People Insight: Solving the CX Reiteration Relapse

What is a reiteration relapse?

The word reiteration means to say or do something again, or many times over. Relapse is often used when a person who, after a period of improvement, becomes ill again or starts exhibiting prior bad behaviours – they relapse into a previous habit or condition.

Marrying these terms in a commercial context, means to do something repeatedly, which may produce a minor improvement for a short period of time, before ultimately resulting in the same or worse outcome.

Unfortunately call centres are amongst many industries who are often caught in a reiteration relapse, resulting in poor customer experience and internal and external metrics to be lower than expected, despite the individuals’ and organisations’ best efforts.

The good news is, call centres can resolve this challenge with evidenced based insights on their biggest asset – their people.

How can we be sure?

We as are in the age of information and big data, and consumer demand has pushed organisations to become more transparent and authentic. The call centre industry, like many others, has embraced these challenges to meet ever evolving customer demands. This has enabled many call centres to provide positive and flexible working environments, and roll-out engaging training and development for a (generally) happy workforce, which is supported by increasingly optimised and refined processes.

Together these should enable all call centres and their staff to flourish, to meet company objectives and to perform against industry KPIs, whilst (perhaps most importantly) providing excellent customer experiences – every time across every touch point.

However the reality is that in many cases call centres and their teams struggle to achieve these things. The evidence can be seen on Google – a quick search will provide the details of the latest fines, complaints and below par industry metrics.

We believe this is because call centres are looking at their problems in the wrong way.

Evidence we have gathered from working with some of the largest call centres across the industry indicates that the problems they think they face are not actually the problem; but are in fact symptoms of deeper root causes.

Call centres (understandably) try to address these symptoms and improve results, typically by providing more training to their people and further refining systems and processes. Inexplicitly this often doesn’t solve the problem or provide the desired results, and when measures don’t improve again, they resort to doing more of the same thing, because they think addressing the symptoms will solve the problem.

That is The CX Reiteration Relapse – trying to address symptoms with more – More training. More systems. More people. More process refinement. More investment.

Typically this then means that questions are asked about the efficiency of the call centre operation and in turn about the ROI from the company’s investment in training and L&D.

It is no wonder then, that a recent blog evidenced that attrition rates are so high in the industry (and significantly higher than many other industries), and that a fifth of contact centres are actively seeking an alternative workforce management system in an attempt to resolve their challenges. The same blog highlights that 43% of contact centres also believe technology doesn’t meet their needs and an average 79% believe systems will fail to meet their future needs.

So how do call centres begin to think differently about their problem?

If issues with KPI’s and metrics are only symptoms, what actually are the root causes that are driving this perceived need for More?

1. Recall does not mean understanding – assessing the quantity of the training or measuring recall levels doesn’t help call centres provide great service. Staff may recall the facts when tested and appear highly capable, but unless they understand how and when to apply the knowledge in practice, will result in consistent errors and a perceived need for even more training

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

3. More usually means less – more training often becomes less effective because those that have heard it before usually switch off, and therefore valuable training budgets are not used effectively or used to support specific needs

4. Infrastructure is often misaligned – the success of processes and systems wholly rely on the people who are tasked with implementing, managing and using them, and yet unless these are built with the current capability of the workforce in mind, they are likely to not have the desired results no matter how often they are refined.

So how do call centres address these root causes?

The component that is missing from existing call centre ‘solutions’ is evidence based People Insights.

This insight and evidence will provide call centres with a picture of what each person and team understands about the training they have been provided, the processes that are in place, their (likely and observed) behaviour and where the specific gaps are in understanding. Typically the 80/20 rule applies – 20% of your employees are already competent and confident and therefore do not require normal training, 50% of your people have very specific gaps in either knowledge or confidence and then 30% are over confident in their ability but continuously make the wrong decisions. Using evidenced based people insight is the only way of identifying and plugging these gaps.

Specifically that means call centres will be able to:

– Ensure and evidence that each individual actually understands how to and when to use the knowledge they have been given appropriately

– Align the appropriate learning and training resources to support each individual as and when they need it

– See and understand any emergent trends or issues that require early intervention, thus avoiding major and costly issues

Our advice to call centres is to rethink benchmarking data based on how many people have been through training and instead seek out data on who has understood it and how they are applying it. They will then be able to align their existing infrastructure as required, refining and building processes that link to the current capabilities and behaviours of the existing workforce, and deploy training only to those that need it for particular development. The approach will also evidence the effectiveness and ROI of those investments.

Addressing these root causes with people insight will dramatically help improve call centres internal and external KPI’s, improve their customer experience and reduce the risk of fines and untoward media and consumer attention.



By Cognisco

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