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Gaining board level support for your call/contact centre

For anyone who is involved with call/contact centre operations, the benefit that this service offers to the overall brand image and customer management of the company is obvious. However – without question it is a misunderstood entity by many executives who only see them a glorified receptionist desk. If ever questioned on the amount of money and resource that travels through the centre on a daily basis the answer would be unclear. For those in the know it is imperative that we capsulate our knowledge in a manner that can be understood by those in head office.

Gaining board level commitment is imperative if the call/contact centre is to gain the respect and the resources that other divisions

of the organisation may take for granted?

It is one thing for a Call Centre/Contact Manager to produce facts and figures to gain the support of their internal supervisors and staff. However it must be noted that company directors read these statistics in a very different manner. An example of this is under the heading of motivation and staff retention – call centre agents see this as a very important part of their everyday life. Churn of agents can cause a great deal of disruption on the call/contact centre floor and have an adverse affect on staff moral. As the voice of the communication centre it is a must to understand the two faces of your role – HR and Finance Director all rolled into one.

To head office and board level motivation does not mean happy - it stands tall for Money. A happy work force is a productive workforce and hence a more satisfied customer base.

Through the use of CRM systems and up to the minute call rates software, today’s manager has everything that they need to show the success of the call/contact centre. It is all in the presentation – you must first appreciate the goals and the output that the reader expects to see from these figures. Being the first point of contact for customer’s means that agents have the opportunity to make the real change in the customer’s perceptions of the organisations. Sometimes this is difficult to convey in an operational and cost analysis report, as attributing people into percentage spend verses incoming revenue can be next to impossible. However, the answer has being in front of managers the whole time – it

is not always apparent, as call/contact centre are guilty of reverse stereotyping. Many see board level executives as faceless bean counters that have no real understanding of what really happens in the call/contact centre. If this is true, then only one side can put it right. YOU!

The day-to-day success stories that may range in numbers and over hundreds of calls must be noted and recorded. Board level needs to see the bigger picture through the stats and figures that support a worthwhile entity in the call / contact centre. However, as you would least expect they also need the little success stories. We all know the one - how agent 123 convinced the customer not to change suppliers and in fact got them to upgrade their service.

Board level executives also need and want to see the centre as the living breathing, brand supportive unit that we all know it to be.

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Call Centre Managers need to take a chance and step outside their safety net by inviting walking tours of the centre. Allow board level to see what the figures really relate to - hard working loyal people. If given the opportunity have the executives listen into a few calls and if real daring get them to even take a few themselves.

During the visit have a check list of the technology and impress them with the productive savings that their budget has enabled the company to take advantage of. During the visit it is up to you to determine better ways to convey the call/contact centres successes back to the board.

As part of your strategy to gain board level commitment it is very useful to gain the support of the internal communications and marketing department. To gain recognition, the centre has to be seen as an active member of the infrastructure of the organisation. Too often the call/contact centre is seen as an extension - or worse - a completely different mind set of the company.

Through a pro-active internal communication strategy the centre can be seen as an invaluable part of the corporate team and hence better understood by those you are trying to build a relationship with. It is up to the Call/Centre Managers to not only present the true

figures and cost of the call/contact centre but to speak on behalf of all the agents. Allow them the respect that they deserve – be their voice to say, "We are valuable members of the corporate strategy". Once that is done it will not be the Call/Contacts Centres manager’s job to gain the respect but that of the team to maintain it.

Copyright Author:
Amita Krishna,
Director of KrisTEL

Call Centre Europe
April 2001.