Contact Centre Wars: Efficiency vs. Quality
Nobody wants to believe there is a war raging within their contact centre, however between the business that cite delivering a superior Customer Experience as a strategic imperative, the rising economic pressures and the demands of rapid digitalisation, contact centres are at war with themselves.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the enormous divide that still exists between Workforce Management and Quality Management practices.
With increasing cost pressure and complexity, workforce specialists must maintain a laser-like focus on service level achievement, uncovering multi-channel efficiency gains and harnessing their evolving digital capability.
Effective quality teams deploy evaluation methodologies that reflect key drivers of Customer Satisfaction as outputs and, operate as an enabler to translate their customer’s feedback into the active intelligence needed for business improvement.
Managers need to create a paradigm shift to drive efficiency differently in the context of its impact on Customer Experience.
Whilst workforce seeks every means possible to maximise agent productivity and reduce time to serve, quality teams find themselves pleading for agent coaching time and better operational engagement on service improvement initiatives.
Securing an appropriate platform to affect meaningful change in the face of seemingly conflicting priorities is an ongoing battle:
- Coaching sessions are dropped from Workforce Management schedules to preserve Service Levels, or worse excluded from the planning process altogether.
- Average Handle Time is used as a measure of individual agent performance despite its detrimental impact on Customer Experience.
- Agent to Team Leader ratios are increasing, sometimes aggressively, to reduce costs leaving even less time for employee engagement.
- Agents, now supporting customers on unfamiliar channels, have less support than ever before and must rely on self-education for on-the-job learning.
The question is: “Are the efficiency practices that are designed to ensure profitability actually placing businesses at risk?”
Efficiency, when interpreted and applied correctly, has always been a powerful Customer Enabler. The 2017 Dimension Data Global Benchmarking Report indicates that both Ease of Resolution (Customer Effort) and Ease of Contact (Choice/Accessibility) count the most when it comes to Customer Satisfaction.
Contact centre managers need to create a paradigm shift to drive efficiency differently in the context of its impact on Customer Experience rather than in the operational terms of “Speed to Answer” and “Handle Time”.
When contact centre agents understand the impact of efficiency through the eyes of the customer, they understand the impact of the experience created on every interaction, in every channel and they start to behave differently. Calls waiting become customers queuing and the amount of effort a customer must expend to be assisted, becomes the incentive to deliver an easy and efficient experience on every interaction. It’s the Psychology of Service.
When Workforce and Quality teams work as one seamless function, the results are undeniable.
So how do Contact Centres make this shift?
The 2017 Dimension Data Global Benchmarking Report states that “Organisations struggle between a strategic desire to evolve and a silo operating model that hinders digital and workforce optimisation” To create this shift, contact centres must consider the cross-functional integration of their Support Service teams an operational imperative.
When Workforce and Quality teams work as one seamless function, the results are undeniable. Accountable and aligned to the same customer-centric performance metrics which seamlessly cascade through every layer of the contact centre, these two functions become one allied force in ensuring a simultaneous uplift in both Customer Experience and Business Performance.
With a shared understanding that efficiency, when interpreted correctly, is synonymous with Customer Experience, specialists can work together to create the necessary outcomes through sustainable means rather than relying purely on real-time management to obtain results. These include a focus on people and product development and process and technology optimisation.
The result is a peaceful and productive co-existence between everyone in the contact centre.