I’m not a chess expert, but like most people, I am aware of the basic rules and I know that it’s a game of skill and strategy. Of course, experienced players will tell me it’s much more than that but… In this article, I would like to use this metaphor to open your mind.

For more than ten years now…

I have been giving lectures, on behalf of LOEM, at various venues dedicated to customer contact centers. I can recall one of the first conferences I attended in 2008, where I discussed the importance of the agent: The agent is the voice of your organization. Following the conference, some of the participants told me that they thought my content was interesting, but utopian. That in reality it was impossible to realize such ideas. That my business would not last long if my thought process remained the same.

As a young entrepreneur, these early comments struck me and have stayed with me all this time. 10 years later however, LOEM is still here and continues to advocate these same values. And it is now, at the end of these 10 years, that contact centers are finally beginning to change. This is what is most important to me.

Do you think that I was avant-garde when I proposed these new ideas in that early lecture? I do not believe so. I am just a realist. An entrepreneur who has been immersed in the life of contact centers since the age of 18 and witnessed, first hand, the evolution of technology. I was an agent whose vast experiences evolved into a dream of helping contact centers.

Guy Winch: lecturer and author of “The Squeaky Wheel”

Last year, at an event held by Calabrio in the United States, I had the opportunity of attending a conference by Guy Winch [1], PhD in Psychology, lecturer and author of “The Squeaky Wheel”, read by more than 4.5 million people. His presentation focused on customer service. To put this into context, the psychologist was explaining the birth of call centers that appeared after a study conducted by students and supervised by John A. Goodman. This study, commissioned by the White House in the early 1970s, recommended the introduction of toll-free telephone numbers (1-800) to provide customers the opportunity to express any dissatisfaction. Faced with this new wave of incoming calls, organizations reacted by creating specific departments to respond to them.The results of this study reversed conventional wisdom and contributed to the positioning of customer service as a potential profit center. LOEM is not avant-garde … John A Goodman [2] was.

45 years later, LOEM’s principle mandates are the optimization and transformation of customer contact centers into the omni-channel. I take this opportunity to have you reflect a little on this transformation.

The voice of your organization

Customer contact centers are and always will be the voice of your organization and, even more so, the voice of your customers. Your centers will not disappear, but they will transform. Do not be a spectator to this change. Plan for it according to your organization’s strategic vision. This vision is the key to the success of your business and the engine that will power its growth.

Many organizations desire to implement new technologies and want to be more efficient. These same organizations also hope to integrate new channels of communication and distribution. These are good initiatives, I agree. However, before you can even consider making such purchases or changes, you must ensure consistency with the overall vision and take the time to define it as needed. Without direction and a strategic vision, what will really be achieved? Ask yourself: why do all this?

Obviously, without your customers, your organization would not exist. They must therefore become the core of your strategic thought process. There is popular term that exists: the customer experience… but what does that really mean?

The customer experience is not just the result of the Net Promoter Score, the customer satisfaction survey or the drop-out rate of your customers. The customer experience is knowing the habits and needs of the clients and being able to adapt to them. It is the ability go beyond those needs. It’s also about creating an experience that promotes the image of your business and evoking a positive emotional response from the customer.

Once you have clearly defined your vision and the desired customer experience, it now comes time to implement it. You want the transformation to be a success? Think about who will performing it on a daily basis: your agents. Before thinking about the customer experience, we must therefore think about the employee experience.

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Your agents represent the voice of your organization. They are first and last contact between your customer and your company. A relationship must first be established in order to create an experience. The goal of your contact center is therefore, to create relationships between two people. So make sure that these relations are pleasant and positive. Moreover, do not neglect the power of your agent, after all, they represent 50% of the relationship. You only have one chance to deliver your strategy and customer experience. As in a game of chess…

Furthermore, invite all levels of management and all departments of the organization to visit your contact center and meet with your agents. All must become aware and understand the stakes at play in the contact center and the transformation taking place.

Sensitize the stakeholders of the changes being made, since every aspect directly impacts your agents: work environment, schedules, tools, training, coaching and their quality of life. Remember, the impact on the agent always results in an impact on your customer.

Do not neglect your agents so as not to find yourself in checkmate.

Marie-HélèneAuthor: Marie-Hélène Savard
President & CEO, LOEM


[2] Jonh A. Goodman is a co-author of the 1970’s breakthrough study of consumer complaint behavior and customer service for the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, one of the original trailblazers of the customer experience industry. His contributions to this research overturned conventional wisdom and were instrumental to repositioning customer care as a potential profit center.