In this series, we explore the stories, challenges, and victories of customer experience champions. Our goal is to explore, share and learn from each other’s experiences to create more efficient experiences for customers, companies, and agents.
Melanie Jameson – The Contact Center Heroine
Vice President – Client Success at Allied Telecom Group
What do you do when you’re a veteran customer care advocate charged with building a new call center for a small, price-conscious telecom company? How do you define your strategy? Your priorities? How do you select the right technology solutions? What do you do first?
Those are some of the exact questions we posed to Melanie Jameson, Vice President of Client Success at Allied Telecom Group based in the Washington D.C. area. Melanie comes from a strong telecom history, has managed small call centers. She is a known champion for authentic customer care.
Recently, Melanie received a promotion and is now charged with establishing an entirely new client success call center at Allied. Taking on this new challenge at Allied is no small feat. In our conversations with Melanie, it’s clear, that she is approaching the challenge in her characteristic logical and methodological style.
Allied Telecom is a relatively small company and its call center represents its scope with a team of six agents. Melanie’s goal is to grow the center to 20 people but wants to make sure every step she takes right now respects their budget while setting the stage for future growth.
Getting it Right From the Beginning
As an accomplished call center executive of nearly 30 years, Melanie has plenty of experience with many successes to show for it. However, her world really expanded when she attended the call center conference CCW (Customer Contact Week) event and encountered a galaxy of new tools and solutions. As she approaches the new challenge, she is investigating what are the goals and what are the best way to build a successful center and which tools to get there.
From the technological showcase, it was “great to learn about so many exciting tools but it was also a little overwhelming to sort through so many possibilities to determine which would be a good fit” for her fledgling call center.
Bringing Innovation to the Team
Melanie has her first-string team in place with employees who are fierce about customer advocacy. That’s step one completed. She now faces decisions about which solutions to use and whether or not she will incorporate omnichannel options to the model. The dilemma takes on a broader scope because Allied also offers call center service so the decisions she makes will have broad-reaching effects.
As part of the vendor and tools evaluation, Melanie and the team dig into discovering the right benefits and solutions for her call center. As part of that, they are keeping in mind that in many instances, Allied is too small for some solutions the team would like. It’s clear that many of the vendors may not be suitable for a low-volume, generic call center.
Beyond operational considerations, its imperative for the team to build a call center that creates experiences – not just handles transactional issues. Allied is internalizing the importance of customer experience and is evaluating solutions in terms of the brand and experience they deliver too.
Customer Experience and Advocacy – First and Foremost
The Allied team is determined to always take care of customers. Above all, customers must be heard! That’s why her team is charged with customer surveys, change orders and other information transactions. To match, Melanie and her team only recruit agents that share their vision and ensure that each engagement is quick and easy for customers. For vendor and tool evaluation, their solution selection must reflect experience – not just efficiency.
For example, one of the mandates that the team will have to incorporate is call center measurement to get a better handle of customer retention and churn. Right now, the center’s activity doesn’t have any formal type of measurement but she wants to know what role, if any, the call center plays in customers leaving.
Creating a CX Stack to Meet Current and Future Needs
It’s no small task. Melanie describes the balancing of what the team wants now and building for a contact center of the future. For the management team, they are trying to understand which solutions are available and will help her meet the center’s goals will drive customer experience technology stack.
As a starting point, the Allied team already knows that they want to incorporate texting with customers as one service (based on the CEO’s direction). The team values the ability to engage with customers in real time so this has already become a priority for Allied. To that end, Melanie appreciates how Lightico solutions would allow for speedy processing of customer communications such as change orders.
Although artificial intelligence (AI) is probably not in Allied’s immediate future, The team is inundated with AI everywhere, so there is a lot of exploring of the term and the implications. At this point, AI is not at the top of the list, but has is on the watch list – ready to reconsider at a later stage.
Evaluating Customer Experience Solutions
After dozens of presentations and weeks of consideration, it is interesting to reflect on the approach to evaluating all the tech solutions available to her. Melanie is quick to respond in her thoughtful manner that she is reviewing product information and will be attending product demos along with her CIO.
In characteristic style, Melanie is looking forward to the demos to understand the value that the products can bring to her call center. The decision will all come down to what a solution does, how it’s price and which tools work for their situation.
Omnichannel, Multichannel, or Other?
One of the factors that Melanie will be considering is an omnichannel solution so that they can communicate with customers in the way they want to be communicated with—text, chat, website email, etc.—so that they can be accommodating as possible with customer requests.
Given the current stage of the contact center, a full scope of omnichannel solutions is probably not warranted at this point. So, Melanie is prioritizing a few core channels, rather than taking a spray and pray approach. At this point, her inclination is to integrate chat functionality into the center because it’s a popular option for many customer care organizations today.
Melanie is aware of chat drawbacks, however, and doesn’t want to overwhelm her staff with multitasking several chats at once due to the potential decline in quality. The possibility of losing engaging personality in chat is also a concern but Melanie says that she can see it working if those reps who are great on phone conversations can be trained to transfer their skill sets to a chat scenario.
Heading into decision time, the team is confident they can establish an omnichannel environment but it will only work if her team can still deliver positive customer experiences. Training is a critical component of reaching this goal as communications in each channel are different and employees need to adapt to the individual channel style.
Team & Tools to Build Allied Experience
Confident that once she has hiring, appropriate training and the right tools in place, the new call center will flourish naturally. Building on a foundation of six solid agents who are real customer advocates, the center will be positioned to scale when the time comes.
According to Melanie, any company that’s trying to build a call center has to start somewhere and she’s pleased to have so many solutions and support options available. One thing we know for sure—Melanie will champion her customers’ needs first and build a winning call center that will help grow the business as she expands her own call center environment.