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CX lessons I learned judging CX Awards this year

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article I share CX lessons I learned judging CX Awards this year.

Judging CX Awards is a privilege

When I first began judging CX & Contact Centre Awards way back in 2006, I thought wow – this is so exciting.  What a wonderful way to build my CV and experience as a Trainer and Consultant.

But what I quickly learned is that judging Awards is first and foremost a privilege.  One that gives you unparalleled insight into what real world CX heros face every day in the real world.

And when it comes to who gets Gold, Silver or whatever hierarchy of Awards is in place, I’d say this.

The very fact that you entered and reached some Finalist level already indicates that you’re part of the ‘tribe who cares’.  The distinction between first, second, third and so on is much less important.

Some suggestions for industry Awards entrants

 

The themes I picked up judging CX Awards

The lessons shared here don’t originate from any single Awards entry.  To come up with the lessons, I identified themes that appeared across multiple Awards entries.

For example, in Lesson #1 on ‘Who leads Tech programs’, I encountered three different Finalist entries that incorporated or mentioned this topic in their entry.

I think that makes the lessons more meaningful and also protects the confidentiality of individual Awards entrants.

And for those of you out there who also do qualitative research, I’m sure that the detection and reporting of themes will be familiar to you!

 

Lesson #1 – Who leads Tech programs?

It was quite remarkable to read that when it came time to implement a new Tech program – such as a new Martech stack – it was the Customer Experience Team that led the program.  Not the IT Department.

I had to re-read that a few times to make sure I had it right.

Because so often, technology leads the way.

And Customer Experience has to gallop and chase from behind to figure out what the technology is going to ‘do’ to the Customer Experience.

But putting the CX folks firmly in charge of leading Tech programs ensures that the Customer perspective is built in from the ground up.  Call me impressed.

A couple of years ago I ran a large number of management workshops on how to successfully implement Live Chat into the channel mix .

And when I asked Participants why they were rolling out Live Chat, most told me that they were told they had to do it by their bosses.

Either because everyone else was doing it, or because that functionality was already in the software package and they wanted to maximize their tech investment.

Sound familiar?

 

Lesson #2 – Is CX really everybody’s job?

Across multiple entries I saw the following sentiment expressed.

It might be nice to say that CX is everybody’s job.

But the reality is that the art & science of CX requires experts.  And the nuts and bolts of how CX gets done is through expert know-how and experience.  Just like any formal business discipline.

I admit I loved this sentiment.

Platitudes – such as ‘CX is everybody’s job’ – don’t take organizations very far in their CX ambitions.  And it doesn’t recognize the robust nature of the know-how required to get CX ‘done’.

Why not put CX-related responsibilities into everyone’s job role?   That’s a great way to help bring CX to life.

And of course the CX-related responsibilities that I’d put into the jobs of my Finance folks will look different than those I put in for my Warehousing folks.  But by taking this step, everyone knows what their role in CX is and how to bring it to life.

In my work with Clients I prefer to say that CX should be in everybody’s job.  That strikes me as far more practical and meaningful.

And you can take that further – as many Entrants did – by providing a fundamental level of training in CX – not just Customer Service – to everyone in the Organization.

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

Lesson #3 – There are different ways to build CX momentum

There’s a lot written about on how to get that CX momentum to start in your organization.

And different Awards entrants had slightly different experiences in how to do this.

One way – that was shared across quite a few entries – involved setting anywhere from a 6 to 12 month campaign to achieve as many small quick wins as possible.  The principle being that the aggregated impact of many small wins ends up being significant.

In one memorable example, the focus was on eliminating 99 Customer pain points within a year.  And that required a lot of cross-functional collaboration which in turn nurtured organizational excitement around CX.

A second way I noted was to tackle one relatively large project – one fully backed by senior management – and succeed at it.

That project then served as a showcase for other folks in the company.  Folks who otherwise hadn’t been interested in CX but wanted to see what all the fuss was about and how such great outcomes were achieved.

Of course the risk here is that of actually succeeding.

And finally – one of my favorite submissions on this topic.

The Awards entrant shared that the very process of sharing broadly and deeply on CX and looking to Employees as a big source of insight on the current state of CX, kick started a completely new and more collaborative way of working with Employees.

And that Employees rewarded that sense of collaboration with even more effort.

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

 

CX lessons I learned – in closing

One last observation in closing.

Entrants specifically for CX Leader or Head of the Year Awards shared that they they were making an impact – and not just on Customers.

But on the hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who worked in their organizations.

And that while the first year – or even two – were hard, that eventually they became the go-to resource for CX in their organization – with folks actively seeking them out for advice and input.

It was this level of influence – and the resulting legacy they were creating – that seemed to be a big motivator for these terrific entrants.

Thank you for reading,

Daniel

[email protected]

CXPA Recognized Training Provider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

In this article I share what to look for when you hire a new Contact Centre Manager.

Our scenario – you need to hire a new Contact Centre Manager

Let’s say you’re the new Chief Customer Officer and you need to hire a new inbound Contact Centre Manager for your existing 200 seat Centre.  You’ve been given a mandate to implement a CX strategy and you have a small CX Team at hand.

You don’t come from the Contact Centre industry yourself.  But as a CX professional you understand the value of the Contact Centre.

Your overall business is in good financial shape though the Centre has been somewhat neglected for the past few years.  And tech-wise the Centre has the basic building blocks though there’s room for improvement.

You’ve learned from past experience that the number of years of experience held by the Contact Centre Manager doesn’t correlate to mastery of the job role.  You need someone who ‘knows’ the Contact Centre – not just someone who has spent a lot of time in one.

So the essential question is this – what do you look for when you hire a new Contact Centre Manager?

 

The key domains of know-how required

The job of a Contact Centre Manager is a rich and full one.  And that’s because there’s a lot to know to succeed.

I recommend the following key domains of know-how when looking to hire a new Contact Centre Manager.  Or when you’re looking to upskill a current Manager or Management Team.

1.  Operations & Technology

Includes Centre design, forecasting the workload, calculating staff and resource requirements, selecting the right metrics and ways to measure those metrics, understanding the interrelationships between metrics, understanding the underlying dynamics of the Centre, channel management and the ability to articulate the impact of business decisions on the operation.

In this domain I’d include essential & evolving technology knowledge.  That’s because of the significant impact any technology choice has on the operation with cascading impact on Customers, Employees & the Organization itself.

When I’m asked which domain should come first in the hierarchy I always recommend Operations.  That’s because so much of what happens in a Centre, from how people are managed through to how Customers experience the Centre, flows from strong operations management practices.

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

2.  People Management (or the broader ‘Employee Experience’ if you prefer)

This domain includes organizational design, strategic resource planning, hiring & selection, retention & attrition management, training & development, performance management, compensation & incentive strategies, coaching and employee engagement, satisfaction & motivation, career & skills pathing and succession planning.

In this domain, I’d specifically include the design and implementation of the monitoring & coaching process.

For organizations that are evolving into Employee Experience – a big topic today – I’d recommend adding those competencies to this domain.

3.  Leadership & Business Management

From a leadership perspective, this domain includes competencies around the vision, the mission, values (or principles) and development & execution of strategy in the Centre.  It also includes how to build healthy cross-functional relationships and put the Centre front and center on the organizational radar screen.

From a business management perspective, this domain includes the ability to make credible business cases, calculate Contact Centre budgets, calculate ROI and understand change management project management.  I’d add that it’s vital that the Contact Centre Management bring strong financial and analytical skills to the job role.

In my experience, very few Centre Managers have a strong grasp of how to correctly calculate a Contact Centre budget.

If I were conducting a hiring exercise for a Contact Centre Manager I’d ask the candidate to walk me through how they budget for a Centre.  You’ll learn a lot about how much they know (or don’t know) about a Contact Centre operation.

4.  Service Management 

Service Management is the art & science of delivering value to Customers through any channel or combination of channels.  Often times the Contact Centre is at the heart of the Service Management function.

Service Management includes know-how around developing and implementing a Service Delivery Vision, the selection & definition of relevant Quality standards, Quality assurance practices, Customer research practices including service monitoring, Customer communication strategies and the nurturing of a service culture.

And of course it includes a strong & practical understanding of the specific service and relevant sales skills for each channel in use.

The skills for handling a Customer email are different than those for handling a Customer live chat for example.  Omnichannel service requires a different approach than multi-channel service.

And yes – your ever evolving mastery of what are commonly called ‘digital’ channels goes here as well.  That incorporates chat, messaging and to some degree even chatbots as there should be a solid bridge between chatbot-assisted and Agent-assisted service.

I think some folks confuse Service Management with Customer Experience Management.

Service Management very specifically relates to Customer interactions with the brand.  It’s a subset of the overall Customer Experience.

Customer Experience includes product, pricing and every single aspect of the organization from the way the bill looks to how fresh the chicken is in the restaurant.   It’s so much more than a call to the Contact Centre.

With that said, let’s look at the last domain of know-how – Customer Experience Management.

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

 

5.  Customer Experience Management 

There is a ‘real’ Customer Experience Manager job role out there.

And the Contact Centre Manager role is not that role.

The Contact Centre Manager job role – by its very nature – only involves some subset of all Customers (never all Customers), at some point of time (not all points in time) in that specific Customer journey (not all Customer journeys).

If it was really true that the Contact Centre Manager job = the Customer Experience Manager job then why not rebrand every Customer Experience Manager as a Contact Centre Manager?

Because that’s what’s implied. It would have to work both ways to be true.

So you honour the Contact Centre profession when you keep the phrase Contact Centre in your job title. Not when you decide to jump on the rebranding of everything as CX bandwagon.

Sure – the Contact Centre has impact on those Customers who experience that touchpoint. But it’s not the same thing as the perception the Customer has of the entirety of their experience with your brand.

Once you get that – and master your understanding of and contribution to the overall CX – you become a better Contact Centre Manager.

So after that big build up, what does the Contact Centre Manager need to know about CX?  From my perspective, the more the better.

But we need to be careful here.

While having our Contact Centre Manager understand CX as a business discipline is important and helpful to our CX efforts, let’s remember the Contact Centre Manager already has a full-time job.

Just relook at domains of know-how we covered so far.

So it’s likely that much of the actual ‘work’ of CX will be done by the CX Team.

That’s because the CX Team is in the best position to handle activities like VOC research, developing the CX strategy, cross-functional journey mapping. implementing organizational accountability measures and the like.

The CX Team has a higher elevation across functions as well as a broader mandate.

I think that in real life, the Contact Centre Manager has a lot to learn from the Customer Experience Manager with regard to CX.

And I think that the Customer Experience Manager has a lot to learn from the Contact Centre Manager as well.  The Customer Experience Manager will benefit from the rich experience, know-how and Customer insight residing in the Contact Centre.

Ultimately, both roles will work closely together for the benefit of the Centre and the Organization.

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

You don’t have a CX Team?  I see that all the time.

Then it’s likely that you have a ‘Service Quality Team’ or variation.  As is implied in the name, a Service Quality Team tends to focus on service – including research and analytics, high level complaint management and targeted improvement efforts across the organization.

But again – avoid confusing a Service Quality Team with a Customer Experience Team.  The mandate and activities are different – as well as the scope of authority.

For Contact Centre Managers (or anyone) that wants to develop competency in Customer Experience – I recommend the CXPA 6 Competency Framework as a basis.

In that framework, the essential domains of knowledge for CX are CX Strategy, Voice of Customer, Experience Design, CX Metrics & Measurements, Governance and Customer-Centric Culture.

To those domains I add Maturity Analysis & Implementation Strategy as well because I think that’s important.

10 CCXP Exam Practice Questions for Customer Experience Strategy

 

Of course there’s more to consider

Of course when you’re selecting your Contact Centre Manager you will also look at their past track record of success and their ‘characteristics’.  Such as how well they seem to ‘fit’ your culture.

But know-how is an obvious and critical component in the selection process.  And it often takes a backseat to how much ‘experience’ the candidate has.  That’s definitely the wrong way to go.

The key to success will always be KNOW-HOW + EXPERIENCE with DEMONSTRABLE SUCCESS.

 

In closing

I hope this article has been helpful.  It’s a big nut to chew on for sure.  And each heading and domain could be an article or set of articles on its own.

But I hope the high level overview is useful for you.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

With one foot planted solidly in the Contact Centre industry (29 years!) and the other foot firmly planted in the CX industry I have the ability to connect the dots for people in the Contact Centre that want to understand CX and for folks in CX who want to understand the Contact Centre.

I’m one of 6 Trainers in the world designated as a Recognized Training Provider by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and I help people learn more about CX and prepare for their CCXP Exam.

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizational culture matters more than where you live

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Organizational culture matters more than where you live.  And blaming ‘national’ characteristics for poor behaviour is just lazy.

That first morning

One of the great things about facilitating workshops across many countries & regions is that you get to see a lot of organizational culture up close and personal.

Whether in Kuala Lumpur, Colombo or Frankfurt, the first morning of a scheduled workshop session is always interesting.

  • Will all the Participants turn up? Will they turn up on time?
  • Will Management turn up? If so, who – and how long will they stay?
  • Does Management all sit together? Or do they integrate into the group at large?
  • What does the energy feel like before the session begins?
  • Do Participants talk to each other or do they stare at their mobile phones?
  • How does management speak to staff? As adults? Or like children?

What I see on that first morning of a session – before introductions have been made – should be the ‘best’ in organizational culture.

Why?  Because it’s not work.

Participants are there to learn and grow.

And because the gap or opportunity is so significant, an external Provider was asked to come in.

On a recent drizzly morning in _____________ (fill in the country).

On a recent drizzly morning session in ________(fill in the country), half the Participants had not arrived by starting time.

The HR Representative leaned over to me and said –

Well you know we _________(fill in nationality here) like to sleep in.”

Or –

“We’re always late in ______(fill in country)” or “When it rains you know how it is in ______(fill in country).”

But over the years I’ve been conducting sessions, I find that what matters most is where you work – not where you live.

Organizational culture matters most

In countries which are notorious for staff absenteeism and tardiness, I’ve worked with organizations where people aren’t late.

In countries with a reputation for staff timidity, I’ve worked with organizations where the folks laugh and chat and catch up with each other.

In countries where a traditional management hierarchy is revered, I’ve worked with organizations where management and staff intermingle and sit together.

Great organizational culture always matters the most.

The way the Employees at Company X carry themselves can be quite different than the way Employees at Company Y carry themselves.

Even when their offices are in the same office building.

Blaming poor behavior on country or national dynamics is just lazy

Of course, there are wonderful examples of national culture that embody happiness, wellbeing and getting things done.  An entire article could be devoted to these examples.

It’s not my style to be negative.

But when HR or management blames poor behavior on country or national dynamics – then it’s unlikely that you’ll see a great culture at that particular organization.

The happenstance of being born in Country X doesn’t guarantee a worklife of tardiness, timidity or futility.

Individuals always have a choice.

A choice to be on time, a choice to speak up and even a choice to find employment with an organization with a better culture.

 

A Culture of Fear & Compliance are poor tools for delivering a great Customer experience

Thank you for reading!

Daniel