Team Growth Issues in the Real World – a Customer Example

Consider an organization that has the enviable problem of experiencing significant team growth over a short period of time. This happened to one of our clients!

Our client delivers a perishable product that streams content for live events. The content is available through an on-line subscription. As a forward-thinking organization, they adopted Salesforce – a world-class CRM system to help them engage their customers.

So, what issues does such an organization start to experience?

Significant growth creates an issue with staffing. They’ve got to have the staff available to sign-up customers, right? They may consider off-shore staffing solutions, in addition to internal hiring. No one can just hire willy-nilly – even with growth. There are budgets and profitability targets, so they need to understand how many people they need and when they need them. Organizations always need to focus on productivity.

Then, there is the issue of scheduling – you’ve got to know when you need all these new folks. You may have a workforce management (WFM) solution – but you need to make sure you can feed the new data to the WFM. How do you monitor employee presence and schedule adherence? In addition to agent productivity, this company has to be efficient with their resource scheduling.

Since this company hires new employees all the time, there are new people mixed with experienced people. There are senior people who’ve seen it and done it all. Like most companies, they want to send the straightforward and basic work to the new employees, and make sure that more experienced people receive the complex cases. This method optimizes sales conversion rates.

It all seems pretty straightforward, but there is no easy, automated way in Salesforce to intelligently push work to employees, so a third-party solution should be considered.

A “push” model is commonly used in the contact center world, and is a way of systematically delivering the right work, to the right person, at the right time. It is based on rules and works by knowing a person’s skill and availability and what work needs attention. Then, it matches that work to the skill and delivers it to the right employee that is available.

This animation video will tell you more about the issues of “Cherry Picking”, and will introduce our ‘push’ model solution.

Why is Cherry Picking work a bad thing?

cherry picking sign with grass-01Every day, there are many tasks that you need to do for your customers. Often, the method used is to allow employees to pull work items from lists or Salesforce queues.

As a result, the most critical question you and your team face is – ‘what work item should we do first?

Many companies leave that question to their employees – whether those employees process claims, make site visits, or respond to inquiries. Allowing an employee to pick, means their choice of next task is subjective and affected by their behavior.

When your employees cherry-pick their own work, inevitably:

  • The most important tasks are not always done first
  • The most important clients are not always served immediately
  • The most difficult tasks get left over

The larger the team, and the more volume and variety of tasks, the more “cherry-picking” makes teams inefficient and provides poorer customer experiences.

Cherry picking is a key issue with the pull model of doing work, regardless of team size. In small teams it is often possible to manage them to keep things running smoothly.

For larger teams other issues with the pull model become visible:

  • There’s less management time per person to reassign priorities, manage and coach employees
  • Time is wasted as employees think about what to do next. Also, picking incorrect tasks can introduce additional work that otherwise would not have been required

Read about our client’s story and issues they have been experiencing here.

Top Four Indicators that You Are in an “Accidental Contact Center”

Has the volume of your team’s tasks grown? Has managing and coaching your team become more difficult? Are positive customer experiences becoming less consistent? Was it clear sailing, and now it seems pretty hazy?

Salesforce has been adopted by many small customer focused teams that are leveraging Service Cloud to handle customer interactions and related work tasks. Many of these teams are growing in size, as they see a tremendous increase in the number of inquiries that need to be handled, as well as the increasing demands for great customer experiences in this new age of the customer.

This growth in the volume of inquiries and team size causes the management time per person to drop and the level of cherry picking to increase. As these issues creep in to the point that the team’s ability to function suffers, you find yourself in an Accidental Contact Center.

These are the top four indicators to identify whether your team is in an Accidental Contact Center:

  • Less work completed by your team
  • Increase in errors and processing time
  • Less management time to supervise, coach and train
  • Increase in customer frustration

If you experience these issues, then picking and pulling work from a Salesforce queue isn’t good enough. Replacing it with a method of “pushing” work and interactions needs to be considered.
However, not all teams find themselves in an Accidental Contact Center. If your team is small enough, and not linked to other larger teams, then there is likely no reason to go to a “push” model.

Here are some tips to make a pull model effective:

  • Use a common application among team members, such as Salesforce, to centralize all customer information.
  • Move away from ad-hoc methods of working and reduce the variety of work habits, by setting up consistent guidelines and processes for team members. This also makes the coaching and training easier.
  • Define and measure team performance and customer experience. This allows for the comparison of team members and makes it easier to determine who needs coaching or training. Then, monitor to see if the above changes improve the overall customer experience scores.
  • Check periodically for volume growth of tasks and interactions performed by the team, as well as growth in team size. If tasks become difficult, or scores start to waver, then it might be time to consider a “push” model.

Learn more about the “Cherry Picking” issues here.