement, and ROI

There are currently 100 questions in the official CCXP Exam.

To learn more about the CCXP credential and the CCXP exam process please visit cxpa.org.

Our aim with sharing these practice questions

Our aim is to help and inspire folks who want to gain their CCXP credential or simply improve their understanding of Customer Experience as a business discipline.

That’s why we have developed a current bank of more than 150 practice questions with more underway.

We use these practice questions in our Customer experience training workshops as well as publish selected questions from time to time.

In the next section, we share 10 of our CCXP exam practice questions related specifically to the Voice of Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding competency.

These 10 questions are designed to address specific know-how expected for this competency and are written in the same multiple choice format found on the official CCXP Exam.

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

Remember that the official exam is no books, no notes. So answer as best you can from your current knowledge & experience.  Don’t look up any answers!

Here goes – and good luck!

The 10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions

 1.  Most organizations do not know their Customers as well as they should because of all the following except:

 

a. They rely on a quantitative lens to look at Customers

b.  There are too many transactional surveys

c.  The organization believes that they already know what Customers want

d.  Ethnographic research is not well used

 

 

2.  Which of the following is the best definition of a Transactional Survey?

 

a.  Is also known as Net Promoter Score

b.  A survey that should be conducted 1x per year

c.  Understands the Customer’s overall relationship with the organization

d.  Understands how a Customer perceives a recent interaction

 

 

3.  Which of the following is the best definition of Ethnographic Research?

 

a.  Research that correlates satisfaction with loyalty

b.  Research that seeks to identify the drivers of Customer satisfaction

c.  Research that studies the Customer in their own environment

d.  Research that seeks to predict future Customer behavior

 

 

4.  If you only have a very short time to gather qualitative research, it might be best to:

 

a.  Ask Employees about Customer wants and needs

b.  Engage a third-party research consultancy

c.  Use past data that may exist in the company

d.  Do an online survey as responses come in more quickly

 

 

5.  Which of the following is the best example of a Persona?

 

a.  Corporate Customers

b.  Customers who live in a specific postal code

c.  Cindy, a housewife with two children

d.  Customers who spend more than $X per year

 

 

6.  Which of the following statements is not true?

 

a.  Creating visual aids & methods to share Customer insight is recommended

b.  Personas help employees understand the types of Customers they deal with

c.  Journey maps should be complex to allow for thorough evaluation

d.  Journey maps visually illustrate a persona’s activities over time

 

 

7.  All the following are examples of mining unsolicited feedback except:

 

a.  Comments on social media

b.  Customer feedback to Call Centre Agents

c.  Posts on review sites (TripAdvisor, Yelp)

d.  Results from Transactional Surveys

 

 

8.  Personas and Customer Journey Maps are best described as:

 

a.  The ultimate outcomes for Customer Understanding & Insight work

b.  Tools that help us gain insight into who our Customers are and what they do

c.  Approaches based on Customer segmentation across product lines

d.  Over-utilized by most major organizations

 

 

9.  Watching a Customer order a product online is an example of:

 

a.  Ethnographic research

b.  Relationship Survey

c.  Mystery Shopper

d.  Predictive analytics

 

 

10.  Turning your Customer data into a compelling picture or story helps with:

 

a.  Getting management, employees and partners to understand the Customer better

b.  Gaining buy-in for taking steps to improve or enhance the experience

c.  Building empathy across the Team with the Customer’s situation

d.  All the above

 

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.  There’s no need to register anywhere, set-up an account or pay to access the practice questions.

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 Practice Questions)

I always do my best to answer quickly and let you know which ones you got right and which need correction.

Of course taking 10 CCXP Exam Practice questions won’t fully reflect the experience and effort that have gone into your Customer experience work and goals to date.

But in all these many years of running high level certification programs, we find that the more practice questions you take – and learn from – the better prepared you will be.

Thank you for reading!

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Research Know How

Daniel

Daniel Ord / [email protected]

 

Do your Agents really talk too much?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I talk about Agent KPIs in the Contact Centre.

“But Dan…if we don’t have an Average Handling Time target the Agents will talk too much.”

That’s what so many Team Leaders tell me in classrooms.

But I’ve never yet met an Agent who says, “Dan…I go to work and make sure I talk a long time to everyone.”

So where’s the disconnect?

For a lot of Team Leaders it comes down to justifying the KPIs set by management. Because if the big bosses say we have to keep Agents from talking too much there must be some truth to the belief that Agents will talk too much if you give them the chance.

Usually when you dig a little deeper with the Team Leader you find that it’s one person that’s ‘talking too much’.

Not everyone.

So that instance can be analyzed and fixed.

When you set KPIs across a majority population just to catch a few outliers you end up creating barriers to great performance.

Folks in the Centre talk more about what not to do vs. the important work of what to do.

If you really want to know how important Customer Experience is to a Contact Centre – don’t just listen to what the Centre management says. Look at the KPIs they ask their Team Leaders to ‘bring out’ in their Agents.

That’s where the real story lies.

Why are you still talking about Average Handling Time?

 

Daniel

Image by Suju at Pixabay.

 

How to use the True Calls per Hour Calculation in the Contact Centre

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share how to use the True Calls per Hour calculation in the Contact Centre.

We get into a bit of advanced operations here.  But it’s something that Contact Centre leaders should know and be able to use.

 

When you hear folks talk about Contact Centre productivity they’re usually talking about the Agents

Usually when we hear people talk about productivity they have their finger pointed firmly at their Agents.

“How can we get our Agents to be more productive?” they ask.

When we ask “What do you mean by productivity?” the most common answer is –

“How can we get the Agents to handle more calls or live chats per hour (day/week)?”

But Quantity Handled per Agent is and always has been a problematic measure

Productivity in a Contact Centre is not about how many calls or chats are handled.

This measure – when directed at Service Level based contacts – has always been problematic.

There are very real mathematical realities at work that put the number of calls or chats handled outside the direct control of the Agent.

When you stop and look at it, the key factors that drive contact quantity up or down per Agent include:

  • The Service Level set and its resulting Occupancy rate
  • The health of the Forecasting, Staffing, Scheduling & Real Time Management process at the interval level
  • The size of the Queue at any given time (known as the Pooling Principle)
  • The undeniable mathematics of random contact arrival (which is why we have Erlang C)

What you need to know about the Pooling Principle in Contact Centers

For Centres that have sorted this out and no longer target Agents on quantity handled – congratulations.

You’re well on the way to enhancing Agent and Customer Experience.

But let’s pause a moment.

Ok Dan (you might say).  Got it.  We don’t (or won’t) target Agents on Quantity Handled for Service level based contacts.  

But for planning, comparative and high level management purposes is there some way we can analyze the quantity handled across different shifts, cities and even countries?

Well I’m glad you asked.

Let me show you how.

 

The True Calls per Hour calculation

When I teach this in workshops, I like to use the example of making pizzas in a Pizza outlet.

See if you can answer the question posed in the picture below for our fictional Pizza Palace company.

 

What makes this difficult to answer is that our Delhi outlet is busier than our Chennai outlet.

Perhaps our Delhi outlet is located on the ground level of a busy mall while our Chennai outlet is off the beaten track in a low traffic area.

But we can’t possibly hold Prachi or Sangeetha accountable for how busy (or not) their outlets were – they’re not in the Sales & Marketing Team.

They were hired to make pizzas.

Got your answer?

Ok – let me show you how we normalize the figures so that we can compare them fairly.

 

In order to correctly compare both Prachi and Sangeetha, you take what they actually ‘did’ (in this case how many pizzas they made) and divide that by the Occupancy rate they experienced during that time.

Once you normalize the data as you see above, we can calculate the ‘rate’ at which both of these people are working.

The use of the word rate is important.

Prachi is working at the rate/speed of 25.3 pizzas per hour.  In other words if her Occupancy rate had been 100% this is how many she would have made.

Sangeetha is working at the rate/speed of 28.3 pizzas per hour. In other words if her Occupancy rate had been 100% this is how many she would have made.

So we can now compare both of our pizza chefs on the same basis because we have factored out the impact of the different Occupancy rates.

That’s how the True Calls per Hour calculation works.

Just substitue calls for pizzas.

 

But could we have a problem?

Absolutely.

Typically at this point in the discussion the topic of Quality comes into the picture.  How good (or not) the pizza looks & tastes.

What we don’t know (or haven’t figured out) yet

What we don’t know in this exercise (at least so far) is the appropriate or best rate at which we should be making pizzas.

Because we want Customers to come back again. And if we don’t give Quality – then what we’re doing is pointless.  We’ll never run a sustainable pizza business.

Studies must be done

Fast food companies are well known for conducting very scientific time & motion studies on how many can be ‘done’ and still deliver the required level of quality.

Contact Centres could learn from their example.

It is very likely that Pizza Palace has conducted in depth time and motion studies.

For purposes of this article let’s assume that they discovered that a pizza chef operating at the rate of 22 – 25 pizzas per hour was ideal.

The required quality standards were achieved without any obvious pick up or loss in productivity.

Now that we have a viable quality range to look at, we can draw some conclusions about the pizza chefs in this story.

Prachi is probably ‘doing fine’.  She’s operating at the upper end of the range and is within range.  But we should still taste her pizza now and then for quality assurance purposes.

On the other hand, Sangeetha is operating outside of the range – and on the high side.  We’d better go taste her pizza to ensure quality hasn’t been compromised.

Of course, if someone looks like they’re operating outside the range and on the high side it could be either:

a) they are in fact working too fast (and thus Quality falls – such as the taste of the pizza)

b) they’ve discovered some kind of process or quality innovation that should be studied and replicated across our other chefs

The best Contact Centres

The best Contact Centres don’t target Agents individually on the quantity of contacts handled (for Service Level based contacts – that caveat must always be there).

But when they want to conduct comparative quantity analyses they use the same normalization technique we used in this story for pizzas.

Some of the conclusions I’ve seen Clients come up with using this technqiue include:

  • For Ireland/Germany/Singapore (name your market or city) we know that on a Saturday afternoon shift the right rate of call handling that delivers on quality is about 12 – 15 calls per hour
  • Our night shift Team calls per hour achievement will always be lower than our day shift Team calls per hour achievement
  • The true calls per hour rate for Japan will always be lower than our calls per hour rate for IndiaWe know that if we see variations in the rate we need to explore the underlying reasons (conduct root cause analysis) and not just blame Agents or push them to go faster

Notice that none of these learnings had to do with targeting individual Agent calls handled.

 

Why are you still talking about Average Handling Time?

In conclusion for True Calls per Hour

If you seek to compare the rate of contact handling for different times of day, for different shifts, for different cities or countries or across a time period – an educated implementation and use of True Calls per Hour calculation can help.

It’s an advanced operations technique – for advanced Centres – but very powerful.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

[email protected]

Public Programs

So how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I ask – how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?

Have you attended any conferences lately?

After the speeches are done and the workshops concluded you have the chance to cluster around a table in the coffee shop or bar and get to know other people who attended the event.

And one of my favourite questions is this one – so how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?

If you’re an introvert and get goosebumps around networking – I guarantee you that this question works as a great ice-breaker.

 

Doesn’t it seem like it happened to everyone by accident?

Whether it’s Customer Service, Customer Experience or the Contact Centre I’ve rarely met anyone who doesn’t have an interesting story about how they accidentally ‘fell’ into the industry.

Some folks come up from being an Agent.

That’s cool because we all know you’ll never forget what it was like to talk to Customers.  Learning how to persuade, calm and influence is one of the biggest gifts you get from doing this work.

Others – like myself – fell into the job through management level transfer or acquisition.

I’m lucky enough to have transferred over from Finance to Operations – and I’ve always been grateful to have that background in numbers of logic to call on once I entered the Contact Centre industry.

 

The higher up the management ladder you go – the more you need to work ‘up and out’ in your organization

When I first got into the  Contact Centre industry I faced the common challenge I think many of you have – most of my seniors thought my job was easy.  I mean after all – on paper you just put a bunch of ‘operators’ in place and answer calls or emails or chats – where’s the complexity there?

As time and market forces increasingly put the Customer in the centre of the organizational universe things got a little better.

But I found that at least half my time as a VP, Operations – and time well spent – was spent talking to senior folks across the organization.  Teaching them about the industry, about Customers and about our value proposition.

Helping them ‘get it’.

Today in all my management level Contact Centre courses I advise folks to make a real organizational impact by getting up and away from your desk and office.  And not just walking around your Centre – though of course that has value!

I’m talking about booking time with the Heads of other functions and getting yourself invited to senior level meetings.

You’ve got to make yourself visible and talked about.  You’ve got to help people in other job roles solve problems or create opportunities.

Because if you don’t, your Centre – and everyone who works there – will suffer benign neglect.

3 Suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to transform into Customer Experience Leaders in 2019

It’s not an easy industry

I always say that in the Contact Centre industry we have to be masters of many domains.

That includes –

  • Operations – after all everything starts here
  • People management & organizational design
  • Leadership & financial management
  • Customer service & experience
  • The role of Technology in the lives of our Customers & People (which I generally classify under CX & EX)

I can’t think of another industry that places this many demands on its leadership.

And a word of caution.

If you’ve worked a long time for one or two Centres you begin to think that the way ‘you’ work here is the way the ‘industry’ works.

Nobel-Winner Daniel Kahneman talks about the danger of WYSIATI – What you see is all there is.

He teaches that we humans tend to make decisions on incomplete information – thinking that what we see or know now is all there is.

Do you best to push back against WYSIATI – I think the best Contact Centre leadership does.

Whatever happened to First Contact Resolution?

But no matter how you got there – it’s what you do when you’re there

So you’re there.  That’s so cool.

You’re the Contact Centre Manager or Director for XX.  And they’re counting on you to be efficient & effective.

When asked what I think is the most important thing to learn first about Contact Centres I always give the same answer.

Operations.

I can hear some people say no!  It’s Customers!  Or no!  It’s people!

But Centres are unique and complex ecosystems.  And what you choose to measure  and how to measure it drives the culture & behaviour of your Centre.

You’ll make better decisions about both your people and your Customers when you’ve mastered Operations.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

I’ll be presenting my Keynote speech at the Customer & User Experience Expo in London

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

I’ll be presenting my Keynote speech – What kind of experience does your Contact Centre deliver? – at the Customer & User Experience Expo in London next week.

More than 5,000 Customer engagement professionals are expected to descend on ExCel London (the ExCel Exhibition Centre) for the Expo, Europe’s largest Customer experience event of the year.

I look forward to meeting & engaging with those making the trek to London!

I’ve put the details for the Exhibition at the end of this short post.

So what will I talk about?

Over the years I’ve managed many Contact Centre based Mystery Shopper programs.  And my responsibility in these programs was to advise management how to improve the quality of the experience they delivered to their Customers.

In this Keynote speech I’m going to share stories from my work with Universal Studios, the Singapore Government and an award winning hotel to help Contact Centre folks

  • Proactively define the type of service ‘we deliver around here’
  • Understand and use the 3 key inputs to select Performance standards for quality conversation
  • Consider a measurement approach that addresses the needs of Customers today

I’ll also share some rather hilarious (and real life) examples of quality standards gone wrong.  Because sometimes it’s not just what to do – it’s what not to do.

I’ll close the session with a list of tips to help your Centre deliver a better Customer experience.

I guarantee a few laughs – and real life stories & examples are always the best.  You’ll love the story about Kung Fu Panda and also the 12 Teeth.

 

Exhibition details

  • Wednesday, 27 March, and Thursday, 28 March, 10:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.
  • ExCel Exhibition Centre, Sandstone Lane, London
  • http://www.cu-experienceshow.co.uk/
  • I speak on the 28th at 11:00AM and again at 2:45PM at the designate Keynote Theatre

See you in London next week!

Daniel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I learned running 60 classes on CX values and Culture for one Client

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share what I learned running 60 classes on CX values and Culture for one Client – a major telecoms provider in Asia.

Some background

Three years ago I won a Corporate tender to deliver a customized CX values and culture workshop cross every single employee of a telecoms provider in Asia.

I’ll start by saying the Client was terrific and focused on Customer-centricity.  Their mission for the workshops was to promulgate their newly selected values across each and every member of the company.

We decided to develop and deliver 2 versions of a full day workshop.

One designed specifically for the folks that dealt with Customers – ‘the Frontline’.   People who worked in Retail, the Contact Centre or specialty roles directly serving the Customer such as the VIP Queue.

We designed a second version specifically for the folks that worked in background or support functions – ‘the Backline’.  People from HR, Marketing, Operations, Legal, Procurement, IT, Finance and the like.

We kept class sizes manageable to allow for interaction and scheduled about 60 runs over a 2 year period.

Each and every workshop was super well received – there wasn’t one group where people didn’t respond positively and well.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t any questions or concerns.  As you’ll see we wanted questions and concerns.

Here are some of the things I learned.

 

Help folks be proud of where they work

The Client Team I worked with was amazing.

Amongst the many contributions they made to the success of the workshops was to develop an in-house video that shared the history, some of the famous advertising moments, the accomplishments achieved and the awards won.

Layering the CX culture and values over their proud made everything easier.

As we tabulated the comments and themes across the sessions we found a regular comment (paraphrased) to be:

Thanks for reminding me of what a great place this is.  I was proud to see our accomplishments across the years.

I know I know.  You’ve got an Awards case that shows off all your trophies.

I know I know.  They could see your achievements in the newspaper or the company newsletter or even featured in an industry magazine.

But part of successful culture change is this.

You don’t go into the room to tell folks how ‘bad’ they are or how ‘bad’ things are out there.  That’s not a really great way to motivate change.

We took the approach that the world is changing and what brought us here wasn’t going to get us there.  But that didn’t mean we couldn’t celebrate who we were and what we had accomplished and take that forward.

Lesson learned:  We work in a great place – let’s take some time to celebrate that.  Culture change is part of our success for the future – not a reflection of a failure from the past.

 

Buzzwords are less understood than you might think

We set aside part of the session to cover some terms and let everyone talk about what they meant.

Terms like Omnichannel, Big Data, Digital Transformation.  Even terms like Customer Service and Customer Experience.

I think in some companies it’s just assumed that people have a common understanding of terms like these.

But that’s just not true.

Participants shared that they weren’t really ‘fluent’ in buzzwords and appreciated going through what these things mean – and their specific relevance to their company and even their specific job roles.

I think shared accomplishments require a shared vocabulary.  What is our definition and meaning around Big Data?  What is our definition and meaning around Customer Service?

If you just throw around buzzwords without having defined specifically what they mean to you and your organization you just leave people confused.

When it came to CX values and culture we spent time defining that too!

Lesson learned:  Buzzwords are just that.  You need to contextualize their meaning for your ambitions and your organization.  In this day and age we’re all a little tired of constant buzzword bombardment.

What behaviours do Customer Experience professionals display?

Give people a chance to express their concerns

I think one of the smartest things we did was build a formal way for Participants to express their their concerns.

We used the term ‘barriers’. As in, what specifically, in your job role, holds you back from achieving these values.

Over the course of nearly 2 hours. Participants worked together, documented and then formally presented their barriers to the entire group.

The best part of being a Facilitator is just that – facilitation.  The point was to let the experts in the company – the people who worked there – talk about their work lives and the values they had been asked to consider.

People got heated, passionate and a few of the Presenters should consider a career in public speaking – it was that well done.

It’s a fascinating process to watch Marketing people talk to Finance people about their challenges.  And Retail people sharing with Contact Centre people about how theirs.  And then sharing their viewpoints with their colleagues.

From an analysis standpoint we gathered and aggregated very single barrier expressed across the totality of the workshops – and organized them by department.  By the time the sessions were done we had a master list of barriers which allowed for analysis, prioritization and action.

Lesson learned:  Don’t avoid talking about what is going to get in the way.  Bring the barriers front and center.

 

As a Facilitator share what the values mean to you

I made it a point to only ‘commandeer’ the session for about 45 minutes in the morning – immediately after the morning warm-up.

Rather than blah blah on how important values are (boring) I used that time to shared my personal opinion on each value.

And with each opinion I attached a story.

So if the value was – let’s say – ownership – I expressed what ownership meant to me and then shared a funny story on ownership (or lack of it) that I’d experienced in my work.  Something that brought ownership to life.

What I learned a long time ago is that while loyal long-term Employees are great – their worldview is very company specific which can be inherently limiting.

While the Client could have clearly used internal Facilitators to conduct the  2-year engagement, one of their main decision points was the need to expand the worldview of their Participants – and that required someone from the outside.

If you’re a Facilitator who gets to work in values-based programs – be brave – share your own worldview.

And even if you work at X organization try to find stories that help Participants expand their worldview.  You’ll have plenty of time to focus back on your own organization throughout other parts of the workshop.

Lesson:  Earnestness and preachiness don’t work really well in values driven programs.  Storytelling and treating adults like adults works a lot better.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions

Be realistic about what happens in a values-based workshop

At the outset I was clear about what I expected would happen to people as they passed through our day together.

My main job was to help them understand the values.  Through storytelling, humor and reflection help them grasp and feel why these values were important.

But the next two ‘steps’ belonged to the Participants.

After understanding comes belief.  What I call the “I buy this” step.

But I’m very clear with Participants.  No one can make anyone believe anything.

I can’t force belief compliance for CX values and culture.

I had a very interesting tender presentation with another organization where they specifically asked me how I could make their people believe the prescribed values (in one day).  They kept asking me – “How will you do it?”

I said I couldn’t.  Because that’s true.

Do you really want a room full of people at the end of the day who ‘fake’ enthusiasm and give thumbs up in the group photo only to then roll their eyes and go back to work in the same old way?  I didn’t get that deal – but I think I dodged a bullet there.

But with that said belief matters.

I wanted the our workshop day to flow in such a way that belief had every opportunity to be considered.

I had an objective that by the end of the day, the believers would beconfident in their beliefs and those a bit further down the scale – those mulling it all over – would be willing to consider their depth of belief anew.

The final step for CX values and culture – action.

Once I believe in something – let’s say ownership – I act that way.  I make it part of who I am and what I do.

It becomes a choice.  That’s where the magic lives.

Lesson:  Don’t walk into a values-based workshop with the mindset that you can force, preach or cajole people to believe.  Different people have different motivations.  Design the workshop in such a way that you encourage the willingness to believe.

 

In closing

It was an honor and one of the highlights of my career to have been part of such an important journey.  And to meet so many hundreds of people who care.

Thank you for reading!

Public Programs

Daniel

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to help your Contact Centre Team Leaders do better

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share some ideas on how to help your Contact Centre Team Leaders do better.

Common barriers to Team Leader success

The Contact Centre Team Leader has arguably the most important job in a Contact Centre.  Their actions or inactions directly impact productivity, quality & culture.

But the cards tend to be stacked against their success.

Why?

As with any Pareto scenario, I think a few reasons account for most of the challenge:

  1. Senior Leadership sets or pursues the wrong KPIs
  2. Team Leaders are always busy but don’t know how to allocate their time to achieve results
  3. What made someone a great Agent doesn’t readily translate to making them a great Team Leader
  4. The job role requires endless conversations – but they don’t happen often enough or well enough
  5. There’s a fundamental lack of structured know-how for the Team Leader to draw on to make decisions

The mix and relative impact of these barriers varies from Centre to Centre.

So let’s look at each barrier along with some related suggestions.

 

1. Senior leadership sets or pursues the wrong KPIs

I see this challenge all over the world.  A lack of essential Operations know-how.

Chasing incorrect KPIs or KPIs that actually compete with each other.

The only way to close this gap is to ensure that the senior leadership in charge of the Centre has expressly mastered Contact Centre operations.  That most often happens through participation in formal external workshops or certification programs.

Don’t count on experience alone.  I hear that all the time as in “She’s an experienced Contact Centre Manager.”

Experience matters.  But success requires experience + know-how.

One Client I worked with globally established an in-house ‘certification program’ after adopting the various principles and practices learned via external training.  Their in-house certification ensures that what they learned about operations gets codified into their business practices across dozens of Centres.

Delivering on Productivity, Quality & Culture is the big part of the Team Leader job.

So it’s important that Centre leadership be clued in to how Centres ‘work’ and how to define and set appropriate Productivity and Quality measures for Frontliners & Team Leaders.

That’s not always the case.

How to help your Contact Centre Agents improve their Performance

 

2.  Team Leaders are always busy – but busy doing what?

I remember in my VP Operations days I had a Team Leader come into my office.

“Dan, I’m so busy…”  so I asked “OK, busy doing what?”

We then set about finding out the answer to this question – busy doing what?

To this day one of my favorite exercises in a room of Team Leaders is to conduct a time & motion study – across a typical week – of where their time goes.

The 5 Categories of the Team Leader job role

When I conduct a formal Team Leader time & motion study, I use 5 different categories to categorize and then analyze where their time goes.

  • Developing their staff
  • Supporting their staff
  • Doing administrative & management work
  • Developing themselves
  • Other roles such as taking on the role of committee head

I ask each Team Leader to consider everything they do, estimate a weekly time spent on each activity and then slot each activity into one of the 5 categories.

Then we sum up the time for each category and share the results on a whiteboard for everyone to see.

When you talk to Team Leaders (and their Managers) they all say that they spend a lot of time developing their staff – coaching, performance appraisals, developmental conversations.

But when the numbers are laid out – Team Leader by Team Leader in black and white – that’s not usually how it plays out.

What the results tell us

I’ve had time & motion sessions where we learned that nearly 50% of Team Leader time spent was spent on administrative & management work.   Is all this admin work really valuable?  Could some it be redesigned, reassigned or even eliminated?  I worry about turning Team Leaders into admins.

When it comes to personal development I tend to see 0% of Team Leader time spent in a typical week.  You can shout lifelong learning from the rooftops all day – but check out how many hours in a typical week your Team Leaders really learn something.   It’s an eye opener.

Another common opportunity that pops up is to help Team Leaders figure out if they’re offering too much Staff support. 

My definition of Staff support is helping the Frontliners to do their job.

Handling too many escalations or fielding the same questions over and over means the Team Leader is doing the Agent job for them.  And that takes away the Team Leader’s time for Staff development.

Sure – Staff support will always be intrinsic to the job.

But time invested in Staff support – over and above a tolerable minimum – isn’t going to move the Team forward.

Another interesting trend has popped out during these time & motion sessions.

Sometimes, when Staff development hours look low, we uncover that Team Leaders avoid having developmental conversations with their staff.

Not because they don’t see them as important.  But because they lack the self-confidence to coach or have those important people management discussions.

That can be addressed.

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

3.  Great performance as an Agent doesn’t readily translate into great performance as a Team Leader

It’s an irony of the Contact Centre ecosystem that the knowledge, skills & attitudes of a great Agent don’t readily translate into the knowledge, skills & attitudes required of a great Team Leader.

If you consider that the job of a former great Agent is to replicate their personal success across other people you can see what they need to know and be able to do is quite different than before.  Their job role becomes about ‘them’ – not about ‘me’ anymore.

There’s also a bit of psychology at play here as well.

We all like to do what we’re good at.

So sometimes the new Team Leader spends an inordinate amount of time handling escalations and engaging in Staff support – because that’s where their formery mastery lay.

Defusing angry Customers and using their product, systems and organizational know-how.

But as we covered earlier, Staff support – though an intrinsic part of the job role – doesn’t move the performance dial forward.

So evaluate your Team Leader hiring criteria on what it takes to be a great Team Leader.  Not on the fact that this candidate was a great Agent.

When I’m hiring for Team Leaders I always ask myself these questions:

1.  What are the specific competencies across knowledge, skills & attitudes I need from a new Team Leader hire?  And what are the minimum existing levels of each competency to be considered for hiring?  I have to be realistic here because – at hiring – nearly no one will come with all the competencies expected nor at the levels expected for a professional Team Leader.

2.  What is my defined developmental roadmap to raise my Team Leader competency levels  – across the identified competencies – to expectation within the next 6 months or year? 

I think a lot of Contact Centres struggle with this.

There seems to be an assumption that the Team Leader can just somehow pick this all up on the job.

Or perhaps it’s inertia – doing nothing is just easier than doing something.  Hope as a strategy.  I’ve been guilty of that one.

One common scenario involves corporate learning & development departments.

Contact Centres are unique and specialized environments.  Trying to graft generic service or people management or leadership training onto the Contact Centre delivers mixed results at best.  Because it’s not specific enough to the environment in which these Team Leaders operate.

More on competencies soon.

Funny things Contact Centre Managers ask their Agents to do

 

4.  Team Leaders need to have lots of great conversations

If the Agent job role is to have great conversations with Customers, then the Team Leader job role is about having great conversations with the folks that they lead.

What kinds of conversations?  Wow – there are a lot – but they can be learned.

I like to cover them in people management & coaching courses.

Here is a list conversations that are specific to the Contact Centre environment and which are most often conducted by Team Leaders:

  • Praise
  • Gratitude
  • Something ‘good’
  • Something ‘not so good’
  • It’s not getting any better
  • Transaction coaching
  • Performance appraisal
  • Team reviews
  • One on one reviews
  • Boss as Leader
  • Boss as Person
  • Boss as Manager
  • Things you don’t talk about (the un-conversation)

Each of these conversations is triggered by an event or is pre-planned into a calendar.  For example Team & One on one reviews and many coaching sessions tend to be pre-scheduled while Praise or Something Good conversations happen when the Team Leader either observes something or learns about something.

As you might have figured out – most of these conversations fall into the Staff development category we covered earlier in this article.

But when Team Leaders are ‘too busy’ – the first category that gets ‘cut’ is Staff development.  Exactly the category which typically needs more time spent – not less.

How Team Leaders can talk like Leaders

 

5. Team Leader know-how

The Contact Centre environment is complex.

I think that’s why folks like me – who fall into it by accident –  end up making the Contact Centre and Customer Experience, a life’s passion.  There’s only ever more to learn and it’s super interesting stuff.

It’s not easy.  But Tom Hanks says that it’s ‘the hard that makes it great’.

If you want to equip your Team Leaders to succeed you need to consider equipping them with know-how across these domains:

  • Contact Centre Operations – there’s simply no excuse not to equip Team Leaders with operations mastery
  • Monitoring & Coaching – this process is key to driving Quality, FCR, Employee Engagement, Customer Satisfaction and CX strategies
  • Leadership & Engagement – what does leadership look like as a Team Leader?  How can a Team Leader use proven engagement models in their Centre?
  • People Management – for me this is about having those great conversations with the people who work for you at the right times and in the right way
  • Customer Experience – if your Centre promotes itself as fulfilling the ‘Customer Experience’ your folks deserve training on what it is (and it’s not Customer Service)
  • Self-Management – stress management, personal fulfillment, working through change – these are life skills

When your Team Leader is able to bring out the best Productivity, Quality & Qttitudes of the folks that work for them that translates into better results all the way around for you.

Thank you for reading!

Contact Centre KPIs & The Green Jaguar

Daniel