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“Their success is my success.”

Each year, ICMI is assisted in its mission to support the contact center community by a group of thought leaders in the industry. We are taking the opportunity to ask a few questions of the members of the ICMI Strategic Advisory Board. Here, we talk to Karin Martin, Assistant Vice President, Operations at Arbella.

Thank you for agreeing to be a part of ICMI’s Strategic Advisory Board. Why do you think it’s important to give back to the contact center community?  

Contact centers are an integral part of any business. Whether the contact center is responsible for sales or service, the individuals working there are representing the company brand. We all know and understand that high customer satisfaction leads to increased profitability to an organization. Working with and contributing to a contact center community allows us to look at trends, identify common challenges, and identify solutions that are effective across a plethora of industries. Giving back to the contact center community allows you to also learn from the contact center community.

What lesson did you learn from your biggest success in your career? And from the biggest challenge (that you’d like to share)?

Building a high-energy, fast-paced environment and keeping morale up is not easy. One of the biggest successes is likely the culture we built in our contact center. By changing everything from the profile we use to hire to coaching our staff with our data as opposed to using the data as a performance metric, our employees were highly motivated to work together. Our turnover is low and our customer and employee satisfaction scores are high. The independent insurance agent network we serve tells us we set the standard for service. There was a lot of hard work that went into achieving that accolade. Our people truly liked coming in every day and working together.

Unfortunately when we were forced to move to a work-from-home environment with COVID we, like most companies, were challenged. We were faced with moving our technology to allow our representatives to work from home. However even more challenging was having a group of people who thrived on being together now working from home. We needed to coach our folks not only on the job but on how to deal with the isolation and how to deal with the customers who were becoming increasingly frustrated. We had to do this while trying to maintain the standards we had become known for, and we knew in order to achieve that goal we needed to keep morale high. It was challenging to say the least, but we thrived and came out a better team for it.

In your opinion, what skill or skills will be most needed in the next decade in this industry?

Contact enter professionals will always need the passion and drive to want to help others. Some might argue this isn’t a skill, but it is the basis of what we do. To deliver we will need to be flexible and willing to change. Technology is moving fast. The way to deliver and interact with others is changing rapidly, and with it customer expectations are changing just as quickly. As a result, we will need to be more technical and more flexible to continue to meet the customer where they want to be met.

What are you most proud of in your career, and why?

Some of the things I enjoy most about my job are the people I get to work with and the relationships I have the opportunity to build and work in. My team in the contact centers need to know a lot. They need to know our systems, our products, our procedures and our strategy. They deliver on our brand with each contact. We build individual development plans that help create a career path for each employee. I have been able to showcase their talents through our entire organization. Many of our contact center employees have moved into leadership or to other areas of the company in new and developing roles. The contact centers have become known as a talent pool at my company. We have provided successful candidates to every functional area of the organization. Their success is my success.

You find yourself in a room full of contact center professionals and you have the opportunity to give them just one piece of advice to set them up for success. What would you say?

Listen and learn. Listen to your customers, your teams, your leaders, your peers, and, most importantly, each other. Obtaining a 360-degree view and acting on what you find will make you and your contact center successful.