In this short article I ask – how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?
Have you attended any conferences lately?
After the speeches are done and the workshops concluded you have the chance to cluster around a table in the coffee shop or bar and get to know other people who attended the event.
And one of my favourite questions is this one – so how did you get into the Contact Centre industry?
If you’re an introvert and get goosebumps around networking – I guarantee you that this question works as a great ice-breaker.
Doesn’t it seem like it happened to everyone by accident?
Whether it’s Customer Service, Customer Experience or the Contact Centre I’ve rarely met anyone who doesn’t have an interesting story about how they accidentally ‘fell’ into the industry.
Some folks come up from being an Agent.
That’s cool because we all know you’ll never forget what it was like to talk to Customers. Learning how to persuade, calm and influence is one of the biggest gifts you get from doing this work.
Others – like myself – fell into the job through management level transfer or acquisition.
I’m lucky enough to have transferred over from Finance to Operations – and I’ve always been grateful to have that background in numbers of logic to call on once I entered the Contact Centre industry.
The higher up the management ladder you go – the more you need to work ‘up and out’ in your organization
When I first got into the Contact Centre industry I faced the common challenge I think many of you have – most of my seniors thought my job was easy. I mean after all – on paper you just put a bunch of ‘operators’ in place and answer calls or emails or chats – where’s the complexity there?
As time and market forces increasingly put the Customer in the centre of the organizational universe things got a little better.
But I found that at least half my time as a VP, Operations – and time well spent – was spent talking to senior folks across the organization. Teaching them about the industry, about Customers and about our value proposition.
Helping them ‘get it’.
Today in all my management level Contact Centre courses I advise folks to make a real organizational impact by getting up and away from your desk and office. And not just walking around your Centre – though of course that has value!
I’m talking about booking time with the Heads of other functions and getting yourself invited to senior level meetings.
You’ve got to make yourself visible and talked about. You’ve got to help people in other job roles solve problems or create opportunities.
Because if you don’t, your Centre – and everyone who works there – will suffer benign neglect.
It’s not an easy industry
I always say that in the Contact Centre industry we have to be masters of many domains.
That includes –
- Operations – after all everything starts here
- People management & organizational design
- Leadership & financial management
- Customer service & experience
- The role of Technology in the lives of our Customers & People (which I generally classify under CX & EX)
I can’t think of another industry that places this many demands on its leadership.
And a word of caution.
If you’ve worked a long time for one or two Centres you begin to think that the way ‘you’ work here is the way the ‘industry’ works.
Nobel-Winner Daniel Kahneman talks about the danger of WYSIATI – What you see is all there is.
He teaches that we humans tend to make decisions on incomplete information – thinking that what we see or know now is all there is.
Do you best to push back against WYSIATI – I think the best Contact Centre leadership does.
But no matter how you got there – it’s what you do when you’re there
So you’re there. That’s so cool.
You’re the Contact Centre Manager or Director for XX. And they’re counting on you to be efficient & effective.
When asked what I think is the most important thing to learn first about Contact Centres I always give the same answer.
I can hear some people say no! It’s Customers! Or no! It’s people!
But Centres are unique and complex ecosystems. And what you choose to measure and how to measure it drives the culture & behaviour of your Centre.
You’ll make better decisions about both your people and your Customers when you’ve mastered Operations.
Thank you for reading!