If by "industry-specific certifications" you mean contact center industry, there is a relatively new resource for you. The CIAC ( www.ciac-cert.org) is an organization that has established various levels of certification for contact center professionals. They offer a framework and testing for certification, and other industry players offer training and study tools to prepare for the certification (visit www.incoming.com for some good resources). These certifications don't generally address customer service rep (CSR)-level work (they're targeted more at the manager level).
To work out something at the CSR level, you may want to work with your internal HR department to establish an internal certification process for the various job levels in the center, tied to competencies for the job. Communication of those may help gain the respect your CSRs deserve.
Other than that, I can suggest a couple approaches that may help:
- Get your executive to work with the executives in the other areas to raise awareness and understanding of the role and value of the center.
- Start a change management effort that entails some communications and training for those that need to achieve a better understanding of the center's role and value.
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