Filed under: Customer Service
Are call centers white collar sweat shops? (continued)
written by Dave Murray
Senior Customer Service Consultant for The DiJulius Group
So how do we split the difference? What is the right level of management? How do we hold people accountable for maximizing their time with Customers, but still let them move at a pace comfortable to them? How do we give our employees the autonomy to solve problems, but not give away the store?
The answer is simple, but not easy, because it requires some work. We need to take the time to help our employees be prepared. Prepared to fix what can go wrong, prepared to perform their job at the optimal level, and prepared to go above and beyond to WOW a Customer when the opportunity arises. The key word here is prepared. We cannot simply expect our employees to recognize these things, nor can we expect to tell them once during an orientation and expect it to stick. It also does not mean we can train employees once and expect them to maintain proper habits.
What we need to do, rather, is to create a system that all employees can use to consistently recognize and address defects, our standards, and above & beyond opportunities. The better prepared our employees are to handle situations that arise everyday, the more time we have to manage behind the scenes. This allows us more opportunity to monitor agent activity to ensure all team members are pulling their weight – without micro managing. It allows us to ensure that our staffing levels are correct – ensuring that our best ambassadors are not over stressed and over burdened because we do not have enough people hired and trained (A HUGE problem in the call center world). This all sounds great, but how do we deliver these tools?
I recommend two methods to begin the process, but be warned, both will take an investment of time and human resources. The first step in the process is getting your team together to create your Customer Experience Cycle, or CEC. Creating your CEC is basically mapping your Customer’s touch points with your team. Once you have identified what these touch points are, you then dissect each one, looking for what can and does go wrong (Service Defects), what we need to do on each and every call (our operational and service standards), and ways we can surprise and delight our Customers (Above & Beyond opportunities). Going through this workshop with your front-line team is truly an eye-opening experience, for both you and your team. A renewed sense of purpose begins to grow as excitement builds. Your team becomes re-energized to do their job – and to do it well.
While this is a great start to the process, it is just that – the start. You cannot expect the momentum you have just created to be maintained without consistent re-enforcement. This is where the second piece comes in: daily huddles. Now before you start saying “that will never work here because…” (and I know you will, because I have heard all of the excuses, and made some of them myself,) think about the gold standard of service, The Ritz Carlton. They hold a huddle, or in their world, a Stand-up, each and every day. So does Chick-fil-A. Each company has gotten past the fact that not everyone will be present each and every day. They have gotten past the fact that they have multiple shift starting times throughout the day. What they have done is used this platform to consistently focus on their service values, discuss things that went wrong (and how they were fixed), and celebrate success stories – every day.
The process that I just outlined promotes autonomy and a strong sense of ownership within your team, while being a great team-building exercise to boot. Creating your CEC, and then re-enforcing it on a daily basis will give your team a renewed sense of purpose. Thanks to the huddles, this will not wear-off over time, but rather transform your culture into one where Above & Beyond is the norm.
I look forward to hearing from you with results, and I am happy to help you in your journey by answering any questions that you may have.