Do you know where you’re going? Really? Whether you’re driving a car or a call center, you’re going to run into trouble sooner or later if your direction is even slightly different than you want it to be. That’s easy to understand on the highway; probably more than you want it to be. Just a few seconds of veering off course can have some pretty awful consequences. In a call center though, the outcome of poor direction can also be disastrous, but a lot harder to spot until you’ve hit a guardrail… or gone over a cliff.
The front tires in your car work best when they agree with each other, responding in tandem to the directions sent from the steering wheel down through a surprisingly intricate series of links and supports. When it works well, all those individual parts work so smoothly that you tend to think of it all as just one unit. You just tell the car to go one way or another, and it does.
However, if those front wheels lose their alignment, things start to go subtly wrong. The car will start to drift one way or another. The ride will get a whole lot bumpier. Those individual parts will start to show wear and tear long before they should. And before you know it, you’ll be replacing parts and spending money that you would much rather have spent some other way.
What happens when a call center loses its front-end alignment? We all know that in any call center the agents are where the rubber hits the road. But when those agents are no longer aligned, strategies and directions sent from the top become less and less effective at keeping things moving as they should. The agents may still be working hard, but now they’ll be working harder than they should, yet not getting as much accomplished. Over time, the problems will become more and more obvious, until finally things start to completely break down. Individuals will start to show wear and tear long before they should. And before you know it, you’ll be replacing agents and spending money that you would much rather have spent some other way.
To reduce the danger in a call center, do the same thing you’d do for your vehicle — give it a front-end alignment.
- Check to make sure the links and supports are in place and working properly.
- Make sure the directions from the top are getting through to the agents as they should.
- Make sure the messages from the front end are being received all the way back to the top. No one is closer to your customers than these agents. Use their insights wisely.
- Ensure the agents are all moving in tandem, and that everyone knows where things are ultimately headed… and what you need to do to get there.
Researchers have found that corporations and their employees often fall short in understanding each other. These researchers ask managers to write down their workers’ main responsibilities, and those workers are then asked what they think their main responsibility is. In a surprisingly high number of times, the two answers do not agree, or even come close to agreeing. Does your call center team truly know what is expected of them, and what their priorities are on any given call? Take the test. And fasten your seatbelt. You might be surprised at what your front end thinks you want them to do.