Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Most Important Metric

by: Sean Hawkins

This past Tuesday, I celebrated my 43rd birthday. Thanks to my wife and kids for making it an awesome day! Having taken the day off, my coworkers texted and tweeted their birthday wishes to me throughout the day. Upon arriving to work the next day, I was surprised to see my desk was festively decorated, I had presents and they had brought in snacks. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and made me feel very special. Not one to lose my composure, I fought back the tears.

For the rest of the day, I was amazingly happy. I realized their act of kindness positively influenced my day. As the work day came to a close, an agent walked up to me and said “because you care about us, we wanted to show you our appreciation.” I offered a heartfelt reply and made my way out of the building. On the way home I began to think about that conversation. So often, call center agents are rushed from one call to the next, evaluated against metrics they don’t understand and berated by upset customers. It is not hard to understand why there is so much turn over in the call center.

I have been fortunate to work with great agents who are great people. Most I know on a personal level having been invited to weddings, BBQs and the like. I’ve always tried to respect them as people first rather than call center agents. Furthermore, I constantly remind myself that people are behind each customer interaction, metric, and decision I make.

As the saying goes, “attitude reflects leadership.” I’ve always felt the best way to show the agent what exceptional customer service looks like, is by practicing it with them. Only then will they pass that on to the customer. Angry staff produces angry customers. When agents are happy and feel their leaders value them, they will produce quality results. Each day, I review no fewer than six reports to determine how the call center is operating. Some days the numbers look amazing while on others, not so good.

Most often, numbers can be explained and adjustments can be made as needed. With several years in the call center under my belt, this is the easy part. To me, the best indicator of how we are performing takes place with the interactions I have with the staff. When morale is high, performance is high. Conversely, when morale is low, so is the overall performance.

A good part of my day consists of walking the floor and interacting with the staff. We joke, tell stories or sometimes I just let them vent. Because of this, we’ve come up with some great initiatives such as Friday Breakfast, Interaction of the Week, and a weekly Morale Raffle. While these may seem trivial to some, to the agent, it’s as significant to them as my birthday surprise was to me.

Sean is a Customer Experience, Contact Center and Help desk manager with over 12 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

In 2011, his team was awarded the ICMI "Global Call Center of the Year" for Small to Medium-Sized Centers. Follow on Twitter- @SeanBHawkins

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