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An Easy Way to Get Your Team Ready for a Productive 2019

One of the biggest challenges I see in contact centers is that the frenetic pace and limited offline time makes it difficult for teams to find time to think. It's tempting to settle for "good enough" processes or to continue with outdated policies that hurt the customer experience because there's no time to think about alternatives. Without time to think strategically, results stagnate, and customer and employee frustration grows.

If you want 2019 to be your best year ever, you need a way to tap into the wisdom of your team.

Your team has ideas that will improve your CX. How do I know this? Because every single time I've done focus groups in a contact center and asked a few strategic questions, amazing, totally practical, ideas start to flow. When I ask why they haven't shared them before, the answer is almost always the same, "no one asked."

Today I'm sharing my favorite technique for encouraging "how can we make it better" conversations. I've used this technique with executive teams in contact centers to help in their strategic planning efforts, at the OM level to improve performance, and at the team level to address specific performance challenges such as lack of empathy or off the chain. You can use it too. You just need a bit of offline time and an open mind.

The Own the U.G.L.Y. Strategic Conversation to Start the Year Strong

This technique works well in contact centers because it doesn't have to happen in one sitting. You can introduce the exercise in one huddle, letting your team know what's coming. Then each week you can ask them to come prepared to answer one of the four strategic questions. The key is to ensure the team stays focused on areas they can influence (e.g., raising the hourly rate is probably not a productive discussion at most levels).


Four Strategic Questions to Ask For a Better 2019

U- What are we Underestimating?

The allure of the new contact center that just opened down the road, with their flex scheduling, free breakfasts, and tuition assistance? The destruction the new supervisor is doing to our culture? The amount of management training our new supervisors need to be successful?

G- What's Gotta Go?

What are we doing now that doesn't make sense anymore? What processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting our time? What must we stop doing so we can focus on the most important things?

L- Where are we Losing?

Where are we still under-performing despite our best efforts? Why are our best agents leaving? Why is employee engagement so low?

Y- Where are we missing the Yes?

What must we say "Yes" to in 2019? What new opportunities are yearning for our attention? Where must we invest more deeply?


Teams admire managers who "own the ugly." Winning Well managers have the confidence and humility to go there-- to start the conversation, and then listen deeply to the solutions.