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Engage Frontline Staff in Delivering Customer-Centric Goals

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The following is a guest post from Susan Hash, Editor of Contact Center Pipeline.

Every contact center leader understands the link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. In centers that pride themselves on maintaining high levels of engagement, common themes include clear, frequent communication from leaders about goals and expectations, active involvement in process changes and being empowered to do the job.

How do you cultivate a customer-centric mindset among frontline employees? The following are proven practices that have appeared in the pages of Contact Center Pipeline over the years.

Give Agents a Closer View of the Customer

Frontline contact center staff may be in contact with customers every day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what the customer is experiencing. Some companies help to provide agents with that perspective by allowing them to accompany sales staff on customer site visits. Agents get a chance to see what happens on the customer’s end—how customers are using the company’s products and what issues they might be experiencing—to gain a better understanding of their perspective.

This is a practice that can work for centers in a variety of sectors. As Jay Minnucci, founder of contact center consulting firm Service Agility, points out: “If you have retail stores, agents should have a chance to work in them. If you have focus groups with customers, agents should have the opportunity to be involved (even if only observing). If you have a product or service that a consumer can use, every agent should get it for free (or at least at reduced cost). For the relatively minor expense of some time off the phone, the payback is more compassion, greater understanding and a higher level of engagement.”

At Memorial Health System, employees attend empathy training that explains the different types of patients that staff will come into contact with, their specific health issues and what they may be experiencing. Managers reinforce the training by posting “empathy boards” in all of the backstage areas, like break rooms and storage areas. The empathy boards include photos of a patient type discussed in training (but not an actual patient), along with key points about their situations. It serves as an ongoing reminder of the patient’s voice.

Transparent Communication Builds Trust

Having open discussions about the organization’s goals and the ROI associated with the customer experience is an effective way to help frontline staff understand the impact their work has on the company’s success. Jon Koelling, director of customer care at Intuit, says that clear and meaningful communication is an essential activity in his center. The organization’s goals and progress toward those goals is discussed in quarterly touchpoint meetings, as well as in traditional team meetings, via email updates and during biweekly pre-shift meetings. Continue reading