Three suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX

Three suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX

To talk about suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX, I need to set the stage.

Contact Centre Management and CX Management are different business disciplines.  Each of which requires different sets of know-how.

Sure – there can be (some) overlap.

That level of overlap is  based on how much the Contact Centre touchpoint appears in critical Customer journeys (or not).

Because that varies significantly by industry and organization.

And yes – lessons can be learned and cross-shared across the two disciplines.  I’ve written extensively about those lessons in earlier articles.

My specific intention for this article is to help Contact Centre Leaders better understand what CX ‘is’.

Perhaps begin or deepen their understanding that it is indeed a different business discipline.

On we go!

First things first

I sometimes hear Contact Centre leaders say that their senior Management doesn’t support their Centre.

If you work at a cult status CX driven company, like the ones you see in case studies, you’re clearly fortunate.  And you’re probably excellent at what you do.

Your personal high level of CX ambition is aligned to and reinforces the organization’s high level of CX ambition.

Making it a virtuous cycle.

But what if you’re the Centre Manager in a company where your function isn’t seen as mission-critical.

Where Management doesn’t meaningfully embrace Customer centricity through the actions it takes.

That’s a different scenario.

Sure – you can’t directly control the level of CX ambition in your company.

But be courageous.

Go ahead and pursue your personal CX ambitions – even if they don’t align to the current level of CX ambitions in your company.

Sure – I totally get it – you can’t have CX in just one department

You can’t, by definition, have CX in just one department.  CX is a business discipline that spans the organization.

But how many times have I stepped into a Contact Centre or met a Customer Service Team in a workshop and feel their commitment to their Customers.

It’s palpable.

Even in organizations where CX itself is given lip service but the ‘walk the walk’ part is still half baked.

Where the link between CX and business outcomes isn’t clearly understood – or hasn’t been clearly established by someone seen as credible.

Ah that word ‘credible’ – it’s a biggie.  Don’t underestimate credibility.

John Maxwell writes – “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  

Don’t settle for becoming an outcome of your company culture.  Especially when that culture isn’t as Customer-centric as it could be.

Even if your company isn’t dissatisfied yet with the way things are, you still get to hold on to your own spark of dissatisfaction.

The one that reminds you that whatever made you successful up to this point won’t necessarily make you successful going forward.

Consider yourself a driver of your culture. A Leader in culture. Culture doesn’t wait to move until everybody embraces it.

Culture begins to move when the influencers in the group begin to move.

That could be you.  And I think that’s putting first things first.

So let’s get to the suggestions.

Suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX #1 – Get involved with the Customer Experience (CX) Vision

Not every company decides to pursue a formalized CX strategy.  At the end of the day it’s a business decision to do so.

And don’t let the incorrect 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. Who you’re serving and how you plan to serve them
  3. The outside-in perspective from Customers to ensure your aim is true
  4. The objectives, goals & metrics you set to measure success across levels
  5. The way you plan to engage everyone within the organization to deliver

For our purposes today let’s look at the first point – what kind of experience you intend to deliver to Customers.

Because the answer to that question gets encapsulated in your CX Vision.

Your CX Vision describes the intended Customer experience in vivid and compelling terms.  So that everyone knows what that experience should look like and feel like.

In the workshops I run I like to share the example of DBS Bank in Singapore.  And the efforts they went through to create their CX Vision ‘RED’ – respectful, easy to deal with, dependable.

It’s a superb story and example.

If your company has already defined its CX Vision, life is good.

In your Centre, that enables you to align your Quality program, metrics and the way you do things, directly to that vision.


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.

There’s little point to have a bunch of words on the wall if there isn’t a meaningful plan that’s going to bring those words to life.

But hey – don’t let not having a CX Vision stop you.  Sometimes Contact Centre Leaders need to shape their own destiny.

In the absence of a CX Vision, you can and should create a robust Service Vision.

And I tend to be very particular with terminology here. I don’t call this a CX Vision for the Contact Center.  The reason is simple.

A CX Vision, by definition, applies to the entire organization – including all departments and partners.  The entire Customer ecosystem.

But if we’re creating a vision for a function or department such as the Contact Centre or Customer Service, it’s better to be precise in terminology and call it a Service Vision.

Because now you’re talking about a functional vision.  It’s not organizational in scope like the CX Vision.

But, over time and with your influence (we’re back to that again), a great Service Vision can 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.

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 we begin when we design a Mystery Shopper research program 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?

Next, study 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?

See if you can articulate the brand promises your company makes.

I always think of crafting a Vision like making a smoothie. You are putting in a few key ingredients and blending them together to create that delicious and healthy vision.

Now put your findings in front of the people who work in your Centre.  What do they think?  Does it ring true?

One word of caution here on Voice of the Customer

When it comes to crafting the CX Vision, there is another significant category of inputs.  Customer research work, sometimes referred to as Voice of the Customer.

With a particular focus on qualitative research findings and insights.

Because to craft a relevant CX Vision, there must be immersion in the Customer’s world.  The letter ‘C’ in CX is there for a reason.

Creating a CX Vision without the Customer involved just doesn’t make any sense and fails from the start.

With the Service Vision, on the other hand, the ability and/or skillset for Contact Centre folks to immerse themselves in the Customer’s world in a meaningful way might be limited.

For example, limited to the results of transactional surveys done at the Contact Centre level.

Which may be useful for touchpoint performance.  But which absolutely aren’t enough – not even close – to reflect the totality of the Customer experience.

So it could be that the Service Vision misses out on the deep immersion in the Customer’s world.  Just keep that in mind as a caution.

What the CX Vision and/or Service Vision gives you

When anyone asks your Contact Centre Agent what kind of service they deliver around here – they can tell you.

With the same degree of specificity they use to describe a flavor of ice cream.

And they can share specifically how they apply either the CX Vision or the Service Vision to their daily interactions.

Just imagine how powerful that is.

In closing for this suggestion, 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.

Suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX #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.

You can point at a horse and call it an apple all day but 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.  It covers the entire Customer ecosystem.

Your Contact Centre has some impact on the overall Customer Experience for those Customers who choose to use the Contact Centre touchpoint to help them achieve their goal. 

But their overall perception of your company is influenced by so many factors and is fluid over time, which stage of the Customer lifecycle they’re in and what Customer journey they’re on.

McKinsey writes that Customers think in terms of their journeys, not in touchpoints

McKinsey also writes that organizations that transition from touchpoint thinking to journey thinking are able to deliver more value to their Customers.

That can be hard for some Contact Centre Leaders – in charge of complex 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.

Everything is in the CX circle from the website, to the product, the price, the forms you mail out, the advertisments Customers see, the partners they interact with, the cleanliness of your office, the freshness of the flowers on the tables.


Then within that ecosystem you have the Customer Service function.  A department. I find it most easily viewed through the lens of the human to human interactions Customers have with you. 

And within the Customer Service function – which may include branches and service desks – you have the Contact Centre.

These days when I train Customer Service Agents, I spend time sharing on Customer journeys.

Because the more we think like Customers do – in journeys – the better we can help them.

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 part of their journey?

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.

When we all start thinking in terms of Customer journeys, and work together across departments to improve journeys – everyone does better.

Suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX #3 – Develop your Customer Research Know-How

You’d think 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.

Perhaps bang on the doors of their Service Quality department and ask to be a part of the Customer research programs undertaken.

Study Customer Personas & Journeys.

Learn more about qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, how they work, how to triangulate findings and interpret what findings mean.

I don’t see this happen all that often

Contact Centre folks are already super busy.  Working in a live, beating heart operation is intense.

And when it comes to ‘Customer research’, Contact Centre Leaders tend to fixate on the Transaction Survey results for their touchpoint – the Contact Centre.

And of course that makes sense.

They want to improve the touchpoint – as any good Touchpoint Manager would want to do.  And they’re likely targeted on those results as well (whether correctly or incorrectly is a different discussion).

But those Transaction Survey results aren’t representative of the entire Customer Experience.

They are the results from one listening post along with the many other listening posts that the CX Team designs to gain understanding and insights into their Customers across lifecycles, stages, journeys and even micro-journeys.

Research is a fascinating and complex topic.   

And just some of the essential Customer Research Know-How that CX people bring to the table includes:

  • Qualitative research use and methods
  • Relationship vs. transaction survey practices
  • Personas & Customer Journey mapping
  • Basic research terminology – mode, median, average, correlation, regression, causality and the like
  • Combining descriptive, predictive and outcome metrics for holistic analysis
  • Applying statistical viability when that matters
  • Service & Experience Design research

To learn and understand these concepts take time and effort. But the payoff is tremendous.

Get your Customer Research Know-How up to speed.

Or partner closely with the folks that know this stuff.  I’m sure they’d be happy to thelp.

The more you know about Customers the better you can serve them.

In closing for three suggestions for Contact Centre Leaders to master CX

Of course with this article I could have had 5 suggestions – or 15 suggestions or even 25 suggestions.

But after some thought to my own personal experience and what I’ve learned working with Clients and Participants in workshops, I chose three.

Which, over time and with a degree of effort, I think can positively transform the impact your Centre makes.

I hope that these suggestions resonate with you and are helpful.

Daniel Ord

[email protected] /

Daniel Ord of OmniTouch teaches primary School Teachers

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