Call Center Comics-Winner
At the end of 2007 and
into 2008 we ran a contest for people to submit their
call center cartoon ideas. We have chosen the top two
winners. The first winner was featured last issue (Volume
3, Issue 7). Ozzie drew the cartoons from the
inspiration of the submissions. Each winner has received
a big box of goodies from the NACC for being a top
winner. Thank you to all who submitted ideas.
This cartoon winner was submitted by Grace from New
Mexico at the Bank of America call center. Great job
If you like this comic and
would like to see more write Ozzie at
firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website at
or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The
NACC appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics
in our newsletter.
No Hope for Coaching
Dennis Adsit, VP Business
Development, KomBea Corporation.
I have argued elsewhere
and used mathematical modeling to demonstrate that
coaching in even modest turnover environments cannot
improve overall call center output measures. If there is
no improvement, there is no return for the call center
and certainly no return on investment (ROI). And this is
where it can leave you scratchin’ your head because
billions of dollars are being spent across the industry
on call recording technology and call monitoring
personnel. Why do we continue to do this if there is no
return? Where are the CFOs who should be accounting
for such returns?
The reason why coaching continues to be invested in may
be that call center leaders really don’t know what else
to do to lift the performance of the system. In a
previous issue of In Queue (Volume
2, Issue 21), I explained that my colleague and
friend asked several outsourcers what they were doing to
improve the calls he was preparing contract to them. All
of the outsourcers had one and only one answer: “We record,
monitor and coach our agents.” It appears that the even
the experts don’t have anything else up their sleeve to
raise call center performance.
Maybe call center leaders continue to invest in coaching
for cultural reasons--buying into the mythical coach that
can change a team. We see it work all the time in sports
at all levels from Squirts to Pros. We are always
reading about some coach and the difference he or she is
making with the players.
There are many reasons coaching works for sports teams.
First, the athletes are crazy motivated to make and stay
on most teams. Second, teams practice and work out for
hours each day, more than they perform in games. Third,
in general, unplanned turnover is not as much of a
factor. A coach of a college basketball team may have a
kid for 5 years before s/he leaves. Finally, Ed Deming
the quality guru argued that in companies the
system--material quality, process design, machine
calibration, and scheduling which is at the heart of
call centers at present--is more important to
performance than the individuals in that system. But in
sports, there is no system that is more important to
performance than the competition between individuals of
teams on the field.
Does this describe the environment in your call center?
Are your employees crazy motivated to get in and stay in
your center like an athlete? Do you coach them for hours
each day? Do call center agents handle the same kinds of
calls for many years to become expert? Is the biggest
variable on your team individual performance or is it
the “system” in the form of the process, the tools, and
Last, at the end of the day, coaching relies on hope.
You coach the agents and then you hope that they want
to, hope they remember to, and hope they actually do the
right thing. Should hope be the cornerstone that your
improvement strategy is based upon?
60 Ideas in 60 Minutes Round X-The Final Round
For an introduction to the "60 Ideas in 60 Minutes" essays, or to read
previously published rounds, please visit our archives
and start with
Volume 2, Issue 22 of In Queue.
I want to personally thank
Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research for creating and
hosting this session of 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes and
likewise thank each of the participants for their
willingness to share their great ideas with you, our
readers. Thanks Paul, Bill, Penny (aka Peggy), Garry,
Chris, and Kevin.
David L. Butler-Stand in front of your main
entrance to your contact center. Be there before the
rest of your reps. Welcome each one by name in person
before each shift. If one of them is having family
problems and they brought it to your attention, ask how
they are doing. Ask about their children, or their
family, or their dog, or their car that keeps breaking
down. Personalize it. They will appreciate it and it
will also open a channel for them to come and contact
you so they are not absent without notification. It will
also let you know of some of the problems before they
become an issue. It is also great for turnover
William (Bill) Durr-A
couple of them packaged up since this is my last
opportunity. Contact centers ought to own the website.
Contact centers ought to own the IVR. They out to phone
down the IVR going down every branch at least once a
week because things end up in dead zones. Your callers
are ending up in dead zones. And finally, somebody is
going to crack the code. Not only we have to worry about
the new generation entering the workforce, the new
generation is becoming our customers and they are going
to want to interact with us in a whole different way via
Facebook and MySpace. Some company is going to figure
out to put up a MySpace for their customers and they are
just going to rocket.
is a quote by Christopher Morley which says “Read, every
day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day,
something no one else is thinking. Do, every day,
something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is
bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity. “ So
take 15 minutes of your day just for your own
professional development. Just 15 minutes a day if you
don’t have time to go and get that MBA. You have got to
keep yourself abreast of all of the industry changes.
Almost all of the call center professional publications
are free subscriptions. There is a ton of online stuff.
So be sure you are taking at least 15 minutes a day. At
the end of the week, what you learn, write it down, and
share it with somebody else. And by the way, my favorite
thing to read each month is Bill Durr’s newsletter. You
should sign up for it if you don’t get it.
want to reinforce one of the points about measuring the
right thing. We had a similar situation. Our top seller
actually had the highest AHT. So from one criterion,
this agent was failing absolutely miserably. From
another criterion, raw sales, he was the top performer
in the entire operation, it was pretty amazing. We
created a process where we did a multivariate chart of
agent performance so we took all of the factors that we
thought contributed to the best agent behavior and got
it down to one plot. So AHT, ASA, handle time, wrap up
time and sales and get that down to one point on a chart
and you will be able to see your agent’s performance far
easier than looking at tables upon tables of numerical
Chris Crosby-Be a Sherlock Holmes and ask questions. So
don’t make assumptions when you look at your contact
center. Don’t assume that service level means the same
thing to you as it does to somebody else. There are half
a dozen calculations for service level. Also dive into
things like why is this agent’s AHT off the chart. So,
don’t make assumptions and don’t just look at the
numbers dive into what is behind it. Ask questions like
what is TARP, if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask,
that is how to learn.
get back to Bill’s point of the holistic view of the
customer for just a minute. Be a strategic partner with
other customer facing organizations or other
organizations that touch the customer as well. One of
the things that one of our clients does which I find to
be very effective is a job swap between departments.
They will have a back office associate for claims
processing come work in the call center or at least
observe call center operations for a period of time.
They will have a call center agent or call center
supervisor go observe back office operations or go out
to a retail bank branch and see the myriad ways that
customers interact with that enterprise. This gives
everybody a much broader perspective of what the
customer’s needs are. It also gives you a much better
opportunity to positively impact customer satisfaction.
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In Queue, please
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Copyright 2008 National Association of Call Centers