The 24x7 Dilemma – Is Your Contact Center Your Competitive Advantage?

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For the last few years, leading contact center operations, I have created many different scheduling approaches.  Creative, innovative opportunities, conducted focus groups, attempting to make working the evenings or the weekends appealing – supporting 24x7.  The challenge remains!  Continually looking for ways to balance the needs of employees along with the organization’s desire to be 24x7.  Volumes are significantly reduced during these timeframes, but you still need still staff.  Being creative certainly can help, but it does not change the fact you need to schedule folks during these times.  However, most people do not want to work nights and weekends. 

If you ask, “do we really need to be 24/7”, the discussion will stop immediately.  So many organizations consider this the Holy Grail in service.  Is it?  How many organizations are willing to actually step back and determine if they are really providing service or just answering the phone?  I actually did one analysis where we evaluated a certain “products” overnight/weekend calls.  100% of the clients were told to call back, every one!  When approaching the product leader, they would not even have the conversation, just indicated, “We are 24/7”!  Net Promoter Scores (NPS) tend to be lower at night based on additional analysis I have conducted or reviewed, are yours?  Most organizations are unwilling to staff every function and leave the evening/weekend folks to fend for themselves.  Is that customer service?  Night and weekend scheduled staff turnover is typically higher, impacting the service you deliver.  It is a never ending cycle. 

With the advancement of speech analytics, organizations can analyze the service they provide at every hour and every call type.  Determine if your self-service channels are sufficient or if there are other opportunities to enhance your digital channels.

Are you really providing great service if:

·         If you tell the client to call back?

·         Your most inexperienced people working at this time,

·         Most importantly, you do not have an effective support staff to well, support the employee and client. 

As a client, “NO”!  I would much prefer to hear, we are now closed, and our awesome, experienced staff are here during these hours.  Or, please select a time that works for you during these times and we will call you back at your preferred number.  Or even better, our virtual agent can assist you with some aspects of your call or schedule a time we can call you back.  Unless your services are life/death support or you are obtaining high sales during these times, do you actually need to strain your employees and lessen your service offering to just indicate, “We are 24x7”?  Is being open 24x7 your service differentiator or is the service you provide via technology or when assisting a client what makes you the best? 

There is so much awesome technology in the marketplace, virtual agents and call back scheduling, to name a few.  Leverage these if you need to continue 24x7 support, let your client’s know your most experienced staff will be there to help you at specific times.  Schedule your people when you clients need you and you can provide exceptional service during your “live” hours.  Your contact center staff should be your competitive advantage not just “24x7” support.  When a client calls, they have attempted probably all other options – it should be an exceptional experience.  Creativity in staffing is not just trying to fit into what everyone else is doing or attempting every schedule imaginable, it is looking at alternatives and continually assessing how you can best support your clients and engage your staff.    Your people are what are going to set you apart.  And guess what, most people do not want to work nights and weekends. 

Is your contact center your competitive advantage?  Are you ready to break out of the mold and be disruptive!  Want to analyze the service you provide and have a highly engaged staff, give me a call.