The Secrets Behind Contact Centers that Scale


Scaling a contact center is often left to one person, who no matter how capable will need help to move from one to many. This article serves as a resource for CX Leaders, or those tasked with scaling CX to understand what it takes to scale.

My hope is that you can use this to share with your leadership/executive team to support your need for additional resources and to help them understand where you are and where you need to be. I’ll educate you on a few details and give you questions to ask to move things along.

Ready? Let’s go!



Customer Service vs Customer Experience

Customer Service is about specific interactions with your business from a support standpoint. Imagine a customer reaches out to you for help on a particular issue: shipping delay, how to use a product, problem with product, etc.

Customer Experience is about the overall experience with your company and covers the entire customer journey.

Customer Experience (CX) teams are made up of many different areas and each has expertise that you may or may not know exists:

  • Workforce Management

  • CRM/Ticketing (Service)

  • Processes

  • Training

  • Quality


We will walk through each and provide insights on what makes your CX ready to scale.

Workforce Management (WFM)

WFM ensures you have the right people, in the right place at the right time. It includes Forecasting, Capacity Planning, Scheduling, Tracking, Reporting & Analysis.

It’s a widely overlooked function of contact centers, but it’s necessary to scale. Whether you hire a professional to manage this area of your business on a consistent basis, or you get a quarterly plan, you need to have a process.

Here are a few characteristics of companies that are ready to scale:

  • They know how many contacts they’re expecting (by channel)

  • They know how many people they need to handle those contacts (by channel)

  • They have schedules that have staggered breaks and lunches for coverage (by channel)

  • They track their performance and compare their predictions to what’s actually happening (by channel)

  • They know how many inquiries they can handle in a given period of time

  • They have KPIs and Dashboards set up to tell a story on their performance (by channel) and they have a process by which they make adjustments when necessary.

  • They use their actual performance to adjust the expectations for how they will perform in the future.


Workforce Management: Reporting

As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets done.” You must know how to measure the customer experience and agent performance. The combination of these two items will give you the direction you need to move the dial.

If you know the following about your customer experience, you’re on the right track:

  • How long do customers wait before getting help?

  • How long does it take to resolve an issue?

  • How satisfied are your customers with engaging with you?

  • At any given moment, how many customers are waiting to hear from you? How long have they been waiting?

  • What do you consider an acceptable wait time?

If you know the following about your agent performance, you’re doing a lot of things right:

  • How many inquiries (tickets, emails, chats, calls, social, etc) were handled in a particular period?

  • Which channels (tickets, emails, chats, calls, social, etc) are particular agents strongest on?

  • When engaging with your customers, are the agents delivering the experience you expect?


CRM/Ticketing System

A ticketing system doesn’t have to exactly assign ticket numbers or feel impersonal to be effective. There is a wealth of information that comes from having a properly configured ticketing system that can inform the business on many levels. Tools used to reply to customers via Social Media fall into this bucket.

Your ticketing system should be used to track the messages received from customers so that you know the following:

  • What channels are being used to contact you?

  • What does the customer need?

  • Why did the customer have to reach out?

  • How did you resolve the issue?

  • How many messages are you receiving?

  • How long does it take to resolve the issues?


Processes

CX Managers are often criticized as being too tactical. There are a host of reasons why this may be the case, some of which may include: lack of formal training, the responsibility for more people than most other leaders, the need to balance both business objectives and people needs… I could go on.

With so many competing priorities, processes end up getting lost in the shuffle. When you’re in reactive mode, you can only focus on what’s in front of you and you can’t get ahead to think of how things should go.

You’ll know your processes are good when:

  • You’ve integrated technology into your workflows to make them more efficient.

  • Your processes are efficient and do not include unnecessary steps. Always ask “Why are we doing this?” before deciding if a step should be added.

  • Your processes are documented (step by step and process docs) and they’re stored in a place where your team can reach them when needed.


Training

We underestimate the power of a good learning experience. We think that sitting a new hire next to the best performer on the team will teach them to do the work the way you want them to learn. Sure, this will get you by for a moment, but what happens when you have to hire two or more new employees?

It’s always best to have your best person document their workflow. That way you can turn it into Learning and teach others.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to know if you’re ready to scale:

  • Can I hire 5 people tomorrow and be confident they will know how to do the work?

  • Does my training show new hires what it means to work here (culture, norms, expectations)?

  • Does the training explain our philosophy on customer experience (beyond how to do the work)?

  • Does the training explain our tools and how they’re used and why?

  • Have I incorporated different learning styles by using audio, video, quizzes, hands on activities and other interactions?

  • Did I include a way to get people hands on and add value within the first few days?


Quality

After we get people properly trained on your ways and your tools, you need to make sure the experience you’ve designed is actually being delivered. You can do this with a great quality program.

You’ll know you have a pretty good quality program if you know the following:

  • What does it mean to deliver a good experience (tone, actions, brand friendly words/phrases)?

  • Where opportunities lie within your team (at a people level) when engaging with customers, and you have documentation and a path to help correct or improve the process.

  • (Optional) Your program is quantifiable in some way.




Conclusion

When scaling CX, you have to have a team in place to help you move the dial. It’s impossible to be in the past, present and future and focus on people, process and tech at the same time. But that doesn’t stop the expectation. Use this article as an opportunity to educate others on what it really takes to build for scale!


If you need help deploying any of these strategies, set up your intro call today!