|Let's See What You See when You See UC
Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers,
Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, [email protected]
Unified Communications, commonly referred to by the acronym UC, in the contact center has become the surprise breakthrough technology of the industry this year. Although it is not a new technology or a new concept, it seems to have finally caught the attention of contact center professionals.
The primary application or solution that UC supports in the contact center is a concept called Presence. In a nutshell, the Presence application allows an individual to publish his or her communications state to a common interface, which can reside on any desktop, and indicate his or her ability and/or willingness to communicate with others. In the contact center environment, subject matter experts outside the contact center but within the enterprise could indicate their willingness and ability to support the contact center and make themselves available to assist in resolving a customer service issue.
From a service perspective, having the ability to bring in resources from outside the contact center to help in a customer service matter has the potential to positively impact first call resolution and significantly lower operating costs. As UC spreads further into the enterprise it also offers the potential to positively impact back office, human resource and other operational functions.
As always, we at the NACC are interested in learning what you know about UC and understanding your opinions and attitudes regarding this emerging technology. As a result, we have designed a brief, multiple-choice (no essays!) survey covering UC in the contact center and are asking for your participation.
As is true with our previous surveys, all responses are anonymous and respondents cannot be tracked. In other words, you have our promise that no salesman will call. We won't give anyone the raw data, and there are no respondent identifiers anyway. Your privacy is guaranteed.
Also, as is true with previous surveys, we will publish the results of the survey in future issues of this newsletter. So, if you're reading this you know that you're already on the list to get the survey results, and those results will be more meaningful the greater the participation of "In Queue" readers.
The survey results will allow you to benchmark your knowledge and interests against those of your colleagues in the industry. If the results indicate a high degree of interest in UC, it will be featured more regularly in future issues of this publication. It all hinges on your participation so please give us a few minutes of your time to complete the survey. Please click on the link below and help us help everyone better understand the contact center industry.
Obama Administration and Call Centers-Part 1
David L. Butler, Executive Director, National Association of Call Centers, [email protected]
With Barack Obama winning the US Presidency on November 4th, it is important to understand what the potential influence of an Obama administration will have on the call center industry. I have taken his published plans and have divided them down into three categories: retraining, taxes, and unions. This essay will briefly discussion the first category of retraining.
The Obama campaign stated that they would modernize and expand the existing system of trade adjustment assistance to include workers hurt by changing trade patterns. They will also create flexible education accounts that workers can use to retrain. At present, the trade adjustment applies to manufacturing workers only but there is talk of expanding it to service workers, as well, which would include call center workers. This means that employers that close their call centers to move the work overseas will a) gain more scrutiny and b) that their employees who have been laid off should be eligible for retraining into other types of jobs.
Moreover, the Obama campaign wrote that they would create a program to encourage flexible work schedules for businesses including federal incentives for telecommuting using the federal government as a model employer. This is important in the fact that call centers have been highly flexible organizations for a while. Last, work at home agents are the epitome of the flexible work schedule in both time and geography-the ultimate telecommuter. The call center industry should be heralded as a model industry in terms of flexible work arrangements if this proposal moves forward.
60 Ideas in 60 Minutes-Round I
David L. Butler, Executive Director, National Association of Call Centers, [email protected]
Paul Stockford, the Director of Research for the NACC, asked me to serve on a panel at the ICCM Toronto call center conference in October this year after serving last year as well. Each panelist was given 1 minute to share their idea for improving call centers before the next panelist's turn. Stockford moderated and kept time for 60 minutes. We have recorded and transcribed the session with round one ideas listed below. We will be sharing other rounds in future issues of the In Queue newsletter so stay tuned to receive them all.
David L. Butler-This year I broke my ideas into two different categories: personal and organizational. The organizational ideas will be influenced by market conditions and the personal will be applicable broadly to individuals. The first organizational idea is know the value of both yourself professionally, and your contact centers' business within your organization. Be able to measure both of these items in monetary terms. Everyone is going to be asked to cut costs and do more with less as the liquidity issue in the market starts to push down to the individual level. Having this knowledge in hand and being able to measure it is a proactive step in keeping your job and your organization afloat during these tumultuous times.
Samantha Kane-I believe you can't send a duck to eagle camp. You can't teach someone who wants to serve. You cannot teach someone to smile and you can't teach personalities. But you can hire the right person and you can teach them your products and you can teach them your culture.
Barb Bleiler-It boils down to one basic fact, lead by example. You can go through and put up all the rah-rah signs you want, you can have all the motivational statements posted, you can send them, you can email them, but in the end it boils down to that you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Right now if you want to do something you need to lead by example and stand up and show them the direction you want to go and the way forward. Don't expect them to know what it is, lead by example and show them the direction they need to go.
Beel Yaqub- My philosophy is around empowering your employees to make decisions and how you empower your employees to make their day-to-day lives simpler. Specifically, with the market being weak, doing simple things like leveraging tools that can help them make the right decisions and know the impact on the business from a monetary perspective, from people and morale perspective as well.
Vicki Herrell -- Getting the scheduling expectations right while the new hires are in training is important. Most of the time we have the initial training for the new hires Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm and they get used to that schedule. Then they are ready we put them on the floor and they work 4pm to midnight. This sometimes causes problems even though you tell them when you hire them that they are going to work from 4pm to midnight. So it might work better if you experiment and have them do their training during the actual hours they are going to work on the floor. An obstacle to this could be that most trainers want to work 8am-5pm, but one way of getting around this problem is to promote some agents that work the 4pm-midnight shift to be trainers or look for volunteers from your current trainers for these shifts. This process can create happier agents when they get on the floor.
William (Bill) Durr- Everyone who has a top tier workforce management software package normally has a feature called "What if" where you can play with variables. One of the great things you can do with "What if" is that you can entirely throw out your existing agent workforce and recreate another one that has much more flexibility. Calculate the cost of this imaginary workforce and compare against the cost of your existing workforce. The difference between those two numbers is the cost of inflexibility. It is a very interesting number and one that you should pay attention to rather than the typical metrics you are used to talking about.
Call Center Comics
If you like this comic and
would like to see more write Ozzie at [email protected] and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The
NACC appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics
in our newsletter.
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Copyright 2008 National Association of Call Centers