Off Center
It’s time once again for me to share my knowledge and insight with contact center professionals desperate enough to reach out to somebody like me for advice.

Please keep in mind that, while my responses to the pressing questions featured below may not be entirely valid or logical, you can rest assured they come from the heart and feature almost no spelling or grammatical errors.

Q: We are getting ready to implement a home agent program, but we are concerned that the home agents we select might end up suffering from feelings of isolation and loneliness on the job. What can we do to avoid that?

A: One of the best ways to keep home agents from feeling isolated and lonely is to choose agents who have no friends to speak of in the contact center. Such employees are already completely accustomed to being ignored and shunned by peers, and thus aren’t likely to complain about feelings of alienation once working remotely. They’ll just happily focus on handling customer contacts from the comfort of their parents' basement.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have such loners on your staff, there’s another approach you can take: Start bullying and insulting the agents you would like to have work from home, and pay your other agents a little incentive to do the same. This will ensure that the agents you send home will never want to interact with peers or set foot in the contact center again. If, on the other hand, you find that the agents in question enjoy the constant abuse, put them on your billing team. 

Q: What is the contact center industry standard for Average Handle Time (AHT)?

A: The industry standard for AHT is to slap anyone who asks what the industry standard for AHT is. If, by chance, you are opposed to such violence, instruct the person who asks the ‘industry standard’ question to kindly wake up and smell the coffee, and to then drink the coffee while searching for a new job. Any contact center professional who seeks a universal time limit that applies to all call types across all industries needs to find a new career.

Occasionally you will encounter a manager or executive who, even after being slapped and/or ridiculed, still demands an answer to the AHT question, in which case simply supply them with a response that matches the absurdity and inanity of their query. Following is an example of such an exchange:

Clueless person: “Please don’t slap me again – what is the industry standard for AHT?”

You: “A fish.”

Q: We have just gotten approval for a complete overhaul of our contact center technology. Any advice on how to choose a solutions provider?
A: Congratulations! Researching and selecting the right solution and provider is always fun and exciting, particularly if you have no other hobbies. I’ve published a couple of articles in the past on how to write an effective Request for Proposal (RFP) and how to choose the right solutions provider, but I don’t like how my hair looks in my old bio photo, so I’m not going to share those links with you. I will, however, give you some essential tips:
  • Don’t be intimidated by solution providers who you see exhibiting at conferences; remember, they are just as afraid of you as you are of their matching shirts and khaki pants. Approach these people with confidence and purpose, but be sure to ask their owner if it’s okay to pet them before reaching out to do so.
  • Get in contact with managers of centers that already use the solution you’re considering and ask them if they are fully satisfied with it and the provider in question. If they say ‘yes’, ask them for a blood sample to prove that they aren’t a close relative of the solutions provider. If they refuse, disregard their earlier positive feedback, as they are no doubt perpetrators of nepotism. If, however, they comply with your request for a blood test, disregard their positive feedback anyway – people who lack the sense to refuse such an inappropriate request probably aren’t qualified to give a valid assessment of a product or a provider.
  • Last but not least, once you’ve narrowed down your choices to two or three solutions, go with the provider that refrains from using terms like “next-generation”, “revolutionary” or “paradigm shift” in their marketing materials.

If you have a question you would like Greg to answer, you really need to start using better judgment.

karen wenborn
9/19/2013 10:30:27 pm

Dear Greg,
Spending all day in a CX, CC, CRM, VOC, NPS environment has left me with a verbal tic. When I get home I talk to my family in Three Letter Acronyms. By Sunday I can stretch to four. Do you suggest that my family adopt the slapping approach?
Many thanks for starting the industry's first Agony Aunt column.

9/19/2013 10:42:55 pm

I empathize with your plight, Karen. Acronymicardia is a serious condition that I never joke about. The best way your family can help you is not by slapping you but rather by learning all the contact center acronyms themselves and joining in on the conversation. Slapping somebody during an Acronymicardia attack can result in sudden death, or worse.

I'm not sure what an 'agony aunt' column is, but I'm assuming it's the term for 'advice column' used by people who drink a lot of tea, drive on the wrong side of the road, and spell words like "center" and "color" incorrectly.

Thanks for seeking my assistance on this delicate matter. Next time you'll know better.




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