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The Operational Excellence Show

Oct 30, 2020

For so many of us 2020 will be the most remarkable and memorable year in business - yet maybe for all the wrong reasons….

  • Less customer contacts leading to loss of revenue
  • Overwhelmed contact centres with too many employees falling ill with stress
  • Huge efforts made to enable the workforce to work from home - yet the inital enthusiasm has worn off - so what now? 
  • Furloughed employees as long as possible - but then having to make them redundant, as funds are running out
  • Quality of work deteriorating
  • Impatient customers

You name it - and it’s quite easy to just hope that 2021 will be different. 

There are still two months left - so in today’s episode I’m sharing how you can make a difference in your customer service centre - and how you can set yourself up for success in 2021!

1. Leading People

One of the simplest ways of engaging with your now remote teams is to invite them to virtual “brown bag lunches”! Remember, when you were in the office, you took the time to walk the call floor regularly, you sat with your advisors, you could hear what was going on first hand. Now this has all changed.

And whilst a majority of Working From Home Advisors state that they loved to see their leaders in a jumper instead of a suit, loved to hear their dog barking or a child dashing in and out of the office, they miss the leadership of their line manager - and more importantly of their executive team!

Play a game when you are with them! Just to break the ice! I recently attended a virtual conference and we played a wikipedia game! Given a starting point - who ever arrived at the final destination without leaving Wikipedia had won!

Here is how it works:

Open the Wikipedia homepage: (remember to stipulate the language you wish to use)
Start with a key word such as: Black Raven
Key this initial word or word combination into the search bar on the top right hand corner.
Now - as everyone is on the start page for the game give them the end work - for example Elizabeth The Second.
The aim is to get to “Elizabeth The Second” only using links within the articles you are looking at!
To prove that the winner didn’t cheat you will have to ask the candiate to back space from Elizabeth 2nd to Black Raven and verify that only Wikipedia pages have been used.
It’s fun and lightens the mood!

If you are hiring for peak or because you realise your team needs more people to cope with the workload - there is so much talent in the market place just now - you can choose. That’s a great place to be in, but also for all the job-seekers a very stressful place!

Please be considerate. Communication is key! It breaks my heart to hear and read stories where people have applied for jobs, and not even got an acknowledgement that their application had been received. Or they went for a screening interview (not uncommon, in fact quite best practice, I don’t want to waste your time, nor do I want to waste my time) - but never got any feedback!

It is reasonable and best practice to be in touch with your candidates within 24 to 48 hours. Also - if you do hire - be clear on the budget. In essence, if you have a salary budget in mind - advertise this clearly, don’t make false promises! Right now you, the recruiting manager, holds all the power. Integrity is the word. Download our free Recruitment and Onboarding Checklist. The link is below.

2. Improve Process

In a recent conversation with my hairdresser, we discussed the New Normal. Besides the fact that the current working circumstances are here to stay for the foreseeable future, Gary made a very interesting point. He said:
“I don’t understand what the fuss is, about the New Normal. We have always focused on excellent customer service and high employee engagement. So for me it’s just MORE of normal than normal.” We offer more training, we offer more service, we just offer more of everything than we did before. This allows us to claim excellence. And it pays off. Frances Hunter Hairdressing is a Finalist in the British Hairdressing Awards 2020! 

One of the main complaints I get when speaking to  frontline managers is that they do not have the tools or knowledge to perform their roles effectively and efficiently! That’s an interesting thought, considering that globally in 2020 there was a budget for Learning & Development of 370 Billion Dollars. A massive amount!

The average spend per employee for learning and development this year is $1299 in the US but only in the UK 30% of all firms only spend an average of  £400 per employee on L&D. Given that that the current situation is new to everyone, this is a concerningly low number! Even more concerning given the fact that 43% of the firms surveyed said their L&D budget is not to be increased in the next 12 months, 19% even say - it will decrease.

So - how does this sit with the work your team is asked to perform? And how does this sit with the customer experience your firm is asked to provide?

In order to finish the year strong - give your management team (especially team managers and operations managers) the tools to effectively work with their workforce. And help them to be leaders and managers (which is not the same!)

Another process you definitely want to improve is your operational handbook - the manual your team should have had at the start of the pandemic. There is an entire episode dedicated to this topic on our website, Just search for;

Episode 28 - How to design and produce an Operational Manual.

You can download a Blueprint I am using in my own business and have used as a framework in so many contact centres! Now is the time to document your workflows, your processes, your contacts. You will find the link in the show notes.

3. Amplify Profit

You are most likely in the process to finalise your budget for 2021 and get it signed off. This can be so stressful, I know! Depending on the business model you are running, you have so many moving parts. The more complex your contact centre set up is, the more complex most likely your budget is too.

You probably often wish - you, as the finance director - had more direct input from your operational team. And you ops team probably wishes they were consulted when a budget is created! In episode 31 “Finances made Human” - Andi Lonen explains in layman's terms how you can ensure that your budgeting process becomes easier, more realistic and subsequently much closer to reality, hence easier to manage.

The link to this episode is below.

Financial Performance is not just about the money coming in though! It is equally about the money going out! In our industry, the evolving door is one of the biggest costs. Yet one that is totally in your control! Absence and attrition can kill an operation! Just imagine - the cost to recruit, the cost to train, the cost of overtime to meet your service levels, the cost of absence due to stress, etc. etc. When I work with frontline operational managers I often notice that they have no idea what this figure actually looks like.

If your team leader doesn’t know the absence percentage or the attrition percentage of his team and how this translates into actual cost in pounds or dollars, then you must correct this. In the LEAP Academy we dedicate a full module to this topic!

Actions you can take today:

  1. Schedule a Brown Bag Lunch for 45 minutes with up to 10 members of your frontline teams!
  2. Enroll your Operational Leaders in a skills development course. Of course we would love to give you a capability briefing of the LEAP academy. There are so many other courses out there. Just do it! 
  3. Revisit your hiring process. Ensure you provide feedback
  4. Write this OPS Manual! You know it’s well overdue! 

If any of the topics resonate with you and you might find yourself in a position where in the next 3 to 6 months one of them might cause you a challenge, please do reach out to me and my team. We would love to talk to you in the next 30 days and evaluate how we are able to help! You can find us on rutz or talk to me directly via linkedIn messenger.

As I am recording this, I want to share with you that rutz consulting has been accepted in the Programme for Growth with Business Women Scotland! I’m delighted to be spending a couple of days in the company of other, women lead, Scottish businesses. Learning together, sharing experiences and expertise. Of course my experience will turn into a podcast towards the end of this year. Academy:
Podcast Episode 28 - How to design an Operational Manual

Podcast Episode 31- Finances Made Human

Rutz Consulting:
Marianne Rutz on LinkedIn:

My Podcast is produced by: