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Building a culture of excellence in the contact center

Leading a successful contact center operation is no simple undertaking. From identifying appropriate strategies and solutions to establishing productive and effective teams, there are many elements that are essential to ensuring smooth and efficient customer-centric service.  Achieving this requires strategic approaches and deliberate actions to improve the customer experience, enhance employee engagement, and deliver overall client satisfaction. Building this culture of excellence requires effective leadership and a commitment from every level of the enterprise. Contact centers, or what we refer to as Citizen Engagement Centers, are all unique, so there’s no one-size-fits all approach for success, but there are a few key truisms that drive performance in the contact center ─ and characteristics that successful contact centers share.   

When the staff succeeds, the program succeeds.

Contact center agents are invaluable to program operations. They are usually the first people that callers encounter when they reach out to a government program, so they are very influential in shaping the overall experience. If contact center leaders ensure that agents are empowered and invested, they will invariably deliver a better experience for the caller. To achieve this, enhancing employee satisfaction and reducing agent attrition should be core priorities. Acknowledge and address agent concerns ─ such as career progression or operational challenges ─ to demonstrate that management is engaged and supportive. Not only will this result in improved customer service and help drive toward agent empowerment, but it will ultimately benefit contact center productivity.

Additionally, it is important to take the time to work with every contact center agent on their leadership and supervisory skills, from time management to coaching to new business approaches. Managers should spend a as much time developing an agent’s skills as they do evaluating their performance. Having skilled staff leads to efficient operations and opportunities for employee advancement. Further, promoting from within the organization boosts employee morale by demonstrating that there is a career path for agents, keeping them invested for the long-term success of the organization.

Be self-reflective and proactive.

You can only improve where you are going by understanding where you have been. Throughout the year, perform self-assessments on all contact center functions, deliverables and accomplishments. Document and review the actions that have worked well, identify how they worked and what made them successful to establish and implement new best practices. Be deliberate in identifying the actions that may have failed so that you can apply any lessons learned to future operations.

Successful contact center operations require one to be proactive. From properly staffing to handle surges to implementing innovative technology to meet customer needs, a contact center of excellence anticipates the needs of the program offers insights and solutions before a problem arises.

Customer service is bigger than the contact center alone.

To build a culture of contact center excellence, all staff must know and understand the intent of the program and be able to recognize who the caller is, what circumstances they are dealing with, and what they can do to serve them. Program leadership should be aware of the policies and legislation that effect the program and its direction. When there is a clear understanding of goals, teams are able to actualize the vision of the program and deliver on the mission.

With rising expectations and evolving technologies, callers are not just looking for information or services when they dial in, they are looking for a smooth full-service experience. This enhanced level of engagement requires contact center agents to be engaging and dynamic and for contact centers to offer omnichannel services so that the caller can choose their own path of the interaction.

Creating this culture of contact center excellence takes deliberate planning, intuitive implementation approaches, and continuous and ongoing evaluation and reinforcement. This culture is only achieved with buy-in from every level of the organization, so when the entire enterprise approaches customer service and successful contact center operations as less of a career aspiration and more of a responsibility, mission critical services are delivered with great vigor and compassion.

Please visit our contact center landing page to learn more about our approach to designing best-in-class citizen engagement centers.