6 Lessons the Army Can Teach You

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Colin Hay reveals how the lessons of his military career can influence best practice in your contact centre.

1. Create positive surroundings

They say an army marches on its stomach, and something very similar applies to agents when it comes to their work environment.

Are chairs comfortable? Is the office warm enough? Do staff have enough breaks and nourishing food in the canteen? Comfort leads to happier staff and happier customers.

2. Strike a good work/life balance

Build flexibility into schedules and ways of working in the contact centre. Ask agents what works for them. You might be surprised to find out that some people welcome the opportunity to work more in the evening or at weekends to accommodate other family or study commitments.

What about the high-performing, valuable agent who has a sick relative? Why not allow them to work from home? Technology makes it an easy option. Make schedules right for agents and it will be right for the contact centre and for customers.

3. Implement the GRILDAR approach

GRILDAR stands for Goal, Role, Involve, Listen, Delegate, Accountability and Reward.

  • Goal – Agents need to have clear goals for themselves and understand how they support the common goal.
  • Role – Everyone in the contact centre should understand the role they are playing to achieve those all-important metrics, be it 97% customer satisfaction or 85% first contact resolution (FCR), in the same way that some soldiers might operate the radio to keep communications going and others provide the food to keep the troops marching.
  • Involve – Agents perform better when they feel they are involved in making the contact centre a success. Managers should ask for input from staff with specialist knowledge and skills to get the most out of them and the contact centre.
  • Listen – Before changing the way you do things, listen to what agents say. As the people on the front line, they are likely to know better than you how something will work in practice. Give direction but allow agents to think for themselves. Do they really have to come back to you every time they want to give a customer a refund (potentially putting the already unhappy consumer on hold yet again)?
  • Delegate – A classic military pillar, delegation is about giving people motivation based around the concept of trust. Supervisors should trust their agents to answer enquiries and interact with customers because they have the expertise to understand the tone of a voice, keep a cool head and determine the quality of the customer experience.
  • Accountability – In the contact centre there are metrics to hit, so make everyone accountable, but foster a sense of achievement when individuals and teams succeed.
  • Reward – Live by the mantra ‘praise in public, discipline in private’ and you won’t go wrong when it comes to motivating people, whether in the army or in modern contact centres. Today’s consumers want to spend money when they like, how they like, and they demand instant attention and satisfaction. This puts pressure on agents and sometimes they will get it wrong. But only chastise them behind closed doors. Embarrassing them in front of their colleagues will do nothing for their morale and you will lose the respect of the whole team. This is bad for staff retention and service levels.

4. Supply the right training

You wouldn’t expect soldiers to be sent to a war zone without training them to use equipment, so why would you put agents in the firing line without the right support?

The right training in a fun environment boosts confidence and performance and ensures agents are up and running in no time.

5. Let technology be the enabler

Today’s military relies on modern weaponry as well as fitness and training. The contact centre should follow suit and take advantage of the latest cloud-based contact centre solutions to drive consistent and automated processes, accelerate response times and have a complete view of the customer to deliver the best possible, personalised service.

6. Become a customer engagement centre

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

Just as modern military operations are moving towards peacekeeping practices, contact centres are switching to multichannel customer engagement centres. Once again, it is about having the right people, with the right training, in the right place to handle customer service enquiries, regardless of the channel used or the situation that arises.

This is where technology can be an enabler, and with cloud-based contact centre software, organisations are able to:

  • aggregate social media posts using advance functionality for queuing, routing and service levels, regardless of communication channel
  • assign posts and create filtered queues to allow specially trained agents to speed up replies and avoid negative social media noise caused by slow response times
  • prioritise key influencers and important customers
  • integrate with CRM, other database and media archive solutions to store customer and conversation details
  • provide multiskilled agents with a total view of a customer’s interaction with the organisation, regardless of channel, thereby providing the ability to identify individual customer needs and business development opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell.

With thanks to Colin Hay at Intelecom

Published On: 9th Mar 2016 - Last modified: 22nd Mar 2017
Read more about - Archived Content,

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