Building Cross-Functional Processes

Many centers have charged a person or a group of people with essential planning responsibilities, i.e., forecasting, staffing and scheduling. As a part of their job, they are given the task of collecting information required for these activities. But if they don’t get the cross-functional input they need, they are set up for failure. The organizations that do the best job of planning have developed cross-functional teams that are an integral part of the planning and management process.
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Cross-functional planning groups can take many forms. For example:

Georgia Power set up an agent liaison team to facilitate information exchange between the contact center and other departments; typical tasks for an agent liaison include participating in meetings in other areas, reporting contact center activities and exploring ways to achieve overall goals.
Mountain America Credit Union’s contact center implemented a similar initiative with their public relations team — made up entirely of contact center agents who communicate the center’s activities to other areas of the business and stay abreast of those divisions’ objectives to ensure that cross-functional projects and processes are successful.
Capital One’s “war room” enables customer service agents and representatives from other areas to share customer input and then identify operational improvements. It is part of a comprehensive voice of the customer initiative that has improved customer satisfaction scores by 46 percent — and earned the company
awards from J.D. Power, ICMI and others.
• Retailer and catalog company Eddie Bauer pioneered an interdepartmental forecasting team some years ago that directly involves representatives from marketing and other business units in the forecasting process; many organizations have since established similar integrated planning initiatives.

Customer “listening posts” — which often consist of a regular (typically, weekly) meeting with representatives from departments throughout the organization who review customer input and implications for projects and processes — have become popular. And given the many diverse aspects of good planning, some organizations have established a dedicated planning manager position whose primary function is to enhance cross-functional communication within the organization, and to use the shared information to drive better forecasts and plans. Whatever the specific approach, better cross-functional communication depends on a commitment from the contact center management team to reach out and better understand other areas.

Excerpt from Call Center Management on Fast Forward (3rd Edition), Copyright Brad Cleveland, 2012 (p89-91).

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