Educate and Engage: Strong Relationships Matter

Gina Szabo once relayed this story to me and gave permission for it to be published in Call Center Management on Fast Forward. Although certainly not a recommendation, it is a good reminder that communication is a key first step to contact center success.

As a new call centre manager many years ago, I recall the “pain” of having to deal with a “rogue” product manager who routinely bombarded my inbound/outbound centre with direct marketing campaigns, without giving my team (or me) any advance warning.

shutterstock_446567287 ed&eng2The product manager, who we’ll call Theresa, had dropped three such campaigns on us the previous month and as you might expect, the results were not pretty: Stressed out agents, angry customers, and a nightmare for our workforce management team, who were valiantly trying to improve our forecasts.

When the fourth “mystery” campaign hit the following week, I had Bob, our technology manager, reroute the 1-800 number to Theresa’s direct extension. In less than 10 minutes, I got a call from a distraught Theresa: “What the heck is going on with the 1-800 campaign? How am I supposed to handle these calls?” My reply: “Now you know how we feel!”

Things got better quickly. I explained that launching campaigns without properly preparing the contact centre was not only stressful for our agents, it also reduced the success of the campaigns and potentially damaged our brand in the eyes of our customers.

I’m older and wiser now, and, no, I don’t recommend trying this approach in your own centre. It can get you fired! It was, admittedly, the result of both my inexperience and Theresa’s in this area. But it’s a story I tell today because it reinforces the importance of something I’ve since stressed for many years, that of developing strong relationships across the organization. Educate and engage. We’re all in this together.

By Gina Szabo, SMI Inc. and ICMI Senior Certified Associate, Toronto, Canada