Making continuous innovations and improvements that lead to services that are faster, better and more cost-effective is an ongoing process that must be an inherent part of the organization’s culture and outlook.
There is something powerful about consistently focusing on the things that matter most. In that spirit, the following points of advice were inspired by the well-known work of the late Dr. W. Edwards Deming and, more recently, Gordon MacPherson, Jr., now enjoying retirement. My hat is off to both of these great thinkers.
• Develop a global view of your organization’s mission and principles. Identify the “big picture” in terms of the organization’s mission and direction and how the contact center supports overall objectives. Then take steps to ensure that every person understands the “why” behind what they are doing, and how these principles apply to day-to- day tasks and responsibilities.
• Know your job. Analyze and understand every facet of your role and responsibilities. Then do the same for every position in the center (and the broader organization).
• Recognize that everybody’s “best efforts” or just trying harder isn’t enough. Look for problems and innovation opportunities in process- es. Processes are where the most leverage will be.
• Fully training people to do their jobs is non-negotiable, and comes before everything else. This responsibility cannot become victim to busyness and shifting priorities.
• Use sound analytical methods to understand and improve the performance of individuals, the contact center and the organization. Don’t make decisions based on assumptions — insist on having and using accurate and timely data.
• Ensure that the contact center’s performance optimizes the good of the organization as a whole, not just of individual projects or departments.
• Remember that those who know processes and customers best are those closest to the work (agents and supervisors). Actively seek their ideas and input, and create an atmosphere of trust and open communication.
• Use performance measurements, monitoring and coaching as a means of learning and improvement at the process level (as well as for individuals). Make decisions based on data and knowledge, not just assumptions.
• As a general rule, don’t wait to make sweeping changes all at once. Instead, as possible, make smaller improvements regularly and continuously.
• Encourage maximum personal development of the whole person (e.g., in terms of thinking, analysis, understanding the organization’s overall objectives, etc.). This is just as important as job-specific training.
• Strive for and expect never-ending improvements. Build this perspective into the culture.
Instill these principles into your organization, and stick to them, day after day, month after month, year after year. It’s a never-ending journey. And an exciting one, because it prepares your organization for the unknowns ahead even as it delivers better results today.
Excerpt from “Call Center Management on Fast Forward” by Brad Cleveland.