What Contact Centers Can Learn from Super Bowl Coaches

by Amy Bennet in Amy Bennet, Contact Center Coaching

I know this is going to raise a few eyebrows – especially with Super Bowl XLIX right around the corner — but I firmly believe that managing a successful contact center is a lot like running a winning NFL franchise. I am not just referring to our shared obsession with metrics and statistics.  What makes running a contact center similar to managing a football team is the fact that, at the end of the day, success rides entirely on the ability of our people – whether they are on the phones or on the field.

One obvious connection between contact centers and football teams is the mission-critical nature of coaching. So on the eve of yet another Super Bowl, it is worth reflecting on what contact centers can learn from Super Bowl coaches.

“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” (Vince Lombardi)

Vince Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls, is possibly the most quoted coach of all time. His sayings have become sports mantras:

  • “Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.”
  • “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
  • “The dictionary is the only place success comes before work.”

But his quote about “keeping score” has always struck me as particularly true for contact centers. After all, we “keep score” of everything: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), First Call Resolutions (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT)…the list goes on and on. And we measure the things that matter, the things that represent the “score” of how well we are supporting our customers.

“The difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ is that little ‘extra’” (Jimmy Johnson)

Jimmy Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys to victory against the Buffalo Bills not once, but twice – in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. And his quote about “that little extra” is as true of customer service as it is of football. That little extra – whether it’s a little extra effort to solve a customer’s problem or a little extra patience when the customer is venting – that’s what makes the difference between an ordinary customer experience and an extraordinary one.

The 2014 annual US Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide asked 204 contact center managers and directors across the industry what they believed to be the top characteristics of successful contact center agents. Their number one response was empathy. And the surest signal to customers that an agent understands and cares about them is “that little extra.”

“Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing” (Chuck Noll)

Chuck Noll led the Pittsburg Steelers to victory four times. Noll’s quote about the source of pressure gets to the heart of why contact centers put so much emphasis on training, listening in on calls, and coaching. An agent can’t create the best customer experience when he or she has not received effective training – and timely, constructive feedback.

Training and coaching agents so “they know what they’re doing” is what lets an agent go above and beyond the basics. It is what lets an agent focus on being empathetic and delivering that little extra that distinguishes acceptable customer service from an exceptional customer experience. When excellence is a habit, great things happen.

“In the end, for me, it’s about having the best players that we can have on the roster” (Bill Belichick)

The head coach of the New England Patriots sums it up nicely. The reason for training, coaching and developing agents is to ensure you have the best players on the roster. You recruit the best people, but then you have to invest in them to keep them engaged and improving.

At Blue Ocean, we have worked to optimize our recruitment process and quality assurance, but we don’t stop there. Coaching is just one of the many tools we then use to help our agents continue to grow and improve so they can consistently deliver the world-class customer experiences Blue Ocean is known for.

If you want to know more about how to use coaching to improve the quality of your contact center, give us a call! We would love to help you.

As Vince Lombardi once said: “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

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