One of the key words for 2012 was “multi.” There was a noticeable increase in interest in multi-channel benchmarking, to which we are responding with an expanded survey, due out shortly.
We also saw a desire to take a multi-year approach to contact center performance measurement, as we signed a record number of agreements that last up to four years. Multi-country, multi-cultural and multi-lingual call center challenges have also taken increasing amounts of our attention.
There is an emerging multi-level approach to training of personnel. Managers are seeing an advantage in having complementary best practices baked into courseware for call center leadership, supervisors and agents. That way they know their people are not just learning good skills, they are acquiring a cohesive culture that favors continuous improvement – – top to bottom.
We also saw increasing numbers of centers striving for and achieving certification as Centers of Excellence. Partly as a result of this, our Call Center Campus event in Las Vegas attracted a record number of people and included inspiring presentations and a lot of sharing among the participants.
For 2013 we expect the “multi” phenomenon to grow significantly, and social media will start to increase its mindshare in the “multi-channel” category.
In addition, people will be less inclined toward the “once and done” approach to assessment and improvement anymore. They want ongoing information and tracking to help them manage; they crave a supportive community to which they can turn for advice and assistance. Every manager and every management team can use a sounding board to bounce off ideas and seek solutions. We are creating a community membership program for 2013 to respond to this need.
A corollary of this is a move toward making benchmarking (and the improvement processes that go with it) into a management tool, instead of just a once-a-year report card. Automated benchmarking, which is provided by our new iBenchmark product, will allow managers to track their progress against their industry on a monthly basis, providing the feedback needed to stay on top of things, and not be taken by surprise at the end of the year.
We wish everyone in our industry a wonderful 2013. We have no illusions about the financial challenges that face us all, but remain convinced that a strong customer contact function is the best defense in tough economic times. Also, experience shows that communication, peer sharing and trying new best practices are the ingredients that help make our sector exciting and fun. Happy New Year!