❤❤❤ The Importance Of Seating Futility

Friday, October 15, 2021 5:18:54 PM

The Importance Of Seating Futility



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Enquire NOW. Call Back. Back to school! Which outdoor furniture is ideal for the playground? How about street furniture? Can a bollard save lives? To improve live call handling, start looking where the keys are likely to be system-wide improvements , not where the light seems good trying to improve agents one at a time. Acknowledgement: The author would like to thank Andrew Pyzdek , who did all the mathematical modeling work described in this paper. Pyzdek is an engineering student at the University of Arizona. He can be reached at [email protected]. Not surprisingly, some have taken issue with this paper, but recently someone took issue in writing.

This is an important discussion for the whole call center industry. Please join the conversation. I write all these deliberately provocative pieces and send them out into the ether. But finally someone disagreed…in writing…to my Futility of Call Center Coaching piece. NICE sells a type of call recording equipment that is the cornerstone for most monitoring and coaching efforts. And I love that someone did respond, not because I think their response is correct, but because I love the chance for dialogue about this important topic.

I actually agree with a couple of the points they make, but overall, unfortunately, Andy, Rob and Corey have provided no evidence in their response that proves there is an ROI from coaching in call centers. This adds in a completely different dimension which I did not argue against or model in my original article. It would be easy to produce example after example about individual agents helped by coaching. In fact, this country and probably the world has a love affair with the power of a coach to improve performance and change lives. And you know what? Rightfully so. There were no real employees. There was no real coaching. No one really quit. It was a simulation. But what happens in a system with parameters like that?

The answer: the turnover eats the monthly gains in individual agent performance and center wide performance quickly plateaus, just like it does in the call centers the KomBea management team has run and are currently working with. Back to their main critique. First, I understand the need to protect client information. We have worked with hundreds of call centers, including running our own, and we have never seen continuously improving anything when it comes to agent performance. Now defining terms in any argument is important.

This is what we should be solving for in call centers. And more important, 1 show us that the continuous improvement is over years, not a few months, 2 demonstrate the improvement is due to coaching and not other system wide changes or learning curve improvements that would have happened without coaching, and finally show us 3 that the benefits of that improved performance were worth the investment in terms of recording software licenses, monitoring personnel, and off-phone coaching time which has to be paid for with extra agents on the phone covering for the agents being coached to maintain service levels that is the real cost of getting any improvement. The authors go on to make three specific points to attempt to refute my claim that coaching has no ROI.

The first part of their first point is that coaching and process improvement are separate activities that both add value. Here we are in complete agreement…they are separate activities. I know process improvement adds positive ROI and I will show an example of that below. Moreover, though PI and coaching are distinct solutions, real problems can arise when we apply the wrong improvement approach to a particular problem. Because the go-to method is coaching, center management often fruitlessly throws the coaching solution at problems that would be more effectively solved with process improvement. When all you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail and just whack away. Whacking away is generally not a great strategy unless you happen to find yourself hiking in a jungle.

Their second paragraph under point number 1 is where I really take issue. This mental model is wrong. Before I share an example, consider this: do they run manufacturing operations by having an army of inspectors videotaping each worker and then coaching them one at a time? In manufacturing they got rid of all the inspectors decades ago and moved to baking quality and process adherence into the process itself through the use of automation, error-proofing, Andon lights to signal process problems , etc. If videotaping is not the best way to achieve process adherence and efficiency in a complex operation like manufacturing, why is it the best way to do it in a complex operation like call centers? This is often a key component of call quality metrics.

The authors claim that monitoring is the best way to ensure the process is adhered to and the correct disclosure is provided. I disagree. The best approach is to know the disclosure is done correctly without any checking of any kind being necessary. To this end, disclosure compliance is best accomplished with agent-assisted automation, pre-recorded audio and error-proofing. This approach results in a process where the call cannot advance or be completed until the proper statements are read to the customer by the system and the customer acknowledges having heard and understood them, which is what you want to happen.

When that step is completed, then the agent can process the order and complete the call. We are currently working with one of the largest financial institutions in the world. Disclosures are critical-to-quality in the financial services industry and failure to do so is punishable by stiff fines and seriously bad PR. This despite the typical huge investment in recording software seat licenses, an army of monitors, and regular off-phone coaching time for agents. Are Andy et al. Are they really arguing there is a positive ROI in here somewhere? Between-agent variation on disclosure compliance has been completely eliminated. Read that sentence again. This was achieved without monitoring a single call. Add up all those tangible financial benefits and subtract the cost of our solution.

The payback period is less than six months. Everything after that is gravy. I am still waiting for someone to layout the ROI case for one-on-one agent coaching that clearly. Later in their first point, they go on to quote the late quality guru, W. Edwards Deming. New skills are required to keep up with the changes in material, methods, product and services, design, machinery, techniques and services. Before I respond, I just have to say the fact that they quoted Deming delights me.

Deming spinning in his grave. Onto their point: I never said not to train employees. They obviously have to know what to do. Here is the difference between what my idea of training is and what I think their idea is: I want to train the agents how to use software that ensures the call is completed correctly. It sounds to me like Andy et al. Can you say Myth of Sisyphus? Hope is not a strategy. Nor is the word hope to be found anywhere in books, articles or descriptions of the Toyota Production System, one of the most powerful improvement methodologies ever devised for complex operations. Build quality into the process from start to finish. Andy et al. Here again, I actually agree with them. Coaching probably does reduce turnover. Knowing your manager cares about you and wants you to get better should result in wanting to stay longer.

But, that said, let me give them the benefit of the doubt for a second. In fact let me extend Andy et al. This is an empirically testable question and it should be investigated. And this should not be surprising: who would want to make a career out of being a call center agent? On a good day it is very repetitive and exhausting talking to people all day long and trying to stay positive. On a bad day, with frustrated customers literally yelling at you and saying things you taught your kids not to say, it is extremely stressful. In popular overseas locations for call centers like the Philippines and India, it is even worse. Now of course, they monitor and coach their agents offshore as well, but still their centers can completely turnover twice a year.

The effects of coaching on turnover and the potential ROI of that is a different article. My article was meant to highlight the corrosive effects of turnover on call center performance. Should you pour resources into coaching and trying to improve your center one-agent-at-a-time or into process improvement that lifts the performance of all the agents? When you pour resources into process improvement the improvements remain even when not if the agents leave. More on this investment tradeoff at the end. Their final critique of my article was that long-tenured employees can and should continue to improve.

I explicitly stated the terms that went into my model so that researchers could build their own models with their own assumptions to see under what conditions one-agent-at-a-time improvements in high turnover environments pay off. To those researchers that want to replicate it: good luck coming up with model parameters that 1 show an ROI and 2 even remotely resemble call center environments here on Planet Earth. But I do take issue with their second and fourth paragraphs under their third point. This is tough talk. How would they go about raising the bar of performance expectations here and how would that help?

I hope what they have in mind would not look like this obviously ridiculous example: no one is running a 3 min 30 sec mile, so should we raise the bar to 3 mins 15 secs? Or should we keep the few guys who are under 4 mins and cut from the team any one running the mile above 4 mins and go find new guys who we hope will be better so we can show we are being tough with our performance expectations? What does the third quartile of agent performance represent? The performance of the agents between the 50th and 75th percentile in terms of performance on some measure. I really encourage you to follow that link to see Dr. Deming in action! Deming said the best thing to do was to try to raise the performance of the entire system, not focus on the performance of each worker.

The only place it makes sense to focus on individual worker performance was at the extremes: those statistically better and those statistically worse. Those statistically better than the rest of the floor need to be studied. What are they doing? How are they able to be so much more effective? Have they identified a best practice that we can steal and propagate across the floor?

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