Sign up to get full access to all our latest content, research, and network for everything customer contact.

Customer Contact To-Do List: What Supervisors, VPs and Executives Can Do Right Now

Brian Cantor

Deep down, you know the customer experience is about the long game.  You know that the most productive, customer-centric operations require a thorough vision, methodical planning and carefully calibrated execution.  Customer centricity, to put it simply, does not happen overnight.

You also live in a world driven by irrefutable numbers, unmistakable progress and undeniable results.  Key business stakeholders are not going to spend years waiting for the fruits of your contact center labor; they want to see “quick wins.”  Customers are not going to spend years enduring bad experiences hoping that you will one day deliver a great experience; they want to be satisfied right now.

No one, therefore, is going to blame you for operating with urgency when it comes to customer contact strategy.  Our CCW Nashville event is, in fact, designed to honor this urgency.

Many of our sessions are predicated on delivering actionable, relevant, practical tips you can adopt in the near term.  Our speakers will surely discuss big picture, holistic changes and aspirations, but they will not ask you to wait to take action.  Their goals will align with your goals – to spur urgent action and empower immediate results.

Granted, CCW Nashville is still a few months away.  In the spirit of immediacy, we wanted to share some actions you can take before joining us in Nashville this January.

Action for Managers (Supervisors, Team Leaders, etc): Create a Voice of the Agent Program

Given that they interact directly with your customers, agents have unique insight into customer behavior, preferences and emotions.  If you want to connect with your customers, pay close attention to your agents.

Given that they ultimately execute your customer experience strategy, agents require an empowering contact center environment.  If you want your agents to perform for your customers, make sure you are performing for them.

Collectively, these concepts underscore the importance of the voice of the agent.  Agents are uniquely qualified to tell you about the sentiment of your customer, the value of the experience journey, and the efficacy of your customer contact operation.

As a manager, you play a vital role in cultivating this intelligence.  You can identify the factors that are impacting agent performance.  You can also empower agents to collect – and share – the most useful customer data.

There are several steps to success:

  • Make “customer feedback” a key part of one-on-one coaching sessions and meetings.
  • Ask employees to report on customer sentiment following calls (not “was the problem solved” but “how did the customer feel”).
  • Train employees to ask key questions during customer interactions; incentivize feedback that leads to change.
  • Ask agents to score “empowerment” factors like their desktop tools, the knowledge base, and training.
  • Make “agent effort” a performance priority, and report bottlenecks to your director or VP.
  • Ask agents to lead “manager reviews” in which they identify gaps in the training and development processes.

You can implement a “voice of the agent” program within the very near term.  Once the program and associated culture are established, you can identify opportunities to incorporate analytics, automation, and e-learning solutions into the mix.   

Action for Customer Contact Leaders (Directors or VPs): Promote the FP3 Experience

Customers want a great experience.  Executives want business results.

As the intermediary between the two entities, you play a vital role in setting the vision for the customer experience.  Your goal is to deliver an experience that is, to borrow from contact center cliché, good for the customer and good for the business.

CCW Digital data identifies the FP3 experience as the optimal approach.

FP3 – frictionless, personalized, predictive, and proactive – aligns with what customers are demanding.  They want fast, easy experiences that yield resolutions on the first contact.  They also want agents to be friendly and cordial, and they hate having to repeat information.  They appreciate proactive engagement when relevant and productive.

In addition to meeting these customer demands, FP3 makes sense for the business.  Low-effort experiences – driven by predictive analytics and proactive outreach – are efficient for the business.  Personalized experiences are efficient insofar as they leverage context to create smoother interactions; they are also effective at building meaningful, lucrative relationships with customers.

The individual FP3 concepts are not foreign; as a leader, you play a vital role in aligning the concepts into a single framework.  You then have the power to operationalize the framework.  There are some urgent FP3 endeavors:

  • Coach all customer experience stakeholders on the FP3 experience.
  • Evaluate journey maps to determine “pain points” and sources of effort throughout the experience.
  • Analyze intent and “root causes” to predict why customers interact – and how you can optimize those interactions.
  • Determine what data is needed to support predictive tailoring on each call.
  • Evaluate bots that can contribute to the FP3 framework.
  • Establish metrics for effort, personalization and the efficacy of your proactive initiatives.

Adopting FP3 is a simple, easy, yet powerful transformation.  Upon making FP3 the centerpiece of your experience, you have a rubric for evaluating existing and future purchases and initiatives.

Action for Executives (CCOs or CEOs): Unify the Customer Experience

At first glance, the directive to “unify the customer experience” may simultaneously seem too dated and too broad.  The idea of breaking down silos is hardly old news for customer contact professionals.  The idea of actually eliminating those silos, however, has eluded organizations for years.

Why, then, should customer contact leaders prioritize customer experience unification?  How, then, can they actually achieve this elusive goal in the short-term?

The answer to the former is simple:  every major customer contact initiative hinges on a singular approach to the customer experience.  Omnichannel engagement requires connectivity between all channels.  Journey mapping (and orchestration) requires a singular view across all touch points.  Customer sentiment analysis requires insights from all facets of the customer experience.  Automation requires a sense of the synergy between different customer contact functions.

As an executive, you play a vital role in creating this framework.  You can create philosophical, structural and systemic alignment across all customer experience touchpoints, empowering your organization to finally (and meaningfully) optimize the overall journey.

Key action points include:

  • Stop isolating the “contact center” from “digital channels.” They are all part of the overall customer experience function, and it is your job to situate all touch points under the same “roof.”
  • Stop isolating “service” from functions like sales, marketing and customer retention. They are all part of the customer experience function, and it is your job to create strategic alignment across all teams.
  • Unify all customer contact systems, ensuring agents have a 360-degree customer view and the ability to connect with customer at all touch points. If you cannot rip and replace your existing systems, at least ensure they are integrated from an agent experience standpoint.
  • Promote collaboration between agents and departments, and provide enterprise tools that facilitate open communication.
  • Hold functional leaders accountable for “intermediate” metrics like agent effort, time to knowledge, and screen pop quality.

Customer contact leaders, managers and practitioners are bound by the environment you create.  If you create a broad-sweeping, integrated environment, you empower them to treat the experience as a holistic, unified endeavor.  You empower them to meaningfully connect and understand your customers – wherever and however they choose to connect.