Down Under, But Not That Different
| Published: July 24, 2013 | Comments
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jason Metcalfe and Peter Dutton of QPC Australia, an ICMI Global Partner, to discuss the top challenges facing the Australian contact center industry. During our conversation, I uncovered that despite being 10,000 miles apart; our markets are fighting the same battles, day in and day out. Over the course of our conversation, we discussed these top challenges, reviewed some best practices, and shared stories of how contact centers have managed to rise above adversity and drive change within their organization. My hope is that by sharing these stories, we can continue to bridge the gap of the global contact center market and identify ways in which we can innovate, collaborate, and synergize across cultures and customer bases.
Jason, Peter, and I jumped right into addressing the top challenges of their market. I was dying to know, “What are hot issues facing the Australian contact center industry?” They initially identified two issues which consistently plague contact centers:
1. Quality monitoring is perceived as a negative, “big-brother” process.
2. Contact center leaders struggle with identifying the performance metrics that matter most and, more importantly, using them in effective coaching conversations and performance improvement programs.
As our conversation continued, a third challenge came to light. A challenge in which we’re all aware of and yet struggle to overcome:
3. Nobody aspires to work in a contact center and, as a result, customer service has a negative perception and struggles to be recognized as a legitimate profession.
Upon identifying these challenges (which I believe we can all agree are very real issues facing contact centers across the globe) I wanted to know more about the ways in which centers are making improvements. I’ve been exposed to a lot of best practices in the United States, but was interested to know if they proved true in Australia. (It’s important to note that I often hear that as a point of resistance from organizations around the globe, “It might work in the U.S., but that would never work in our market.”) What did I discover? The fundamentals of contact center management, quality improvement, and the role and importance of coaching remain unchanged. While there are unique motivators and drivers of employee engagement and corporate culture, we are all charged with leading our contact centers to make the connection between serving the customer with quality and providing a quality experience for our employees.
So, how is this happening in Australia? QPC’s mission is to “help organizations conquer their contact center challenges through empowering education, and dependable and innovative technology.” One of the ways that they do this is through their ongoing efforts to educate and reform the perception of quality monitoring programs. They partner with organizations to build effective quality monitoring teams and systems that focus on reinforcing positive and desired behaviors, provide a model for ongoing coaching, and open the lines of communication within the contact center. In addition to their own internal programs, QPC utilizes ICMI’s course, Advancing Contact Center Quality through Monitoring and Coaching, to break the “big-brother” perception of quality monitoring. Recent attendees of this course in Australia noted that this course equipped them with the knowledge and resources to “elevate the value of quality monitoring” and “establish a well-structured process” for delivering feedback.
Contact center metrics are always a hot topic with the ICMI community, so I was not surprised to hear that they are a hot topic in Australia. Managing a contact center, in any market, requires us to having a basic understanding of what we should be measuring and how we should be measuring it. We need to have a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental metrics that drive success in any contact center. More importantly, we need to accept and realize that human behavior will either influence or be influenced by the way in which we communicate these metrics. As leaders, it is our obligation to know the human impact and deliver our employees to a place of awareness and understanding. Are we using the numbers to tell a story? For example, can we demonstrate to an agent how does their behavior impact a particular metric? QPC utilizes ICMI’s course, Essential Skills and Knowledge for Contact Center Management, to expose contact center leaders to the fundamentals of success for any contact center.
The last challenge has been particularly difficult for QPC and the Australian contact center market and is one to which I believe we can all relate. Many organizations outright ignore, or fail to recognize, the importance of the contact center. As a result, employees in the centers often miss opportunities for growth, recognition, or reinforcement that what they do makes a difference. Jason, Peter, and I are deeply bothered by this trend and feel compelled to help elevate the perception of our industry. At the most foundational of levels, it is the reason that QPC and ICMI exist. We genuinely want to see contact centers successfully support and drive the customer experience for their organizations. We recognize that we work in a critical profession, filled with amazing professionals, who are fueled by a passion for customer service excellence. Through education, resources, and events, we will continue to provide opportunities for professionals to challenge, learn, and grow.
At the end of our call, what did I realize? None of us are alone in this crazy place known as the contact center industry. We may all come from different places, with different stories, different challenges, and different opportunities, but we aren’t that different. By taking the opportunity to share our stories, expose our vulnerabilities, and collaborate on solutions, we can build credibility and increase the value of contact centers across the globe. We really are fortunate to be such a critical part of our organizations – let’s join forces to raise our banners – for the entire world to know and see.
To learn more about QPC, visit them online at http://www.qpcaustralia.com.au/.
Learning & Development, Global Service Delivery, People Management, Customer Experience
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