NACC Report-North American Contact
Center Industry 2008-2009: The Year in Review and a Look
Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of
Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
The North American
contact center industry experienced a relatively quiet year in 2008, tempered
during the second half of the year by increasingly apparent economic deterioration.
Although it was not exactly business as usual, the industry as a whole did continue
to grow as did many of the important segments within the industry.
Internet Protocol (IP)
continued to make inroads into the contact center. A 2008 survey among readers
of the National Association of Call Center's (NACC) In Queue newsletter revealed
that about 41 percent of respondents currently use IP in their contact center.
Surprisingly, the greatest interest in IP for the contact center is coming from those
centers configured with 75 or fewer agent seats.
(WFO) also saw steady growth in 2008. Defined as a suite of products designed to
optimize agent performance and including such solutions as workforce management,
performance management, quality monitoring and e-learning, WFO has found its
way into the contact center mainstream. Although the rate of WFO implementation
has slowed since a burst of activity in 2005 - 2006, its demonstrable benefits and
proven return on investment (ROI) maintained WFO's attraction as a desirable
productivity tool in 2008.
For access to the complete report you need to be a
member of the NACC. To join, click on the link below to get started http://www.nationalcallcenters.org/membership.php<
From the Trenches
Lori Bocklund, President, Strategic Contact, Lori@strategiccontact.com
This week, NACC is launching another new feature that we
hope you'll find valuable - the "From the Trenches" column. This column offers bite
-sized reflections on some of the real things happening in contact centers today,
and gives you some food for thought that we hope is relevant to your world. The
content is practical, and is based on work going on with companies that are
virtualizing, planning for or implementing new technology, creating home agent
programs, tackling resource and performance issues, managing strained budgets,
The Only Thing Certain is Change...and the Need for Change
Most companies manage projects by checking boxes on a
project plan. They declare victory when the new system is in production, process
changes are implemented, or the organization charts are redrawn. While it's all fine
and well to celebrate milestones, they ought to save the ticker tape parade for a
time when their projects demonstrate real value and their organizations are poised
to sustain the changes made.
Change affects people.
Call centers have lots of people. Call centers are changing all the time. And
unfortunately, most people don't like change. So it's crucial to manage the changes
each project creates - for individuals and the organization as a whole. Too often,
leaders don't want to fund change management. They think it's too "touchy-feely,"
or they don't think it's terribly important. They think people will "just do it" because
they say so, or the change is not that big, or the impact is minor and easily
absorbed. Project sponsors adopt this attitude at their peril. Time after time,
neglecting change management yields sub-optimized results - project delays,
increased costs, reduced benefits, missed goals, and/or reversions to previous
states (or worse!) after a few weeks or months.
I've been practicing and
pushing change management for years. I've seen the difference it can make. If
change management isn't part of the projects in which you're currently involved, or
is pooh-poohed in your environment, you need to become an advocate for it. Find
an approach that works for your company's culture, allocate the appropriate
resources, and start applying it as early as you can - not just when things start
going badly and you're trying to recover. You'll see the difference it makes. Over
time, it will become an inherent part of your organization's program and project
management. "Enlightened" companies are taking this approach and getting a
competitive edge through the results their projects create.
Want to do some learning
to get started? Check out www.change-management.com for free tutorials. Or
search on Change Management in Google or Amazon and you'll find a wealth of web
sites, books, and other resources that can help you become the advocate you
want to be in your company.
60 Ideas in 60 Minutes-Round VI
David L. Butler, Executive Director, National Association of
Call Centers, David.Butler@nationalcallcenters.org
Paul Stockford, the
Director of Research for the NACC, asked me to serve on a panel at the ICCM
Toronto call center conference in October this year after serving last year as well.
Each panelist was given 1 minute to share their idea for improving call centers
before the next panelist's turn. Stockford moderated and kept time for 60 minutes.
We have recorded and transcribed the session. To view past rounds, visit our In
Queue archive at the following link http://www.nationalcallcenters.org/newsletter.php.
David L Butler- I would like to talk about the exit
interview piece that was brought up earlier (Volume 4, Issue 2). The reality is people lie to you in
exit interviews, and it does not matter who is conducting it. The reasons why they
often lie is quite simple. First, they are leaving your employment and chances are
they are attempting to get away from the organization as fast as possible. Because
of this they're going to tell you whatever they need to in the shortest amount of
time to leave. Second, if they are very disgruntled and they want to sit there and
rip somebody during the exit interview, the reality is you're going to think "Ah"
they're leaving anyway, they're disgruntled, can I really trust the validity of what
they're saying? Third, is they may actually sit there dumbfoundedly and go "you're
opening up to me now, you want feedback now, where was this openness six
months ago whenever all this started?" The reality is I've found that hiring a third
party person to handle exit interviews within the contact center and ensures that
that anonymity is protected, gives the leaving employee a level of trust, they know
that this person is not management and then the environment is set to start
getting the feedback you are seeking. To avoid having to conduct exit interviews,
you should hire a neutral third-party person to conduct focus groups within your
organization regularly so that you can receive regular feedback from your
employees and reduce the need for exit interviews since fewer people are
-I'd like to talk about social networks for business. Social networks for business,
looking at it from a call center prospective, has grown 72% in 2008, and it's going
to grow 94% in 2009. Social networks for business are the way generation Y works.
They have global social networks. They don't think twice about sharing the
information. If you look at customer relationship management software and the
linkages that where you want to go and find information, those linkages typically
now are moving towards hyperlinks that go into social networks. If you look at
Facebook, if you look at LinkedIn and how they are growing daily, Plaxo, all of
those, you're going to see this huge teenager shift paradigm that will make how you
work in your call center very different. How you train. Instead of e-learning it's
going to be webcasting that captures frequently asked questions, it allows a real
time streaming, and it's a new generational and the leader in e-learning is in
Toronto Canada at Brainall Hall.
"I am happy." How many of us just kind of take that approach when we
think about how our team members are doing? It's really important to understand
how your team members feel. Do you really know what motivates them? Do you
know what de-motivates them? Do you have someone that really like to a certain
type of work and really has a hard time with a different types of work and are you
giving them work they really don't like? Do you know that? Are you aware of that?
You know understanding what motivates your team is really an important key with
your rep in understanding what makes them tick, what makes them happy, what
motivates them, what gets them
moving forward, what de
-motivates them. Take the time to find out what happens because ideally the more
you invest in them, they will reinvest in you. I understand it takes time up front and
now we feel we don't have enough time, but if you take some of that time upfront
and give that to them, they will give it back to you in the long run.
Beel Yaqub-I just
want to build on the point that David mentioned earlier around self-service (Volume 3, Issue 24). Self service is a double-edged
sword. You typically see organizations leaning more towards self serve channels
because they tend to be cheaper to operate. Many organizations offer multiple
ways of completing a transaction, this includes, face to face service, telephone
banking (in addition to IVR), online banking, chat, email and so on. In some cases,
companies tend to introduce ways to enable further functionality in order to attract
clients to a specific channel. Each approach presents its own set of challenges. An
approach to consider would be Natural Progression, which allows the client to pick
and choose which channel best fits their need at the time of the transition. You
enable natural progression by making each channel more convenient and accessible
to your clients. A client should always be able to reach a live person regardless
which channel they choose.
SWPPfirstname.lastname@example.org - A great activity to help your
new hire/trainee learn more about your business is to have them go on a scavenger
hunt. What your business does will help to determine what they are going to look
for. Start with a list of questions that they can answer about your business. If your
business has a retail store, you could go to it and have a big scavenger hunt inside
the retail store and let them see how the customer feels in the retail stores. If you
don't have a retail store, you can find things on the website that they can search
for. You can score the questionnaire just like a quiz, and give the person with the
best score a prize. It gives them a little break from the classroom and lets them
find out more about your business while having fun.
William (Bill) Durr
-I work with customers and prospects a lot and often I get more educated by them
than they get educated by me. Another piece of education I got from a customer
was that every time his team had a calibration session they invite two agents in so
they can experience a calibration session. And as result of this they understand the
quality monitoring process better than most any other organization that I have ever
come across, they totally believe in it, and they are achieving great results.
NEW Call Center Comics!
This is the new comic that debuted
within In Queue last week, but silly me forgot to link the image on the server, so
many people just saw a blank rectangle image. So here it is again, in all of its
realness for you to enjoy for the first time, again.
Keep an eye out for the new comics in
the next few issues of this newsletter.
If you like this comic and
to see more write Ozzie at
email@example.com and visit his website at
or just click
on the comic to take you to his page. The
appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics
Your company logo here. To find out
more, contact David Butler at
To view past issues of
In Queue, please
If you would like to contribute to
In Queue, please reply to this email with "Contribute" in the subject
2009 National Association of Call Centers