Beyond the Contact Center: Every Employee Impacts the CX

Oct 28, 2020 9:00:00 AM

#EdifyChat Recap | October 21, 2020

In our most recent Twitter chat, we discussed some of the most common issues facing contact centers today, including the customer and employee experience, the evolution of the contact center over the past seven months or so, employee engagement and retention, the growing trend of unified communications (UC), and more! The insights were compelling, and we think even those well-versed in this space might glean a new insight or two. See what participants had to say about these important topics.

Who in a company is responsible for customer experience?

While CX-focused titles are common these days, that person can’t be the only one invested in the end user. After all, even if you’re in R&D or stuck behind a computer creating ad copy and will never interact with anyone on the frontline, what you do directly impacts the customer. Therefore, everyone must wear a CX hat.

The easy answer is EVERYONE because every single role at an organization can impact the experience either directly or indirectly. But it’s not always that easy. Without a team specifically assigned to “own” #customerexperience, it can become no one’s job. If it’s just a tiny piece of someone’s goals, they’ll ignore it. A Chief Experience Officer or Chief Customer Officer should report to the CEO and bring together Sales, Marketing, #CustomerService and any other customer-facing department to ensure CX consistency. - Dan Gingiss

Everyone - customer-facing or not - should feel responsible for #CX. That mindset creates beloved brands. Without it, customers will skip right to a competitor. - Candace Sheitelman

Totally agree. I'm a solopreneur now, so I'm in charge of my #custserv. I do believe our clients are our best champions when it comes to word of mouth. #custserv and #clientrelationships matter now more than ever. - Zen Yinger

Can I say everyone? Of course, it's my job, along with a few others, to ensure that everyone knows how their work impacts. - Jeremy Watkin

The obvious answer would be marketing and customer service, but there are various stakeholders, including senior managers & executives with an invested stake in a product or service. - Javier Sanabria

Every single person in a company is responsible for customer experience. Of course, having a Leader helps with strategy and troubleshooting, but CX should be a cultural thing, deeply rooted throughout the entire organization. - Mary Drumond

HOW SHOULD EMPLOYEES BEST COLLABORATE AND SHARE KNOWLEDGE ACROSS AN ORGANIZATION? 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly forced every organization into caring about how employees connect with each other (and with customers) because there is no more face-to-face - we need reliable, intuitive options to connect anywhere, anytime. 

*SHOULD being key. If you don’t have #UC/#UCaaS yet, you’re late. We’ve got to connect our ppl via #voice, #chat etc for #EX and, IMPORTANTLY, by extension better. - Candace Sheitelman

It starts with proper training. Especially in the call center, agents need to be knowledgeable about a lot of things, and need to be empowered consistently across channels to solve customer issues. Before any #Marketing or Advertising campaign is released, it must be shared with the #CustomerService team so they know how to answer questions about it. A Unified Communications (UC) tool allows #CustomerService agents to quickly access the collective knowledge of the company when they get a question they can’t answer.  - Dan Gingiss

I’ve worked at organizations w/o proper internal comm tools, and it was disastrous. So. Many. Unnecessary. Emails. Or walking across the office every time I had a question. (I got a lot of laps in!) Every org needs: UC with a mobile app + Google Drive + email. - Kendal Rodgers

Leverage collaborative technology to stay in the loop with each other. I currently live in the world of Slack coupled with an internal knowledge base. Lots of great collaboration tools out there and they are a must to pull the team together regardless of location. - Javier Sanabria

I find a great way to collaborate is to use messaging platforms that let you create group chats for specific topics. Easier if they're embedded in your UC desktop (like we have at Edify). - Kay Phelps

HOW WAS THE CONTACT CENTER EVOLVING PRE-COVID-19? 

The contact center has been stuck in the past for far too long. With our friends and family we can talk, text, video chat,  a combination of all of the above -  the options are endless. Customers (and agents) deserve the same convenience.

Slowly. Too slowly. If at all. Okay, that’s harsh. But really, time for all channels in one solution. Time to never transfer customers again. - Candace Sheitelman

The first major trend was a steady move to digital #CustomerService channels. This has been greatly exacerbated during the pandemic. The second major trend was the growing generational diversity of contact center agents, with some contact centers reporting 4 or even 5 different generations of employees. Growing complexity is a theme, requiring #CustomerService agents to have access to more information than ever before in order to quickly address customer issues. They also need to be empowered to resolve problems. - Dan Gingiss

There's definitely been a scramble to keep up with emerging channels and connect all of the disparate systems together. Traditional tools have struggled to adapt. The goal should be one continuous conversation regardless of channel. - Jeremy Watkin

#sms support seemed to be picking up. I remember a specific shopping experience at @Nordstrom in Santa Monica where the saleslady texted me recommendations for my stay - in case I needed anything additional while I was in town. I loved it! - Kendal Rodgers

HOW HAS REMOTE WORKING DURING THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE CONTACT CENTER?

COVID-19 has pushed contact centers to make work from home a reality. Is it working? It better be!

First and foremost, it taught many contact centers that a virtual workforce is not only possible, but maybe even a better solution. Training has been converted to entirely online, and #technology and #security have become major issues that companies have needed to solve immediately. The ability of agents to be able to find answers to customer questions, often using a unified communications (UC) tool, has become more important than ever because they can’t just ask their colleague at the next cube. - Dan Gingiss

#WFH supercharged #contactcenter evolution. Finally. Orgs have been forced to look at their tech, #CX strategies, #agent skills, and get into the 21st century to meet customers where they are. - Candace Sheitelman

I think it's a testament of the contact center's ability to adapt, and in some ways digitally transform overnight. It certainly makes collaboration tools, productivity metrics, and quality management so so so critical. - Jeremy Watkin

Contact centers finally see #remote work as a viable and necessary option vs a “wouldn’t that be nice someday”. Everyone #WFH has humanized agents - our kids are whining & their dog is barking. We're giving the person on the other end of the line a lot more grace. - Kendal Rodgers

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO EMPOWER AGENTS TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS FOR CUSTOMERS? 

At Edify, we know Unified Communications is a way to empower customer-facing and back-office employees to come together to solve complex customer problems in a timely manner. When you can connect everyone within your organization, outcomes are significantly better. 

Start with creating a consistent plan for all agents, regardless of channel. Some companies made the mistake of giving #socialmedia agents more authority but that just taught customers to go to that channel first. Prioritize issue resolution over traditional contact center metrics like handle time. Better to take an extra minute or two and leave the customer feeling satisfied than to rush a response in an effort to get rid of the customer. Encourage creativity and #innovation in the contact center. Give agents a budget that is used exclusively to help customers. You will be amazed at what they come up with! - Dan Gingiss

Given CX is now more important than ever to give agents tools to drive first contact resolution - such as the ability to reach out to experts throughout the business. - Kay Phelps

We need to TRAIN them. Give them PERMISSION to act in #customer interest. REWARD winning behavior. And tools, we need to give them the right #contactcenter tools. - Candace Sheitelman

My fav example is @RitzCarlton @theritzlondon. They give every employee a budget of up to $2K to spend (at their discretion) to resolve a guest’s problem or to provide a legendary CX. Can’t wait to visit! This attitude can be applied in a microscopic way w/in contact centers. - Kendal Rodgers

UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS (UC) IS A GROWING TREND. WHY IS UC A POTENTIAL GAME-CHANGER? 

Today’s global workforce means people need to stay connected at all times from all corners of the planet. Location is no longer a barrier when you have effective #UC tools! And it allows companies to hire and retain the best talent anywhere in the world, too.

Products and services are becoming more and more complex, and contact center agents are being asked to know a lot more about a lot of things. At some point it becomes an information overload for them, affecting how they do their job. Having the ability to consult experts within the company on specific questions in real time can greatly enhance a contact center agent’s ability to resolve customer inquiries without having to switch channels. - Dan Gingiss

It empowers the #workfromanywhere world that today’s global environment and modern workforce demands. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but the small minority of us long-time #digitalnomads / #remote workers are super happy about robust #UC tools so we don’t feel disconnected from our teams. - Kendal Rodgers

At a show (remember those) a booth visitor told us how much $$$ she had just invested in BIGGER MONITORS. Agents don't need more windows open, they need ONE WINDOW WITH IT ALL! - Candace Sheitelman

HOW CAN COMPANIES EFFECTIVELY ATTRACT, RETAIN, AND MANAGE CONTACT CENTER EMPLOYEES? 

The customer experience is always a hot topic and the employee experience must be an equal consideration. After all, happy agents lead to happy customers!

The relationship between #EmployeeExperience and #CustomerExperience is circular; it’s really hard to have one without the other. Prospective employees can find ideal work environments by looking at the public #CX.  Provide great training and education about the company’s products and services so agents feel confident in their knowledge and ability to answer questions. Then provide resources like UC for when they need help.  When you create a remarkable #EmployeeExperience, your employees will tell their friends and family members about how great it is to work at your company. This will bring in the best pre-vetted referrals. - Dan Gingiss

Beyond being connected, we (#Millennials) value #WorkLifeBalance, flexibility, company #culture, and pay. Companies must stand out in these categories to attract and retain us. -Kendal Rodgers

A customer-centric culture will certainly help. #CCTR agents are quick to spot misalignment between stated values and actions. Also, I recommend we hang on to this remote work stuff long after COVID. The flexibility goes a LONG way. - Jeremy Watkin

WHAT'S NEXT FOR CONTACT CENTERS?

Contact centers need to keep moving ahead - there’s no time or reason to pause when there is more to be done. 

#Attrition plummets bc now we can hire anyone anywhere for any hours. Sometimes the best people for the job aren't under our nose, but across the world. Maybe they only work half days. Maybe only on Wednesdays. So? Without employees, we have no company. Need to start acting like It. Show/tell HOW they affect overall company success, WHY what they do matters, WHAT they need to do to grow. - Candace Sheitelman

Simpler #technology that allows agents to quickly resolve customer inquiries without having to search for answers. A sustainable work-from-home model that will allow contact centers to recruit agents from virtually anywhere vs. having to rely solely on local talent. A continued push toward self-service options to reduce pressure on the contact center and reserve agents for the toughest customer problems. - Dan Gingiss

Can I buy two vowels? A and I. Seriously, I think we're all trying to find where #AI can help, not hinder, both the agent and #CX. - Jeremy Watkin

More ML/AI. Continued focus on EX=CX (we hope). CX is increasingly a focus of top leadership. - Kay Phelps

Be sure to follow us on Twitter so you can join in the next time we host an #EdifyChat.

Liz Cahill

Written by Liz Cahill

Recognized as one of PR Week's “Ten Rising Stars” in 2005, Liz Cahill has been working in the public relations industry for more than two decades with a focus on technology and lifestyle. During this time, Cahill has partnered with clients big and small, working on strategy development, message creation, media outreach, social media programming, event planning, ghostwriting, and pretty much anything else her clients throw at her. Originally a “Jersey girl,” Cahill has lived in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. She currently resides outside of LA with her husband, daughter and twin sons.