Key Takeaway: Contact center leaders need to make sure the overall culture and environment makes customer service the top priority.
Culture is an underappreciated element of customer engagement. Combining the best people, the best tools and the best strategies will go a long way toward delivering a top-tier customer experience, but it's impossible to reach the full potential unless the culture innately encourages best practices and genuine enthusiasm. The previous blog focused on extending the corporate culture into the contact center, but it's just as important to encourage the right kind of culture.
Engagement expert Chester Elton recently discussed this issue in a conversation with 1to1 Media. As Elton made clear, a client-centric culture - both in the contact center and beyond - will have a tremendous impact on the customer experience.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether or not a company has a customer-focused culture. According to Elton, one of the most important issues to consider is stability. He explained that customers really appreciate it when their concerns are addressed in a consistent, knowledgeable way. That's difficult for a lot of firms, though, because employee turnover has become so frequent - a fact that's especially pronounced among contact centers. When short tenures become typical for a company's call center, that's a strong sign that the culture is not nearly customer-focused enough.
"A great best practice I have seen is that early on, there are aspirational conversations with new employees," he told the source.
By paying attention to workers' career trajectories early on, contact center managers and other corporate leaders can demonstrate that they're invested in their personnel, and that should encourage those employees to stick around longer. Additionally, Elton explained that developing this type of environment will help to attract better candidates, which will further improve both the culture and overall performance.
"While you're being customer-centric, don't forget that you need to be employee-centric. You can't deliver a great customer experience if you have an awful workplace," said Elton, the source reported.
Another option here is to embrace gamification. As this blog previously emphasized, gamification is an excellent fit for the contact center, encouraging superior agent performance in an engaging way. By specifically focusing on developing contests that highlight customer service excellence - for example, tracking and rewarding agents with the best customer satisfaction KPIs - leaders can further direct their agents in a customer-focused direction.
Another strategy for both improving employee retention and empowering those workers to better respond to customer needs and wants is to invest in personalized agent training and coaching. As this blog post noted, high-quality training can help to ensure that agents are engaged with their work and experience the motivation needed to thrive.
If agents are left to perform without feedback, they won't know where they are excelling and where they are struggling, and they won't feel that drive to improve, which is crucial for a customer-focused culture.
To deliver this type of feedback, speech analytics can prove invaluable, as this Engagement Optimization post emphasized. Critically, an effective speech analytics solution will provide an objective, detailed view of agent performance. Objectivity is crucial because it ensures that every agent receives fair treatment - and, just as importantly, these personnel recognize that they aren't subject to bias. A detailed view is just as key, allowing managers and supervisors to identify the specific areas where agents may be struggling.
Contact center leaders can then use this analysis to determine which agents need what kind of training. This approach will make sure that employees receive the insight, guidance and education they need to fully embrace a customer-centric culture.
Elton also pointed to leadership as a key factor when developing a more customer-focused culture.
"Culture starts with leadership," he told 1to1 Media. "Leaders have to set the parameters for culture and then empower employees to act on the company's values and share with them what the rules are."
When leaders fully embrace the customer experience in all of their decisions, a customer-focused culture is sure to follow.
What steps have you taken to encourage a customer-first contact center culture?