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Bridging the Insight Gap Between Contact Centers and Operations

Jeremy Watkin
07 May, 2020

All was well until the client asked a few relevant questions we were unable to answer.  

It was during a quarterly business review (QBR) when a customer service manager was presenting the performance of his team to an outsourcing client. We arrived at a slide titled “Call Drivers,” with a bar graph showing that 22% of customer interactions were related to shipping.

The client pressed the manager, asking something along the lines of, “What are customers saying about shipping? Are customers happy or angry? How is this impacting customer churn? What are the specific shipping issues we need to address?” The manager didn’t have the answers — and the client left feeling there was a major disconnect between the contact center and their business.

...and that was the client's cue to leave. He had seen enough.

The thing is that contact center agents interact with customers all day, every day. They are the safety net when something breaks down in the customer’s experience. It’s imperative that contact center supervisors and managers gather and share customer experience (CX) insights, and equally imperative that executives listen.

Working at an outsourcer, I was the lucky soul tapped to work with our managers, helping them gather customer insights and communicate them with clients. In this article, I’ll share three ways we gathered information needed to derive the insights that helped us bridge this gap between the contact center and the business so the voice of the customer (VOC) could be heard.

1.  Conduct round table discussions with agents

When I was leading a customer service team, one of my favorite questions to ask agents was this: “What are the biggest customer issues you are encountering right now?” I guarantee that if you ask a customer-facing team that question and come prepared to listen to their response, you will have pages of notes to improve both the agent and CX.

Conducting round table discussions with contact center agents is a great way for executives to gain anecdotal feedback about the CX. I highly recommend doing these on a regular basis and opening the doors of your contact center to anyone in the organization willing to listen.

round table discussion

2.  Listen by walking around

Manage By Walking Around (MBWA) is an old concept but a good one. And traditionally leaders have been able to pop into the contact center and walk the floor, overhearing live conversations with customers, and chatting with agents and supervisors about the challenges of the day.

MBWA becomes a bit more challenging when agents are working remotely, but it’s still totally possible. Here are two ways to listen in:

  • Use the monitor feature in your contact center platform to listen to live calls, and regularly read digital interactions (chat, email, SMS, social media, etc). Or, set aside 30-60 minutes per week to listen to recorded calls for a similar effect.
  • Sign into your collaboration tool and read the group conversations. When an agent takes their tenth call about the same issue, I guarantee they will share their thoughts with the group.

Customers and agents are talking, every minute of every day. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re listening.

Listening To Records GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

3.  Inject CX into every conversation and activity

In one particular QBR we discovered the quality average for one team was 98% but customer satisfaction was around 70%. Given that supervisors are responsible for quality assurance, this essentially said that while we thought we were doing a great job, our customers thought otherwise.

As a result, we determined which behaviors during customer interactions led to better CX, and then reworked quality assurance to reinforce those behaviors. We began talking about CX during quality coaching sessions with agents. Helping agents understand how their behaviors on a customer call can impact both the company’s and their own personal success, is a great way to inject purpose and meaning in their work and get everyone interested in improving CX.

Quantify the drivers

Now that we have a better understanding of what customers are saying, it’s time to quantify the top issues so their full impact can be understood and improvements can be prioritized. Here are a few ways to get this insight:

  • Disposition reports - Most contact center platforms require agents to categorize customer interactions. Pull a report of those categories and correlate with customer survey data about those same interactions. Start by looking at categories with high volume and low customer satisfaction. Issues that are causing customer churn or impacting large numbers of customers are certain to catch the attention of executives.
  • Deep dive survey data - Many contact centers survey customers following interactions. Read the verbatim customer feedback, coach agents when necessary, close the loop with upset customers, and quantify the top issues to share with the rest of the business.
  • Conduct targeted issue tracking studies - Early in my contact center career, if I had a hunch there was a customer issue, I asked agents to keep a tally for every time they encountered that issue. In recent years I’ve discovered that Speech Analytics can do this heavy lifting for you, making it easy to pinpoint and quantify customer issues. New to speech analytics? Here’s an eBook I wrote dispelling some of the myths around this technology.

Finally, if there’s any question as to whether executives want to know what’s going on in the contact center, the answer is an emphatic YES! The problem traditionally has been that contact center leaders don’t communicate with the rest of the business in a language they understand. With these tips I’ve shared, you can not only identify issues, but properly quantify them, working together to make meaningful improvements to your customer experience and business.

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This article was produced in collaboration with Jeremy Watkin, Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. Learn more about him and what he does here. If you want to reach out directly, you can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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