The Key to Great Customer Service: Collaboration


Share on LinkedIn



When it comes to creating an exceptional service culture, nothing is more important than a team’s ability to collaborate well.  Both the agent and the customer experience will be exponentially better with 360 degrees of partnership – agents partnering with each other to share knowledge and solve problems, leadership partnering alongside agents to understand the front line, and everyone partnering with customers to foster a meaningful relationship.  It may sound simple, but building this type of environment is quite difficult.  Here are three proven ways to promote collaboration, as well as three behaviors to avoid.


Thumbsup Collaboration Enhancer No. 1: Limit Top-Down Decision Making

Typically when a change is made in a contact center environment, it is leadership reviewing a set of metrics, deciding on a course of action, and announced to the agents as “the new thing.”  Most change should flow in the opposite direction.  Empower your agents by giving them raw data and challenge them with your service vision.  Ask your whole staff, not just leadership, how the customer experience or the agent experience could be improved.  When a team member comes up with an idea that makes a difference, it should be widely celebrated.  This will give everyone buy-in to the decision making process and they will no longer be victim to the “change of the week” from senior management.


ThumbsupCollaboration Enhancer No. 2: Get Out of the Office!Image

In order to build a relationship culture where people are excited to collaborate, they need to build friendships outside of the office.  The workplace is almost impossible to connect on a human level with the constant barrage of problems.  People will often start to resent their co-workers in a high-stress environment….unless you give them a chance to decompress and form a real bond.


ThumbsupCollaboration Enhancer No 3: Walk the Walk

As a leader, you can talk about a collaborative environment till you’re blue in the face, but until you walk the walk and actually set the example it’s not going to happen.  Show your team what it looks like to break down silos and form partnerships.  Resist the temptation to speak negatively about other leaders.  You may think your earning credibility with your team, but inside they will just wonder what you are saying about them behind closed doors.  If you build others up, you are pouring a strong foundation for collaboration.  See “A Promise of Positivity” for more on this topic.


thumbsdownCollaboration Detractor No 1 – Overuse of CompetitionImage2

Competition can be a great motivator, and should be sprinkled into your reward / gamification programs for variety.  However, the vast majority of the time should be working for ways to bring people together and align toward a common goal.  It’s nice to establish a winner, but in doing so you simultaneously create a larger population of losers.  Your objectives in a contact center are such that everyone should be working together to achieve and win – ultimately helping the customer to win.


thumbsdownCollaboration Detractor No 2 – Allowing Negativity to Fester

As Petra Coaching says, “A players will not play with C players for long.”  If there are no consequences for poor performance or negativity among the team, collaboration will fail.  People should be inspired to work at their highest level and respect their peers.  This is nearly impossible if they look around and see agents that are not meeting expectations and nothing is done about it.  Accountability must exist on all levels and be part of the culture.


thumbsdownCollaboration Detractor No. 3 – Polarizing Quality Management

Quality Management should be a process in which management and employees identify improvement opportunities together and work on them together.  It should be channel for helpful feedback and building them up as objectives are achieved.  There is a fantastic article by Jeremy Hyde on how to involve you agents and foster collaboration through your quality management process.  Check it out here.


Image3We hope these tips will help your team to play in harmony with one another!  Please share anything you’ve done or seen to enhance a spirit of collaboration within the contact center.

Originally posted on Photos by Nate Brown

Nate Brown
Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience 2015. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019. As a passion project, Nate created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate currently serves as the Chief Experience Officer for Officium Labs.


  1. Nate, this is a great article! I love your point on limiting top-down decision making. There are so many cases as a leader where it seems so much easier to hand down a decision but it’s so much easier to get buy in when involving others in the process.

  2. Thank you Jeremy!! It may take a bit longer and even be harder at times, however IMO collaborative decision making of this type is way more likely to create lasting change.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here