Key Takeaway: Your contact center is part of your company, and so it should reflect the corporate culture. If this isn't the case - and it often isn't - you need to change the status quo.
Few business leaders would argue against the importance of corporate culture for achieving broader organizational success. Businesses often see their corporate culture as key to understanding what the company is, what it stands for and what it hopes to achieve, and it's a critical selling point when attracting new talent.
But here's a question: Is it really fair to refer to a "corporate culture" if that culture doesn't extend across the entire company?
If you think the answer is no, then it stands to reason that an organization's contact center should reflect the corporate culture. In reality, though, this is often not the case. This presents a missed opportunity - extending the corporate culture into the contact center will strengthen not just the contact center itself, but also the organization as a whole.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind for reflecting the corporate culture in the contact center. Of course, every corporate culture is distinct, so no advice can be universal. But these should stand as good starting points for more customized efforts.
1. Appreciating agents
You'd be hard-pressed to find a corporate culture that doesn't see valuing employees as a hallmark. After all, it's difficult to have an excellent corporate culture if people don't feel appreciated.
But it's also true that contact centers tend to struggle with agent retention. Contact Babel's 2014 US Contact Center Decision-Maker's Guide found that about one-third of contact center agents quit each year. This is about twice the attrition rate for workers in other areas. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this state of affairs, but a big part of it is that contact center agents often feel undervalued and underappreciated.
To limit these issues, company leaders should strive to put into place more of the employee-appreciation aspects of the corporate culture in the contact center. This can include reward programs, free lunches, group outings to fun events and so on.
2. The limits of numbers
Numbers in the form of metrics and key performance indicators are invaluable for contact center management. But as Call Centre Helper contributor Keith Gait pointed out, too much focus on numbers can make agents feel boxed in, like they don't have the flexibility they need to do their jobs. This goes against one of the defining aspects of many effective corporate cultures: employee empowerment. Workers need to be only not valued, but also feel that they have the freedom and support needed to thrive. Contact centers that use number-based metrics but don't depend on them completely will go a long way toward extending the corporate culture into these arenas.
3. Customer service triumphs
One more common refrain in corporate cultures in every industry is a steadfast commitment to employee satisfaction. Many firms put this at or near the very top of their list of priorities and values. And, naturally, the contact center itself is wholly dedicated to resolving customer issues, and so it would seem automatic that this aspect of the corporate culture would reach into the contact center.
However, it's very common for contact centers and their agents to pursue customer satisfaction without fully embodying this ideal. It goes back to the fact that contact centers can become too focused on numbers and end results and not concerned enough about how those outcomes are achieved. Leaders can turn this around by embracing policies that ensure agents have more of a stake in client satisfaction. Calling out particularly successful resolutions or positive customer feedback, for example, can help make agents feel like they're actually accomplishing something, rather than simply meeting KPIs, and that's key for implementing the corporate culture at large.
How have you extended your corporate culture into the contact center?