When an afternoon away from the office resonates in this many ways it is only right that we should share the learnings, observations and unexpected parallels.

Neville Doughty, Partnership Director

I recently had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Masons of Yorkshire, seeing their distillery, and tasting their fantastic gins. It was a birthday gift from earlier in the year, I’ve long been a fan of Masons and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. No I’ve not started a Tripadvisor review in error, indulge me a few minutes and you’ll understand where I’m headed.

I was already familiar with some elements of their story, not the origins and the growth of a following before the decision to make a gin of their own came about which was great to understand, but I was familiar with their growth to a point when their distillery was destroyed in a fire, only for their team, local community and other distillers ensured they rebuilt and continued to grow.

“It’s destroyed I think but it’s just a building, everyone got out safely that’s what matters.”

So, within 24 hours of the fire in April 2019 the team were gathered in the kitchen of Karl and Cathy Mason to ensure they were moving forward and rebuilding and right there we have an example of resilience that is required to be a success, whilst a story itself that we could explore, I want to focus now on what I learned from Angela who guided us through the tasting experience.

This wasn’t the first time we’d been to a tasting, but this one unpicked several elements in a different context, first the quality of a product. One of the guests was raising the question of cost versus that of the long-established gin brands, why should he pay the extra? Having been talked through the distilling process and understanding the quality of the product you could see his mood change, the sourcing of the best ingredients/botanicals, switching supply to procure from the location that delivered consistent flavour, all natural, no concentrates, nothing that takes away from the clarity of the product. A true “London dry” flavour added only through the distillation process, not after.

So how does this relate to my contact centre operation?

OK, here goes, first, ensure you know your strengths, what makes your service or sales operations great, what mix of knowledge, talent, systems, and processes are required so that your customers are left with a warm glow, but with no bitter aftertaste and certainly not an experience that ends with a headache.

Next, think about what you mix best with.  We’ve all seen these pictures of glasses filled with fruit and herbs, is it a drink or a fruit cocktail?  Whilst in my work and day to day life those who know me understand how organised I like to be, however if I’m honest the notion of needing to fill a glass with fruit to make a drink feels like a waste of effort and planning to me, it always has and now I know why.

I get it now, these are probably marketing efforts to mask a less good product, if you buy the cheaper or wrong one, it may not taste as good as people hoped, therefore they feel the need to add to it and make it more palatable.

Therefore, taking the time to learn what little, subtle additions to your blend of sales or service you require to optimise is key, you mist likely don’t need a whole fruit basket, a small addition can make all the difference, as I saw when we were asked to remove the small piece of orange zest and replace with lemon instead.  Who would think my warming flavours ideal for winter would be removed and replaced with something more fruit based and summer like (I quickly swapped back to the orange).

Drink responsibly

On many levels, of course this statement is true, this article is not intended to encourage drinking or alcohol consumption in the literal sense of course, I do have alcohol free gin in the cupboard too and enjoy a just tonic with ice to be honest.

However, in the context of running operations, there are clear parallels here, making the decision to consume the wrong services from technology or outsource partners can be bad for your health, therefore understanding if you need to add anything to your glass, whether a little bit of orange zest in the form of tech or people to support you with increased winter demand, a little lemon to provide additional energy or expertise in call handling, or even some ginger to get to the root of your issues and understand what you need to do.

How far is far in a CX sense?

A key takeaway for me though was something I’d not thought about, in previous tasting experiences, there has been an angle of, “we put this tonic with this gin” so the tonics are already flavoured, there is still an element of adding the zest etc but by having multiple flavours of tonic we add complexity and limit flexibility.

Once you’ve added something very specific to your mix, if you don’t like it, then you have few options open to you.  Using a generic tonic and adding flavour through the zest, herbs or lemongrass it turns out (who knew) you retain flexibility to try something and change it before you have over committed, like the example with switching orange to lemon, to ensure that you are getting what you need.

Only put in what you want, it’s your glass!

Know what you want and what you need to get the right mix for your customers, if you need help with this there are people who have developed the skills to guide you through the process, however they should ensure that they understand what you are looking for, what your tastes are and should offer you the flexibility to align to your specific needs.

Even within CX, Sales, Retentions or Collections there will be alternatives that work best for you, whether that is support you need with people or technology, in-house or outsource, never has the term “what can I get you?” been as complex as it is currently with the growth in technology solutions and outsource locations that we have seen in recent years.

Understand that your customer though may have differing tastes to your own and indeed to each other, therefore you may need to be able to switch it up, so be careful not to make your approach inflexible, if automating ensure you have an appropriate escape route.

Is it time to mix things up?

Tired of the same old thing, maybe it is time to try something different, perhaps you need a more refreshing conversation? If so, drop us a line at the Contact Centre Panel, we can help you find the right mix for you.