A Small Subset of Customer Contact Centers Will Arise From the Pandemic as Industry Leaders

Will Yours Be One of Them?

Navigating the seemingly endless challenges of COVID-19 is forcing brand leaders to “learn how to walk fast on thin ice.” That’s how Nicole Bendaly describes the delicate balance, flexibility, and speed necessary to not only survive the current environment, but to emerge victorious in its aftermath.

I listen to so many organizational leaders describe their own challenges in trying to maintain superior customer experience, manage wild fluctuations in call volumes, and transition call center employees to at-home work stations. The challenge in this moment is to handle these urgent matters well, to weather the storm without capsizing the boat. But, as Bendaly captures so well in her piece, the greater challenge still lies ahead. How many customer care teams are building the teams, infrastructure, and process today that will enable them to thrive in a post-pandemic world?

The secret, she says, lies in an organization’s ability to ensure that their post-COVID teams are built on foundations of cohesion and trust. Each of the lessons – and helpful self-assessment questions she share – underscore one critical success factor: alignment between team activities and organizational vision. And each point she makes applies beautifully to the new realities of inbound customer care.

You can check it out below. When you’re ready to talk about how Skybridge Americas can help you build high performing teams of at-home customer care agents, please reach out. We would love to talk.

Will Your Team Emerge From This Crisis Stronger Than Ever? Here’s How It Can

By Nicole Bendaly

In order to thrive in the COVID-19 world and beyond, leaders and their teams need to learn how to walk fast on thin ice.  The complexity, flux and unknown being thrust upon teams today can either weigh a team down and stop them in their tracks, or can unite them and inspire them to travel lightly, nimbly, and quickly to the other side and emerge as an even stronger team.

Teams that will be ahead of the pack at the end of this crisis will be those that are fanatically focused on developing the cohesion and trust required to thrive now and into future.

Build Cohesion

Let’s start with building the cohesion required for teams to perform at their very best right now. And by teams, I am referring to departmental teams as well as cross-functional teams, committees and task forces.  The same rules for success apply to any group of people who depend upon one another to achieve a common goal.

Cohesiveness requires agreement and commitment to where the team is going and how the team will get there. And by how, I mean commitment to, and understanding of, the key priorities, roles, values, and best-practices essential to achieving the goal. Here is a quick assessment to gauge the level of cohesiveness in your team right now:

  • I can clearly articulate what success looks like for my team.
  • If I were to ask my team members to define what success looks like, their answers would be aligned.
  • My team and I know our team’s top three priorities for achieving success.
  • Our roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood, and respected by all team members.
  • We discuss, and align ourselves to, our team’s goals and priorities every day.
  • We know the behaviors and practices most essential to our team’s effectiveness and consistently demonstrate them.

For any question you answered ‘no’ to above, that’s where your focus should be right now. Teams that achieve exceptional results with ease are teams that know exactly where they are going, and how they will get there. Cohesion is not a nice to have, it is a must have for any team at any time, and especially now when teams are experiencing so much change, uncertainty and overwhelm. Unity and focus will ensure team members are not wasting time and energy on tasks, initiatives and issues that are not directly related to their common goal.

The place to start in building cohesion is ensuring your team members are fanatically focused on a common goal. Once your team is crystal clear on where they are going, it is easier to then confirm the key priorities, roles, best practices and values required to get there with as little struggle as possible. Consider holding a team reset meeting to build alignment and clarity.

While establishing what success looks like for your team is an essential first step, your team will struggle to get there if they don’t clarify expectations and identify the behaviors and practices most essential to their team’s effectiveness. The practices that served your team four weeks ago, are likely not the practices that are essential right now during this crisis. Clarifying what’s needed now by developing a set of team agreements is a powerful way to build cohesion, trust and engagement while getting clear on where the team needs to shift its behaviors right now to thrive. When used effectively, team agreements prevent conflict and disruptive behaviors that weigh a team down. Here’s an exercise where I walk you through exactly how to develop a set of agreements with your team.

Build Trust

Trust is the foundation of a high performing team. Your team members won’t step onto thin ice unless they trust that you and their fellow team members care about them, trust them to do their job, and have their back.  In fact, team members are 12 times more likely to be fully engaged if they trust their leader (Hayes, Chumney, Wright & Buckingham 2019).

Trust building must start with the leader. Your ability to demonstrate that you trust and care about your team, and each team member, will have a direct impact on the level of trust and engagement within your team. Focus your energy in the following areas in order to build the trust needed for your team to excel during COVID-19 and beyond.

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Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas

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