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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]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score.  In this short article I explain the difference between the two.

We measure everything!

In the Contact Centre industry we tend to be obsessed with measuring things.

From Occupancy rates through to Net Promoter Score we have dashboards and dials for everything.  (Even though not everything matters.)

And we have a whole special set of measurements reserved just for Contact Centre Agents.

When we’re able to influence and guide our Agents to better Productivity, Quality & Attitude, life is good.

And measuring progress quantitatively along the way is fine.  It’s really important to let people know how they are doing.

Measuring Quality

One of the most important processes in the Centre is Monitoring & Coaching.

We monitor Customer interactions, document our findings and talk to the Agents about their performance.

Great Monitoring & Coaching improves Quality, drives better Customer Satisfaction and delivers higher Employee Engagement.

It’s a multivitamin process with lots of great benefits.

But only when it is well designed.

There are many questions to answer to create a great Monitoring & Coaching process

The Monitoring & Coaching process is more complex than it first appears on paper.

  • Who should monitor interactions?
  • How often should we monitor?
  • What do we monitor for?
  • Who makes the rules for defining and calibrating Performance Standards?
  • How often should we listen, how should we listen, what do we listen for?

And when it comes to Agents –

  • Who should talk to Agents?
  • With what frequency should we talk to Agents?
  • What is the role of Quality Assurance?
  • What is the role of the Team Leader?
  • When or how should a score be involved?

Wow – there’s a lot involved.  But there are some answers too.

Let’s focus in on the use of scoring.

What is the role of the Scorecard?

Let’s zoom in questions around scoring.

  • What is the role of the Monitoring ‘Scorecard’?
  • Do I have to use it every time I speak with my Agent about their interaction?
  • Do I as a Team Leader use it or does Quality Assurance use it?

You’re either helping or you’re keeping score

In our Client work, we find that both Team Leaders and Quality Assurance have an unhealthy attachment to the scorecard.

Every quality discussion with an Agent involves a score.

Even side by side sessions – the rare times they seem to be conducted – involve a scorecard.

Isn’t this all rather disheartening and unnecessary? And typically all the Agent wants to know is the score.  Or ‘did I pass or not pass’?

That’s not a formula for improvement.  And a sure sign there is confusion between helping or keeping score.

What do we mean by that?

Scorecards are wonderful tools for gathering quantitative data.

Providing a developmental summary of scores across randomly selected interactions can be a great tool for Agent performance trending.

Here’s your trend here.  Here’s your trend there.  The big picture of performance and what contributes to it.

But scoring on a day to day basis in the Centre can inhibit growth.

Imagine your Agent comes to you and says –

“Boss, I’d like you to help me with my communication skills. Can you sit with me and listen to a few of my calls and give me your thoughts?” 

You reply, –

“Sure, give me a minute to get my scorecards – I’ve got to score everything I hear and that we talk about – be right there…”

I don’t think you would say this.

Even writing these lines makes me cringe.

The role of a Coach within the context of transactional coaching is to help their Agent get better and better at what they do.

Since when did helping someone get better involve a score?

Scorecards don’t change behaviour

A Scorecard is a judging tool.

It tells you how you did.

Just like watching the scores presented by Olympic Judges after the skater has skated, or the diver made their dive.

They tell you how you did.  But they aren’t designed to help you get better.

It makes me sad when Quality Assurance people tell me that all they do is issue scorecards and hope that Agent quality performance improves.

Dream on.

But helping people changes behaviour

What the best coaches do is sit with their folks – on a regular basis – and help them get better.

They understand that helping is something they do for their people.

“Here’s where you did well.  Here’s where you can improve.”

With no score attached. And why would you need one?

And the more you help someone – the better they will score when the time comes.

In closing

When people ask me how many interactions they should monitor I ask them to rephrase the question.

“How many interactions will you monitor for scoring purposes and to provide trending?” 

“And how many interactions will you conduct to help your Agent get better?”

Then add the answers to these two questions together to get your answer.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

 

“But my way is better!”– How to manage a common Coaching Challenge

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article we talk about a common coaching challenge faced in the Contact Centre industry.

In a recent course, one of my students, ‘Roberta’ shared:

“Dan, I’ve just been promoted from Call Centre Agent to a Quality Assurance role.

And I’ve been asked to help the Centre improve its call quality.

But how do I handle a situation where the Agent believes that what they’re saying to the Customer is perfectly fine, even when I know it can be better?”

Roberta explained that there was an Agent, ‘Deborah’, in the Centre who had been there for many years and was set in her ways.

The Agent liked to use a colloquial expression when asking for the Customer name at the beginning of the call.

She would say –

“May I have your good name please?” 

But this Centre served an international Customer base.

Roberta believed that the Deborah’s phrasing could be confusing for some of their international Clientele.

All it took was listening to a sample of the call recordings to prove out the hypothesis.

Awkward pauses from Customers made it clear that the phrasing was confusing.

The suggested phrasing for this Centre was simply, “May I know how to address you?”

When Roberta approached Deborah with the recommendation to change the phrasing, Deborah became defensive.

Her response was along the lines of:

“This standard is perfectly acceptable. 

In fact, my sister in law who works in the Education Ministry in my home country told me that this standard appears in all the major textbooks in use in classrooms.”

Roberta was struggling with how to respond.

Handling the classic case of “My way is better”

When you conduct transactional coaching, it’s expected that there will be cases where Agents believe their way is ok.

And in some cases even better than what they’re asked to do.

My first suggestion is to listen to the Agent input without judging.

Remember that Agents do this for a living.  They may have great points and suggestions to make.

Be ready to tell them that’s a great idea.  And what you’re going to do to help put that idea up for consideration.

But to carry on with this story I advised Roberta to first honour Deborah’s input:

“Sure Deborah, I can see why you would suggest that phrasing.

I always appreciate Team Members with opinions because this means that you’re thinking about how we can deliver outstanding quality.”

Then direct your conversation over to the viewpoint of the organization.

I teach a 3 Parachute Technique when I share the organization’s viewpoint.

If the first parachute doesn’t open, then pull the second one.

But if the first parachute opens – and is accepted – then there’s no need to go further.

This approach is helpful for this particular common coaching challenge.

Let’s have a look.

Parachute #1

Try Parachute #1 first:

“Deborah, each day when we come into work, we actively become part of  _________(name the organization). 

Through our individual efforts, we help bring ________’s vision, mission and objectives to life. 

In the case of the Contact Centre and our quality standards, the Management Team worked hard to design the kind of Service we want to be known for.  

In the case of asking for the Customer Name, given our international audience, we implemented a consistent standard which is “May I know how to address you?”

While I honour your opinion, we have a responsibility to deliver the kind of Service we want to be known for here at ________, regardless of our personal opinion.”

Parachute #2

Remember to open Parachute #2 only if you believe it adds value to the Parachute #1 discussion.

“Deborah, do you know McDonald’s?  Starbucks?  Coffee Bean?  Great – I guess we all do. 

Can you imagine if someone who worked at Starbucks decided that they wanted to make a vanilla latte their own way? 

That they simply changed up the recipe or added an additional ingredient because they thought it would be better prepared their way?

Imagine if at Starbucks around the city, the country or even the world, the Baristas each began to make up their own recipes?  

One of the ways companies such as ours and Starbucks for that matter, impress their Customers is through consistency and design of how things are to be done.”  

For my own training programs and coaching I typically use examples drawn from the countries where I’m working.

Parachute #3  

I urge caution here though my old VP, Operations persona comes out here and please do look for some tongue in cheek humour.

“Deborah, let’s put it this way. 

When you decide to open up your own coffee shop, service consultancy, insurance company, etc., you can select whatever standards you think will work well for you.

And I’ll be the first person to come down, visit your business and talk to you about the standards you set.                          

But as long as we both work here and our paychecks say “_________”  on them, we have a responsibility, along with everyone here, to bring our company standards to life. 

Thanks.”

In closing

Coaches – don’t let the common coaching challenge of “But my way is better” throw you for a loop.

Not only can this common coaching challenge be managed, it’s an opportunity to build trust since you honor the input and share organizational vision, mission and objectives with your Team.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

Can your Contact Center Agents compete with a robot?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

If I were employing Contact Center Agents today, I’d be asking how my training and development processes helped my Agents be better than a robot.

A lot of Contact Center management complains that they can’t recruit or hold on to their Contact Center Agents.

But I think that the smart Contact Center Agent has a fair question to ask.

“Dear Boss…I’m aware that you guys are doing everything you can to off-load voice calls to self-service options.  So if you want me to stay with you there’s something I need to know.  How are you going to prepare me to be better than a robot?”

Now I’m one of those people that believes that, at critical moments, a person is going to want to talk to another person.

And with the growth in greying populations around the developed world, we’re still looking at demand in voice-based service for some time.

So now’s the time to prepare your Agents for what’s coming.

It’s an interesting industry – but Contact Center Agents don’t know that

The Agent recruitment videos that I watch on YouTube look like they came from the same cookie cutter –

  • You’ll need to have empathy!
  • We’ll give you a buddy to work with!
  • Look – we have a pool table!

I’d love to see an Agent recruitment video that said –

  • Our Centre is at the heart of our CX strategy – and we will teach you all about CX and your role in it.
  • There’s a lot of technology & operations going on here – and we’ll teach you all about it.
  • The world is changing – so we’ll help you to be come better than a robot.

Liz Ryan advises –

It’s time to leave a job when a half-year has gone by and you haven’t learned anything new.

That advice doesn’t just apply to the big bosses.

Take your Contact Center Agent development seriously

When I was running large Centres in the U.S. back in the 90s, we purposefully hired our Contact Center Agents from places like McDonalds and Burger King.

By and large they already had the right attitudes.

Our job was to equip them to become better versions of themselves.

A few years later, when a big corporate restructuring came along, we had to let go hundreds of our Agents over the course of a few months.

It was tough, and emotionally draining.

But over those few months we were proud that each and every one got a new job.

Every Friday afternoon, we would take Polaroids of the people that were leaving that week, and stage a candlelight ceremony to commemorate their being with us and then moving on.

We all cried.

In that early Contact Centre era, some of the processes we take for granted today were still immature

In those days, we didn’t have a lot of QA.

Our training could have been better.

As a result, our folks probably weren’t very good at saying the Customer’s name two times or asking for further assistance at the end of the call.

They would probably have failed some of the current assessments that I see so often today.

But because we didn’t script them, they were forced to learn the fine art of conversation.

How to sell, how to calm, how to influence.

Even how to stay calm during large scale fluctuations in volume – a powerful self-management skill.

Our secret to success – and we were very successful in our day – was the caliber of our Team Leaders.

These direct Line Managers were the heroes who made our operation tick.

In closing

The world is changing.

But the need for people to learn and grow to succeed hasn’t.

Are you preparing your Contact Center Agents to be better than a robot?

Thanks for reading!

Daniel

[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com

 

 

 

Stop blaming poor organizational behaviour on national culture

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

It’s not ok to blame poor organizational culture on national culture.

One of the great things about working in many different organizations, across many countries & regions, is that you get to see a lot of organizational culture up close and personal.

Whether in KL, Colombo or Frankfurt, the first morning of a scheduled training 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?

·      Who is in charge? Is the ‘leader’ present?

·      How does management speak to staff? As adults? Or like children?

 

What a Trainer or Consultant sees and experiences 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.

Because Participants are there to learn and grow.

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.

To this, the HR Representative 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 really matters is which organization you’re working with – not which country you happen to be in.

In countries which are notorious for staff absenteeism and tardiness, I’ve worked with organizations where people simply aren’t late and where organizational culture does not tolerate lateness.

In countries which have a reputation for staff timidity and reserve, I’ve worked with organizations where people laugh and chat and catch up with each other before the session begins.

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

Great organizational culture always ‘trumps’ national culture.

The way the Employees at Company X behave and carry themselves is quite different than the way Employees at Company Y behave and carry themselves – even though their offices are in the same building.

 

Blaming poor behavior on country or national dynamics is just lazy

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

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

Individuals always have a choice.

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

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com