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Contact Center Home Runs and Singles

April 14, 2015

baseballBaseball season is in full swing and with it the dreams for new-found success. Adrian Gonzalez opened the Dodgers season with pizzazz, hitting five home runs in the first three game series. That is a first in major league history.

Of course, overly enthusiastic fans are speculating on how great the Dodger season will be if he can maintain the pace. That would give Gonzalez 270 home runs and undoubtedly would put the Dodgers on top in league play. It would also be almost 200 more home runs than anyone has ever achieved in a single season, and more than the total home run record for any team ever. Fun to talk about but unlikely to happen.

Home runs are certainly attention getting and sell tickets. They help teams win games. But there are only a small number of players who can routinely hit homers. Counting on home run kings to win every game is a high stakes bet.

Statistically, the vast majority of hits are singles. Teams that have a large roster of players with high batting averages play ‘small ball’, getting players on base and advancing them for a chance to score on a good hit or increase the runs batted in on a homer. Home runs with the bases loaded are called ‘grand slams’ for a reason. Baseball teams that feature a few star hitters and lots of utility players have a strong offense.

Contact Center Home Runs

What’s all this got to do with the contact center? The home run equivalent in the contact center comes when something extraordinary happens. It’s what gets the social media headlines. Steaks delivered at the airport. Lost stuffed animals returned with a storybook of its ‘vacation’. Home runs are delighted customers, saved from the brink of loss. They are unusual one-time experiences.

Contact Center Singles

Contact center singles on the other hand are the everyday interactions that go well. They happen more often and more team members are able to reach the mark. Every team member is expected to be able to regularly gain success and together they create a winning experience.

We all can list companies that we know will provide a good experience each time we call. The specific agent does not matter—everyone is capable of delivering good service. We can all probably also list companies where results vary. Contact center teams built to consistently hit singles have a solid foundation for reliable experience.

Contact Center Team Success

There are several ways that contact center teams can achieve both home runs and reliable base hits.

  • Skilled routing. Route your calls based on the skill required. This fundamental matching can be a real hit, enabling faster call handling and happier customers.
  • Behavioral routing. Route calls based on the personality of the caller. Connect the best match agent to that caller and the call will go more smoothly.
  • Callbacks. Give the caller a chance to schedule a callback, then select the best agent for the call and give that agent as much background on the call as you have.
  • Speech analytics. Monitor in real-time the interaction between agent and caller. If the call strays into foul territory, intervene. If opportunities come up in the call, offer additional products or services that might advance the call to the next base.
  • Map the journey. Understand the journey your customer is on and match your interaction to it. Know where they have been and predict where they are going.
  • Avoid next issues. If you understand the journey, you can anticipate issues that may prompt additional interactions. Help the caller avoid these issues.
  • Resolution flexibility. Give agents and supervisors the power to solve problems before they escalate.
  • Proactive service. Don’t just wait for customers to contact you. Reach out through outbound notifications with advice, hints, program changes, incentives and so on.

Home runs will always get the glory. Make sure your contact center hits some every year. But remember that singles put runners on base and bat in runs, giving the opportunity to consistently win games.

Adrian Gonzalez had a chance for fourth home run in Game 3 but he chose instead to hit a single to send another teammate home, giving the team a better chance to win the game. Build a team of base hitters and a few super sluggers and you are set up for a winning season. Play ball!