In my early days as a contact center leader, I was obsessed with metrics. In my defense, metrics were the primary way to evaluate my success in the role. I measured everything! Some of the metrics were necessary, while others weren't. I was inundated with numbers, data points and potential solutions for struggling performance areas. I was experiencing information overload!
Does this sound familiar? No,you are not alone! Many of us were there, and some of us still are.
Today, the two most important metrics to me are Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Employee Satisfaction (ESAT). All of the other metrics help to support my quest to create an environment in where customer and employee satisfaction are high enough to ensure the growth and sustainability of the business. That sounds simple, but in actuality, it's quite complicated. Why?
For starters, contact center leaders aren't only required to analyze data and metrics that are necessary to the operational success of the department. We also have to track organizational-wide metrics. Combine all this reporting with the responsibility of training, mentoring, coaching and managing the team AND individuals, and it's easy to feel lost, frustrated and confused.
Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have the support of great leaders, colleagues, and friends. Their help has been invaluable. Because of them, I received excellent advice. For example:
"Measure what matters, Sean."
"People before metrics."
And one of my favorites: "Let the data tell its own story!"
These are still nuggets of wisdom that I carry with me today. Perhaps the most significant lessons came from failure, though.
Because of those failures and lessons, I now focus most of my effort on building relationships with teams and individuals. How I wish I'd learned this many years ago! Employee engagement is the crux of success in the contact center! Having a highly engaged team affords you the luxury of making mistakes, creating buy-in, and earning trust. Engaged employees will follow a leader who has demonstrated over and over again, that nothing is more important than people. To borrow a quote from my good friend Matt Beckwith, "the people we lead are primarily responsible for our success, as they are the ones carrying out the plan for success."
So, with all that in mind, let's discuss ways to improve both CSAT and ESAT. But first, let's begin with those things that influence satisfaction!
Don't be a slave to metricsAlthough I am not sure who to credit, a favorite quote of mine says, "Don't make the measurable things important, but make the important things measurable." To do this, you have to understand what is important. Fortunately, as a contact center leader, YOU get to make this determination. Okay, maybe I should clarify that statement. You get to determine what is important to your customers, company, department, and team.
How? There are four key areas to address:
- Assess Needs- Understand what each stakeholder need to be satisfied and successful.
- Deliver- Provide the right solution to meet the needs.
- Reinforce- Leadership must shape and change minds while creating a culture that is customer-focused.
- Evaluate- Scrutinize your performance! Ensure your people, processes and procedures are meeting the needs, and delivering at a high rate of excellence.
Remove BarriersObstacles do not block the path; they are the path! How do you ensure employees and customers are satisfied? You make it easy for them to work and do business with you. We often overlook how current operating procedures impact the end user, because the emphasis is usually on how to complete the task, rather than doing so with minimal effort.
Here is a three-pronged approach to removing obstacles that prevent satisfaction.
- Review: Review the technology, tools, processes, and procedures that you utilize. I do so on an annual basis, and anytime we add something new to our workflow.
- Define success: Defining what success should be, helps compare and contrast what you are currently doing. If you don't know what success is, you will never achieve it.
- Identify needs: Do you have the right talent and infrastructure in place to achieve success? When you define your success, it, in turn, helps you identify what you need to be successful.
EngagementYou might assume that it's best to begin with engagement initiatives. However, it's best to find the causes of disengagement first. For example, failed systems can lead to poor engagement. Understanding obstacles to success allows you to improve engagement in ways that will directly impact your employees and customers. For example, if agents are forced to adhere to handle time, you should know how this affects both the agent and the customer. If quality is poor, is it due to your product or service? Engagement works when you put in the effort to enhance relationships. As the saying goes, "effort will release its reward."
Engaged Employees improve sales, quality, retention, and profit. Customer engagement likewise enhances sales, satisfaction, and profit (among others things). Employee engagement begins with involvement. Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Tell me, and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me, and I Iearn." Adopting this mindset can have a tremendous positive impact on agents and customers alike.
Seek ways to involve your team in decisions that directly impact their work. Solicit their feedback and implement their ideas when it makes sense. Remember your employees ARE your stakeholders, too. Get out of the mindset that free pizza + potlucks = culture. Provide incentives that go beyond food. As leaders, we should also focus on feeding people's emotions, beliefs, needs, and goals. Discover what agents are passionate about, and use that knowledge to build better relationships and transform your culture. Employee engagement is personal.
Likewise, customer engagement is personal. Know your customers! Reach out to them to extend random acts of kindness. Don't be afraid to wish them a happy birthday, or to celebrate some other milestone. Don't wait for them to call you; initiate the conversation sometimes. Social media is an excellent tool for doing this. If customers are following you, follow them! Monitor their activity to experience and celebrate their successes.
SatisfactionUltimately, satisfaction is the result of empathy, patience, personalization, and sympathy. When you focus on those things AND create an environment based on shared success, you truly grasp the concept of satisfaction. Whether the stakeholder you're trying to satisfy is the employee or the customer, the approach is the same.
You see, satisfaction is much like respect. It must be earned!