Response Design Corporation:Creating the Uncommon Call Center
Kathryn's Uncommon Call Center Blog
August 29, 2006 12:18 AM
Categories: Management 
Do you respond to trends more like a chicken or a pig?

I am working with a company that has decided to become involved in telecommuting. In fact, its executives wrote their entire annual strategic plan around it. Their research says they will save a lot of money and increase productivity exponentially. They read, learned, benchmarked, and interviewed people from companies who were already successful in telecommuting. Becoming involved with telecommuting is a “no-brainer” for them. However, to date, my clients have not stepped one little toe into the huge telecommuting ocean. They’re having trouble making a commitment.

An unknown author described the difference between being “involved” and “committed.” He or she says that, regarding an eggs-and-ham breakfast, the chicken is “involved,” and the pig is “committed.” Many times, it is more comfortable to stay in the role of the chicken, but capitalizing on trends requires commitment.

The ability to perceive trends quickly, or even to make sense of them, will not automatically guarantee success. Understanding and implementing a trend responsibly is altogether different. Determining how (or whether) you will turn that trend into something good takes creativity and persistence. Your success depends on a disciplined approach to envisioning the changes, defining required change actions, and implementing the plan.

Think back on your history with contact center trends. For the ones you deemed relevant, did your actions more resemble the involvement of the chicken or the commitment of the pig?

Entry logged at 12:18 AM
August 21, 2006 12:13 AM
Categories: Management 
Are you overwhelmed by trends?

The other day when I came home from a trip, I plugged my computer in and nothing worked. The keyboard and mouse acted like they belonged to some other computer sitting in some faraway place (and I think that place was Greece because what was showing up on the screen was Greek to me).

It was late at night, I was tired, and now I was frazzled. I needed to update and e-mail one or two documents before I could go to bed. I was at my wit’s end and certainly didn’t need one more thing to add to my stress.

Ever feel that way? Perhaps you are overwhelmed by the complexities of your customer contact operation and you keep adding to that stress by taking on more projects.

How do you feel when someone proposes a new contact center trend project? Do you break into a cold sweat? Does everyone on your team, at first, see the value of “diving in,” while you immediately realize that taking on another project is just too much? You have the feeling that it just might be the initiative that finally sinks the entire organization, drowning all employees with it.

Trends involve resource-hungry projects. And, if your resources (knowledge, time, people, or funds) are already taxed or lacking, you should put trend-implementation on hold. Keep that hold on until you know the relevancy, value, and cost of each program you are attacking. After you do your assessment, you may find that some trendy projects are outdated, some too costly, and others irrelevant in light of your organizational strategy. If so, clean house – stop spending your limited resources on projects that don’t make sense.

Don’t let any of these trend challenges keep you from success. There are nuggets of gold in that heap of projects you are about to assess that will provide ongoing success for your organization.

Have you presented a new idea to your organization recently? What was it? What did others say about it?

Entry logged at 12:13 AM
August 14, 2006 12:11 AM
Categories: Management 
Be a trend watcher

The more trends you track, the more you are able to put them into context, and the more wisdom you'll have when deciding which to adapt and implement.

As I listened to a vendor presentation the other day, the alphabet soup of acronyms caused me to think, “Huh? I don’t know what that means!” I quickly lost interest in the intent of the presentation. As I looked around the room, I saw similar “glazed over” expressions. Why weren’t we asking our questions? Did we think that everyone else in the room knew the answers and we would look stupid if we asked for clarification?

It taught me a lesson. Someone in the room had to step up and take the risk – ask the question. And, if the answer didn’t help, we had to keep asking.

Contact center trends are like that meeting. They can be full of special concepts, words, and acronyms. Heaven knows our industry makes up at least one new word a day. Therefore, if you don’t understand a trend, or if you feel even more confused after asking about it, don’t stop asking! I know people who, after making several attempts at understanding, give up. Some of them begin to believe they will never understand, and others are too embarrassed to keep asking. Don’t be like these folks, keep seeking. Ask “huh?” out loud. It’s not your fault that people can’t explain something in a way you can understand.

Your job as a contact center manager is to map out a viable path for your executive management team: spotting business opportunities and risks, identifying contextual changes (e.g., social, economic, technology), and steering your contact center and company towards its highest potential. An understanding of contact center trends provides valuable insights regarding how to do your job.

You may read about a trend and not really understand what people are so excited about, or you may not understand the trend at all. You may not know whether it applies to you. Be willing to seek help in understanding trends, and have perseverance. If you don’t truly understand a trend, then find a source that can help. Remember, is here for you.

Entry logged at 12:11 AM
August 7, 2006 12:10 AM
Categories: Management 
Contact center trend disclaimer

Industry literature is full of call center “trends;” writers use the term to entice us. We all want to be in the know. We don’t want to be left behind. If we are to pursue “good” contact center trends that result in positive improvement, then we can’t focus on being “trendy,” running with the crowd chasing the latest fad. What is good for one contact center may not be good for another.

We should also be careful about being a “trendsetter.” A trendsetter initiates or popularizes a trend. My hope is that any vendor or “best practice” contact center initiating or popularizing a trend would keep the good of the whole in mind. After all, there is no “one size fits all” trend. Trends should come with disclaimers, “without serious consideration, this trend could cause harm.”

Remember, just as fashion trends come, go, and recycle back (think miniskirts), call center trends often follow that same pattern. A good example is how companies started their calls centers with multiple sites, then for technology and cost reasons went through a big consolidation phase only to move back to a more distributed configuration (for the same cost and technology reasons).

As an observer and implementer of contact center trends, be vigilant as you evaluate them. Will this trend be good for you? If so, how will you adapt it to fit the uniqueness of your organization?

When we talk about customer contact trends, what comes to mind? We’d not only enjoy hearing about the trends that most often capture your attention, but also what you think about them.

Entry logged at 12:10 AM
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