Alignment – the simple key to driving contact center performance

This is the first installment in a series of posts where we’ll explore a simple performance management model for customer service.  The basic premise is that the performance of any function or organization can be dramatically improved through the accurate alignment of Expectations, Capabilities and Rewards.  Thus the model is simply called E-C-R.

The focus isn’t necessarily to explain the tactical implementation of the model, but to try to understand, once the elements are defined in this initial segment, how misalignment of the model’s elements lead to issues that continue to plague many customer service organizations. 

When evaluating improvements in customer service performance management, in general, I think we all do our best to focus on insuring that the metrics and measures are aligned with the corporate strategy. We want to exel in customer intimacy so one of our KPIs is the CSat scores. This is a valid starting point.   But what happens once the ‘right’ metrics are established? KPIs are simply targets.  How then does the organization align itself to those metrics and move them in the right direction?

A simple framework for consideration is the E-C-R model: Expectations, Capabilities and Rewards. Alignment needs to extend across all these components of the operating model. KPIs are expectations – the “E”.  This is what we state is important to the business and will drive our strategy. In order to move those KPIs in the desired direction, the organizational capabilities – the “C” – need to be aligned to those goals.

Everything from human capital skills, technology, plant and equipment and business processes needs to be evaluated and, most likely, retooled. We can’t implement CSat as our KPI and rely on the same call handling processes, training and skills development that leave customers’ issues unresolved, but AHT “optimized”.

Finally, the most critical and most challenging component of the model is the reward systems. From cash compensation to promotions, career pathing, and public recognition, the “R” will ultimately be the driver of change. For example, if the company is in a mature market, with a KPI of customer profitability, then why is the sales comp plan still focused exclusively on new logo acquisition and bookings?

Next: Who’s expectations are they any way?

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