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

The purpose of this article is to share some thoughts on what it takes to move from Contact Centre management to Customer Experience management.

It seems to be a logical move

In the past year I’ve had a few discreet enquiries from Contact Centre Managers about what it takes to move from Contact Centre management into Customer experience management.

I think it’s a great question and I honor it.

And though it seems to be a logical move, it’s important to first establish that Customer Experience management is a different field than Contact Centre management.

So let’s start by looking at where you work now.

Because that is where your experience begins and much of your exposure lies.

Does your Organization pursue Customer Experience as a business strategy?

Not every Organization pursues Customer Experience.

We have to get that out of the way first.

Of course no smart CEO is going to disparage Customer Experience in conversation.

But talking about Customer Experience and doing what it takes, organizationally, are two completely different things.

And there are many viable ‘maturity models’ out there you can use to peg your Organization’s Customer Experience level of maturity.

Forrester, Jeanne Bliss, Beyond Philosophy all openly share well thought out maturity models.

Look them up – answer the questions. Estimate the organizational maturity level where you work.

You’ll need to understand Customer Experience maturity models if you want to move into Customer Experience management in any case.

Obviously if you work somewhere that operates at a higher plateau of maturity – you have a leg up.

You can see, feel and taste what Customer Experience feels like at an organizational level.

There’s a common misunderstanding

The most common misunderstanding I come across in conferences and workshops is that Contact Centre folks confuse Customer Experience and Customer Service.

Customer Experience is not Customer Service on steroids.

Being good at Customer Service and being good at Customer Experience are two different things.

Of course there is overlap.

Consider the diagram show below.  Customer Service is a subset of Customer Experience.

And in this second diagram you can see that the Contact Centre is a subset of Customer Service.

Remember that the Contact Centre is only one possible touchpoint of the Customer Experience.  And not every Customer uses the Contact Centre.

If you conflate the two terms – Customer Experience & Customer Service – you won’t just confuse yourself.  You will confuse others around you.

I see this all the time.

Contact Centre Management runs around talking about Customer Experience without using the term in the right context.

The way you manage your Centre says a lot about your Customer Experience potential

Let’s look at how you manage your Centre now – and what that bodes for your future in Customer Experience.

Efficiency in the Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve efficiency.

You learn this in Operations management.

If your focus as a Contact Centre leader is on metrics like # of Calls Handled, Average Handling Time ane/or Occupancy you’re going to have a challenge graduating up to Customer Experience.

Because not a single one of these metrics has anything to do with the Customer’s point of view.

Ask yourself.

What metrics have I set for my Centre Andy with Team that reflect the Customer’s point of view?  Their voice?  What matters to them?

How seriously do we take those around here?

Quality in a Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve quality.

If your Centre talks about quality that’s great.

But how is it achieved?

Is there regular and ongoing coaching that helps people improve?

Or is your Centre a scorecard factory where issuing scorecards substitutes for meaningful dialogue between Frontliners & Management?

At it’s heart, Customer Experience is a people-business, with Customers at the heart and Employees & Partners across the organization as part of the overall ecosystem.

Your proven ability to bring the best out of the people you work with is a great indicator of Customer Experience management success.

Funny things Contact Centre Managers ask their Agents to do

What kind of culture exists in your Centre?

How do your Frontline Agents describe Customers?

Do they describe them as irritating?  Entitled?  Annoying?  Unreasonable?  Do Team Leaders chime in and say the same thing?

If so you’ve got a culture issue within your Centre.

And if there’s any place where a Customer-centric culture should be strong – that’s the Contact Centre.

If you’ve been able to get your Contact Centre folks to be Customer-obsessed, that bodes well for your ability to influence others outside the Centre when you’re in a Customer Experience role.

Let’s get financial for a moment

Customer Experience gets a fluffy reputation.

That happens when Customer Experience oriented folks struggle to articulate the concrete benefits of organizational Customer Experience.

Your experience in Contact Centre management should have exposed you to annual budgeting, project-based budgeting, ROI analyses and the like.

Because as tempting as it can be to argue the case for Customer Experience ‘because it is the right thing to do’, that method will fail you every time.

The ability to present a solid business case, using the language of business – numbers – is an important skill set for Customer Experience professionals.

We can’t ignore the power of influence

Last in my list for this article – the power of influence.

I always say that that best Contact Centre Managers work up and out.

By that I mean they are seldom in the Centre.  I succeeded in my operations career because I had super-charged Supervisors.

That enabled me to work with other Departments & Functions to see how the Centre could help them solve problems.

And asking how we could work together to solve Customer problems as well.

Ask yourself.

What’s my reputation within the Organization?

Am I seen as credible?  Have I helped establish trusted relationships across functions?

Because Customer Experience management involves politics.  Politics in the positive sense here.

Using influence, reputation and track record to get folks involved in making Customer’s lives better.  It’s a big part of the job.

In closing

I don’t think you have to come up through the Contact Centre industry to succeed in Customer Experience management.

But with that said, if you’re able to channel the Customer-centricity you achieved in the ‘heart’ of Customer Service to the organization at large – you’ve got some very specific advantages.

And I’d add that you look at CCXP Certification.  It’s intensive but robust and internationally recognized.

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