How many of you reading this chose contact center management as your career?
Like many of you, I “fell” into this industry. I had just graduated college, was willing to take pretty much any job I could find, and landed at a company that had recently launched a large call center. Back then, simply having a call center was cutting edge, and this was appealing to someone starting a career. As I moved into different roles, I realized how challenging and promising the environment was, and stuck with it ever since.
Few professions require such wellrounded skillsets. Every day puts both sides of the brain to the test, and those that have enjoyed success in our industry are exceptionally adept at juggling demands. Leaders looking for the easy way out need not apply.
You would think an industry requiring such highly skilled people, thriving across the globe in terms of size, would be viewed as a top career destination for achievement-focused management professionals. In some regions, and in some companies, it is. In too many regions and too many companies, it simply is not.
The reasons for this lack of status are varied and are much more opinion than fact. At its core, I believe, are four missing ingredients that have held us back over the years:
PROGRAMS AND DEGREES AT MAJOR UNIVERSITIES. Yes, some programs can be found, but you would have to look hard for them. At most major educational institutions, there is no path to our industry that would capture the attention of a young, eager, promising student who hasn’t yet committed to a career.
A DIRECT LINE TO THE “C” LEVEL. Yes, some companies have recently instituted a Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Unfortunately, they are more the exception than the norm. Usually, contact centers follow some jagged path to the top that might end at CIO, or CMO or COO. The fact that there is little agreement on where we should report is not a good sign.
AN APPEALING STARTING POINT. Yes, some companies truly value frontline agents, paying them well and showing high regard for their opinions. Many don’t, and this has created an image that puts “call center rep” just slightly ahead of “fast-food employee” in the minds of many.
A STRONG ADVOCACY GROUP THAT BRINGS THE PROFESSION TOGETHER. Yes, we have a few networking and similar type groups. Human Resource professionals have the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), with over 275,000 members in 160 countries and an advertising budget that puts them on television fairly often. We have nothing that even remotely compares to that.
A JOB IS SOMETHING YOU ACCEPT. A PROFESSION IS SOMETHING YOU CHOOSE.
Let’s not walk the plank just yet—all is not lost. Those of us in the know realize this is a pretty good gig. Our jobs are important and challenging, and compensation at supervisory and management ranks is fairly good and getting better. Service is increasingly seen as a competitive differentiator, and that trend will serve us well in the future.
Raise Our Image
A job is something you accept. A profession is something you choose. The work we do is far too important to be left to people that are simply filling jobs. Raising the image of our profession will serve to lift the opportunities for everyone who has found their way to our industry.
Jay Minnucci is Founder and President of the independent consulting firm Service Agility.
– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline, http://www.contactcenterpipeline.com