The Power of Good Questions

Are we headed in the right direction? Do our priorities make sense? What would you do if you were in our shoes?

At ICMI, we are often asked these and related questions (they usually come up in the context of working on specific projects or issues with clients). They are good. They are important.

Questions establish context, and the best questions compel decisions and solutions that have far-reaching, positive impact. When it comes to strategy and direction, there’s never been a more important time to ask good questions.

Here are some of the most important questions I believe those leading customer contact services should be asking now:

Do we have a comprehensive and up-to-date customer access strategy that includes all forms of customer access, including new social media channels?

Does our mission reflect the call center’s role not only in efficiently meeting customer demands, but also in contributing intelligence (captured during contacts) to other business units?

How do others across the organization perceive the value of customer contact services, and how can that continually be improved?

Do we have appropriate performance standards for individuals and the call center, and do they align with the organization’s direction and changing customer expectations?

Have we applied disciplined planning and management methodologies to all types of activities, e.g., does our process encompass all contact types and channels, as well as all other types of work related to operations?

Do we have an effective process for training and cultivating upcoming managers and leaders (an important key to success in coming months)?

Do we have a supporting culture that is candid, consistent in values, and establishes the right objectives and opportunities for people to grow and contribute?

Have we envisioned where customer expectations are heading, how we will meet them and what we need to do now to prepare?

Many of the answers to these questions will be interrelated, and some assume (necessitate) the involvement of the broader organization (e.g., marketing, finance, operations, etc.). Effective answers require leadership, persistence and collaboration. But, given the fundamental changes taking place in our economy and the growing importance of customer contact services, asking good questions – then building solid answers – has never been more important.

Originally published in the ICMI Membership Blog.