I believe in the human spirit and that we can overcome some of the most difficult obstacles with the proper mindset and approach. When it comes to improving survey scores, most contact centers have way too many obstacles and paths in front of them, so they need to learn to take a path less traveled.
Ignore Survey Scores
I am an even bigger believer in the unconventional and creative ways to overcome obstacles. I’m not talking about cheating and doing what’s unethical – I’m talking about common practices versus leading practices.
In the contact center industry, our common practices are by no means what you want to follow – unless you want to be average. I rarely have ever found a successful senior contact center leader say, “Our goal is to be average.” Top performers are not willing to waste their time seeking out common practices to implement in their contact center.
From their perspective, common is average and they want to implement the creative and leading practices. So, if the common practice is to make your survey scores highly visible and front and center in your contact center, that is most likely not the practice to implement. That is merely common and you might reconsider standing up and declaring, “We’re average”.
I would suspect you’d rather stand up and declare, “We’re exceptional”. If so, it’s time to ignore your survey scores.
Ignore to Focus
While sharing his story of a lesson learned on the Fast Leader Show, Chris Lah Senior Director at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Advisory Board Member for Call Center Coach said something that has resonated with me in a lot of ways. He said, “Focus, delegate, and most importantly ignore the things you need to ignore.”
”Focus, delegate, and most importantly ignore the things you need to ignore.” -Chris Lah, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
When thinking about survey scores, you need to do just that. You need to ignore the score – focus on the behaviors that drive the scores – and delegate the responsibility of displaying those behaviors to frontline agents.
You Don’t Own It
For years while in contact center operations, I often found myself trying to navigate the treacherous waters of improving survey scores. Often times the customer feedback process and practices were owned by other areas of the business. Areas of which I had no working relationship.
The unfortunate reality is that customer feedback owners in the organizations I worked for were higher on the organizational chart than my contact center. And those folks knew very little about contract center operations and our needs. So, to them, it was all about managing the numbers.
At the time, I didn’t know how to go about acting on what their customer feedback revealed. Not surprising that I employed the common practice. I made the numbers visible and I tried to motivate everybody to exceed the goal. And then plan for a party when we did it. Sound familiar?
If you’re curious, we made it – but it didn’t last.
At the time, I was ignorant to being able to navigate my way through these rough waters and learn how to find a course that was calm and sustainable. Instead of implementing the common practice and thinking I had the right path, I should have sought out the leading practice and set out on a more rewarding journey.
The Linchpin in Improving Scores
Ultimately, I came to learn that making improvements didn’t come down to who conducted the survey process. It affected the speed, but not the course of action to take. In a contact center most of the numbers you need to manage require you to lead people, not manage them. The course of action is to manage processes, procedures, quality, systems, reporting, and scheduling, but you must lead people.
It’s difficult for some contact center leaders to grasp, as it once was for me, but it’s the frontline that is the most important component in the customer experience. Even the best strategy in the world will fail if the frontline is unable to execute it.
The most important people in the entire ecosystem of contact center success is the frontline supervisor. They must take all of the strategies, practices, procedures, culture, and metrics and convert them into outcomes by guiding, directing, delegating, supporting, teaching, and coaching the frontline agents. Agents can’t do that for themselves, they need to focus on interacting with customers. It’s the supervisors that are the linchpin (Read Article: The Call Center Linchpin – The Frontline Supervisor) that holds everything together.
High-performing contact centers know that supervisors need to be given the tools to apply all that is needed in to practice. Supervisors need to be able to lead people towards displaying the desired behaviors that will drive up your survey scores – or any other targeted metric. The common and incorrect approach is to manage the people to getting to the desired survey target (or any other target).
Enabling the Fronltine Supervisor
You must equip supervisors with the knowledge and skills to help your contact center succeed or else they will feel very helpless. Like for me, as a contact supervisor I had a key objective to move beyond the actual work activities of the contact center to performing the work well. And that meant continuous improvement had to be a focus to deliver beyond the desired business outcome. I needed the leading practices, not the common ones.
While the quality of your customer feedback program does impact how effective and quickly changes can occur, getting improvements in your survey scores is about implementing behaviors, not managing numbers. To do that, the better value and long-term sustainable approach (not the industry standard) is to develop supervisor leadership skills and abilities that deliver your desired success.
It’s time for you to ignore the survey scores and focus on the leading practice.