Contact Centre: The Reiteration Relapse Cycle

Breaking out of the reiteration relapse cycle – Mary Clarke, CEO, Cognisco

agent.image.sep.2016Consumers’ frustrations about contact centres are well documented. Results from a quick Google search will flag up various multi-million pound regulatory fines, consumer complaints, mediocre league table standings and poor consumer ratings.

But speak to anyone in the contact centre industry and they’ll tell you they’re working day and night to improve their metrics and KPIs, and investing funds and resources to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.

Thanks to technology and data innovation, contact centres today are supported by increasingly optimised and refined systems and processes.

Happy workforces are promoted through positive and flexible working environments and regular training and staff development. All these factors should enable contact centres and their staff to flourish and provide excellent customer experiences at every touchpoint.

But it simply isn’t happening. The results aren’t improving in spite of the significant investments that companies are making.

So why isn’t it working?

We believe the problems of poor or average satisfaction levels, low net promoter scores, and poor league table rankings are not the problem, but symptoms of deeper root causes.

Call centres (understandably) try to address these symptoms by providing more training to their people, implementing new technology or further refining processes. But this approach doesn’t work, so they do more of the same, because they think addressing the symptoms will resolve it.

We call this the reiteration relapse – trying to solve the symptoms with: more training, more systems, more people, more process refining and more investment.

So if the scores and satisfaction are only symptoms, what are the root causes that are driving this perceived need for more?

– 1. Recall does not mean understanding – assessing the quantity of the training provided or the recall levels of staff don’t actually help organisations succeed. Staff may remember the facts when tested, but unless they understand how and when to apply the knowledge in practice, it will result in consistent errors and a perceived need for more training.

– 2. Confidence is often misplaced – typically 30% of people in organisations have misplaced confidence in their capability and understanding. These people bring risk into a business because whilst they think they are doing the right thing, they continuously make incorrect or misjudged decisions and may influence others in the process.

– 3. More usually means less – more training often becomes less effective particularly as some will have heard it before and switch off.

– 4. Infrastructure can be misaligned – the success of processes and systems rely on the people who implement, manage and use them. Unless these are built with the capability of the workforce in mind, they are not likely to have the desired results, no matter how often they are refined.

So what’s missing from existing ‘solutions’?

People Insight – without insight into what each person understands about the expected standards of performance and behaviour in their role and any gaps in their understanding; call centres will still fail to address their problems.

Instead of benchmarking and correlating data based on how many people have completed a course; call centre managers need data focusing on what people understood about their training.

Providing people with knowledge (through training) is not the same as helping people understand how to apply it. People may know something is correct when they are tested, but when they are on the phone dealing with a difficult customer, they may not understand how to apply that knowledge effectively. Small errors in judgement can creep in and these can escalate and compound into larger problems over time.

Often people then try to mask gaps in their understanding, capability or competence with overconfidence, which is a big risk.

Our evidence suggests that as many as 30% of any workforce promote the wrong behaviours and practices because they are unconsciously incompetent. These individuals may also influence their less confident colleagues, so this figure is likely to grow.

Without a view of the levels of misunderstanding across a workforce, it’s really difficult for any company to identity these people and get to the nub of their problems.

All companies also have competent, capable and confident individuals who make the best leaders. Typically, these individuals comprise around 20% of a workforce. These business champions need to be developed in the right way – they don’t need the same training courses as everyone else because they are likely to become frustrated and bored.

That leaves the 50% who have specific and varied development needs. Whilst they don’t pose a significant risk to the KPIs or objectives, they need tailored support.

This doesn’t require companies to invest vast sums into individual support per person. Usually, all the resources are already embedded into the organisation, but companies need a view of their individual development needs so they can deploy specific resources effectively.

With critical people insight companies will not only improve customer satisfaction scores improve but be able to evidence the efficacy of their existing training and L&D investments and accurately target where it is placed in the future.

This will also improve workforce engagement, give leaders with confidence and the tools they need to support the specific needs of employees, as well as helping them to identify, manage and mitigate likely issues before they escalate.

With this insight, call centres can finally break out of the endless and frustrating cycle of reiteration relapse.

Cognisco.mary.clarke.image.march.2016Additional Information

Mary Clarke is CEO at Cognisco

For additional information on Cognisco visit their Website

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