Call Center Flubs and Failures

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five-year lag between the time a technology starts to take hold and takes off. We're getting there, we're working toward it, but we're not quite there yet."

On one hand, Leggett says, companies want to make sure that the agent has all the necessary applications to appropriately answer customer questions. On the other, agents may be slammed with solutions.

"How many times have you walked into a contact center and seen that an agent has twenty or thirty screens in front of them?," Leggett asks. "Agents are struggling through their tool set instead of listening to the conversation and being able to relate to the customer."

With so much information stuck in silos, having a unified desktop can make a big difference, Koelliker says. Rather than ripping and replacing different systems, which is often a big project, she explains, unified desktops can pull information as it's needed from different systems onto one screen.

"A unified system can proactively present relevant knowledge management articles," she says. "Agents don't have to jump from system to system to follow these processes; it's done for them. They're walked through a process."

 Management wake-up calls

The importance of actionable insight is one area that management needs to pay attention to, Koelliker says. Measuring every aspect of a contact center is vital, but if action isn't taken, it becomes useless.

"Things in the contact center are changing constantly. Not only are products changing, there are many things that are changing that can affect your customer's behavior," she continues. "You need to be measuring how you're doing at any moment at any time."

The theme of the empowered agent and how management treats its agents also has a direct impact on how well a contact center operates, according to Verint's Woolley.

"One of the things that we see is that agents aren't empowered, meaning that they're following scripts, they're not empowered to make certain decisions," Woolley says. "Because of that I think you're seeing more voice of the employee programs, where they have an opportunity to share their voice with the rest of the organization to be a part of the process in developing best practices."

Gamification is another way of empowering the employee, by creating different levels of certification, levels of achievements, and competition with others in a gaming environment. "I think part of that is the 'How do we give the agent more power?' issue and the onus to do that is on the management team," Woolley says.

Navarra reiterated the importance of the empowerment of agents and says that since contact center managers aren't at the executive table, "they don't have a way of communicating underlying issues. In a lot of organizations, what the contact center has to say is always viewed as anecdotal.

"One of the problems is that the contact center does not have the ear of senior management," Navarra says. "In terms of the contact center management, they're so busy putting out fires that they don't have the time to step back and look at strategic initiatives at a tactical level. Supervisors don't have time to coach their agents and give them the direction and support that they need."

Koelliker says that companies have begun to look at the bigger picture.

"When we talked to people ten years ago, it was just about average handle time, very specific metrics," Koelliker says. "When I speak to people now, they're starting to have a broader vision and understanding of the whole customer service life cycle. It's requiring big organizational changes because often these touchpoints go across not only the contact center, but your Web site and social media. We're starting to gradually see these different groups talk to one another which I think will improve things."


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