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3 Contact Center "Best Practices" That Need To Be Updated

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Brian Cantor

Cliches are generally cliches for a reason.

Sometimes, however, they overstay their welcome.  Sometimes they fail to capture the nuances of modern day business and society.

When that happens, it is time to provide updated perspectives.

That is exactly what we did for three popular contact center adages.


Concept: Never say "no" to a customer.

Update: Never say "no" to a customer when there is more value in saying yes.

Contrary to a common misconception, one need not abandon good business sense in order to be customer-centric.

One does not have to say "yes" to ridiculously costly, impractical demands simply because a customer requested them.  One does not have to fear "firing" a rude customer if the burden of satisfying the individual outweighs the potential value of the relationship.

A business can absolutely say "no" to a customer -- even in the era of customer centricity.

"No" only became a dirty word due to the context it which it was being used.  Agents would instantly reject requests based on company policy -- even if the request was reasonable, practical and likely to create a more valuable relationship with the customer.

Some still fall victim to this tendency.  They try to broadly apply generic, antiquated rules, ignoring the nuances and stakes of each situation.

It is that behavior - not the word "no" - that violates the idea of customer centricity.

Saying "no" is fine if it is the most appropriate answer for the specific situation -- and unlikely to damage a valuable relationship.

It can even be valuable if the business educates the customer on why it said "no," before offering alternative solutions that are worthwhile for the customer and feasible for the business.

The “best practice” is not to refrain from saying no.  It is to weigh the upside of saying no against the downside of saying yes (or vice versa).


Concept: Culture is the key to a great customer experience.

Update: The agent experience is the key to a great customer experience.

At first glance, the concepts may seem similar.  Many thought leaders treat "culture" and the "agent experience" as synonyms.

In actuality, they are very different.  Culture is but one driver of the agent experience, and it is not even a particularly big one.

Factors that empower the agent at work -- coaching, strong knowledgebases, integrated systems, task automation -- make a far more notable impact on the agent experience.  These factors, ultimately, determine the agent's satisfaction with the contact center environment.

And insofar as agent satisfaction correlates with customer satisfaction, these "empowerment" focuses need to be viewed as paramount priorities.

If an organization is making day-to-day work difficult for its agents, it is almost certainly making the experience suboptimal for customers.



Concept: Unify all contact channels.

Update: Unify the customer experience journey.

Creating a seamless experience across all channels is important, but it is a decidedly dated concept.   In today's omnichannel world, there is nothing special about allowing customers to easily move between channels.

There is, however, value in unifying key customer experience "moments of truth."

Too often, businesses fragment their interactions with customers.  Marketing, sales, service, retention and winback efforts are all treated as isolated functions.

Customers and agents, as a result, must exert more effort during the engagement experience.  At best, that additional effort is frustrating.

At worst, the effort discourages customers and agents from participating in all forms of engagement.  That can have tangible consequences for the busines.

A customer asked to go to a separate website to fill out a feedback survey, as an example, may simply refrain from giving feedback.

If that happens, the company gains less insight about its customers -- and thus less ammunition for driving improvements.