In this short article I look at an example of how otherwise ‘good’ people follow bad Contact Centre process.
Sitting around our workshop table, one of the Participants – a former Contact Centre Agent from a Philippines-based BPO – shared.
“Dan – it starts like this.
QA walks over to our station and while we’re talking to a Customer they give us the time out sign. That’s their signal telling us to wrap the call up quickly so they can conduct our side by side coaching session.
That time out sign approach is a little off-putting but you have no choice but to get used to it.
After they settle in and connect their headset to our phone, they pull out a scorecard.
And as I log back into the system and receive my next call, they quietly mark their paper while I’m talking.
When the call is done, I log back out and they talk me through each tick-box they made.
Mostly I just hope that my score is a ‘pass’ because if it isn’t, they can just go on and on about my mistakes.
So of course while they’re sitting next to me I do everything in my power to achieve a pass.
I never knew that there were ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to do side by side monitoring. Your course is the first time I heard this.
I only have my own experience to go by. And it wasn’t a good one.”
There’s a lot that’s wrong in that story
At this point in our workshop, when the story gets shared, we’re talking about the power of the side by side method for monitoring & coaching.
The relationship building, the power of personal connection – the time to build trust. The opportunity to make the time to spend with the people who work for you.
But in the many years I’ve taught this method – admittedly one of my favorites – I find that very few either practice it (we have no time!) or they practice it in a way that damages the relationship – not strengthens it.
There are a few things wrong in this story – and practices like these are more common than you’d think.
- Using hand signals to summon people is rude – these should be reserved for animals – not human beings
- Using a scorecard at a side by side session makes no sense – talk about frightening
- Everyone’s faking it here – especially the Agent who is put in a no-win situation
- The entire point of helping someone do ‘better’ has been lost
- The focus on what went ‘wrong’
But the QA person in this story isn’t the villain
It’s easy to say – oh – the QA person you’re describing is the singular villain in this story.
But you’d be wrong in most cases. Because what happens is this.
Good people readily conform to and carry out bad processes.
To ‘fit in’, to ‘get the job done’ to ‘show they’ve got the stuff’ for advancement & promotion.
And to be fair – it may be the only way they know because that’s all they’ve ever experienced or been taught. I see this a lot in the Contact Centre industry.
Even former Agents – who disliked everything we’ve just talked about – will readily jump in the saddle and carry on a legacy process that’s broken.
The villain in this story is the bad Contact Centre process. In this case around side by side monitoring & coaching.
It’s not so great from a values perspective either
As a side observation to this story there’s an impact on ‘culture’ here too.
It’s likely that this Philippines-based BPO has the word ‘respect’ in their core values and if not ‘respect’ then something similar and equally lofty sounding.
We ‘respect’ each other, we ‘respect’ our Customers’, etc. The posters are everywhere. And here are pictures of all of us on our annual Team building showing our respect for each other.
But culture is nurtured through the actual behaviours of people at work.
Especially those in leadership and professional roles.
Summoning people with hand gestures and scoring them when they’re trying to serve a Customer aren’t really brilliant examples of respect.
So if you’re after building a ‘culture’ (and today who isn’t) it’s a worthwhile effort to filter your processes – and they way they’re executed – through the lens of your values.
Is the Contact Centre industry really that mature?
I once received a comment from a reader who said – “Dan, why do you constantly write about the Contact Centre industry? It’s a very mature industry already.”
And that comment made me think. Sure – it’s a mature industry.
But do we always run it in a mature way?
Thanks for reading!