Off Center
 
I pride myself on continually providing fresh content, but there are certain Off Center posts that, based on feedback from my seven fans, bear repeating.

And with that, I present my most popular holiday-related contact center poems and carols of all time…


T’was the Night After Training

T’was the night after training, and all I could think
Was how the call center might drive me to drink
We’d all practiced role-plays to help us prepare
But role-plays are easy – real customers scare.

So there I was snuggled all warm in my bed
While visions of acronyms danced in my head
I couldn’t remember what half of them meant
FCR? C-Sat? My brain had been bent.

Then all of a sudden my mind became clear
And all fear of handling calls disappeared
Want to know why I was no longer a wreck?
The Xanax I’d taken had taken effect

The drugs soon wore off, then all I could think
Was “What if the service I give truly stinks?”
What if my quality scores are the worst?
When push comes to shove on a call I might curse

The panic subsided and soon I was snoozing
That’s when the call center dreams started oozing
The calls I dreamt of grew increasingly hectic
One dream had my manager screaming out metrics:

“Abandonment! FCR! AHT! C-Sat!
Cost-per-call! Talk time! Response time and E-Sat!
C’mon you peons – don’t let service fall!
Just answer those, answer those, answer those calls!”

I awoke from that dream quite afraid of my headset
And was very displeased about making my bed wet
Only three hours before my first shift!
So I guzzled two Red Bulls to give me a lift

Soon I was buzzing and following through
Ready to steady all calls in the queue
Ready to dazzle with email and chat
Ready to laugh at those bullies called “stats”

The taurine and caffeine and sugar combined
To make me believe I could handle this grind
But Red Bull eventually loses its magic
And that’s when my first day logged in became tragic

The calls flooded in, my confidence ceased
Thank God for that thing on my phone called “Release”
I was coming unglued after only an hour
The callers were rude and I needed a shower

So I trudged to the restroom without any clearance
My manager shouted, “You’re out of adherence!”
When asked if that’s bad, he just nodded and hissed
So I flipped him the bird and said “Monitor THIS!”



“Take the Calls”

(to the tune of “Deck the Halls”)

Take the calls, the queue’s exploding
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Satisfaction’s fast eroding
Fa la la la la, la la la la
FCR is non-existent
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Reps are sobbing in the distance
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Call arrival is so random
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Callers sigh and some abandon
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Callers’ rage is all recorded
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Always say “Your call’s important"
Fa la la la la, la la la la




"Working in the Contact Center, Man"

(to the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”)

Hear the phones? It’s ballistic
Readerboards flash statistics
The systems are slow
We’re pissed and it shows
Working in the contact center, man

Calls attack, chats defeat you
Holy crap, now there’s tweets too
Channels expand
I can’t feel my hands
Working in the contact center, man

In the center you can build a forecast
And do your best to keep things gliding smooth
But customers are always on the warpath
And you get left there crying in your cube

The job’s a beast – it’s getting scary
But at least it’s sedentary
We sit on our butts
We quit or go nuts
Working in the contact center, man



Happy Holidays to All! (And to all, a good laugh.)

 
I dedicated an entire post to the topic of peer mentoring in contact centers a while back, but there’s one thing I didn’t address then that I’d like to address now: The importance of incorporating home agents into the peer mentoring mix.

With so many organizations embracing the home agent model in recent years, a good portion of some centers' best agents no longer work onsite. And while these agents invariably thrive at home, they are no longer available to help their peers do the same back at the brick and mortar facility.

At least that’s the assumption. I’m here to say that home agents not only can serve as peer mentors, they absolutely should.

Just because these talented team members have traded in their business casual attire for pajamas doesn’t mean they’ve traded in their expertise and insight – or their appetite for empowerment. Case study after case study shows that experienced agents fully embrace the opportunity to serve as mentors, to share their vast knowledge and skills and expand their job role.

Sending top agents home without their mentoring hats zaps the contact center of much of its employee development strength. It’s like eliminating part of the training team.  

So how does a center go about utilizing home agents as peer mentors? The same way the center keeps home agents in the loop and up to date. Email, chat, video and phone are invaluable communication and training tools in centers with remote staff; those tools can be just as invaluable when used to foster mentoring relationships. Sure, it’s always nice for new-hires and seasoned staff to work side-by-side, but physical presence isn’t nearly as important as real-time communication when it comes to mentoring. Protégés with pressing questions can initiate a quick chat session with their mentor. When in need of more in-depth coaching or assistance, chat (or phone) with screen-sharing can be very effective, as can video calls, which add a nice face-to-face element to help foster a sense of connectedness. And email can come in handy for less urgent or in-depth matters.

As with traditional mentoring, contact centers need to establish certain scheduling and adherence policies to ensure their virtual mentoring initiatives don’t end up hindering service levels or quality. Since home agents serving as mentors are likely to be among the center’s star agents, it’s important not to have too many of them offline assisting their respective protégés, or to have any of them or their protégés offline when the center is being bombarded by customer contacts. Centers can solve (or at least minimize) such issues by having a solid workforce management process in place, and by instilling a “keep your eyes on the queue” mentality among mentors and protégés whenever they are working offline.

And finally, it’s important to realize not every home agent – regardless of experience and skill on the phones – is cut out to be a mentor. Some, in fact, love working at home for the simple reason that it allows them to never have to interact with another human being (other than customers) again. As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to force sociopaths to assist new-hires. When choosing virtual mentors, be sure to select those who are as gregarious and patient as they are experienced, and stay away from those who snarl whenever approached or who look like Jeffrey Dahmer.  


What are YOUR thoughts on virtual peer mentoring? Have any of you tried it? If so, how well did/does it work for your center?