Let me tell you one of my pet peeves. Many people don’t know the different between best practice benchmarking and surveying, and they apply the results of each in all the wrong ways.
Best practice benchmarking is conducted to find best practices. (That’s an eye opener, I’ll bet!) Surveys, on the other hand, simply tell you what other call centers are doing. It may or may not be a best practice.
A best practice is a double-edged sword. What seems to be a best practice for one call center may not be for the next. Not all best practices make fiscal sense to a call center in its quest for excellence. Companies can no longer pursue “best-in-class” without demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
When benchmarking first came on the scene, people were excited and wanted to benchmark everything. Benchmarking nay-sayers claimed that the benchmarking teams were engaged in “industrial tourism.” People were visiting contact centers just to get out of the office -- and maybe get a few good ideas. Strict preparation was seldom done and agendas were seldom followed.
I spoke with Sally just after she had been promoted to contact center director. She wanted, in the worst way, to visit another center. She finally found another center manager who was willing to let her visit. Sally tried to sell the trip to her management as a benchmarking opportunity.
They didn’t buy it.
Well, Sally decided to go on her own. She drove four hours to the other center. When she arrived, the other director graciously ushered Sally into his office. As they settled in, the center director politely asked Sally what her questions were. Sally hadn’t thought to write them down. She was able to think of some on the spur of the moment. Sally continued to emphasize that she really wanted to “see” the call center.
After 60 agonizing minutes, the center director finally said, “Well, you want to go take a look?” Sally was elated. They both stood up to walk out the office door. Immediately after crossing the threshold, the director stopped, made a sweeping gesture with his right hand and asked, “Well, how do you like it?” Sally was sure there would be more, but after a couple of very quiet moments during which the director didn’t move from the doorway, she answered, “It’s very nice.” The director commented, “Yes, we think so.” The director then returned to his desk to wrap things up. Sally thought, “This is it? This is what I took a day off work for and drove four hours to experience?”
No, Sally. There is so much more – especially in the preparation!