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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some suggestions for industry Awards entrants

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I share some suggestions for industry Awards entrants.

I like judging industry Awards

This year I’m scheduled to judge awards entries in Dubai, London, Amsterdam and Wiesbaden (Germany).

I think the benefits for an industry practitioner to judge an Awards are immense.

Because even if you work with a number of Clients in different industries and geographies – and even have some of your Clients enter and win Awards – your ‘exposure lens’ can still be narrower than it need be.

Judging Awards allows you to see what’s happening out there amongst organizations you may never work for or in geographies that you may not serve.

And it’s not always the ‘big names’ that put forward the best initiatives.

There’s a lot of gold out there in smaller and ‘local’ organizations too.

 

A few suggestions for industry Awards entrants

I tend to judge categories involving Customer Experience, Contact Centres, Digital Experience & Employee Experience.

So my suggestions here are drawn from those disciplines.  But I imagine the suggestions here can be extrapolated to other disciplines as well.

And with suggestions in general, it’s not just what to do – it’s also what not to do.

 

Is it a Group Award category or an Individual Award category?

Recently I judged a Face to Face presentation for a ‘Group Award’.  Unfortunately the Presenter used the word “I'” a lot.

I did this, I did that…because of me.

I looked down at the Judges timetable – yup this was a group award category.  So why so much ‘I’?

My suggestion is this.

If you’re involved in a Group or Team Award, the word ‘we’ goes a long way.

On the other hand, if you’ve entered an Individual Award of some kind then it’s appropriate to talk about you.  What you did, what you accomplished, how what you’ve done has made your organization a better place.

 

It’s great that you’ve won other Awards but…

In another judging experience, the Entrants began their Awards presentation by telling the Judges how many other awards they’d won.

It just felt awkward to have the presentation start off that way.  I sensed entitlement – as in – we’ve won so many other awards that surely we’re entitled to this one too.

I’d suggest this.

If your other Awards or achievements are specifically relevant to the Award you’ve entered then it’s worth mentioning at the right time and in the right context.

For example, in an individual Award the Entrant might say, “I was inspired when I won the Team Manager of the Year back in 20XX and that motivated me to enter this year’s Manager of the Year Award.”  

In this example, the Entrant’s sharing of their earlier Award was relevant to their current entry.

 

Superlative deeds matter more than superlative words

One thing nearly any Judge will tell you is that Entrants sometimes go overboard with ‘superlative words’.

Our unparalleled, dynamic, dream Team of inspired, culturally motivated self starters with entrepreneurial mindsets.

By the way, that’s not that far off the mark.

When everything is wonderful, fabulous, motivated, value-driven and so on, none of it feels real.  And overly puffed up language can actually take away from the great accomplishment being put forward.

You usually see the use of superlative words in written entries.  But I’ve also experienced it in face to face presentations where it comes off as a bit pompous or at the very least, unnatural.

What should be superlative is what got accomplished – the deeds.

So focus on the deeds.  And choose your descriptive words wisely.

 

Rehearse (rehearse, rehearse) your Face to Face presentation

Judges can always tell if you haven’t rehearsed your Face to Face presentation.  We’re not expecting a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

But folks who have rehearsed know that they have to communicate their key points and narrative within X time frame.

I’m a huge fan of Awards like the Awards International events where the timeframe is clearly set.  20 minutes for presentation (uninterrupted) and 10 minutes for Judges Q&A.

Look at Ted Talks – there’s an art & science involved in sharing your compelling story in a 20 minutes.  Elevator pitch, getting to the point, grabbing attention.  Sometimes less is indeed more.

So presentations that have been rehearsed tend to stick to the stipulated timeframe and rarely run over time.

Unrehearsed presentations, on the other hand, tend to be cut off before the material is done – and during Q&A there are usually awkward attempts to share slides or material from the content that didn’t get covered in time.

Don’t wing a Face to Face presentation.

 

Get creative

One of the best Face to Face presentations I witnessed was modelled as a talk show panel.

The Team presenting the entry had put together a fun and engaging narrative where the head of the initiative was a guest on a talk show and the host and other guests got to ask questions about their initiative.

It was fun and funny.  But most importantly they got their message across and you could sense the camaraderies amongst the Entrants.

There’s not a single model of presentation that ‘wins’ over others.

So don’t be afraid to engage the Judges – as long as you have your talking points and narrative well thought out try something different!

 

Follow the directions

Now and then you get the Entrant who doesn’t follow the directions for the structure of their presentation and what needs to be conveyed.

You can be a world-class speaking guru, but if your presentation doesn’t allow the Judges to readily score you across the requested categories or competencies you’re unlikely to make it to the Winner’s Circle.

I think that you learn as much through the process of completing your Awards entry – and preparing your presentation – as you do by delivering it and even winning.

So take the process seriously – you’ll benefit in the long run.

And – some Entrants tell me they turn around and use their Awards entry presentations inside their own organizations as well.  How smart is that!

 

In closing

I hope these few suggestions have been helpful and I look forward to judging your entry soon!

Daniel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever happened to First Contact Resolution?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I consider this question – whatever happened to First Contact Resolution?

Last week I was judging Contact Centres

Last week I chaired a panel of Judges for a number of Contact Centre Awards entries.

One of the Judges on our panel asked several of the entrants –

“So how do you measure your First Contact Resolution rate?” or

“Based on the initiative you’ve shared, what were there changes to your First Contact Resolution rate?”

So that got me to thinking – is First Contact Resolution – or ‘FCR’ – still relevant in today’s Contact Centre?

 

First Contact Resolution is a multivitamin KPI

When I teach Operations I suggest Participants look at First Contact Resolution as a multivitamin KPI.

That’s because it does a few things for you.

FCR helps you to:

  • Improve Customer Satisfaction (through reduction of Customer effort)
  • Reduce cost (through reduction in unnecessary repeat contact volume)
  • Improve future Service Level (through reduction in unnecessary repeat contact volume)

No wonder FCR is referred to with such reverence in the Contact Centre industry.

 

But it’s always been hard to measure

I’ve seen First Contact Resolution formulas out there that would put Einstein’s formulas to shame.

They’re complex and require a lot of internal communication to understand and apply.

So, it’s worth considering why that’s so.

Everyone gets the general idea around FCR.  Assist the Customer to the degree that they won’t need to contact you again.  It sounds easy.

But the practical application is more complex, in part because there’s no industry standard for how to measure FCR.

Push-button KPIs

Many Contact Centre KPIs are push-button KPIs.  Push the button and you get your result.

Push the button and get your Service Level.

Push the button and you get your AHT.

Push the button and get the Occupancy rate.

You get the general idea.

But there’s no button to press for FCR.  It falls into the category best called ‘assembly-required KPIs’.

Think of some other assembly-required KPIs for a moment.

Employee Engagement, Customer Satisfaction, Turnover Analysis are all good examples.  To get at the data for these KPIs you can’t just push a button.

Getting at assembly-required KPIs requires you to design & implement a solid methodology for data collection & analysis.

Common data sources for First Contact Resolution

When it comes to FCR data collection, the most common sources are to:

  • Allow Agents to rate their own performance (not really recommended for obvious reasons)
  • Ask Quality Assurance folks to weigh in on FCR when they do their evaluations (this can be powerful and more on this soon)
  • Survey Customers and ask them if their need was met (but aren’t Customers getting tired of getting surveyed and is this the right question to ask?)
  • Run scans across the CRM system to see if a single Customer record shows multiple contacts for the same ‘reason’ within X time frame (based on business assumptions)
  • Use operational data (when the nature of the interaction is very transactional such as tracking shipments)

And because there are pros & cons to each data source, you choose multiple data sources, assign a weightage to each one and assemble the results together to get an outcome.  The purpose of blending different sources together is to alleviate the inherent advantages & disadvantages of each individual source.

I think of it like making a stew.

You have to select a variety of ingredients, throw them into a pot in the appropriate ratios, stir well and season to taste.

It’s a robust but complex process.

 

So how can we address some of this complexity?

It helps to remember that FCR is ultimately a measure of quality.

Sure – FCR helps reduce unnecessary repeat contacts – and that’s cool.

But at its heart Centres pursue FCR to help Agents create great conversations with Customers.

Conversations that address spoken and unspoken needs – not just deliver transactional answer-based service.

So with that direction in mind, how can we improve our FCR delivery while mitigating the complexity inherent in assembly-required KPIs?

 

Define what First Contact Resolution looks like for each of your Top 10 enquiry types

Every inbound Centre has a Top 10.   The Top 10 ‘reasons’ a Customer contacts you.

While your Top 10 changes over time, these enquiries easily represent 60% – 80% of your monthly contact volume (excluding one-off events of course).

So rather than looking for a magical or ‘industry standard’ FCR rate, take your FCR magnifying glass down to the enquiry type level.

For example, if your Enquiry Type #1 = Questions on room rates you’d sit down with a small group of folks and consider what FCR can and would look like.

What has to be conveyed, whether explicitly asked for or not, in that conversation.

But be careful.

Except for highly transactional enquiries you can’t rely exclusively on your internal determination of what FCR would look like.  You’re going to have to consider FCR from the Customer perspective as well.

And here I always suggest you do some qualitative research.

Bring in some real Customers.  Buy them lunch.

Ask them about their needs, expectations & wants (both expressed and unexpressed) when they ask about room rates.

I don’t see how we can talk about Customer-centricity without actually talking to real Customers face to face.

There seems to a tremendous amount of fear or skepticism or just plain lack of know-how around qualitative research.  That’s an article for another day.

Remember that if you pursue this Top 10 approach – your monthly FCR will fluctuate over time – in part due to changes in the enquiry mix.

For example, if in Month 2 – as compared to Month 1 – you got more volume for an enquiry type where FCR is ‘easy’ to achieve – that will weight up your overall FCR rate in Month 2.  You can’t simply assume this as an improvement in Agent performance – which is what folks tend to believe when they see FCR rates inch upwards.

So the key here is to be able to articulate why overall FCR rates change from month to month – was it a change in enquiry mix, a one-off event that weighted results up or down or did Agent Quality improve or decrease.  These are all potential factors.

By the way – it’s good to know that if your FCR rate is consistently high (let’s say high 80’s and 90s) that could be a sign of a poor self service strategy.  Why are Agents getting such simple enquiries which naturally lend themselves to a higher FCR rate?

That’s why I always smile (and grimace) inside when I hear a Centre say that their FCR rate is in the 90 percentile range.  That’s almost always bad from a self service strategy perspective.

As Centres shift the simpler enquiries to self service you see FCR rates naturally decline overall.

 

Accept that not every enquiry type might ‘qualify’ for First Contact Resolution

By the way – it may turn out the some of your Top 10 can’t be FCR for some reason.  That happens.

But in these cases I ask myself what has to be conveyed or gathered in that conversation to make the ensuing process as effective as possible – even when the overarching goal of FCR can’t be achieved from the Customer’s perspective.

Earlier this year a Contact Centre Manager from a travel company told me that FCR is a mindset and that mindset training would be enough to raise their FCR rate.

But I disagreed.

Yes – having a vision for FCR and putting it front and centre in your Agent’s performance basket matters.  But it’s not enough.

You’re going to have to get a bit more granular – and the Top 10 approach is a practical way to do that.

 

Ask yourself – does my current metrics system align to First Contact Resolution?

Contact Centres are important touchpoints within an organization.  But sometimes that very (self) importance leads to decisions which are good for the Centre but not necessarily good for the Customer.

Let me explain what I mean from a metrics perspective first.

If your Centre focuses heavily on Average Handling Time (AHT) as an Agent efficiency metric or on # of calls produced by the Agents you’re not really considering the Customer journey – you’re looking at what’s good for you.  Short call = lower cost (goes the reasoning).

That’s a touchpoint perspective.

FCR by its nature implies that we take the time needed to get the job done.  To provide the Customer with what they should know – whether explicitly asked for or not.

I’ve written extensively on Average Handling Time but for purposes of this article – if due to your Centre’s metrics perspective your Agent is more focused on quantity or time taken, it’s quality that takes the hit – and that includes  a hit to FCR.

Don’t get me wrong – cost efficiency is great.  But every financial model I’ve worked shows that reduction in future unnecessary contacts saves more $$ overall than trying to shave 30 seconds off current calls.

Why are you still talking about Average Handling Time?

 

Customers think in Journeys – not in Touchpoints

McKinsey writes that Customers think in journeys – not in touchpoints.

There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to a journey.  Some journeys go from start to finish and never touch the Contact Centre.

For other journeys the Contact Centre is a key participant – and important to the Customer’s overall perception.

In Service Design you learn that the various touchpoints need to work in harmony together – to avoid dissonance or distress.  So it makes sense to evaluate the harmony across the journey – not just look at what happens ‘inside’ the Centre.

 

Have your Agents been trained on Customer journeys?

I don’t mean journey mapping – that’s not needed at the Agent or Team Leader level.

I’m talking about sharing the motivations and experiences that led to the Customer contacting the Centre.  What was their mood, what was their ‘job to be done’ – what was the role of the Centre in helping the Customer achieve their goals?

On the other side of the interaction – where will the Customer go next in their journey?  Is there some way we can help them accomplish that better?  What can the Centre bring to the table to deliver a standout role in the Customer journey.

When I do Frontline training I often ask – “Do you know what your music on hold is?” or “Have you experienced your own IVR?  Your own Delay Announcements?”.

Because the Contact Centre Customer Experience doesn’t begin when you start talking (or typing).  It begins earlier upstream.  When the Customer begins to think and feel that they have to contact you.

Nine times out 10 the Agents hadn’t spent time studying the Contact Centre journey – much less the Customer journey.

I think this represents a real opportunity for training and discussion at the Agent & Team Leader level.

 

Should you pursue First Contact Resolution?

My personal belief system around First Contact Resolution is this.

It doesn’t make sense to implement an elective process where the costs and effort of the process aren’t outweighed by the benefits delivered by the process.

If you can prove out that your complex but solid methodology to get at metric-oriented FCR is yielding dividends – then by all means go for it.  Just keep Quality as your North Start for putting together your FCR program – it should always be aligned to what the Customer would say.

So I’m never surprised or judgemental when I meet Centres that don’t specifically measure FCR.  That puts me into the minority I think.

Lately I’ve seen some Centres take a less metric driven approach to FCR that I admire.  It’s also been quite effective for them.

They build the concept of FCR into their Service Vision & Principles.

If you haven’t heard of a Service Vision or Service Principles, they’re essentially a set of statements that answer the question – “What kind of service do we deliver around here?”

For example, if one of their Service Principles is ‘to be helpful’ – they consider all the ways they can be helpful to Customers (and each other) across their various interactions.  The successful behaviours  that enable ‘being helpful’ become codified across the Centre.  Culturally ingrained.

And the use of the Top 10 enquiry type approach works wonderfully here.

Measurement-wise – the use and impact of  these helpful behaviours are picked up in the normal Contact Centre monitoring processes through Quality Assurance, Team Leaders, Mystery Shopper providers and the like.

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

In closing

I think FCR still has relevance in today’s Contact Centre.  That’s simply because it has to do with making Customers lives better through letting them know all that they need to know to achieve their goals.

And I think there are alternative ways to achieve the multivitamin benefits inherent in FCR.

If you can prove that your robust FCR measurement system yields results then well done – and keep it up.

But if robust measurement systems are a bit out of reach for your Centre, driving FCR-style behaviour through your Culture & Quality program is a viable alternative as well.  Service Visions & Service Principles are relevant for every Centre.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

 

 

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Research Know How

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post we share 10 CCXP exam practice questions for Customer Research Know How.

CCXP = Certified Customer Experience Professional.  We’re proud to be a CXPA Recognized Training Provider and we 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.

While there is not a designated competency specifically for Customer Research Know How, it’s still an important topic.

To succeed in the Metrics, Measurement & ROI competency as well as the Voice of Customer, Insight & Understanding competency, you’ll need some essential knowledge around what I call Customer Research Know How.

 

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 250 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.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Experience Strategy

 

If you want to learn more about the official CCXP credential and the CCXP exam process please visit cxpa.org.

 

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Research Know How

In this section, we share 10 CCXP Exam practice questions for Customer Research Know How.  These 10 questions 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!

Quiz – Customer Research Know-How

 1.  Complete this phrase, “Correlation does not equal _____________.”

a.  Causation

b.  Regression analysis

c.  The outcome of a Scatter Diagram

d.  None of the answers is correct

 

2.  Based on the image shown, which of these numbers is the mode?

 

a.  5

b.  4

c.  2

d.  The sum of all the numbers shown

 

3, What is the median for this data set?

102, 56, 34, 99, 89, 101, 10.

a.  10

b.  102

c.  None of the answers is correct

d.  89

   

4.  You earned $129, $139, $155 and $176 over the last 4 weeks. What is your average pay?

a.  $153.00

b.  $149.75

c.  $176.00

d.  $99.50

   

5.  Which of the following is the best definition of ‘Regression Analysis’?

a.  Regression Analysis refers to the most common number in a data set.

b.  Regression Analysis is a technique to assess the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables.

c.  The connection between two events or states such that one produces or brings about the other, where one is the cause and the other its effect.

d.  Regression Analysis is most often related to the average of a data set.

 

6.  Which answer is the correct interpretation of the diagram show below?

 

a.  There is a positive correlation between the mark in the general knowledge test and the IQ level

b.  There is a not positive correlation between the mark in the general knowledge test and the IQ level

c.  There is a negative correlation between the mark in the general knowledge test and the IQ level

d.  There is no correlation between the mark in the general knowledge test and the IQ level

 

7.  Which answer is the most appropriate interpretation of the diagram shown below?

                        

 

a.  There is a positive correlation between Weight and the Kilometers Run per Week

b.  There is a no correlation between Weight and the Kilometers Run per Week

c.  There is a negative correlation between Weight and the Kilometers Run per Week

d.  There is not a negative correlation between Weight and the Kilometers Run per Week

 

 8.  Which of the following is the best definition of a Confidence Interval?

a.  How close the survey results of the sample are to the actual results yielded if you were to survey the entire population

b.  The overall confidence you have that your figures are correct

c.  The percentage that indicates how sure you can be that the total population falls within the Confidence Interval

d.  None of the answers shown

 

 9.  Which of the following is the best definition of a Confidence Level?

a.  How close the survey results of the sample are to the actual results yielded if you were to survey the entire population

b.  The degree of certainty you have that your Confidence Interval is correct.

c.  The percentage that indicates how sure you can be that the total population falls within the Confidence Interval

d.  None of the answers shown

 

10.  Why do most organizations survey a random sample of Customers instead of all Customers?

a.  A random sample provides more reliable information

b.  Surveying a sample of customers is less expensive

c.  The confidence interval is higher when using a random sample

d.  None of the above

End of Quiz

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)

And because we have a few Quizzes up here on our Blog page can you tell me ‘which’ Quiz you’ve taken?  This is the Quiz for Customer Research Know How.  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!

Daniel

Daniel Ord / [email protected]

 

 

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

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I share 3 suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to transform into Customer Experience Leaders in 2019.

First things first

I sometimes hear Contact Centre leaders say that their senior or functional management doesn’t support their Centre.

If you work at a cult status company like Zappos you’re clearly fortunate.  Your high level of Customer Experience (CX) ambition is aligned to and reinforces that of your company.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

But what if you’re the Centre Manager in a company where your purpose isn’t seen as mission-critical.  Where management doesn’t meaningfully embrace Customer centricity.

That’s a different scenario.

Sure – you can’t control the level of CX ambition in your company.  But go ahead and pursue your personal CX ambitions – even if they don’t align to the current CX ambitions of your company.

John Maxwell writes “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  Don’t settle for becoming an outcome of your culture. Consider yourself a driver of your culture.

I think that’s putting first things first.

Suggestion #1 – Get involved with the Customer Experience (CX) Vision

Not every company decides to pursue a CX strategy.  At the end of the day it’s a business decision.

And don’t let the false use of lingo in companies fool you.  Rebranding everything as ‘Customer Experience’ when it used to be called ‘Customer Service’ doesn’t make it so.

They’re different things.

Window dressing doesn’t equate to strategy.

A Customer Experience strategy – a big topic – addresses:

  1. What kind of experience you intend to deliver to Customers
  2. The objectives, goals & metrics you set to measure success
  3. The outside-in perspective of the Customer to ensure your aim is true
  4. The ways you plan to engage everyone within the organization to deliver
  5. The long- and short-term actions you take to achieve your objectives

I’ll cover CX Strategy more in a future article.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Experience Strategy

 

But for our purposes today let’s look at Point #1 -what kind of experience you intend to deliver.

Because this is where your CX Vision lives.  It describes the intended experience in vivid and compelling terms so that everyone knows what that experience should look like and feel like.  In Service Design it might be called your Value Promise.

If your company has a defined Customer Experience (CX) Vision in place, life is good.  You’re in a great position to align your quality program & performance standards to that vision.

No more excuses to use weak standards like ‘Use the Customer’s Name 3x’.

From Contact Centre Management to Customer Experience Management – do you have what it takes?

What if your company doesn’t have a CX strategy in place?

If your company doesn’t have a CX strategy in place, then it isn’t likely to have a CX Vision in place either.

But hey – don’t let that stop you.

Sometimes Contact Centre Leaders need to shape their own destiny.  You can and should put together a strong Service Vision.

By the way, I tend to be very particular with terminology here.  I don’t call this a Customer Experience Vision.

The reason is simple.

A CX Vision by definition and application incorporates the entire organization and its ecosystem.  If your scope of authority extends only across the Contact Centre or Customer Service function, it’s better to be precise and call it a Service Vision instead.

Because it’s not organizational in scope.

But, over time and with your influence, a great Service Vision can readily evolve into an organizational CX Vision.

So think big when you craft it!

And the Service Vision often does double-duty for how we treat each other.  It doesn’t just have to be for Customers.  It can be for Employees too.

Sometimes I use the analogy of ice cream.  What ‘flavour’ of service do we deliver around here.

Coming up with your Service Vision

To come up with your Service Vision it helps to look  at what your company says about itself.

This is where I begin when I’m designing a Mystery Shopper research or Quality Assurance program.

Read your company website.  The company vision, mission and values can often be found there.  What’s your purpose?  Who are your intended Customers?  What role do you play in their lives?

Articulate how your company describes itself.

Next, look at your company’s brand attributes & values.

What kinds of promises does your company make to current and prospective Customers when they use your products & services?  What do your ads say?  What kind of images are used?  What kind of lingo appears in marketing communications?

Articulate the brand promises your company makes.

Now you can put these findings in front of the people who work in your Centre.  What do they think?  Does it ring true?

Your goal is to develop and codify a Service Vision (a statement), which is often supported by a focused set of 3 – 6 Service principles.

And by going through this process you’ll be better equipped – when the time comes – to help other departments and functions work through their CX Vision.

That’s influence!

Just imagine

When anyone asks your Contact Centre Agent what kind of service they deliver around here – they can tell you.  And specifically how they apply the vision & principles to their daily interactions.

Easy to talk about – but it’s the doing that sets you apart from others.

In closing, the CX Vision, the Service Vision and CX Strategy are big topics.  They’re worth taking the time and effort to read, study and discuss at a much deeper level than is presented in this short article.

But I’ve found over the years, the best CX & Service strategies begin with a solid vision.

 

Suggestion #2 – Please don’t call a horse an apple

It’s wearying to see how many Contact Centres have rebranded themselves as Customer Experience Centres and how many Contact Centre job titles have been changed to incorporate ‘Customer Experience’ into the title.

But you can point at a horse and call it an apple all day and that won’t make it so.

This type of rebranding exercise pollutes everyone’s understanding of what CX really is.  Because CX – by definition & application – must incorporate the organization as a whole.

Sure – your Contact Centre has some impact on the overall Customer Experience for those Customers who choose to use your resources. 

But their overall perception of your company is influenced by so many (other) factors and is fluid over time.

McKinsey writes that Customers think in terms of their journeys, not in touchpoints. That can be hard for Contact Centre leadership – in charge of large and labour-intensive touchpoint – to take onboard.

Especially when for years we’ve all been taught that the Contact Centre is the most important touchpoint in the company.

It’s helpful for Contact Centre people to understand that they’re a subset of a subset in the world of CX.

First comes CX which covers the entire organizational ecosystem.

Then within that ecosystem you have the Customer Service function – most easily viewed as the human to human interactions Customers have with you.

And within the Customer Service function you have the Contact Centre.

If I were training my Agents today I’d spend time sharing key Customer journeys.

Why did the Customer contact us?  Where did they come from? Where are they likely to go next?  What’s our role and opportunity in this experience?

When Contact Centre people stick their flagpole into the ground and claim they are Customer Experience, they do a big disservice to every other employee and stakeholder in the organization.

Ultimately, the smart use of Customer research allows you to evaluate the importance of the Contact Centre touchpoint to the Customer across key personas and journeys.

We talk about research next.

 

Suggestion #3 – Build your Customer Research Know-How

You’d hope that the Contact Centre leaders would be experts in Customer Research know-how.

That they’d jump at every opportunity to understand the needs, expectations and wants of their Customers.

That they’d bang on the doors of their Service Quality department and ask to be a part of the research programs undertaken.

That they’d be open to learning the (sometimes) harsh truth about what Customers have to say.

But one potential barrier I’ve seen often is this one.

When senior management has unrealistic expectations around quantitative outcomes, Contact Centre leaders may not be so keen to let poor results & findings see the light of day.

I met one Contact Centre leader who was so terrified of an upcoming management meeting on their Contact Centre survey results they called in sick for the presentation.

Fear is a terrible way to motivate change and when Customer research is seen as ‘scary’ that inhibits the desire to learn more about research.

Another potential barrier I see is this one.

Research is a fascinating but complex topic.  It involves a lot of what I call ‘First Principles’.

First Principles are the essential knowledge you need to understand the topic with some level of mastery.

In Customer Research that includes essential knowledge around topics like –

  • The role of qualitative research
  • The use of structured vs. unstructured data
  • Descriptive, predictive and outcome metrics
  • Forms of ethnographic research
  • Relationship vs. transaction survey practices
  • The role of statistical viability
  • Basic research terminology – mode, median, average,
  • More research terminology – correlation, regression, causality
  • Service & experience design research

To learn and understand these concepts take time and effort. But the payoff is tremendous.

In an era where more information and data is produced than at any other time in human history, dusting off those old statistics books and re-mastering quantitative & qualitative research matters.

Experience design is based on qualitative research methodologies in particular.

Get your Customer Research know-how up to speed.  It helps you make sound sense of  how you can understand Customers better.

In closing

Of course I could have had 13 suggestions – or 5 suggestions or 11 and so on.

But after some thought to my own personal experience, what I’ve learned working with Clients and the amount of time and effort required, I hope that these suggestions resonate with you and are helpful.

Here’s to all your CX ambitions for 2019 and thank you for reading!

How to learn more about Customer Experience and prepare for certification

Daniel

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Experience Strategy

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short post we share 10 CCXP exam practice questions for the Customer Experience Strategy 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 current bank of more than w50 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.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Experience Strategy

In this section, we share 10 CCXP Exam practice questions related specifically to the Customer Experience Strategy competency.

These 10 questions are designed to address specific know-how expected for the Customer Experience Strategy 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!

 

#1. If you want your Frontline Staff to ‘go the extra mile’ correctly, you should:

a. Give them as much leeway as possible to do what they think is right

b. Ask them to use the Customer experience strategy as a guide

c. Ask them to talk to other Service Staff to see what they do

d. Advise them not to go the extra mile because it tends to be costly

 

#2. When developing your Customer experience strategy, it is best to:

a. Consider the needs of your Customers

b. Look at what kind of Organization you are

c. Adopt practices from other leading Organizations

d. Consider both the needs of your Customers & what kind of Organization you are

 

#3. Which of the following least describes an Annual Operating Plan?

a. Describes the tactics that will be used

b. Involves budgeting

c. Involves resource allocation

d. Outlines the plans and strategies for the next few years

 

#4. The following are effective examples of communicating a Customer experience strategy except:

a. Scheduling a one-time per year Town Hall for Employees to discuss business results

b. Develop a small handbook to be given to each Employee to carry with them

c. Create a physical space that immerses Employees in the desired experience

d. The creative use of video to share the intended experience with Employees

 

#5. Choose the word that best applies to this statement.  “The best Customer experiences are not __________.”

a. Consistent

b. Intentional

c. Accidental

d. Relevant

 

#6. A shared Customer experience vision enables you to:

a. Align strategic initiatives across the organization

b. Increase prices for your products & services

c. Pay your Employees a little bit less than market value

d. Do away with core values

 

#7. A shared Customer experience vision is applicable for:

a. Employees

b. Employees and Partners

c. Senior management

d.  All organizational stakeholders

 

#8. You talked to your Marketing Department and they shared that the brand value that resonates most with Customers is that of being ‘small-town’ or ‘heartland’ in character.  Which of the following behaviors might be implemented in your Contact Centre as a result of this brand value?

a. Be professional

b. Understand how Customers use the mobile application

c. Be as efficient as possible

d. Feel free to chat with Customers

 

#9. Which of the following best exemplifies a shared Customer experience vision:

a. We will aim to deliver a differentiated Customer experience – each Customer, each time, everywhere we are

b. We aim to deliver the highest possible shareholder returns for shareholders

c. At ABC company, your satisfaction is our ultimate reward

d. Dedication to the highest quality of  service with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride

 

#10. Which of the following answers best addresses the statement, “It helps a lot if the Team developing the Customer experience strategy is ___________”:

a. Cross-functional

b. Certified in Customer experience

c. Has at least 5 years of experience in Customer experience

d. Defers to the CEO for the final decision


End of Quiz

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 (Daniel Ord) at [email protected]  Please be sure to tell me which Quiz you took.  This one is for Customer Experience Strategy.

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!

Of course taking 10 CCXP 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!

Daniel

Daniel Ord / [email protected]