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In my last blog post in this series, I wrote about how business dynamics are changing in contact centers. Today’s business environment offers new challenges to contact centers, requiring them to adjust to enterprise influences, shifting generational workforces, growing customer complexity and the need to connect disparate locations and agents for seamless customer service.
The whitepaper we sponsored with Frost & Sullivan, “Can your center keep up with the changes?” describes how two types of contact centers adapt to change. Some adapt slowly – while others do so more quickly to contend with these challenges. In this post, I’ll talk about both approaches and their relative merits and disadvantages. Let’s take a look.
The paper categorizes contact centers as either tortoises or hares, relating the classic child’s tale about speed versus pace. If you know the story, you’ll remember that the hare takes a nap, which complicates the metaphor. So I’ll use a football analogy:
- Slow and Steady – Think of these contact centers like one of my favorite all time running backs Earl Campbell. When you need five yards he gets you five yards, when you need 10 yards he gets you five yards. These types of contact centers are conservative, reliable and they pace themselves-but they’re not necessarily quick on their feet. Cost control is a top priority, and it’s all about traditional telephony KPIs. They’re more hesitant about adopting new technology.
It isn’t a bad operational philosophy, as Earl can certainly attest after a solid 15 year professional NFL career. However, these contact centers are at a disadvantage when attempting to influence fellow enterprise departments. Like the five yards at a time, these contact centers may lack a seat at the table, hurting their ability to influence decisions impacting the larger enterprise and even their own operation.
- Nimble and Quick – These contact centers are like an Adrian Peterson-type running back. They’re nimble, reacting wisely but quickly to change. Contact centers that fit this mold understand that “questions of value” such as revenue per customer and customer longevity are just as important as how fast agents are at fielding calls. Enterprises trust them and the contact centers have significant clout within their company. These contact centers are developing best practices and adapting to the way customers want to engage. Just as Adrian is prone to a fumble now and again, a fast paced contact center may make a mistake in their haste for speed. The rewards outweigh the risks.
The slow and steady philosophy isn’t wrong, but it could leave contact centers at a distinct disadvantage when they need to adapt to business challenges and an evolving customer landscape. The most successful contact center operations “are using their workforce optimization infrastructures…in understanding how to improve agent skills, satisfaction and insight, rather than just to squeeze AHT productivity,” the author writes. Nimble and quick contact centers will leverage their capabilities to overcome business complexities head-on and effectively influence enterprise decisions.
In this business race, nimble and quick wins.
What kind of contact center are you? We’d love to hear from you.