Off Center
Thanks to some special medication my doctor prescribed, I haven’t felt the peculiar urge to share any of my signature contact center song parodies with the public in a while.

Unfortunately for you, I’ve skipped my last few doses.

Below are the lyrics to a song I wrote – from the perspective of a contact center agent jealous of a co-worker who gets to work from home. You can hear a sample of the actual song – and even download the whole thing for a nominal fee if you feel so inclined – by going here: (be sure to scroll down to the third song sample.)

Enjoy! (Or, at the very least, try not to get nauseous.)

"On the Phone at Home"
(to the tune of “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan)

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Came in to work at 9 right on time, didn’t you?
Now you’re all alone, working in a robe
Chilling on the phone right from home – isn’t you?

We used to… talk a heap
Made fun of all the customers who… talked to me  
But now you don’t even sock your feet
Working out of your house there in your boxer briefs
Please tell me, I need to know now – what’s the deal?

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To work all alone
Your facial hair all grown
On the phone at home

Yes, among us reps, you were the best
I guess you that you deserve to work undressed – lucky stiff
You always got awards with all your scores
The rest of us were bored, wanted just to roar “enough of it!”

But just because we… secretly
All wanted to beat you up so…   frequently
Doesn’t mean we wanted you to leave the scene
You never come into the center even just to see the team
So, what’s it like going to work without the use of wheels?

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To work all alone
The whole house to roam
Your facial hair all grown
On the phone at home

You brag and brag, but we ain’t so sad
The center ain’t so bad, the other day we had… a pizza hour
Pepperoni grease and extra cheese
That’s all I really need to keep me pleased and… steeped with power

I know that you must miss our… breakroom chats
And the overtime snacks that are always…  laced with fat
Then again at home you get to take a nap
Whenever on a break from all this agent crap
Ok, I must admit, a home-based shift sounds quite ideal

So tell me, how does it feel?
How does it feel?
To work all alone
The whole house to roam
Your facial hair all grown
On the phone at home

Tell me, ain’t you scared with the fridge right there?
Your television’s staring at your chair – tempting you
How do you adhere with your bed so near
The devil on your shoulder in your ear saying… “Bend the rules”
There’s a pool out back – you know you want to… take a dip
Even if it means your stats will… take a hit
Gonna do my best to try to make you slip
Because I want your job and I plan on taking it
Man, I want to work at home – and I’m prepared to kneel

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To work all alone
The whole house to roam
Your facial hair all grown
On the phone at home

Don’t forget to check out a sample of the song at:

Last night you were told by senior management to “do less with more” in your contact center.

You can stop celebrating now – it was just an “opposite” dream.

Back to reality.

Contact center professionals have historically had to devise ways to do more with less. The economy being down for the count hasn’t helped matters much. While some managers have resorted to prayer and medication to get through it all, others have rolled up their sleeves and gotten creative.

Especially in terms of contact center staffing. Try as some organizations might, you can’t simply replace agents with machines. The best contact centers have learned to be innovative and resourceful with existing employees – embracing unconventional and progressive staffing and scheduling approaches to get the most out of agents without breaking their backs.

Here are several ways you, too, can get crafty with staffing in your contact center to drive the sort of success that upper management demands, and that customers expect.
4 x 10 workweeks. Many centers have introduced 4 x 10 workweeks (four 10-hour days) to the agent scheduling mix, thus enhancing coverage in the contact center during peak periods while simultaneously making agents happy with an extra day off. Schedules can be arranged so that the center has all hands on deck on the busiest days, like Mondays. And since 4 x 10 stints are popular, centers find that they have plenty of senior agents working through the evening, thus ensuring that service quality and efficiency doesn’t go down once the sun does. 

Agent reserve teams. The contact center loses many of its best agents to internal departments like Marketing and Sales all the time. Crafty managers know how to steal them back – at least temporarily. Creating a crew of former agents who can help out on the phones during unexpected call spikes is a great way to meet service level objectives without having to enter into a complicated outsourcing arrangement. It also brings some welcomed job diversity to those who serve on the agent reserve team, who more than likely miss their headset a little. After all, you can take the boy or girl out of the contact center, but you can’t take the contact center out of the boy or girl.

Home agents. I can’t say enough about the home agent model. When carried out with care, no other staffing approach has as big an impact on agent engagement, retention and performance, or on the center’s ability to staff flexibly and cost-effectively. The center is able to attract and keep top talent who rarely if ever call in sick and who don’t mind being “on-call” on occasion if it means getting to work in just their underwear every day. And kicking agents out of the contact center means the contact center facility needn’t be so big – and rent so expensive. Plus it’s all seamless to the customer, except for the fact that they might note a little extra joy in the voice of the agent with whom they’re interacting.

To read more about these and other effective staffing/scheduling tactics – as well as lots of other contact center best practices – be sure to check out my comprehensive ebook Full Contact.