(This article was submitted by NACC member Jeanie Hoth in response
to an inquiry from another member. We encourage and appreciate
active participation and contributions to our newsletter from all NACC
members. – Ed.)
our NACC group, feedback was solicited around the concept of change
management recently. The situation shared spoke to experiences I have
had in my own professional life. I felt compelled to respond to help
alleviate another’s struggle, and I hope others find this helpful as
scenario shared was from a member who had recently taken over a contact
center as director, and the contact center had not had a permanent
director for the past two years. Currently, she is encountering
resistance among the troops to the changes she wants to implement and
also has to deal with the temporary director who is having a difficult
time of “letting go.”
person’s approach to change management can be wildly successful, or
epically crash and burn. While I certainly don't have all the answers,
and my assimilation into my new role two years ago, wasn't seamless by
any means, I can share a couple of tips that I used. There are also a
number of change maps and change management models out on the internet
that are helpful. The problem is, not many of them deal with the
emotional impact of change. The one I found most helpful in navigating
change was the Kubler-Ross Change Curve model. There's also SARA
(Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance).
Here are the things that worked for me:
1. Be emotionally intelligent, listen and acknowledge
- you can't argue with people's feelings, nor are they wrong.
Typically, change inspires an emotional reaction, sometimes to an
extreme. Being able to assess where a person is at within the change
process can be critical in order to address those feelings. Be sure to
follow up with individuals who are struggling.
2. Be transparent
- in this kind of transition, trust has to be built in order to create
a foundation with those being moved to change. People are looking for
reasons to justify why they can't trust you. (She's new, they don't
know our business, he's not who I think should be performing this job,
etc.). Clearly setting expectations, acting ethically, communicating
openly, and owning missteps are critical to building credibility with
people you are trying to move. I've been in two roles where there were
people performing them in transition and they thought they'd be
shoe-ins for it, but ended up not getting the job. Acknowledge what
their strengths are and what they bring to the table.
3. Tell them how they are going to help you get from "here" to "there"
- people want to know how they fit into the bigger picture, and if you
see them as valuable within that picture. In the case of the
substituting director in the scenario indicated above, that person has
been in the role for so long, they may have assumed it was a logical
step for them to move into the new role. Identify their strengths, and
show them how you need to leverage those strengths and their
partnership to help move people. Guaranteed, that person has built the
right relationships with everyone before you got there, and with that
person in your corner, the tracks for change are oiled to move people
forward, because that obstacle then becomes an advocate.
4. Walking the talk, and being visible about it
- don't just tell people what you want them to do. Show them, and
explain why it's a good idea. Put yourself into that situation (whether
it's in a learning mode, or as someone who is well-versed in a
particular topic or job function), be engaged, and show how you will
partner with them. Also recognize people are watching your body
language and facial expressions more than listening to what your mouth
is saying. Actions speak louder than words.
5. Explain the why - people are more likely to accept change if they know why it's happening. Be specific as to what is changing, and what isn't.
6. Celebrate the "bright spots"
- even when it seems like everything is going sideways, there should
always be at least one thing that can be seen as a celebratory piece,
and talk about it. Think positive, and be positive.
7. Be available
- people want to know that they are doing the right things, and showing
your support at any point is a good way to build trust and
8. Be open to feedback
- being called out for a misstep isn't comfortable, and being
vulnerable isn't always easy, either. People will respect someone
taking personal ownership for mistakes and decisions made than if the
buck is passed to someone else. Don’t take it personally, or allow it
to discourage you from your way. Feedback can offer opportunities for
partnership and often be a catalyst for brainstorming ideas that bring
even greater change.
Recognize that even with all of the above, there are going to be some
that just aren't going to move until they are ready to do so -
and that's OK, unless they are an obstacle to what is being
accomplished or purposefully influencing people in a negative
direction. Then that's a different kind of coaching conversation.
10. Be human, and cut yourself some slack.
11. How you sell it is as important as what you're selling
– Initially within our contact center, there were no benchmarks for
your everyday metrics (AHT, ATT, ACW) - it was literally the wild west.
Schedules were a suggestion. Service levels failing all over the place.
When we could partner together to be able to share a vision and sell
the differences that could be seen in the future, and get people
excited about being part of that change, it was way easier to move
people in that direction. Not going to lie, there are some tough people
out there to sell – it took over a year to get benchmarks in place in
my current role.
12. Recognize there is going to be some failure
– There are some hard-core people out there that will flat out refuse
to buy in. They will not pick up what you’re putting down. Those are
tough conversations and, in some cases, tough decisions to make in
order to protect the culture of your business and move it forward.
Also, see #10.
into a new position in any kind of scenario is challenging, but even
more so when there’s ground to make up and changes to make. Lean on
your leadership skills, listen to your gut, channel your ability to
review all perspectives without bias, and go forward with confidence
that with time and the right approach, change management can be
educational and eye-opening.
Chatbots vs. Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs): What's The Diff?
all the excitement surrounding bots in the contact center industry
today, it’s becoming easy to get lost in the jargon until you get to
the point where things start to look alike, but it’s important to
remain cognizant of the differences between solutions.
and Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) are often thought of as
interchangeable, but there is a big difference between the two. I
recently recorded a podcast
with Jenn Snell of Verint that provides an accurate overview of IVAs
and how they differ from other bots in the market. If you’ve got ten
minutes and would like to learn more about these Artificial
Intelligence-driven customer experience solutions, grab a cup of coffee
and go here. I’ll meet you there.
Predictive Behavioral Routing! Do I Have Your Attention Yet?
I recently wrote a
research note covering the disposition of Mattersight following its acquisition by NICE. While there’s plenty of detail in the
I’d like to invite you to join me and Larry Skowronek of NICE Nexida as
we talk about what Predictive Behavior Routing means, how it works, and
why it matters. I think it really does have the potential to
shake up the customer service industry in specific markets and
demographics, but regardless of the market segment you serve, you’ll
probably find this webinar to be both informative and thought-provoking. I hope you’ll join us.
For more details and to register for the webinar, please go
here. See you there!
Size Considerations For Selecting An Outsourced Call Center
call centers come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, I believe a call
center is like a person, and each one has their own strengths and
weaknesses. Evaluating those strengths and matching them with a client
or program that needs those strengths is a crucial first step in having
a successful inbound, outbound or omni-channel call center program. But
where does actual size fit into this equation? Is a bigger call center
always better? Surely a call center with 500 seats is better than one
with 75, right? The answer isn’t so black and white and in many
circumstances that might not be the case. Below are the top factors to
consider when evaluating if an outsourced call center is the right size
for your program.
Small Fish in a Big Pond? When
looking at the size of an outsourced call center, it’s important to
also evaluate the size of the inbound or outbound program that you are
looking to place. Let’s say the size of your call center program is
going to require five agents to start and has the potential to
eventually be 10 ongoing. A call center with 500 seats is certainly
going to have no issue taking on that effort, but the question to ask
is whether or not that 10-person program is going to be meaningful to
that center? Where is it going to rank in terms of priorities for the
management staff and what chance does it have in getting access to the
call center’s top-tier agents? Is that campaign going to be treated as
a small fish in a big pond? A
10-person program is potentially going to be much more meaningful for
that 75-seat call center. At any given point and time, it could make up
13% of the total seats in that center vs. just 2% of the seats in the
500-seat center. It’s a much higher priority to management of that
outsourced call center and as a result is more likely to get the
attention it deserves. Of
course, this can work in the opposite way as well. A campaign that
requires 50 seats most likely is not going to be a good fit in that
75-seat center as they are going to be overextended and will struggle
keeping up with the quality demands of the program, which leads to the
The Scalability Factor While
it is important that the size of the campaign is something that will be
meaningful to the outsourced call center, it’s also important to
recognize if the capacity of the center can keep up with the
anticipated growth for a particular program. There is a balance that
must be walked between ensuring that a program is meaningful and a
priority for a center and growing a campaign to a point where the
center just can’t keep up with the staffing requirements. That
being said, outgrowing a single call center location or team isn’t the
worst thing in the world and doesn’t necessarily mean that you
shouldn’t use that outsourced call center. It is not uncommon to need
to spread your call volumes across more than one location (with the
same company or a different company that also operates outsourced call
centers). Adding a second call center team to ensure that you have the
best possible agents on the program while also having some healthy
competition can be a great thing. It’s just important to go into it
eyes wide open knowing what options you have in front of you to ensure
long term success. Organizational Capacity In
addition to just the number of seats, the size of the call center can
have many pros and cons. With a small call center, you need to evaluate
if they have the technological wherewithal to meet the requirements of
the program. Additionally, while a 10-seat program may be more
meaningful it’s also important that they have the proper management
bandwidth in place to properly support the program from a training,
supervision and quality assurance perspective. A
larger call center, in theory, is more likely to not have those issues.
However, some larger call center organizations have a lot of red tape
in place that does not allow them to move nimbly, including making
adjustments to ensure you reach your goals within a short timeframe.
These are things to evaluate and aren’t true to every small or large
center but are generalities that can often be true. At the end of the day, size is just one piece of the puzzle, but it is a piece that needs to be evaluated.
Teahon is the Vice President at Quality Contact Solutions, a leading
outsourced call center organization and active member of the NACC. As a
highly competitive person, Nathan brings his ‘A’ game to work every
day, ensuring that each of his clients wins on a daily basis. Nathan
carefully balances the operations resources and client goals to ensure
his clients receive the highest possible results at the lowest cost.
Nathan is a true, born and bred telemarketer. He grew up in the
business and intimately knows (and has played) every position on the
field, including supervisor, quality assurance, call center manager,
program management, account management, and call center psychologist.
Nathan can be reached at Nathan.email@example.com or 516-656-5133.
Call Center Comics
If you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com or
just click on the comic to tak you to his page. The NACC appreciates
Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
In This Issue...
Chatbots vs. IVAs
Predictive Behavioral Routing
Selecting An Outsourcer
Call Center Comics!
Pearls Of Wisdom
"The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control."
~ Kelly McGonigal
Reports From NACC
NACC has been burning the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are
sore to bring out reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you
are interested to see what we are writing about, click on the links
below and download the executive summary of each. If you like what you
see, join the NACC so that you can view these reports and others that
will be coming out soon on our website. These reports will ensure that
you know the latest trends in the industry.