Web 2.0: What is it Really, and Why do I Care?
Lori Bocklund, President, Strategic Contact, Lori@strategiccontact.com
A few weeks ago I invited NACC readers to join me in
wading into the waters of Web 2.0 (Vol. 4, Issue 2). I realize how easy it might have
been for you to say: “That’s interesting, but I’m really busy with today’s firefights.
I’ll look into it another day.” You’ve got so much “have to do” work that there’s
little room for “want to do.” Moreover, I’m pretty sure it’s not solely your
responsibility to worry about leveraging the current and prospective customer base
to protect or enhance your brand. But like it or not, Web 2.0 momentum is building,
and your actions – or inaction – will decide whether you do it, or someone does it
for you (or to you).
What is Web 2.0 Anyway?
If you want to dive into definitions, go to Wikipedia (a
Web 2.0 tool!), which defines it as “a perceived second generation of web
development and design, that aims to facilitate communication, secure
information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web.”
(Emphasis added) Web 2.0 is your new, global community – of customers,
prospects, CSRs, SMEs, and people who like to “help.” It’s the new millennium
version of “How to win friends and influence people” (with all due respect to Dale
Carnegie) but with fewer best practices and niceties. It’s more “Wild, Wild West”
than “Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” and “How to Change
People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.” In fact, many participants
in the Web 2.0 world may actually be trying to give offense or arouse resentment!
A single person can communicate with the masses – their friends, or the public –
real-time, through a variety of channels, with positive or negative spin. By
“tweeting” on Twitter, “blogging” on Blogspot, answering questions on forums,
uploading videos or photos, promoting links to useful information, rating a product,
service, or content, and populating wikis, they will try to influence, gain feedback
or reactions from, and disseminate information to others.
Figure 1: Web 2.0 Enables Information Sharing Across the
Figure 1 shows the
principles of the Web 2.0 community sharing information. Users contribute content
through a variety of media that others may proactively receive (whether they
consume the content or not) or seek when desired. A key premise underlies this
activity: if content begets content, votes, subscriptions, or commentary through
secondary contributions (what I’m calling a “boost”), it gains value in the
Why should you care
Web 2.0 is viral. Facebook has 175 million users. It’s not
just Gen X and Millennials anymore; the 30+ year-olds are Facebook’s fastest
growing demographic. Lance Armstrong had 317,000 followers and growing on
Twitter, last I checked. That’s only slightly more than the CEO of Zappos. Think
about that! Tony Hsieh is promoting a brand and engaging his staff to serve
customers in ways we couldn’t fathom just a few months ago. Comcast is
monitoring Twitter feeds to hear what customers say and respond. [Yes,
“Comcastcares.”] As I write this article, I could “Ask a question about Apple and
get help from 14 employees and tens of thousands of customers” on
GetSatisfaction. A major soft drink brand is not yet actively engaged there, yet I
could ask a question about their products and “get help from hundreds of
customers.” Want to write a “how to” about something? Go to “WikiHow” and write
to your heart’s content. Then the community will add to, edit, and discuss your
content. Imagine if your customers (or CSRS!) start finding answers to their
questions through these sorts of resources.
The harsh reality in the
Web 2.0 world is that you don’t control the information flow and structure like you’
re used to in the call center world. Web 2.0 empowers the community of users, like
it or not, ready or not. We hope the community filters, cleanses, counters, and
weights information, and the good stuff emerges at the top. But there is no
guarantee. And that’s a powerful argument to get involved with “good” information
and turn this resource into something valuable.
What should you do
It’s easy to think this phenomenon is someone else’s
problem – or opportunity – because it goes way beyond the contact center. It
does. Opportunities exist both within the company for internal communication
(agents, supervisors, subject matter experts, other departments) and outside the
company for external communication (customers, prospects, analysts, competitors,
and others who want to respond to your customers’ or prospects’ questions). But
the contact center has to get involved. In fact, because of the
opportunities it presents, it may be the best thing that has happened to customer
interaction in a long time. It will force cross-departmental collaboration and get
others across the company engaged in customer care.
As a next step, think
about how you would use Web 2.0 capabilities within the center, across the
enterprise, and with external parties. You’ll be a rare contact center if you can
handle all of this yourself. Since the center typically only controls things within its
boundaries, you may want to start there. But you need marketing. This is
the “seize the moment” opportunity to work together to address enterprise
communications in support of your customers. Anyone who has been promoting,
studying, or pondering “Unified Communications” had better pay attention as well.
Web 2.0 may be just the catalyst UC needs to get other parts of the enterprise to
provide subject matter experts to support customer interactions through the center
and with customers directly.
Tune into NACC for more
input on this topic as we look at Web 2.0 strategy in the contact center and
across the enterprise. I promise I’ll write soon. We may not have time to wait!
Report Underscores Turnover and Attrition Issues
in the Contact Center
Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of
Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
The NACC recently had the opportunity to review a report
entitled “Call Center Recruiting and Compensation Survey” published in February
2009 by FurstPerson of Chicago, IL. The report details the results of a survey of 70
contact center executives and 1,360 contact center job applicants. The purpose of
the report was to present benchmark data on recruitment, compensation and
turnover in the contact center industry.
Agent turnover has
always been, and continues to be, an expensive problem that call centers have
historically been unable or unwilling to address. Agent turnover seems to have
simply become an industry fact of life, a problem to be tolerated rather than solved.
Industry pundits typically quote an average annual personnel turnover in the
contact center of around 40 to 50 percent. As bad as that number sounds, the
FurstPerson report brings a dose of reality to this turnover estimate that the
industry should find alarming.
Respondents to the
FurstPerson survey reported an average monthly attrition rate of 7.18 percent. If
that figure is annualized, the 40 percent annual turnover estimate becomes an
actual annual turnover rate of 87 percent. The average is derived from data
collection from both internally managed contact centers and outsourced centers. If
we look at these two types of contact centers as separate entities, monthly
attrition in internally managed contact centers was 5.66 percent, which annualizes
to an attrition rate of 68 percent. Outsourcers reported monthly attrition of 8.69
percent, which equals an annual attrition rate of a staggering 105 percent.
At a time when nearly all
businesses, including contact centers, are looking for ways to cut costs and save
money, stemming the tide of agent turnover should be a priority. The cost of
turnover to the contact center goes beyond dollars. The lack of continuity in the
customer care process as a result of agent attrition should be of great interest to
any customer care professional. Disruption of workforce stability should also be of
concern to those who manage the customer care process. Although these are
considered by many as soft dollar considerations, they still impact the bottom
For those with an eye for
numbers, the FurstPerson report will make those eyes open wide. Their survey
respondents report the average cost of attrition at $5,466 per individual.
Interestingly, the cost of attrition in an internally managed contact center was
reported at $7,994 per individual, more than twice the cost of attrition at an
outsourced center which was reported to be $3,420 per individual. The disparity in
cost is most likely related to the amount of time and money that is dedicated to
training individuals in an internally managed contact center.
Doing a little simple math
will underscore the high cost of contact center turnover, even using average costs.
In a 100 seat contact center and using an average attrition rate of 87 percent at a
cost of $5,466 per individual, the cost of turnover in this industry average scenario
is $475,542 per year. These are hard dollar costs with a direct and undeniable
impact on the bottom line.
and sound business judgment dictate that agent turnover in the contact center
can no longer be an acceptable cost of doing business in the customer service
industry. It is time for the industry to bring attrition issues out of the closet and
deal with them in a direct and effective manner. If you have been tasked with
controlling costs in your contact center, a good place to begin that assignment is
the recruiting and selection process.
60 Ideas in 60 Minutes-Round X-The Final Round
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 Butler - Challenge assumptions! What I’ve
spent the last 14 years doing with research in this industry, is looking at it, shaking
my head a lot, and then listening to people say “that’s the way its always done,
that’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s the way its done,” and basically taking
those assumptions, break them apart, asking some hard questions, and then
figuring out what the truth is behind the truth with a big capital “T” and then
rebuilding around that kernel. It is amazing how much of this sort of tribal
knowledge is passed generation to generation and manager to manager when the
fact is the earliest assumptions to begin with are completely wrong or
Samantha Kane -
So what do the Smurfs have in common with business intelligence? The Smurfs
were created in October 1958 in Belgium, 50 years ago. Business intelligence was
defined by IBM in October 1958 in Belgium. Can you believe that business
intelligence is 50years old? The business world perceives BI to be something new
that has just been discovered. A good example of where to find BI is in reporting on
applications, from your call center or from performance metrics. We talked earlier
about reports. If you’re going to start customer relationship management projects,
the first thing that you want to do is make sure that you have good reports which
come from disciplines like mastered data management. Because if the integrity of
your data sucks, then every day that your agents try to put the information into
that field or application the more skewed the information will be and that creates
duplication of information, storage requirements and back-ups. The results are
several issues including getting more calls, handling time going out the window and
the service levels not being accomplished and all of that will cost you more.
Barb Bleiler - I
would say put yourself in the position to not be afraid to ask the question “why?”
When you’re faced with your day to day situations, regardless of what the reason
is about, ask “why?” It is the best question to ask “why are we doing this, why are
we doing this way, why are they handling the work this way, why are we doing it
this way, why are we going about it with this resolution?” Don’t be afraid to ask the
“why” questions because a lot of times what happens we just jump in that boat
and we go down that stream every day, and we are always faced with the
opportunity to be able to take that boat and put it on the side of the road and stop
and take a look at what’s going on. But it is only going to happen if you take that
pause and reflection and stop to ask “why?” and question what’s going on. So I
really ask you to try and sit back and ask that “why” question when you’re faced
with situations that you’re not sure why its going the way it should be or how
suddenly it got in the course or direction it is. Ask why for yourself.
Beel Yaqub - We
continue to see organizations competing on a global stage. Our workforce continues
to evolve and become more virtual. The challenge at hand is keeping our workforce
engaged as the contact centre business continues to evolve. The question we
must continue to ask is how do you make it easy for your employees to collaborate,
how do we assist them in becoming successful in their roles? Introducing new
technology to promote collaboration and make it easy for our employees to serve
our clients will become critical to managing an effective contact centre. Keeping
collaboration top of mind will assist us in driving a cohesive environment which
promotes teamwork and innovation as we shape the contact centre of the
SWPP - firstname.lastname@example.org - ...and the moral of the story
is you can teach ducks to climb trees but it is better to start with squirrels.
Sometimes people in the training process try to teach our staff a new skill for which
they absolutely have no ability. You have a customer service agent who is fabulous
at her job and you decide she needs to be a sales agent. But she is NOT a sales
person. So you train her, you give her scripts and all of the steps. The problem is
that she's going to take a long time to learn everything and she's probably never
going to be as successful as somebody who just had that innate sales personality
and attribute. So if you are going to have somebody climb trees, it is better to
start with squirrels.
Bill Durr -
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. People tend to agree
that everyone resists change, but that is not true. People embrace change when
they understand that it is in their own interests to do so. We are going to have a
lot of change ahead of us over the next 5-6 years. Incredible amounts of change.
We are going to need people to do entirely different things and change in ways we
probably cannot even imagine as the result of Generation Y entering the workforce
and they way they like to communicate. We need to start communicating
effectively and consistently with everybody in the contact center so they
understand what is going to happen and why it is necessary. That is the only way
we are going to get through this incredible period of change.
And that is Idea No. 60 in 60
I want to thank all of the 60 Ideas participants,
Samantha, Barb, Beel, Vicki and Bill for sharing their ideas with the readership and a
big "thank you" to Paul Stockford for conceiving of this neat idea and
making it a reality.-DB
Free NACC Memberships Available!
This is a second call for Free Memberships. We noted that
a number of you were travelling last week and may have missed this call so we
wanted to give you a second chance to have a free membership.-DB
Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and
Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
The NACC is setting aside a limited number of individual
memberships that will be offered at no charge to select readers of In Queue. These
are full memberships and include all the rights and benefits of individual membership,
• All reports issued by the
NACC, including the recently published review of 2008 and forecast for 2009;
• Inquiry service;
• Peer networking;
• Job board posting.
A full description of
membership benefits can be found at http://www.nationalcallcenters.org/membership.php.
This is an excellent
opportunity to become part of this exciting, growing industry organization with no
out-of-pocket expense. It is also an opportunity to support the NACC – the
industry’s only true non-profit, University-based membership organization dedicated
to the advancement of the contact center industry and the customer care
In order to qualify for one
of these free memberships you must meet the following requirements:
1. You must be a contact
center supervisor, manager or other executive; and,
2. You must agree to
participate in the occasional surveys that we will send out during the course of the
If you have participated in
any of our past surveys you already know that our surveys tend to be short and to
the point. Every one of them was designed to be completed in a minute or two,
literally. We avoid open-ended questions and try to gather general information that
will benefit all NACC members and readers of the biweekly In Queue newsletter.
As always, the results of
the surveys will be published in the newsletter for the purpose of benchmarking
your experiences, attitudes and intentions against those of your peers. Surveys will
be conducted on-line, not on the phone. Although we will keep track of your
participation, you will not be identified as a respondent in any way. Your time
commitment will be minimal.
The benefit to us is
consistency in the type and number of responses we get to our surveys, which in
turn benefits the entire membership. The benefit to you is savings of $500 as well
as being able to take advantage of all the benefits of NACC
If you are so lucky to already be a member of the NACC,
and meet the criteria listed above and want to participate, we will extend your
current membership one year if chosen.
To take advantage of this
offer please send an e-mail with the word “Volunteer” in the subject line to
Executive Director David Butler at email@example.com. If you have any
questions regarding this offer, please contact either David or me.
NEW Call Center Comics!
If you like this comic and
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
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