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“Behind every data point there is a human being.”

Each year, ICMI is helped by the ICMI Strategic Advisory Board. This group of industry thought leaders helps us evaluate our publications, training, and connections.

We like to get to know each member of the board. This month, we offer a few questions of Murphy Fraser, Senior Consultant, Strategy & Operations at TTEC Digital. Here's what she had to say.


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?  

I remember my first ICMI event like it was yesterday. I remember how much I learned, of course, but really what stays with me most is the relationships I made. In fact, I met my current boss at ICMI Connections in Chicago back in 2019! ICMI has helped foster friendships, mentorships, and incredible opportunities to speak, write, and present that I never would have imagined only a few years ago. For that, I will always be grateful.  

The contact center industry is just a really special place. Whether you are just getting started or you've built your career in this space, it's critical to pay it forward by reinvesting in those that have invested in you. Someone else's willingness to give back, whether it be advice, guidance, or perspective, might save someone from giving up early in their career. At the end of the day, we are all just people helping people. You never know what opportunity might unfold through or within this community – that's why I am so honored to serve on the Strategic Advisory Board this year.  

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

My lesson has appeared in both successes and challenges and continues to appear as my career has developed and shifted. It's all about creativity – nurturing it, embracing it, fostering it, and letting it lead. Some of the best projects I've led or initiatives I've championed have come from creative sparks. Some of the projects I've led that have been less successful or poorly received have lacked imagination.  

Sometimes it feels easier to take the less creative path – check the boxes, fulfill the requirements as they're listed, or venture down the road commonly traveled. When we choose creativity, give ourselves time and space to think without boundaries, and aren't afraid to be seen as silly or a little wild, that's often where the magic comes from.  

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

Emotional intelligence, 100%. The what, the how, and the why behind what is handled by humans in the contact center will continue to evolve, and in an increasingly digital and self-service world, it will be a brand's ability to truly connect with its customers through human interaction that will differentiate beyond what will eventually become table stakes technical capabilities. Without emotional intelligence, the chances of a truly meaningful human-to-human connection are reduced in the contact center. Technology affords us many, many amazing things, but there is still no true comparison to a human's touch when in need of care, service, or support for certain touchpoints. For now, at least!

From a more business and operational lens, a leader's ability to craft and deliver high-quality business cases will be critical to create buy-in and secure resources for meaningful investments in contact center people, process, and technology. Skillsets around storytelling, quantifying outcomes, and influence will be very important to hone. For those earlier in their career, begin developing them now! They will help you stand out and will open doors for you to champion your team, your customers, and the health of your program or operation.  

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

In my early days as a contact center supervisor in a tech startup, I helped one of my direct reports get a job working on the engineering team. He was a great contact center agent, but was hungry for more. It spurred the creation of a more formalized career growth and shadowing program in the company, resulting in many more contact center employees finding new opportunities in other areas of the business more closely aligned to their field of study, which did wonders for their professional development, our overall retention rate, and helped leadership really reinforce its commitment to personal and professional growth. To see many folks this program helped thriving now in their careers brings me a lot of joy.  

In my consulting career now, the opportunity I've had to support the build of an amazing contact center consultancy is humbling and brings a lot of pride. As we've scaled, grown, and optimized our offerings, we've continued to maintain a uniquely technology-agnostic and people-centric approach to delivering value to our clients. I'm proud of our commitment to consulting differently, and how I've found a career that enables me to deliver value in a manner aligned to my own personal values.  

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? 

Consultants can never just give one piece of advice, so here are two pieces of advice!  

First: Numbers require narrative. Behind every data point there is a human being, a story, an outcome, or moment that matters. Data is critical to effective decision making, should be used effectively, and is a powerful tool in your belt! Your ability to marry the qualitative with the quantitative, to bring humanity to analyses, and to storytell with experience outcomes at the core will position you to be effective and enable you to build trust with your people – your leaders, your customers, and your employees.  

Second: "Progress not perfection" is a mantra that saves a lot of stress and affirms that we are all humans, often doing the best we can with the resources we have or circumstances we find ourselves within. Putting one foot in front of the other, some days, is far more impactful than rushing to finish the race. In the contact center, it shows up everywhere – training, performance management activities, technology implementation and adoption. If you're too worried about being perfect instead of achieving incremental progress, you miss out on opportunities for areas of continuous refinement, optimization, and improvement. Embody this spirit when working with your people, when launching a project, or when investing in something new. Be gracious with yourself, too! Your people will respect your commitment to progress over perfection, perhaps more than you'll ever know.