How important is it that your CX Head be a Contact Center Expert – Part 2

How important is it that your CX Head be a Contact Center expert – Part 2

A couple of months ago I wrote a post asking this question –

Should your CX Head also be a Contact Center expert?

That post shared data from a LinkedIn poll we ran and the key conclusion reached from that data was this –

Folks who worked in a Contact Center role themselves were more likely to say yes, that it was important.

While folks who worked in a Customer Experience role themselves – either in-house or as a consultant – were more likely to say no, it wasn’t as important.

That post also generated a lot of passionate comments including this one –

“Customer Experience people are not always Contact Center people but Contact Center people are always Customer Experience people.”

That comment alone confirmed to me that a Part 2 post was in order.

Here is the original poll question, the voting options and results that we covered in the earlier post here –

How important is it that your Customer Experience Head/Chief Customer Officer also be a Contact Center expert?

  • Extremely important – 50% of all votes
  • Moderately important – 26% of all votes
  • Not very important – 24% of all votes

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/should-your-cx-head-be-a-contact-center-expert-too

Ok – let’s go into Part 2 now.

 

For Part 2, I’ve invited a few Guest Contributors to share on CX and Contact Center expertise

As I was thinking through what a great Part 2 post would look like. I realized it shouldn’t just come from me.

Over the years I’ve met some remarkable people around the world. So I reached out to a number of them to comment on this discussion.

And these people delivered.  In fact they overwhelmed me with their responses. Both in quantity and quality.

For this Part 2 post I’ve curated down to the contributions from three of these folks.

So let me turn it over to our first Guest Contributor

 

Our first Guest Contributor is Dirk Sperrfechter, Senior Director Global Business Development, Kantar (based in Germany)

“Hi Dan, I have voted with moderately important and am very happy to elaborate why.

Please note that this is not an “official“ Kantar opinion, but rather my own based on many years of expertise and experience but of course heavily influenced by my work as a Kantar employee.

In order to keep my answers to a digestible size, I have used a “pros” and “cons” structure in the following because as I said overall my vote was (and is): moderately important.

In my view for most people in the business, the mystical world of CX is some kind of rather undefined superhero power that makes a company thrive (or not) whereas the Contact Centre is just the place where phone lines hum all the time, you are in hold music loops indefinitely, and agents have to juggle more calls than possible (and make you feel this).

In reality however, a Contact Centre expert –

  • Can bring valuable insights and best practices from the front-line of customer interactions, which can inform and improve the overall customer experience strategy and execution of almost any company.
  • He/she can ensure that the Contact Centre is aligned with the CX vision and goals, and that the Contact Centre staff are empowered and engaged to deliver excellent customer service (in a world without silos!)
  • The expert can leverage the data and feedback collected from the Contact Centre to measure and optimize the customer journey, identify pain points and opportunities, and drive continuous improvement. In particular with many different Contact Centre, e.g. with multinational organisations.

However, also reflecting reality:

A Contact Centre expert may not always have the necessary skills and experience to lead and manage the broader CX function, which involves cross-functional collaboration, strategic thinking, innovation, and change management.

The expert may be too focused on the operational and tactical aspects of the Contact Centre and neglect the strategic and holistic aspects of the CX, such as customer segmentation, value proposition, brand positioning, and differentiation (silos again).

And finally: a Contact Centre expert may have a biased or limited perspective on the customer needs and expectations and miss out on the insights and feedback from other channels and touchpoints, such as digital, social, and physical i.e. he/she is expert in one area/market but not necessarily in others.”

Dirk has given us so much in this answer.  And perhaps my favorite line was this one:

In my view for most people in the business, the mystical world of CX is some kind of rather undefined superhero power that makes a company thrive (or not) whereas the Contact Centre is just the place where phone lines hum all the time, you are in hold music loops indefinitely, and agents have to juggle more calls than possible (and make you feel this).

Thanks Dirk!

 

Our next Guest Contributor is a well known CX Head in the financial services industry in Malaysia

Our next Guest Contributor is unable to share his name or company name due to organizational regulations.

He came up through the Contact Center into a Head of CX role and is considered one of the leading CX practitioners in the Asia Pacific region.

So I wanted to share his contribution.

“Hi Dan, I would vote for Extremely Important.

This vote is on the basis that the Contact Centre – beyond its science i.e. forecasting, scheduling, productivity etc –  is about understanding the Customer pulse, being able to provide top notch Customer delight, and be best in class at the first line of defense. 

Or the first line of attack as well if you think selling & cross selling.

So I think a CXO has to have an appreciation of the Contact Centre.

What I find generally lacking is that the CXO and his/her team does a good job of working out Customer journeys etc with the product teams.

But a core important part about this would be supported by the Customer Service function and that is (often) left out.

I am voting for Extremely Important and by that I mean for the CXO to appreciate exactly the role of the Contact Centre in the success of end to end experience.”

 

Our next Guest Contributor is Stamford Low, Director of Customer Experience & Retail  for M1 Singapore

I’ve known Stamford for over two decades and he also came up through Customer Service & Contact Centre management into his current role as Director 0f Customer Experience & Retail.

“The Head of CX is one who drives how products and services are designed and delivered for the customer to consume.

In my CX role at M1, I prioritise gaining firsthand insights into our customers’ preferences and behaviours, so that we can offer genuine journeys characterised by frictionless and clear communication.

While I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for have Contact Centre experience, it certainly doesn’t hurt as this helps them better empathise with Customers, and in turn, elevate the overall Customer Experience.”

Thank you Stamford!

 

Some closing thoughts on the Contact Center expert discussion

It’s been wonderful to see the nuance that takes place in this conversation. I’ve learned new perspectives and ideas since we posted the original poll up through (now) writing this Part 2 post.

I have just three thoughts of my own to close out this post.

 

1,  Contact Center Management & Customer Experience Management are different

I could spend time listing out the job scopes and competencies required for both roles. But that’s just information – not insight.   Easily found through Google or ChatGPT.

But as we saw from Stamford Low’s guest contribution. While it’s not absolutely necessary for the CX Head to have Contact Centre experience, it certainly doesn’t hurt as this helps them better empathize with Customers, and in turn, elevate the overall Customer Experience.

 

2.  Customer Experience is not Customer Service on steroids

It’s possible that there are Readers who are saying, “Yeah, no duh.”

But there is a curse of being an expert in any field.  Which is that you forget what it was like to be a beginner or novice in a new field.

That empathy sometimes gets lost.

Many of our workshop participants from the Customer Service domain often think that CX is (borrowing from Dirk Sperrfechter here) some kind of mystical super-hero power that elevates Customer Service.

I think that the frequent co-opting of the term Customer Experience and grafting that term onto everything Customer Service is partly responsible for the confusion here.

 

3.  CX folks can learn from Customer Service folks and Customer Service folks can learn from CX folks

Early in this post I shared one of the many comments this topic has inspired people to share.  Here it is again:

“Customer Experience people are not always Contact Center people but Contact Center people are always Customer Experience people.”

When I read that I get the sense that the two disciplines are pitted against each other.

I prefer an ‘and’ belief system here and I think it could help.

Let me see if I can give a couple of examples:

Customer Experience people can learn a lot from Customer Service people.  And Customer Service people can learn a lot from Customer experience people.

Customer Experience people and Customer Service people both help make Customer’s lives better.  

And at the end day making people’s lives better is what it’s all about.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/cx-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-contact-centre-industry

 

Thank you for reading!

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Daniel Ord

[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com

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