Article : “Working Together to Drive Success” – What a Military Mindset Can Teach Customer-Facing Businesses
The last few years have represented a period of turbulent change unprecedented in the history of the communications and contact centre businesses. We have seen the ongoing migration to digital; the growing uptake of automation and, increasingly, artificial intelligence, and an ever-stronger focus on optimising the customer experience. These changes challenge all the key players working in the contact centre environment, from vendors to resellers and distributors, to work together to address the new market environment and achieve the best possible results for themselves and their end customers.
The key to success is a strong focus on team work - vendors and distributors understanding their roles but also the importance of pooling skills and resources for the greater good. Building strong, mutually supportive relationships that play to the strengths of every business within the partnership helps the combined entity win and retain customers.
With this in mind, Enghouse recently invited Ant Middleton, former member of the elite special boat service, who many will recognise from his hit Channel 4 TV show, "SAS: Who Dares Wins", to share his thoughts on how to survive and thrive in a hostile, rapidly-changing environment. In his powerful speech, Ant focused on aspects of team work that can drive success, not only in army and special forces units, but also in the business world where collaboration is key.
Ant began to learn about the importance of team work from his earliest days in the Army. His first few years were marked by great individual success as he picked up the prestigious awards of Best Recruit and Best Personal Trainer (PT) at the Royal Engineers and then went on to gain his maroon beret in P-Company.
Despite this, Ant was conscious something was missing. He was focused on personal goals but was isolating himself from his fellow recruits. People were getting promoted over him and winning places on courses that he wanted to be on. Frustrated and uncertain of the path forward, he left the military.
After time on ‘civvy street’, and a period of soul searching, Ant returned to the forces with a renewed sense of vigour. He had come to realise that what was missing was an understanding of the importance of the team. Army life, just like life in the communications channel, needs to be about working together to achieve common goals.
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It’s a lesson that partnerships addressing business opportunities can learn from, of course. There needs to be a mutual understanding of the end objectives, with all the parties involved fully committed to working together to achieve the end goal. Any focus on individual business goals must be subsidiary to the focus of the partnership, and any examples of divergence must be addressed.
It’s also important when working in any team to acknowledge skill gaps and ask fellow team members or partners to help out. Team work, both in the military and in business, is about honest communication with your colleagues: playing to your strengths but being open and upfront about your weaknesses.
Ant knows how important this is and wasn’t afraid to ask for help from his team when made section commander during a tour of Afghanistan. Conscious that the promotion had come before he was ready, he was upfront with the team and told them he wouldn’t always get things right - and that he would need the rest of the team to step up when needed. In return for his honesty, he received unwavering support.
Again, the parallels to the business environment are striking. Vendors, resellers and distributors can work together as teams on a variety of projects, helping each other as and when required. Vendors can, for example, provide critical product training support while resellers could help open new markets to vendors by giving them the benefit of their vertical expertise. All this team work brings significant benefits to end customers too. Not only will they get a contact centre solution tailored to their precise business needs, they will also receive high-quality service, support and advice which in turn allow them to engage and interact with their own customers more effectively.
In line with this focus on the importance of team work, Ant recalled a troubling moment in Afghanistan, when he was paralysed with fear and unable to punch his way through a door into a room where he knew an enemy combatant was likely to be hiding. A fellow soldier sensed Ant’s hesitation gave a reassuring squeeze to his shoulder. Just knowing that support was at hand and that his team had his back gave Ant the strength to carry on.
There is a lesson here for businesses also. When times are hard, colleagues or partners working on the same project, will sometime need to step outside of their comfort zone. In such instances, having a solid team behind them to reassure and support them is fundamental to the success of the overall goal.
From Ant’s perspective, success in any mission is about unswerving dedication to each other and having the certain knowledge that if one team member is in difficulty, the others will pitch in to help him or her out.
As Ant himself says: "If you have got a team where everyone is sticking together and is completely honest with each other, and you can communicate in that way, then you will be unstoppable. You will be able to take those calculated risks that push you onto that next level because you know that you have got a team behind you that are going to catch you if you fall. You will feel that you can take on any task – no matter what the job is." It is the reason that the best teams succeed both in the military and in the business world, of which the communications channel is such a compelling example."
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About Enghouse Interactive:
Enghouse Interactive’s integrated suite of solutions includes multi-channel contact center, self-service, attendant operator consoles and workforce optimization. This wide portfolio places us in the unique position to offer customers and partners a complete, fully featured solution from a single vendor. These solutions support the full range of deployment methods from premise-based to private, public or community cloud and even hybrid requirements.
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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