NACC In Queue: Change Management, IVAs, Predictive Routing, Outsourcing, Call Center Comics!
Welcome to the September 2018 issue of the NACC In Queue newsletter!

Change Management - From Migraine To Movement

Jeanie Hoth, Officer|Workforce Optimization Manager, US Bancorp Fund Services, LLC,

(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.)

Within 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 well.

The 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.”

A 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 relationships.

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.

9. 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.

Moving 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?

Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,

With 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.

Chatbots 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?

Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,

I recently wrote a research note covering the disposition of Mattersight following its acquisition by NICE.  While there’s plenty of detail in the research note, 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 

Nathan Teahon, Vice President, Quality Contact Solutions, 



Outsourced 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 next point.

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.

Nathan 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 or 516-656-5133.

Call Center Comics

 callcentercomicsIf you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at and visit his website at 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...

  • Change Management
  • 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

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