In our March 2016 blog we made the bold statement that the job of a contact center is to try and personalise all of its work so that customers get to talk to a friendly face. Not just someone who can pull up their personal details on a screen, but ideally someone who knows them and with whom they have a personal relationship.
We had some interesting feedback on this idea. The general view seemed to be that if you have got the right brand and a customer has had good service before, then they should be happy to speak to anyone and keep doing business. OK, but what if the customer has had dealings with Ted before and has had a really good experience? Wouldn't he feel even happier talking to Ted again? Sure he would and human nature being what it is, Ted is likely to do more business with the customer as a result, than any other of his colleagues would.
So our contact center encourages Ted to develop personal relationships with its customers and in no time at all his work queue starts to fill up with emails, SMSs, chat requests and voice calls. Ted loves it. He is master of his own destiny – running his own little business. So far so good.
But Ted's supervisor has some good business concerns. He trusts Ted, but knows that he needs some tools to manage his workflow and be sure that all items in his work queue are processed within an acceptable time. Go outside the time, then depending on the work item, an alert gets raised for Ted and/or his supervisor. This could mean that Ted is just overloaded and needs to give up some of his accounts to others, or it might just be a signal to hurry up a bit!
The supervisor has another concern. He really doesn't want to reduce his team's effectiveness by moving work that breaks personal bonds, but he has his own growth targets, which include simply getting more new customers. And to do this he wants Ted to spend some time working outside of his own work queue, helping to run campaigns that generate new customers. Ted may not be too keen on this, particularly if he is earning good money by servicing his current personal contacts, but it has to be done.
And all this makes the job of the supervisor really challenging since he is being asked to maximise the surefire returns that well-functioning personal work queues run by Ted can deliver, against the need to switch Ted into business development campaigns.