When thought leaders from TMX Finance, Dun & Bradstreet, Baxter Healthcare and others gathered in Tucson, Arizona for the 18th Annual Customer Contact West: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, they also led crowdsourcing sessions designed to gather solutions to today’s top customer service challenges. Each group created a list of readily operationalized ideas and fixes for common challenges.

Here are highlights of their insights:


The Communication Service for the Deaf Center has been in existence for 47 years. Overall, they are seeing much more inclusion today. Yet, many contact centers still do not have good accessibility accommodations, and therefore some people still struggle.


  • The Communication Service for the Deaf organization would like to increase accessibility options
  • It can be difficult for agents to engage with people with disabilities, but solutions exist
  • Awareness can start important conversations
  • Change needs to happen from the top down, and leadership needs to implement changes
  • Sometimes leaders are hesitant, but they need to follow through so that people with disabilities are not excluded
  • The application process can be difficult for someone with a disability who is applying to work in a call center
  • Applications should be made more accessible


  • Source solutions so agents with disabilities or challenges don’t have to rely on family members for assistance
  • Offer sign language communication over video to clients or agents
  • Ask the person exactly what they need and accommodate them
  • Help new employees by asking them “what can we do for you?” and include them in the decision-making
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Have training procedures for employees
  • Provide a safe space for employees to speak up about an issue if they are feeling uncomfortable about it


There are resources on the topic of accommodating people with disabilities that can be helpful for agents and clients.



  • Must make salaries equitable
  • Have focus groups with women
    • Address their issues in the workplace
  • Set formal goals
  • Give women space to learn
  • Pay attention to who is speaking in meetings
  • Give women a voice and listen
  • Be aware of cultural differences
  • Disclosure on job descriptions: “you don’t have to check all the boxes”
  • Be inclusive in events
  • Celebrate the positive — bring awareness
  • Look at best practices globally
  • Make introductions – sponsor others
  • Start community outreach early: inspire young girls
  • Women in leadership need to reach back


  • Encourage women to apply for opportunities they may not believe they’ll get
  • Encourage them to talk to HR about a raise
    • Leaders should encourage people across the board to believe in themselves and apply for positions that have more responsibility and higher pay
    • Mentorship will help build confidence in this area
  • Hiring policies: is the right person being selected for the job?
    • Are you sourcing properly?
  • Do you have the right development programs?
  • Provide upskilling and training
  • Women in leadership roles have a harder time challenging a solution or a proposal
    • The response to a man versus a woman doing this is different
    • Break stereotypes in this case, training on gender bias
    • HOW you dissent or disagree is important: set up rules of engagement
    • Playing collaborative games before important meetings helps set the stage so that everyone listens to one another
  • The way we structure profiles, requirements and expectations should be challenged
    • You don’t necessarily need degrees to move up in managerial positions
      • Allow for experience to work in the same way that a degree would
      • Job descriptions should not be unattainable and/or so complicated that they scare away applicants
    • Encourage women to negotiate salaries


Challenges/problems with selecting vendors

  • Understanding the specifics of what you need for your business/enterprise before you pick a vendor
    • How to choose among similar vendors
  • Are constituents and technology teams collaborating in the best way so that you can select the best vendor?
  • Will vendors connect to systems and technology that a company already has?
    • Verify that a vendor does what they say they can
  • How much do reviews affect the selection of vendors?
  • Dealing with skepticism from management about solution and benefits
  • Making sure you choose technology solutions your customers will use
  • Managing the CFO and C10 — keep them from derailing or demotivating a partner
  • Overcoming resistance to technology change
  • How to ensure project goals/outcomes are maintained to the end?

Processes to consider

  • Learn how to blueprint an ecosystem of technology if you haven’t done it before
  • Learn how to accelerate a long vendor approval/selection process


  • Strategy first, business priorities first, and then start narrowing down the vendors that can meet these needs
  • Vet your own procurement process; be clean on priorities, requirements and strategy
  • Consider leveraging an external partner to help with selection, i.e., outside tech experts to validate process, outcomes, security, etc.
  • Speak to clients with the same use case
  • Boil it down to two vendors, then use proof of concept on trial versions to test VERY CLEAN outcome expectations
  • Set specific target outcomes
  • Big picture results generally work for senior leaders — match your measurement to their level
  • Ensure there’s at least one consumer voice at the planning table


Process Improvement Guidelines

  • Accept variations – methodology can be applied in a number of places; allow for some flexibility
  • If we understand the tools being used, we can implement better solutions
    • Encourage more communication between departments
    • Make sure things don’t get lost…look for process management to solve these issues
    • When going across departments, make sure there is a common understanding of the process, and that everyone agrees on the process and criteria before moving forward
  • Process improvement does not have to be complex
    • 3-5 tools can solve about 80% of the problems in x company (statistical tests, etc.)
    • Cross-training can improve processes across departments
    • Field service technicians in pest control example: What do they need, and what does management need to support their field service technicians?
  • Membership professionals’ example: Went out on sales calls, and salespeople came in and listened to calls that the membership professionals would normally take. This was to increase understanding
  • An approach like the above often results in higher empathy for other team-members
  • Ideally everyone implements the solutions in the same way, but what are the consequences if they do not? How do we prevent it from getting convoluted?
    • Work together and collaborate without getting stretched too thin


  • Model QA but once modelled must improve
    • Remember that things change
    • Train everyone, it creates a culture of continuous improvement
  • Scaled model:
    • Agile
    • Pitfalls
  • Lack of business knowledge


  • Make sure there is an understanding of process across departments
  • Cross-training=understanding
  • Variation = waste = errors = bad!
  • Ask what bad thing happens?
  • Small meetings – direct users
  • Common definitions
  • Decentralize
  • Be consistent
  • Foster open communication
  • Master change management
  • Think tanks: inside/out
  • Have a dialogue with the frontline – seek input
  • Use VoC and data
  • Use experts
  • Common training – methodology
  • Strict value definition
  • Document!



When you have a recorded call, how do you know when to cut it off so that you don’t record confidential information?

  • One company has a screen go black when consumer puts in credit card numbers
  • QA team can catch errors and things that shouldn’t happen – they can stop the recordings due to HIPAA, etc.
  • Recordings for another company are only saved for two weeks (due to not wanting liability)
    • For practical reasons as well: if something is wrong, you’ll hear about it within 2 weeks
  • In the healthcare industry, information must be destroyed after 15 days
  • Another company has a 60-day policy before information is destroyed


  • Hardware authorizations
  • Break customer records down by data elements
    • Control access to data elements
  • Single sign-on
  • Push data out versus allowing people to come in to consume data
  • Set rules at the data lake layer


Seek a holistic view of providing and accepting feedback

  • Peers, employers/employees, customers, etc.
  • How to create this ecosystem?

Key factors for successful outcomes

  • Comfort level: How comfortable are peers being honest with each other?
    • Failure is okay sometimes
  • How well do you understand roles of others in your company/department?
  • How often are surveys distributed? Timing of feedback matters
  • In some industries, many regulations make it hard to have a lot of trial-and-error
  • Surveys for the customer based on key words during the call, as opposed to making them all stay on the line afterwards
  • Accountability during difficult scenarios
    • “I’m sorry, however, we can try this…”
    • This opens up trust, comfortability, a line of communication
    • Feeling comfortable will result in more meaningful feedback
  • Leaders must also accept feedback and follow through with making improvements based on surveys
    • Communicate action
    • Why do it if no action?
  • Be transparent with plan of action and follow through so that employees can see that you’re implementing their feedback and how
    • Create opportunities for employees to be engaged in creating solutions. More exposure could lead to a career path, etc.
    • If you can’t do something, be honest, explain why, but offer other solutions
    • How do you help others understand the big picture?
      • Importance of using opportunities to educate
      • Think of how people in different roles might see things differently
    • Employee engagement surveys: leaders required to have two action plans based on feedback