Execs In The Know- A Global Network of Customer Experience Professionals

Tag Archives: Customer Centric

Understanding Your Customers: Nothing Beats Time in the Contact Center

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

How much time has your executive team spent on the contact center floor? Not simply a quick walk-through, but actually taking the time to plug in with an agent to listen to customer calls? If execs really want to know what a quality customer experience sounds and feels like, spending time in the contact center will allow them to experience what your customers are feeling and thinking about your organization, as well as what frontline customer service staff go through on a daily basis.

In addition to senior executives, encouraging department leaders across the organization to spend time in the center is a great way to provide them with first-hand knowledge of what goes on within this critical touchpoint on the customer journey—and often the only interface a customer will have with an organization.

Some customer-centric organizations make it an essential activity for new leaders. At ING Direct, department leaders spend a month in the contact center jacking in with agents and listening to calls—and even handling customer complaints. They not only develop a better understanding of the frontline agent’s job, they realize how their own processes impact the contact center, and ultimately, the customer experience.

It doesn’t need to be a month-long commitment to have an effect. The contact center leadership team at Unilever found that a well-planned open house could make a significant impact. Various brand teams were invited into the center for an afternoon. The teams were given an overview of the types of information the center collected and how the frontline agents interacted with callers. Each brand team was asked to discuss the new products being released with the frontline agents so that they could offer their suggestions and ideas (an incredibly valuable resource!).

After the open house, contact center leadership followed up with the various departments to reinforce the idea that the center was willing and able to do more to support each area in improving their performance through customized reports and customer data.

Encourage the Entire Organization to Walk in the Customer’s Shoes

At BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the Customer Experience team created a very unique activity designed to help non-customer-facing functions develop a better understanding of the customer service advocate’s role, and to understand how what they do impacts what happens in the contact center. They set up a call-listening room next to the employee cafeteria. Continue reading

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

Execs In The Know Updated Advisory Board Announcement

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA. April 22, 2015 – Execs In The Know, advocates for the Customer Service Professional, have announced two new additions to their 2015 Advisory Board. LeAnne Crocker, Director – Global Reservation Operations Design and Learning Communications at Hyatt, and Scott Shute, Vice President of Global Customer Operations at LinkedIn, will join the 11 Customer Service Leaders that currently sit on the Advisory Board.

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“Joining the Advisory Board of Execs In The Know was a conscious decision to be involved with likeminded senior executives, who have the same drive, determination and motivation that we have, in delivering authentic customer engagement through hospitality,” said LeAnne Crocker. “Both internal and external customer social communication connections help us do what is right, at the right time, in the right place.” Continue reading