Customer EngagementKathleen's Corner

Dear Santa … from the Contact Center

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good Contact Center this year, so I am writing to let you know what I want for Christmas. I bet that many other good Contact Centers want the same!

Kathleen Peterson
Kathleen Peterson

First of all, could you bring some nice new chairs for my agents? The frontline folks sit in their chairs throughout their shifts day in and day out. If the chairs are crummy, run down, and old my agents experience all kinds of discomfort which makes them want to get up and walk around. So some new chairs would help their comfort and their productivity.

Could you also bring us a vision? The Contact Center toils throughout the year to meet its metrics and all that, but if there were a clear vision my Contact Center might not feel lost.

How about a virtual light to shine on all the achievement the Contact Center brings to the enterprise? It seems that not many folks understand all the good work we do.

An executive champion would be nice; they could visit occasionally and see the Contact Center environment for themselves. A real champion would return to the executive suite and tell all the other executives about the great work being done – sometimes with limited resources – and help make a case for necessary investments. Not to mention … they could maybe keep the CFO from looking to the Contact Center for cuts to improve profit margins!

As for other departments, we would love to have our IT department understand us better … at least enough so they include us in technology discussions related to tools to be used by our Contact Center. You see Santa, sometimes they just go out and buy stuff that really screws us up – like a new phone system that is short on features we need. But they didn’t know because we were not included in any discussions. It is kind of like your elves redoing your sleigh without consulting you and making it nice and streamlined for air travel. But they forgot that you needed some big space to carry your cargo (gifts)!

And while we are on the subject, please make Marketing see us in the Contact Center as partners with whom they eagerly share information about upcoming campaigns and activities. We feel a bit weary from finding out about special offers from the people calling! It would be easy to just let us know so we can staff properly and give really good reports on campaign effectiveness.

Smart Desktop technology would also be nice because all my agents could do what they call a “single sign on.” This would stop the pain in the butt aspect of manually managing a bunch of open applications with varying timeouts, passwords, and navigation rules. Make the desktop interface easy to use … then we would enjoy fewer errors and faster handle times.

How about some dual monitors? Even with Smart Desktop technology, most Contact Center agents will be abundantly more efficient utilizing dual monitors.

Here in the Contact Center we talk and talk all day long, so hydration is really important. Some nice branded water bottles, tightly covered, and allowed in the cubicle would help a lot. And actually providing the water to fill the bottles would be a WOW for the front line!

More training would be great because all our agents love to learn. If we could only offer some cool learning experiences like voice training. Maybe Santa, you could send someone from a local theatre troupe or university to help us have the very best, most appealing voice quality ever! And because we need to write answers to email and chat contacts, we would like to improve our writing skills. My guess is that there are all kinds of teachers who would be willing to help. Maybe during the summer while they are off and we are slow, a course or two could be offered! Actually, we welcome any kind of training.

And while we are talking about training, how about easy access to knowledge needed to handle contacts? I know my list is getting kind of long Santa and I promise this is it … knowledge is key to our agents’ ability to engage and resolve issues. It is quite impossible to teach the front line everything they need to know; tools must be available to assist the agent who is assisting the caller. Far too often the knowledge the front line requires is not easily obtainable; this causes errors and delays in determining solutions. Some agents become “naughty” because they get frustrated and anxious. So handy and easy-to-use job aids would be great. And Santa, you would only have to bring the “suggestion.” I am sure that a skilled group of agents would be best to design the tools; this way they will feel a part of the solution.

The Quality program could use some upgrades – like better training for the coaches. And could you ask them to stop using phrases like “when I was a rep?” No one cares or is motivated by what this person did. Also, if the Quality program could expand beyond trying to improve one agent at a time and look at things like speech analytics to improve processes and identify and track trends, the entire Contact Center could improve. That would be powerful!!
Now Santa, there is just one more thing (really). Could you bring our leaders some common sense? They need to stop asking us to do things that confuse our agents … like telling the front line to sell more and at the same time make each call shorter!

Whew … I have to tell you Santa, this is only the top of my list. But at least it’s a start. Thank you, Santa. Happy Holidays!

The Contact Center

PowerHouse Consulting, Inc.

– Reprinted with permission from PowerHouse Consulting, Inc. ,

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