It seems most leaders have struggled with these goals many times in their careers. Employees hear “decrease quality” when they hear the boss ask for increased productivity. Many leaders asking for better quality are afraid to decrease productivity. I have witnessed many companies where employees became the de facto “defenders” of quality and the leaders the defenders of productivity. Not a very encouraging place to be.
Productivity and quality is not a unique challenge to call centers, but the two values have a particular make-up in the contact centers. ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) systems provide easy access to productivity metrics. Furthermore, easily accessible metrics makes productivity the more objective of the two measurements. Objectivity is still possible with quality standards but remains a little more demanding to define than productivity standards.
To avoid creating this elusive dichotomy within your contact center, here are a few suggestions:
Do not underestimate the power of aligning your metrics/goals with your corporate mission.
People tend to readily follow leaders that demonstrate evidence that they know where they are going. When goals and metrics are detached, or appear detached from any bigger picture, people tend to not take them seriously.
Do not change your values on a regular basis.
If your values/goals are connected to a corporate mission, they are less likely to change unless the mission changes. Stability of objectives inspires confidence and trust. Lack of consistency projects a lack of commitment; people learn by example and will imitate this lack of commitment.
“…Serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other..”
Although, a great corporate mission statement will rarely change, it might be a question of survival to re-evaluate goals. Have the wisdom to know the proper time and method to apply the appropriate changes to new goals. Keep them aligned.
When changes are deemed necessary, do not underestimate a grand communication plan.
People will respect change and adapt to change favorably when they understand the rationale. Be respectful to their intellect and spend the required time to ensure your changes are explained, and make sure that new goals are still aligned correctly with mission. Pay now or pay later.
When a conflict is perceived between productivity and quality deal with it immediately.
Do not ignore it – it is viral.
People will listen to you when they feel you have understood them first. As Stephen Covey said “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood”. Have discussions with your people, ask questions, genuinely seek to understand what their point of view is. Act like they truly have the best interest of your customers at heart. You will be surprised at what they have to share.
Get your employees involved in finding solutions to set proper balanced goals. Build empowerment.
It is not in the “or” but in the “and” that you will find the synergy. Always demonstrate the value of productivity goals and the value of quality goals. Always include both values anytime any one of them is at play. And explain how they each play a critical role in ensuring the success of “their” company. Be transparent.