Recruiting. Retention. Training. These were the lead discussion points that came from last week’s Atlanta Contact Center Executive Forum (CCEF). It was our 32nd event and we had a terrific turn-out of contact center leaders from companies across many industries. Networking and active conversation took place throughout the luncheon which was highlighted by an informative panel discussion on the hot topics and challenges facing contact centers today.
Hire Dynamics friend and board of advisors member, Peter Bourke, successfully moderated the panel of four experts who talked about several contact center growth areas and challenges – some more predictable than others. Our panelists included LuAna Boykins of Outcomes Health (an Altegra Health company), Kenny Butler of Benchmark Brands, Jeff Lee of SPH Analytics (formally The Myers Group) , and Mike Marrow of Qualfon, Inc.
Peter kicked off the conversation by asking the panel what their greatest concerns or challenges are today when running a contact center. Most of the comments centered on the data. Mike shared, “Breaches in data integrity and release of personal information can ruin your business. It keeps me up at night.” Kenny’s comments focused on the integrity of the data: “We can be data rich but information poor. We have the numbers, but are they telling you the story and informing you on where to improve. If we can’t measure customer service, we can’t improve it.”
When asked what has changed most dramatically in the contact center industry in the last 12 months, responses came back echoing the customer experience and the increase of customer touch points these days. Kenny shared that engaging or hiring customer experience experts is a new thing. Mike shared that most companies don’t offer the ability for customers to text, but that customers want it. He feels there will be a massive movement to allow customers to text over the next five years, and with that comes the need for a different profile of team members and new data security measures.
Recruitment and retention were much of the focus. Jeff shared that even with a 25 percent salary increase, recruiting and retaining talent is an ongoing problem. LuAna said that a huge issue for them is aligning skill sets with talent they can afford. “The key to recruiting is retention,” Mike said, so his company is “obsessive about it and start showing the love on day one.” For example, Qualfon started “Fun Clubs” for employees with similar interests (photography, origami) that the company funds, and they place chaplains in each contact center for employees to talk with about anything work related or otherwise. He says a focus on retention has saved his company millions each year.
Kenny talked more in depth about training: “Hire the right people [with character], teach them to do the job, and create a relationship.” He shares that it is critical to start out strong. A focus on that aspect dropped Benchmark Brands’ attrition to almost nothing within the first 90 days. LuAna said her company is working to make the training process more circular and looking for trends in the data to tweak their training and make it better. Additionally, Kenny says to budget for it. His company dedicates a half hour to every employee every week for training, this is in addition to coaching. “You need to put in the time and effort, but if you don’t budget for it, then your team won’t execute on it.”
A lot of informative insights came from the 2015 Atlanta CCEF and we thank those who took time out of their day to participate. Also, we want to thank our friends at Noble Systems for partnering on this event with us.
We hope you can join us next year. As the contact center industry continues to change and evolve, there will be much to discuss. Until then!