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Refocusing Your Contact Center for Success - My thoughts as a speaker and attendee of ICMI’s Call Center Demo 2011

Why would you need to RE-focus your contact center for success?  Before I landed in Dallas, I was pretty sure all of us were focused on successful outcomes and working to deliver optimal solutions for our organizations.  As I type here in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport after ICMI’s Call Center Demo 2011, I understand why ICMI is working to help contact center and customer leaders RE-focus.  There are two main reasons for the need to refocus:

Contact center and customer service basics are as important as ever.

Departments that can deliver high quality customer service results, with efficiency and scale through strong people leadership are the organizations that will stand atop, especially during these turbulent economic times.  As always, it starts with people.  Tuesday kicked off with a keynote from Adrian Gostick, author of The Carrot Principle.  Adrian demonstrated that greater business results are more likely achieved when managers offered constructive praise and meaningful rewards in ways that powerfully motivated employees to excel.   Multiple sessions throughout the next two days centered around quality (monitoring, delivery, coaching), processes (Work Force Management, Voice of the Customer, metrics  management, ROI delivery) and technology (an Exhibit Hall full of vendors and plenty of tech smarties around).

Your basics need to be solid because your customer and environments are changing faster than ever.

Unless you have been hiding under the PBX in your data center, you probably have noticed the wave of changes impacting how and where you work and the increased influence of your customer on your business.  The call center and customer service industries are on the brink of some major paradigm shifts, and many are already impacting a center near you.  The two most obvious changes come from Home Agent and Social Media tools, processes and people requirements.  If you approach both Home Agent and Social Media programs like previous new technologies, you will fail.  Thursday’s keynote from Michael McMillian highlighted that leaders will need to find new ways to solve problems, and we will need to look at our centers and customer service differently to deliver a superior experience.  Besides new technologies, customers have increased expectations, and have more voice than ever to praise or tear down the products and service your organization has provided.

As a speaker focused on one of the newer changes coming, Social Media, it was great to see the hunger of the audience to know more, but also see that these changes are going to be difficult for many in our industry.  They may need to learn new ways to manage associates, work with new tools to get things done, and find new ways to measure success.  And at the same time, they will need to rely on their strengths, contact center basics.  The phone channel is not going away anytime soon (just getting a bit more mobile).  The agents are still people, with much of the same motivations.  Great customer service is still highly regarded and needed more than ever.