In a business world that’s becoming increasingly digital, how can contact centers stand out from the crowd and thrive?
The New Normal is one of volatility, uncertainty, and change. In other words, prime conditions for innovation and thriving businesses.
The question is: as a Small or Mid-sized (SMB) Contact Center, are you ready for the New Normal and how do you succeed in it?
With so many changes happening at once, it’s easy to feel like we’re all sinking together – but there are opportunities amid this sea of challenges.
To thrive in this New Normal, leaders of SMB contact centers need to be able to identify where their organization stands today while simultaneously identifying where they need to go tomorrow.
It’s not an easy challenge to take on. But here are some ways you can successfully thrive in the New Normal.
Change Your Mindset
The first thing you need to do, before anything else, is shift your mindset.
A memorable line from the movie “Moneyball” is when Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, who is the GM of the small market Major League Baseball team the Oakland A’s, is meeting with the team’s scouting department after losing key players from a playoff season the prior year.
Beane explains that all he is hearing is the same conversations that always occur. He then states, “if we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.” (Miller, 2011)
When it comes to thriving in the New Normal, success starts with the right mindset. If you’re looking to shift your mindset, here are a few things to keep in mind.
You will want to stay nimble...and have a culture where people can explore new ideas. However, you also need to have the right infrastructure in place...
First, the rate of change is accelerating, so you need to be ready to adapt quickly.
Second, you need to engage with customers from an empathy-driven perspective and understand what they’re trying to achieve. Your value proposition as an SMB Contact Center is your ability to be agile and quickly adjust to customer expectations.
Finally, you need to be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. Keep these three tenets in mind when it comes to thriving in the New Normal.
As the rate of change accelerates, organizations need to be ready to pivot. To thrive in the New Normal, contact center leaders need to be prepared to make changes on the fly based on insight from customers and on the latest technologies.
Remember with technology that not every technology in the market is going to be the right one for your organization. Would you give the keys to a Lamborghini to a toddler?
You will want to stay nimble in the New Normal and have a culture where people can explore new ideas. However, you also need to have the right infrastructure in place so that you can pivot and scale up quickly.
Finally, you need to have the right metrics and analytics in place so you can stay informed and make the right decisions.
How Has Your Hiring Strategy Changed?
When it comes to hiring, success in the New Normal starts with hiring the right people.
The best way to hire the right people is to focus on fit. In the New Normal, it’s not just about finding the right skill set. It’s about finding the right cultural fit for your organization.
That’s why it’s important to look beyond skills and experience when recruiting. You want to make sure that your candidates are a good cultural fit for your organization and your team.
Beyond skills and experience, you want to look for indicators of success. You want to hire people who are curious, who are willing to take risks, who can communicate effectively, and who want to make an impact.
Additionally, when hiring for the contact center, you want to make sure that candidates are personable and complement the existing team.
People come to your contact center for help and support. You want to hire people who are empathetic and who can put themselves in clients’ shoes and understand what they’re trying to do.
Look for tools that can provide you insight into the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators each person brings to your team.
Additionally, don’t leave your hiring decisions solely up to Human Resources, a staffing firm, or even a manager. Include your frontline agents in the interview process.
This demonstrates to prospective candidates that you do value the voice of the employee in all facets of the job, not just in achieving results.
Robots and automated systems have long been seen as the enemy in call center and contact center environments. That’s because they’re often seen as a way to cut costs and as a way to replace humans.
But in the New Normal, automation isn’t a threat to your contact center. Instead, it’s an opportunity. Automation can reduce costs in your contact center. But it can also help boost your customer experience (CX).
By investing in automation, you can provide a better CX, while at the same time reducing costs. That’s why automation is the hallmark of thriving in the New Normal. It’s a way to improve the CX while also reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.
While you are investing in technology, you need to concurrently be investing in upskilling your people in a way that demonstrates their long-term value to your organization. This is even more critical for SMB Contact Centers, where losing one or two employees can significantly impact performance.
Embrace development at the same time you are embracing automation and remember, automation and technological improvements do not always need to be customer-facing.
Leverage Data and Analytics
In a digital world, data is essential. It can tell you how customers are engaging with your business and what they’re looking for. It can help you better understand your customer journey and lead to insights that can help you better serve your clients.
The best way to leverage data and analytics is to have a single customer view that includes all the data about your customers.
That way, you can see how each of your clients is engaging with your business. With that information, you can make more informed decisions about how you service your customers and help them achieve their goals.
Key Behavioral Indicators
Behavioral indicators are the things that customers do when they’re using your product or service. It’s the way they use your product or service. They’re often subtle, and they might go unnoticed.
In a contact center, behavioral indicators can tell you a lot about a customer’s experience. They can indicate whether or not your agents are doing a good job.
The key to thriving in the New Normal is to start paying attention to these indicators. Monitoring behavioral indicators is a great way to find areas where you can improve your customers’ experience. It’s also a great way to find areas where you can improve your agents’ experience.
Behavioral indicators are an essential part of thriving in the New Normal. And it all starts with listening to calls and how customer interactions are being handled.
As an SMB Contact Center, if you do not have your finger on the pulse of customer interactions you will miss not only customer behaviors but also agent behaviors.
At the end of the day, your agents will do what they are incented to do. Why not incent the right behaviors as opposed to just the end results? KPIs are important, but they are always the end result of properly executing the right behaviors.
Establish a Culture of Mentorship
In the “Old Normal,” it was common to have a strict process for new ideas and new ventures. That was a great way to ensure quality control and reduce the risk of failed ventures.
But in the New Normal, where change is the only certainty, strict processes will only hold you back.
Instead, you need to have a culture of mentorship. You need to encourage employees to try new things and test new ideas. By providing them the freedom to fail and learn from those mistakes, you are also providing them guidance to grow and develop through experimentation.
A culture of mentorship is the best way to stay ahead of trends and become more agile to challenges that your SMB Contact Center will face.
...it’s important to remember that change and agility are the norms.
Part of mentorship is encouraging growth through networking. When your teams feel confident that learning outside of their virtual four walls is encouraged and potentially incorporated into improvements in their day-to-day functions, they will continue to bring ideas to the table.
Ultimately, this will allow your contact center to implement new initiatives faster as your team will have more skin in the game as opposed to what may be viewed as a flavor of the day/week/month.
As an SMB Contact Center, when it comes to thriving in the New Normal, it’s important to remember that change and agility are the norms.
That means that you need to stay nimble, embrace technology and automation where it makes sense, and leverage data and analytics to stay competitive.
You also need to establish a culture of mentorship and pay attention to behavioral indicators that can give you a sense of how the winds of CXs are blowing.
Remember, you are an SMB Contact Center. If you strategize like the Yankees internally, you will lose to the Yankees externally.