Fragile or agile? A practical guide to building agility into your contact centre

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 5.37.58 pm.png

The world in which today’s contact centre operates is anything but predictable, the volatility, complexity and pace of change put enormous pressure on the people that work in them to meet the expectations of their customers. These people have higher expectations too. They demand greater flexibility around when and how they work even what work they do, and as such the need for a different type of leadership to support them.

In the face of this new world many contact centres find themselves too rigid and slow to respond due to excessive processes, hierarchical decision making and siloed teams. The people have no outlet for innovation and are often not engaged with the work they are doing.

So, what does this have to do with agile?

Having ‘agility’ built into your contact centre means it has the ability to adapt to change quickly and continuously learn while empowering every person to play a leadership role. When you do this engagement increases, service delivery improves and innovation becomes a daily practice that happens across the entire contact centre.

The key principles to building in agility are of transparency and empowering the people that do the work own the work. 

Why does this work? 

Whoever has the best information has the chance to make the best decisions, when that information is shared and discussed the quality of the decisions improves because of the conversation.

Discussion builds alignment and alignment breeds shared ownership.

Here’s how you can start to ‘build in’ agility to your contact centre.

VISUALISE IT

How many spreadsheets, reports or emails does your team need to navigate to reach the information they need to do their work?

Make visible as much information as possible for your team. Use physical walls, screens, or whiteboards to display the information they need to do the work: key customer processes, service level metrics …But be careful! If you display metrics, use metrics that are important to the team to do their job so they can deliver a great customer experience.

By making the “work” visible, you provide an environment of transparency and accountability where everyone knows what everyone else is doing and the state of play across the teams.  

Visualisation helps when a service delivery issue occurs or you have a process breakdown. Its immediately visible and the right people are looking at it daily and therefore can make decisions quickly on how to respond. The is agility.

START STAND UPS

How long do you spend every morning reading or sending emails to members of your team? And I bet those team members are sitting no further than 10 metres from where you sit.

Stand ups are short meetings – maximum 15 minutes - that happen everyday while everyone is standing up. They are an excellent way of getting all the members of your team on the same page very quickly.

Do your stand ups in front of your new visualisation wall and let the team that own the work run them. Give them the space to set the priorities and how they will organise themselves to get it done.

Stand ups improve communication and collaboration and if used properly, they are a great framework to share opportunities to improve the processes and the tasks that your team is working on.

The beauty of stand ups is the daily learning cycle, the chance to revise your approach and get better and better everyday.

HOLD RETROS

Retrospectives, or retros,  are meetings where the team looks back and discusses what has gone well or not so well over a period of time.

Each member shares their thoughts and through the meeting the team finds alignment on what is really important and what actions the team needs to take to address any issues. 

Generally, retros are run every two weeks,  but do what feels right for your team. I find them especially useful at the beginning of a change and when new teams are forming.  The key is to let the team talk as much as possible and let them find alignment with little intervention or guidance from the Leader. 

Once the team has decided on the main things they need to address, ask who wants to take the actions and empower and support them to solve those problems. You’ll see how quickly you will move from a culture of blame and complain, to one of empowerment and engagement. The key principle here is the people who do the work own the work.

When you purposefully ‘build in’ agility you will see a great improvement in the engagement, empowerment and happiness of your team and happy teams mean happy customers.

Credit to Joe Lawrence @ the Agile Eleven for inspiring this blog.

If you’d like to chat about how we can help you reinvent your contact centre, call us on 1300 524 457 or email us at info@theagilecontactcentre.com.au