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Executive Interview : Gregory PetitBon, Manager - Workforce Analytics - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island on 2013/2014
We caught up with Gregory for our annual 1to1 update - a look back at the industry in 2013 and looking ahead to 2014
In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months?
Maintaining the balance of the positive production and strong engagement is always a key challenge, current economic conditions make this more pronounced.
Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
Agent morale is always a key aspect of running a healthy call center and in recent years staff and budget cuts have made call centers very lean environments. People unfamiliar with call center environments tend to look at an agent’s role and think maximizing "productive time" is to keep them on the phones negating the need for many important off-phone activities. Management needs to communicate the importance of training, coaching, and team building sessions.
In 2013, what do you think will be the top priorities in the contact center industry for each of the following
a) Contact Center Directors
Employee engagement - Ensuring lines of communication are open and identifying actionable solutions that can assist agents in their daily functions.
b) Company Executives
Aligning corporate and individual key performance indicators - Efforts to better link personal performance with key company goals is a solid strategy to building an effective workforce.
c) IT Directors
Mobility Advancements - As customers start to use new technology with new functionality, IT Directors need to ensure their companies are utilizing the right tools to meet their customers’ needs.
d) Human Resources Directors (please state a, b, c, d as you answer)
Talent management - In baseball, organizations have farm teams in which they develop players to bring up in their organization. Similar to the farm system model, companies are recognizing the knowledgebase available in their contact center staff.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months we will see more changes in how people use their mobile devices. Customers are becoming more linked with their devices and innovation on how people interact with them is growing at a tremendous rate. These advancements will also start feeding into the contact center. As contact centers grew from cooper wire phones to VOIP, and basic spreadsheets to advanced CRM systems, we will see the mobile technology break into the space in exciting ways.
What impact have "external events" even had on your company, and how have you adapted your business?
Being in the healthcare industry, recent events have had a significant impact on our business and adaptation has been a daily challenge. Change, in any form, can create confusion, and a Customer Service contact center needs to be equipped with the answers. Strong communication channels have been the most effective tool in navigating the change allowing for frequent adaptation while maintaining strong service for our customers.
Do you feel the service you personally get as a customer is better or worse than it was a year ago?
The service I have received in the past year has been on par with or better than in the past. Consumers’ using more self service channels has taken away the face to face interactions which were strong loyalty builders. Service has become a differentiating factor in the marketplace.
How do you intend to improve your contact center in 2014?
In 2014 we will be placing a strong focus on relationship building with our customers, agents and internal business partners. There have been changes in the healthcare industry and a call center functioning in this space needs to adapt. Adaptation cannot be effective in a silo. Our partners need to understand this evolution so we can be sure our changes meet their needs.
What contact center technology or other innovation excites you the most as an Executive in the contact center industry?
In recent months I have had the opportunity to view multiple BPM/CRM hybrid tools. The advancements in this space are impressive. The strength of these tolls has always been their ability to provide stronger ties to the customer. As the systems mature, drivers of customer satisfaction as well as being strong coaching tools for call center staff are emerging.
What has been the most important contact center related conversation topic in 2013 (last year) and what are your views on this?
Loyalty and Morale have been hot topics in 2013. Staff loyalty is a foundational aspect of a well run center. Loyalty is built through communication and appreciation building strong morale. The economy is starting to turn and many opportunities will be available to our employees. Building loyalty and morale will be key aspects to retaining the centers talent.
Can you share a great story of service you received when contacting a contact center in the past year?
A few months back I went online to buy my son a pair of shoes. While surfing around Zappos I realized I was not 100% certain of the size to purchase. In need of an inch to shoe size conversion chart I utilized the chat option on their web page and was greeted by a friendly individual. To my surprise, and theirs, Zappos did not have the chart I was looking for. That did not deter this agent. I was sent the link to a competitor’s page that had exactly what I needed. They risked losing a customer in order to provide the best service for me. What a great loyalty building experience. I purchased my sons shoes through Zappos (with the help of a competitors shoe size chart) and have since ordered a couple more pairs.
What do you think will be the buzz word / focus for the contact center industry this year?
Engagement will be a focus for many contact centers in 2014. Engagement is well beyond a simple morale boosting event; it is about building a team of individuals who understand their role in the big picture and have a stake in meeting those goals.
Lastly, what do you think 2014 holds for the industry?
Contact Centers will be making leaps forward over the next few years as it relates to technology. Phone systems and other contact mediums are constantly expanding and desktop/laptop systems will soon be making way to a more mobile desktop experience for agents. These changes are good for the industry, there is no room for complacency in the contact center field and the ever changing technologies ensure that we, as contact center professionals, remain adaptive to new trends that drive our customer’s experience.
Today's Tip of the Day - Managing Change
More Editorial From Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island:
BCBSRI has been providing superior health insurance to Rhode Islanders for more than 70 years. The state’s leading health insurer, BCBSRI covers more than 600,000 members. As the company works to support the national and local laws of health reform, one thing is certain: BCBSRI is committed to helping Rhode Islanders meet their healthcare needs by positively impacting both the quality and cost of healthcare in the state.
Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014