Logo
BodyBGTop
The Unseen Force Behind Customer Experience
destinationCRM 2008: The missing link in providing quality service is an effective contact center manager.
Posted Aug 21, 2008
Page 1



NEW YORK -- In the quest to provide a high quality service experience to customers, oftentimes the emphasis is placed on the relationship between the contact center agent and the consumer. According to one presenter at the destinationCRM 2008 conference being held at the New York Marriott Marquis here today, there is a third leg to the stool of customer experience -- the contact center supervisor.

Lloyd Wilky, an independent consultant drawing upon his experiences at Canadian industrial supplies manufacturer Honeywell and Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., led the session “Impact of Management on Customer Experience Creation,” and stressed that emotional engagement must start with management before it can ever reach the caller on the other end of the line. “Supervisors are really critical to employee engagement,” he said. “That connection is essential in order to foster a quality relationship with customers.”

Wilky gave an example of fostering employee engagement in a way that would help to establish an environment in which to have a better, closer relationship with callers. He cited a time in which he helped to create a contact center that did not have any dividers, or defined cubicles. “This way, people were able to roll their chairs around to help others, helping to foster a sense of community,” he recalled.

The terms “leader” and “manager” are often lumped together, but Wilky stressed there is a clear difference between the two. “Leadership is setting a vision for the future,” he said. “Management is taking the people you have [in an organization], the vision created, and helping people perform the best they can and achieve the organization’s results.”

Definitions aside, one thing is common between the two. The skills must be learned, and those striving for those positions must have the wherewithal to commit themselves to put in the time and effort. Otherwise, Wilky explained, the mediocrity and half-hearted effort will seep down to employees. The dangers of poor management harming the customer experience, according to Wilky, include:

  • poor listening;
  • unclear performance expectations and boundaries for experience creation;
  • inadequate resources, materials, and tools;
  • actions don’t match the talk;
  • work environment doesn’t support emotional connections;
  • no coaching for handling tough directives;
  • inconsistent recognition of customer experience successes; and
  • unwillingness to push up [to higher executives] when products or policies are the problem.

The last issue, the refusal of managers and supervisors to go to their own superiors when there is an issue affecting contact center employees, is extremely damaging to employee morale--and in turn, their performance. “They need to recognize and take on problems,” he said.

He concluded the session by dispensing eight critical management skills essential for any supervisor of a customer-facing organization today:

  • active listening;
  • talking “straight”—that is, to be upfront and honest with your employees, according to Wilky;
  • setting expectations;
  • conversations for action;
  • recognizing excellence;
  • coaching for improvement and growth; and
  • accommodation conversations.

The risk of not learning the skills, Wilky argued, will impact the bottom line. And in the end, he said, attendees themselves would have to return to their companies and do the heavy lifting: “I want you all to leave here today with ideas to go back to your organization and start the discussion with your first-line supervisors and managers -- people just don’t wake up being able to do this.”

Click here for more of our destinationCRM 2008 coverage.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

Page 1
To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
Learn more about the companies mentioned in this article in the destinationCRM Buyer's Guide:
{0}
{0}
Related Articles
A new study maintains that while many companies claim they're crafting quality customer service, most still fail to deliver.
destinationCRM 2008: The customer module is based on the idea that united we stand, divided we fall -- and it's what CRM has been missing.
destinationCRM 2008: To build customer loyalty, make experiences memorable.
destinationCRM 2008: An implementation expert lays out what businesses really need to succeed in CRM 2.0 initiatives.
destinationCRM 2008: A roundup of our reporting during this year's conference.
Recent reports from Forrester find an increasing emphasis on customer experience -- and a payoff in terms of customer retention.
SAP CRM 2008: As advertising budgets shift to online efforts, customer care is where the money is.
New end-user monitors analyze the user experience in real-time.
In a growing trend across all verticals, the latest Yankee Group study finds 50 percent of service providers cannot explain what the customer experience should be.
Gartner CRM Summit '08: Industry analyst provides recommendations in keeping interactions with the customer skin-deep.
NACCM '08: The morning keynote presenters stressed the power of shifting philosophies through the power of storytelling.
New research suggests that simply cutting product costs during the recession will ultimately backfire for companies.
 
Search
Popular Articles
 

BodyBGRight
Home | Get CRM Magazine | CRM eWeekly | CRM Topic Centers | CRM Industry Solutions | CRM News | Viewpoints | Web Events | Events Calendar
DestinationCRM.com RSS Feeds RSS Feeds | About destinationCRM | Advertise | Getting Covered | Report Problems | Contact Us