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Basics of Defining Success in a Contact Center

I spent the first 11 years of my career working in and managing virtually every aspect of contact centers to include managing a Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) contact center with clients in virtually every industry, inbound and outbound collections, and even some work for political campaigns during the last two presidential elections. As anyone in the industry would probably agree, the people working on the ground level are what makes a contact center win or lose. However, success is often defined by factors far away from the “doers” of the work. The leadership team that outlines what success looks like would be wise to seek feedback from every level of the contact center prior to completing this process. Below are some suggestions defining success in a contact center.

Identify what matters most

Some contact centers are ruled by sales and conversion figures, customer satisfaction and retention, while others are simply measured as a cost center. Figuring out how you are measured will be your guiding star as you walk through the method of defining success.

Recognize the key influencers

As the case in any level of economics, lead measures have a variety of influencing factors that drive the primary metric. Freakanomics contains numerous examples with which you may already be familiar. Here’s a very basic example:

Imagine your car breaks down because the engine stopped working. When you go to a mechanic they will start working through a checklist of questions to narrow the potential cause. If you haven’t been changing your oil, the car will eventually fail. In order to prevent this breakdown, you need to change and manage your oil level and quality. By doing this you will increase your car’s chances of staying on the road.

After you’ve identified the metrics that matter most to your organization, figuring out what the key influencers are the best preparation towards reaching your desired outcome.

Account for your employees

When defining success or goals it’s easy to focus on results, but the people that help get you there should not be forgotten or taken for granted. Regardless of what incentives or recognition programs you might have in place, keeping their sentiments in mind as part of your definition of success will set you up for long term prosperity. Consider making some level of agent-satisfaction part of your overall success definition.  There is a philosophy, characterized by companies like Zappos, that if you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers. Part of taking care of your employees starts with measuring their satisfaction, and you should be including the results in the overall definition of success for the business.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple, you have to start with the desired outcome and work backwards to the solution. Defining success for your contact center or team is a crucial step in achieving your business objectives. Be sure to allocate the proper time and resources to this task and it will significantly improve your ability to execute on your mission.

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