Off Center
 
Regardless of whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, it’s nice to take some time every now and then to give thanks for what you have. And even though you are currently fighting a war against agent burnout, a limited budget and customers with a bloated sense of self-importance, there are still plenty of things to be thankful for in the contact center industry. Here are just a few:

Increased respect.
Although execs aren’t exactly writing blank checks for the contact center, you should be thankful that most now recognize the invaluable insight and data the center captures daily, and the impact that the center has on customer loyalty and revenue. As a result, many C-level officers have stopped writing nasty graffiti about the contact center on executive washroom walls. Some now even allow agents and supervisors to look directly at them during their annual walk across the phone floor. 

Casual dress codes.
Until video calls come along and ruin everything, contact center pros can be grateful that nobody expects them to look classy. While folks in Marketing, Sales and other so-called "higher-profile" departments must contend with the daily stress of lining up an outfit that will impress clients and co-workers, contact center folks can slap on the same jeans or pleated khaki pants they’ve worn for the past month, with no fear of negatively impacting the customer experience or their career.      
Frontline task forces.
If you are a contact center manager or supervisor, you should thank your lucky stars for the fact that you have a whole host of agents who are totally desperate for a little job diversity and time off the phones. If you haven’t yet started to tap their desperation and put them to work on projects you don’t want to deal with, or let them come up with improved processes that you can take credit for, then you should be thankful that I just informed you of this brilliant strategy. 

Social media.
True, nobody in the contact center really knows how to handle social media as a customer care tool yet, but be thankful that the hype surrounding it has distracted senior management from the fact that your center hasn’t really figured out the phones, email or chat yet, either. Another reason to be thankful for social media is that, once you do figure it out and set things up right, your most avid customers will step in and start to handle most of your other customers’ online complaints for free.

Lack of windows.
While some contact centers these days have an ample number of windows, be thankful if yours is not one of those centers. There’s nothing worse than having a portal to the outside world that lets you see all you’re missing while you’re busy getting slammed by calls and berated by customers. You and your staff need to focus on the internal chaos – if you have birds and sunshine and trees and mountains distracting you, you’re never going to survive.

Helium balloons.
You show me a contact center pro who isn’t thankful for the abundance of colorful balloons floating around the phone floor, and I’ll show you a contact center pro who doesn’t know how to use them to full effect. The squeaky voice you get from inhaling helium is hilarious and stress-reducing no matter how many times you do it. Regardless of how burnt out and browbeaten you are on the job – having a constant supply of noble gas makes it all worth it.

One final thing that I, personally, am extremely thankful for is you – my readers – for tuning in to my ramblings each week and for not reporting me to the proper authorities.

Happy Thanksgiving to all (who celebrate it)!


lucian
11/17/2011 08:48:04 pm

Nice article Greg, but you forgot to mention another important advantage: how the callcenter brings people closer to each other (literally). When you pack many people in 1 X 1 X 1 meter cubicles, they become more attached to eachother feel less lonely :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you too :)

Reply
11/17/2011 09:16:32 pm

Ah, yes, the power of the Sardine Effect. I most certainly should have included that one, Lucian. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Regards,

GL

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matt
11/17/2011 09:23:53 pm

And be thankful for all the weight that we put on from the team potlucks and pizza designed to get agents to work through lunch . . . which will also keep us warm and sustain us through the upcoming long winter months! Happy thanksgiving!

Reply
11/17/2011 09:29:35 pm

Nice one, Matt. Like bears in hibernation, only agents aren't allowed to sleep.

It looks like I'm going to have to write a "Volume 2" for this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and sharing your wit!

Best,

GL

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11/18/2011 02:32:31 am

We do have much to be thankful for, Greg! Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your unique perspective! Happy Thanksgiving!

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11/18/2011 02:43:27 am

And I always enjoy hearing from one of my absolute favorite people in this crazy industry. Grateful for your friendship and support all these years, Linda.

Warm regards,

GL

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11/20/2011 10:51:06 pm

Love this article.

On one point I must put the centre I work for out there. "Nobody really knows how to use it as a customer care tool" We do! www.the-gem.com

We won two awards for this...

"Customer interaction via social media" & Best new product offering "Social Media Management"

Reply
11/20/2011 11:14:41 pm

Thanks, Peter.

As for my comment about how nobody knows how to use social media as a customer care tool, I was being satirical. Then again, there is much truth in jest.

But I'll give you a chance to put your money where your mouth is! Feel free to send me some info on a contact center client of yours that has an effective social customer care strategy in place, and I'll consider featuring them in an upcoming "Contact Centerfold of the Month" column on my website.

I look forward to hearing back.

Best,
GL

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11/20/2011 11:29:44 pm

Thanks for the reply!

I would agree with you, we are always striving to get our heads around all of the technology at our disposal because of the rapid pace of change within the industry.

Would be interested to know more about the centrefold of the month, will contact you shortly!

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