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An Unending Stream of Challenges That We Need to Manage

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Each month, we’re featuring a member of ICMI’s Strategic Advisory Board. This group of industry thought leaders, practitioners, and solution providers helps ICMI keep tabs on customer insights and contact center market developments, and ensures that our content offerings are aligned with industry best practices and that our products evolve at pace to serve the community, and grow industry relationships.


This month, we’re featuring Rebecca Gibson of Gibson Learning and Performance. With over 20 years of contact center experience, Rebecca has worked in HR and recruiting, training and development, software product design, and consulting leadership.

Could you describe your current role?

I’m a learning and performance consultant with my own company, Gibson Learning and Performance. I’m fascinated by the employee experience of working in a contact center – the good, the bad and the ugly - so my specialty is the human performance side of contact centers, including employee experience and engagement, training and development, hiring and retention. I have extensive experience with quality, technology, and process improvement projects, especially as they relate to how contact center tools and processes support employees’ ability to engage in meaningful human interactions.

I love creative, collaborative work, the people in this industry, and the day-to-day work needed to create better experiences for employees and customers.

What, in your opinion, are the characteristics of someone who is successful long-term in this industry?

The people I know who have been successful in the industry are comfortable with complexity. Contact center management presents us with an unending stream of challenges that we probably won’t solve completely but we need to manage - recruiting, hiring, onboarding, incentivizing and motivating, and staffing. Successful contact center leaders have the tenacity needed to keep grinding away against roadblocks and keep their focus fixed on strategic goals.

Managing a contact center is a balancing act between the needs of the business, the needs of the customer, and the needs of our employees, especially where they conflict. Being able to hold all these viewpoints at once and balance their needs at any given time is so important. This requires tough decisions when conflicts inevitably arise, and leaders who are skilled communicators to put those decisions into context for partners, customers, and employees.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with those who are just setting out on a career path in the contact center industry?

I meet so many smart, hardworking supervisors who are singularly focused on the “people” side of the business, and who lack proficiency in basic math, statistics, reporting, and workforce management concepts. While you can go far with great people skills, the sky is the limit if you can also rock an excel spreadsheet and are comfortable analyzing the data beyond canned reports. Comfort with data analysis can position contact center professionals to make a persuasive business case, differentiate themselves from their peers, and wow leaders with their insight. I’d like to see more companies offer remedial education in these topics to foster the next generation of well- rounded leaders.

There have been so many changes in the contact center industry, both because of new technology and because of the COVID-19 crisis. How do you feel those changes will shape the industry in the next decade?

This past year has underscored the extent to which every contact operation is dependent on the capabilities of frontline team members. While wait times were high, and we were scrambling behind the scenes, it was frontline employees who held it together and came through for us and our customers. I’m a believer in the capabilities of technology to make our service better, faster, and cheaper, but it was the strength of human connections (and some great cloud technologies) that kept the wheels on the bus the last few years.

As we move forward, I hope every contact center leader continues to keep frontline employees in the forefront of key decisions, and seriously consider how we can permanently elevate these roles and demonstrate our belief in their value.

It’s clear by your participation on the board that you believe in the role of mentorship in the contact center industry. Can you share a valuable lesson you learned from a mentor, and share who that mentor was?

Mentorship is so important to all of us in this industry – especially because there isn’t an established, linear career path in many organizations. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Marilyn Saulnier, a former ICMI consultant who went on to launch the internal consulting team at Genesys, a few times! I’m a nose-to-the-grindstone consultant who loves process, documentation, and schedules. Over the years, Marilyn showed me the importance of building and maintaining relationships and staying connected to others, not only for professional networking and mentorship (all important!), but to build the connections and channels that ensure projects run more smoothly and the right information is shared. When I’m in a bind on a project or frustrated with slipping schedules, I always hear her voice encouraging me to reach out - “Pick up the phone!”