Here's a concept I encountered in an ICMI chat session about integrating new members into a team: "Once everyone is on board, you want them singing from the same hymn sheet."
It's a great image: Everyone in your company singing the same words to the same tune, in perfect harmony. But it's tough to pull it off. Really tough.
Ensuring All Customer Support Agents Hear the Same Tune
We recently had a meeting with a client about the customer service outsourcing we provide for one of their products. We discussed some changes that would help us strengthen our service. One of our contact center directors took great notes at that meeting, but I know from past experience that great notes don't always turn into great service by the time the team goes into action. They often don't all sing from the same hymn sheet.
After the meeting I reviewed her notes with her. While she had made a great summary of what the client had asked for, I discovered that she and I had really different takes on why those changes were important.
That's not a criticism, by the way, it's human nature for two people to see things two different ways, even when it is laid out in writing. My wife and I don't always think about important things the same way, and we share a house and kid! It only gets harder when you are dealing with contact center agents who have vastly different experiences than your own.
Rehearsing the Understanding
In other words, before my client services director and I could go to the rest of the customer support team, she and I had to make sure we were singing from the same hymn sheet. Then we had to go through the same process with the agents serving this particular client.
To be honest, it's painful and time consuming. Life would be much easier if we could just pass along summary notes from the meeting and assume the contact center agents on the account will read and understand the new direction. If we want to get it right with any level of confidence, we need to meet with the support team, explain, coach, and sometimes pull hair. It can take some tough love to get everyone singing the same tune, but that's what makes the difference between a good contact center outsourcing partner and a bad one.
Comprehension is Important When Unscripted
At Callzilla it's especially important to get everybody singing from the same hymn sheets because we don't like to rely on scripts for our agents. Scripts can work great when you are running a simulation. Out in the real world, however, a customer's feelings and sensitivities don't always follow a script. Our agents need to use their heads and think about how they can improve the customer experience and the client experience. Our contact center supervisors and managers need to know it too, along with an understanding of how to improve the agent experience.
It's important to provide the right knowledge, tools and the right coaching so that our contact center agents can do their jobs well. It's always a work in progress. But when everyone is in harmony, it's a sweet, sweet sound.
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