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

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

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

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

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

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

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

The Marvel universe is a pretty binary place.

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

Good & evil in Customer Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The real world is more nuanced than a Marvel comics movie

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

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

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

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

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

With her usual pragmatism she told me –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re working to be better.

What can I do with my CCXP?

Why I don’t publish personal complaint posts

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

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

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

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

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

 

Good & evil in Customer Experience

Marvel hero

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

They don’t have to rant.

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

 

[email protected]

Daniel Ord speaking on Customer Experience

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

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

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

The Contact Center in the context of Customer Experience

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

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

Daniel Ord speaking on Customer Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Contact Center is the formal living room in a house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple examples of Quality standards include:

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at some example Quality standards now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And in a public sector setting that’s amazing.

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

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

 

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

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

Here are three.

The ‘Ready to Serve’ Quality standard

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

Did you just read that twice?  So did we.

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

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

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

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

The ‘Tai Chi’ standard

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

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

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

And their rationale for this standard?

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

And you can just imagine the Customer Experience here.

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

Yikes.

The every Quality standard is measured as a Yes or No

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

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

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

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

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

There’s almost no bar for Quality.

 

There’s an art & science to selecting Quality Standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the answers I’ve heard:

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

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

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

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

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

 

In closing

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

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

Thank you for reading,

Daniel

[email protected]

 

 

 

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]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CX lessons we can learn from the Contact Centre industry

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you’ll see, I think there are.

Your friendly neighbourhood Contact Centre Manager

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some examples.

So how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?

 

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

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

I’m with you on that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Example #2 – Got a Service Culture?

Nobody goes to school to work in a Contact Centre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’ve been cracking this code for years.

 

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

 

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

Attrition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In closing

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Daniel Ord

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

[email protected]  / www.omnitouchinternational.com

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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]