By Elizabeth Ahearn:
Creating a healthy contact center is work. What do we mean by healthy? Healthy is all relative, but in my view there are some real hallmarks of a solid functioning contact center. I’ve really only seen one in person and heard about another that has a reputation for being successful in building a solid environment.
About a decade ago, Radclyffe Partners, LLC conducted a study to evaluate a number of contact centers across various industries, some known and some with no brand recognition. They included companies in consumer/packaged goods, high tech, financial services, pharmaceutical, medical devices and health insurance, to name a few. What we were trying to find out is…what is the problem? Why is it so hard to lead a solid contact center in which staff is satisfied, relentlessly strives to achieve continuous improvement by challenging the status quo, absenteeism including FMLA is virtually non-existent and triangulation is not the norm in dealing with conflict. That study gave me some real insight, I began to apply those learnings across my client base by testing some ideas I had. Even if I could change one negative aspect, I was making progress. As some of my clients showed tremendous growth as a result of this work. I recognized these might be some really significant findings for most contact centers. The following is a list of criteria I found:
· Personal Accountability
· All staff being open to feedback and willing to apply that feedback
· Staff being able to handle conflict in a mature and productive way
· A thirst for learning or curiosity to find out the root cause of an issue
· Pride in their own work and contribution to the organization
· Having clear and specific goals and knowing what one has accomplished and where one is going
· An environment of open, honest and direct communication
While these are not the only items in the list, they are enough to create the contact center of your dreams (if there is a contact center of your dreams). No one said this is easy. No one said you’ll walk in everyday and this will just happen. It takes discipline, rigor, focus and a fostering environment. That’s hard work when you think of supervisors you have to hold accountable, not to mention support staff, the admin, the training team, the manager and the human resources support. This is a huge undertaking, but it can be done. In the next month or so, I will be taking each bullet point and describing what it is and how to take steps to achieve it.