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Dear Contact Centre – please stop tai chi’ing your Customers

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I warn against tai chi’ing your Contact Centre Customers when they need your help.

There are many odd approaches to achieving productivity in the Contact Centre industry

There’s a long list of odd approaches to achieving productivity in the Contact Centre.

One of my least favorites is what I call tai chi’ing the Customer.

If you’re familiar with the formal practice of Tai Chi it originated in ancient China and is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body.

When I lived in Los Angeles I practiced tai chi to manage my own personal stress and reduce blood pressure.

But in the Contact Centre it’s not a good thing and here’s what it sounds like –

Good morning this is Andrew, how may I help you?

Hi Andrew, Siti here. Can I ask how to apply for the scholarship?

Sure Siti.   It’s all on the website.  Just visit abc.com and you’ll find everything there.

 Short, sweet , unhelpful.

But it kept the call short!

It’s tai chi’ing when you push someone to self-help without offering to help first.

Designed journeys have exception handling too

Sure – perhaps a particular Customer journey was designed in such a way that the Customer would have ideally gone to the website first.

But when you offer multiple channels, you’ve made an implicit promise to honor the Customer regardless of which channel(s) they decide to use.

When I work with students in Customer Experience courses I explain it this way –

“When your Customer wakes up in the morning they have a choice.  A choice in how they interact with you.

They could call, email, text, or drop in on your Service Centre as they’ll be in town running errands anyway.

No matter what choice they make, we honor them and help get the job done.”

Journey mapping practitioners recognize that some percentage of voice calls come in after Customers tried self-service first.

And that happens when the self-service option failed to deliver the desired information or required too much effort.

Referred to as containment this is a measure of the percentage of enquiries  fully resolved within a particular channel.

And it’s never 100%.

So for a Customer to be tai chi’ed on a voice call – right back to the self-service channel that had failed in the first place – is clearly not an award winning strategy.

The danger of measuring service through compliance measures

We worked with a large educational institution on their Contact Centre Mystery Shopper program.

To allow for trending,  the compliance standards used for measurement had not been refreshed or updated for years.

And sure enough, all the greetings, closings and using the Customer’s name ‘two times’ were achieved and generated high percentage scores for the program.

They were all happy.

But during our analysis of the conversations, we picked up on the extensive use of Tai Chi by the Agents.

Though we reported it in our findings the management wasn’t that interested.

Later on when we checked, we learned that the Tai Chi approach was a directive from Contact Centre management to keep the calls short.

Ah ok.  We had simply picked up on what the Agents had been asked to do.

Another weird way that productivity rears its head in the industry while damaging the Customer Experience.

How about a version like this?

Good morning this is Andrew, how may I help you?

Hi Andrew, Siti here. Can I ask how to apply for the scholarship?

Sure Siti. Happy to help with that!

(A bit of to and fro to address Siti’s needs)

Ok Siti – have you viewed our website before? 

Ah ok – no worries – let me show you where, in future, you can easily reference what we’ve been taking about on this call.

What if Customers fed back that the website did not provide an easy reference?

No problem.

Because this becomes business intelligence to be funneled to the CX Team for action so the website can better meet its purpose.

Thank you for reading (and please – no more Tai Chi!),


When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score.  In this short article I explain the difference between the two.

We measure everything!

In the Contact Centre industry we tend to be obsessed with measuring things.

From Occupancy rates through to Net Promoter Score we have dashboards and dials for everything.  (Even though not everything matters.)

And we have a whole special set of measurements reserved just for Contact Centre Agents.

When we’re able to influence and guide our Agents to better Productivity, Quality & Attitude, life is good.

And measuring progress quantitatively along the way is fine.  It’s really important to let people know how they are doing.

Measuring Quality

One of the most important processes in the Centre is Monitoring & Coaching.

We monitor Customer interactions, document our findings and talk to the Agents about their performance.

Great Monitoring & Coaching improves Quality, drives better Customer Satisfaction and delivers higher Employee Engagement.

It’s a multivitamin process with lots of great benefits.

But only when it is well designed.

There are many questions to answer to create a great Monitoring & Coaching process

The Monitoring & Coaching process is more complex than it first appears on paper.

  • Who should monitor interactions?
  • How often should we monitor?
  • What do we monitor for?
  • Who makes the rules for defining and calibrating Performance Standards?
  • How often should we listen, how should we listen, what do we listen for?

And when it comes to Agents –

  • Who should talk to Agents?
  • With what frequency should we talk to Agents?
  • What is the role of Quality Assurance?
  • What is the role of the Team Leader?
  • When or how should a score be involved?

Wow – there’s a lot involved.  But there are some answers too.

Let’s focus in on the use of scoring.

What is the role of the Scorecard?

Let’s zoom in questions around scoring.

  • What is the role of the Monitoring ‘Scorecard’?
  • Do I have to use it every time I speak with my Agent about their interaction?
  • Do I as a Team Leader use it or does Quality Assurance use it?

You’re either helping or you’re keeping score

In our Client work, we find that both Team Leaders and Quality Assurance have an unhealthy attachment to the scorecard.

Every quality discussion with an Agent involves a score.

Even side by side sessions – the rare times they seem to be conducted – involve a scorecard.

Isn’t this all rather disheartening and unnecessary? And typically all the Agent wants to know is the score.  Or ‘did I pass or not pass’?

That’s not a formula for improvement.  And a sure sign there is confusion between helping or keeping score.

What do we mean by that?

Scorecards are wonderful tools for gathering quantitative data.

Providing a developmental summary of scores across randomly selected interactions can be a great tool for Agent performance trending.

Here’s your trend here.  Here’s your trend there.  The big picture of performance and what contributes to it.

But scoring on a day to day basis in the Centre can inhibit growth.

Imagine your Agent comes to you and says –

“Boss, I’d like you to help me with my communication skills. Can you sit with me and listen to a few of my calls and give me your thoughts?” 

You reply, –

“Sure, give me a minute to get my scorecards – I’ve got to score everything I hear and that we talk about – be right there…”

I don’t think you would say this.

Even writing these lines makes me cringe.

The role of a Coach within the context of transactional coaching is to help their Agent get better and better at what they do.

Since when did helping someone get better involve a score?

Scorecards don’t change behaviour

A Scorecard is a judging tool.

It tells you how you did.

Just like watching the scores presented by Olympic Judges after the skater has skated, or the diver made their dive.

They tell you how you did.  But they aren’t designed to help you get better.

It makes me sad when Quality Assurance people tell me that all they do is issue scorecards and hope that Agent quality performance improves.

Dream on.

But helping people changes behaviour

What the best coaches do is sit with their folks – on a regular basis – and help them get better.

They understand that helping is something they do for their people.

“Here’s where you did well.  Here’s where you can improve.”

With no score attached. And why would you need one?

And the more you help someone – the better they will score when the time comes.

In closing

When people ask me how many interactions they should monitor I ask them to rephrase the question.

“How many interactions will you monitor for scoring purposes and to provide trending?” 

“And how many interactions will you conduct to help your Agent get better?”

Then add the answers to these two questions together to get your answer.

Thank you for reading!



From Contact Centre Management to Customer Experience Management – do you have what it takes?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

The purpose of this article is to share some thoughts on what it takes to move from Contact Centre management to Customer Experience management.

It seems to be a logical move

In the past year I’ve had a few discreet enquiries from Contact Centre Managers about what it takes to move from Contact Centre management into Customer experience management.

I think it’s a great question and I honor it.

And though it seems to be a logical move, it’s important to first establish that Customer Experience management is a different field than Contact Centre management.

So let’s start by looking at where you work now.

Because that is where your experience begins and much of your exposure lies.

Does your Organization pursue Customer Experience as a business strategy?

Not every Organization pursues Customer Experience.

We have to get that out of the way first.

Of course no smart CEO is going to disparage Customer Experience in conversation.

But talking about Customer Experience and doing what it takes, organizationally, are two completely different things.

And there are many viable ‘maturity models’ out there you can use to peg your Organization’s Customer Experience level of maturity.

Forrester, Jeanne Bliss, Beyond Philosophy all openly share well thought out maturity models.

Look them up – answer the questions. Estimate the organizational maturity level where you work.

You’ll need to understand Customer Experience maturity models if you want to move into Customer Experience management in any case.

Obviously if you work somewhere that operates at a higher plateau of maturity – you have a leg up.

You can see, feel and taste what Customer Experience feels like at an organizational level.

There’s a common misunderstanding

The most common misunderstanding I come across in conferences and workshops is that Contact Centre folks confuse Customer Experience and Customer Service.

Customer Experience is not Customer Service on steroids.

Being good at Customer Service and being good at Customer Experience are two different things.

Of course there is overlap.

Consider the diagram show below.  Customer Service is a subset of Customer Experience.

And in this second diagram you can see that the Contact Centre is a subset of Customer Service.

Remember that the Contact Centre is only one possible touchpoint of the Customer Experience.  And not every Customer uses the Contact Centre.

If you conflate the two terms – Customer Experience & Customer Service – you won’t just confuse yourself.  You will confuse others around you.

I see this all the time.

Contact Centre Management runs around talking about Customer Experience without using the term in the right context.

The way you manage your Centre says a lot about your Customer Experience potential

Let’s look at how you manage your Centre now – and what that bodes for your future in Customer Experience.

Efficiency in the Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve efficiency.

You learn this in Operations management.

If your focus as a Contact Centre leader is on metrics like # of Calls Handled, Average Handling Time ane/or Occupancy you’re going to have a challenge graduating up to Customer Experience.

Because not a single one of these metrics has anything to do with the Customer’s point of view.

Ask yourself.

What metrics have I set for my Centre Andy with Team that reflect the Customer’s point of view?  Their voice?  What matters to them?

How seriously do we take those around here?

Quality in a Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve quality.

If your Centre talks about quality that’s great.

But how is it achieved?

Is there regular and ongoing coaching that helps people improve?

Or is your Centre a scorecard factory where issuing scorecards substitutes for meaningful dialogue between Frontliners & Management?

At it’s heart, Customer Experience is a people-business, with Customers at the heart and Employees & Partners across the organization as part of the overall ecosystem.

Your proven ability to bring the best out of the people you work with is a great indicator of Customer Experience management success.

Funny things Contact Centre Managers ask their Agents to do

What kind of culture exists in your Centre?

How do your Frontline Agents describe Customers?

Do they describe them as irritating?  Entitled?  Annoying?  Unreasonable?  Do Team Leaders chime in and say the same thing?

If so you’ve got a culture issue within your Centre.

And if there’s any place where a Customer-centric culture should be strong – that’s the Contact Centre.

If you’ve been able to get your Contact Centre folks to be Customer-obsessed, that bodes well for your ability to influence others outside the Centre when you’re in a Customer Experience role.

Let’s get financial for a moment

Customer Experience gets a fluffy reputation.

That happens when Customer Experience oriented folks struggle to articulate the concrete benefits of organizational Customer Experience.

Your experience in Contact Centre management should have exposed you to annual budgeting, project-based budgeting, ROI analyses and the like.

Because as tempting as it can be to argue the case for Customer Experience ‘because it is the right thing to do’, that method will fail you every time.

The ability to present a solid business case, using the language of business – numbers – is an important skill set for Customer Experience professionals.

We can’t ignore the power of influence

Last in my list for this article – the power of influence.

I always say that that best Contact Centre Managers work up and out.

By that I mean they are seldom in the Centre.  I succeeded in my operations career because I had super-charged Supervisors.

That enabled me to work with other Departments & Functions to see how the Centre could help them solve problems.

And asking how we could work together to solve Customer problems as well.

Ask yourself.

What’s my reputation within the Organization?

Am I seen as credible?  Have I helped establish trusted relationships across functions?

Because Customer Experience management involves politics.  Politics in the positive sense here.

Using influence, reputation and track record to get folks involved in making Customer’s lives better.  It’s a big part of the job.

In closing

I don’t think you have to come up through the Contact Centre industry to succeed in Customer Experience management.

But with that said, if you’re able to channel the Customer-centricity you achieved in the ‘heart’ of Customer Service to the organization at large – you’ve got some very specific advantages.

And I’d add that you look at CCXP Certification.  It’s intensive but robust and internationally recognized.

Thank you for reading!



What behaviours do Customer Experience professionals display?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

In this short article I share thoughts on Customer Experience professionals  – and the behaviours they exhibit not just at work – but in practice in their daily lives.

I was having a relaxed lunch at McDonalds, sitting at an outdoor patio here in sunny Singapore.

As I looked around, many empty tables were covered with dirty trays, even though there was a convenient Return Station located in the corner of the patio.

First I thought of my Mom.  She would never have allowed us to leave trash behind us for others to clean up (thanks Mom).

Then I shifted my thinking over to Customer Experience.

Would a Customer Experience professional leave their dirty tray behind at a McDonalds?

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

It’s not what you say, it’s what you do

One of my dear friends says, “If you want to know the health of the tree, examine the fruit.”

Still sitting at McDonalds sipping my Coke, I took out some paper and jotted down the behaviours I think Customer Experience professionals display in their daily lives.

In today’s parlance, their ‘authentic selves’ – behaviours that happen even when no on is watching.

Did you clear your tray at the food court or fast food restaurant even if someone else is paid to do that?

If you did that’s cool.

It shows you have humility.

It’s hard to imagine that folks who have too much pride to clear their own trays are able to put someone else front and centre in their thinking.

It also shows you have empathy.

When you see a lot of dirty trays lying around, you probably think – ‘my goodness the poor staff who has to come out and clean this all up.’

‘Let me do my part to help.’

Humility & empathy.  Check.

In the last week did  you read an article, crack open a book, watch a video or attend a class?

If you did that’s cool.

Customer Experience is fascinating in part because of the depth and breadth of the subject matter.

No one can know everything about Customer Experience – and that means there’s always something to learn.

Your once a year seminar?  Well that’s nice.

Do you brush your teeth once a year?  Wash your car once a year?

I think the best Customer Experience professionals regularly read, watch, interact and listen to content that beefs up their know-how and perspectives.

In the last month did you send a Compliment Letter or post a positive review on social media?

Great Customer Experience people look for the ‘good’ in what they experience.

The lady at the salad counter at the grocery store, the bus driver, the Call Centre Agent that helped you untangle a sticky problem.

The shampoo that really worked.

Organizations and people love to hear from you when they do good.

Complaints are easy.  Anyone can complain.

But identifying the good in what you see – and taking the time and effort to salute that – is important.  That’s how you celebrate what’s going well in your organization too.

In the last month did you visit an art gallery, read a non-work related book or attend a concert?

If so that’s cool.

Delivering a great Customer experience takes imagination.

And the arts, in any form, serve as food for the imagination.

If you’re all work, work, work your perspective shrinks, your ability to connect the dots diminishes and your experience of the world becomes a bit more grey.

Did you do what you said you would do?

So you RSVP’d for the party – but you didn’t go.

You said you would help your neighbor out with clearing the rubbish, but you got busy at work.

You told your friend you would meet them for coffee, but something came up.

It’s hard to deliver a consistent and positive experience for Customers if you don’t do what you said you would do.

And doing what you said you would do begins in your own personal life.

Excuses have no place in a Customer Experience professional’s toolbox of behaviours.

Did you write an article, give a speech, speak on a podcast, share a story in your company Town Hall?

The best Customer Experience professionals give back.

I read an article that stated that less than 1% of LinkedIn Members publish their own content.

That made me sad.

But I bet if you took that analysis down to the Customer Experience profession, you’d see a much higher percentage contribution.

That’s because the best Customer Experience professionals share.  And there are so many ways to share.

  • Write an article
  • Write a post
  • Share a story
  • Give a talk
  • Participate on a panel

Many of the Customer Experience people I know or follow do all of these!

Customer Experience professionals – in closing

I’m sure there are plenty of other behaviours out there.

But for now I’ll draw this article to a close – and thank you for reading!


Public Programs
























The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Program – are you on track?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

If you want to conduct a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper there are some do’s and don’ts you need to know.

A Customer Experience based Mystery Shopper program involves a lot more than just tacking on the phrase ‘Customer Experience’ in front of ‘Mystery Shopper’.

The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award

Some time back one of the local Awards Clubs introduced a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award into its portfolio.

Organizations could apply for the Mystery Shopper program and potentially win an award.

Cool I thought – it would be interesting to see what a Customer experience-based Mystery Shopper Award looks like as per a global Mystery Shopper provider. 

I got my wish

A short time later, I was helping a hospitality Client set up their Quality Assurance program.

A group of 20 senior folks were gathered around a conference table and we talking about how to select & define quality standards.

Then the head stopped and asked –

Hey Dan – did you know that we entered the Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award this past year?

No I said – how did it go?

Well – we aren’t so sure. Because in this workshop I’m getting a sense of the complexity that goes into setting & measuring quality – but I’m not so sure it was this rigorous in our Awards entry.

He continued…

I have the final report from the Mystery Shopper provider here on my laptop – can we flash it up and talk about it?

But of course!

The cover slide whirred up on the screen.

Opening slide – very formal – The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Report.

We were all ready. And then, next slide…

THE GREETING – score 98%

What? The Greeting? Oh – ok. Hmmm.  Anyway 98%.

 Then the next slide…


Oh…really?  This is a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper?

And it carried on from there.

Slide after slide after slide reported a compliance measurement.

Even the Hold Technique was featured.

As we hit slide 20+ someone in the room turned to me and said  – So Dan — you look a bit pale – what do you think?

Well it was an easy question to answer.

Well guys.

What you have here is a wonderfully presented compliance report – but I haven’t seen anything yet that even remotely measures or talks about the Customer experience.

And the room agreed.

Finally ‘Customer Experience’ appeared

As we carried on viewing the deck, there was a final measurement slide that said CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  It was a single slide.

Score – 58%.

But the legend was unclear as to how the score was derived.  That started a lively conversation – where did 58% come from?

We guessed that perhaps this was the personal score or viewpoint of the Mystery Shopper.

If so that’s a big issue.

Because Mystery Shoppers aren’t real Customers.  Once you pay and instruct someone to execute a certain scenario they’re not a real Customer.

Sure – their personal opinions can be a source of insight.

But one slide with the opinion of the Mystery Shopper is not a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program.

There’s a lot of valid compliance-based Mystery Shopper work

Let’s put something on the table right now.

If the first thing that comes to your mind when planning a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program is THE GREETING – then you’re on the wrong track.

But there are certainly valid reasons to conduct compliance-based Mystery Shopper.

They’re used extensively in the banking & finance industry.

Especially for ensuring regulatory compliance.

In the Public Sector, compliance-based programs provide a basic ‘minimum-standard’ dipstick.

While it’s rare to see a Public Sector program skew heavily to the Customer experience compliance based programs ensure a level of essential service is provided.

Another example of a smart compliance program is ensuring that things work the way they are supposed to work.

That when a certain telephone number is dialed at a certain time of day – that the call goes to the right place.

You’d be surprised how many times it doesn’t.

Or when a certain set of IVR options or digital instructions are followed, that the Customer ends up where they were supposed to.

As channels proliferate and overlap, it’s important to ensure that channel mechanisms work the way they are supposed to.

I sometimes call these the Omni-channel Mystery Shopper program.

So what does a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper look like?

There is no one single model – that’s the beauty of deep dive research – and we share a few models here from our work with innovative Clients.

Let’s start the discussion with brand

Colin Shaw of Beyond Philosophy says that a brand is perception – nothing more, nothing less.

It’s what you think and feel about that company.  An opinion, a viewpoint, an expectation.

So the Customer experience is the journey the Customer has with your brand.

When you look at it like that – then opening the Mystery Shopper conversation with a brand discussion makes a lot of sense.

If your brand proposition incorporates things like trust, accuracy or ownership – then these values can be codified and studied during the Mystery Shopper journey.

Then the gaps between the brand and the Customer experience can be identified.

One of our favorite brand-based programs

One of our favorite Customer Experience Mystery Shopper programs was with a high end hotel.

The GM & Team wanted to focus exclusively on brand values.

So we designed everything to effectively measure the success in bringing brand values to life.

All the scenarios were designed around brand values. And rather than scores we documented the measures of success.

I share this example in many of my talks and workshops on Customer experience.

The study of emotion is a must

One of my favorite things about the rise of Customer Experience is the inclusion of emotion in business discussions.

For too long, Customers – and Employees – have been discussed as batches or ‘segments’ that are expected to behave and perform in certain ways.

If they follow ‘your rules’ – then they can get what they want or what they need.

But if you read any established Customer experience authority you’ll note how quickly the topic of emotion comes up.

Bruce Temkin argues that more than 50% of the Customer experience is driven by emotion.

So in our work designing Customer Experience Mystery Shopper programs we always talk about emotions.

If you don’t know what emotions you are trying to evoke – how will your Frontliners know?

Testing emotion is one of the best things you can do in a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program.

We like The Diary approach to recording thoughts & feelings 

For a well known theme park, we conducted a series of lengthy (6 – 8 hour) Mystery Shopper visits that incorporated thoughts & feelings.

Structured in a diary format and supported by photographs, each final report was quite lengthy.

After each visit we were able to boil down observations across the journey into a number of themes.

We then cross referenced all the themes across all the visits.

Mystery Shopper research is a deep dive qualitative research methodology – and lends itself beautifully to this kind of study.

The report became legendary and we still have company management write to us now and then on how useful the approach had been for them.

There are 3 aspects to a Customer Experience

Forrester teaches a very useful way to look at ‘a’ or ‘the’ Customer Experience.

Is the experience ‘effective’ – i.e. does the job get done.  Examples could be opening a bank account, making an insurance claim, getting tech support, hiring a venue for an event.

Is the experience ‘easy’ – how much work did the Customer have to put in to get their solution.  Examples include being transferred around, repeating needs multiple times, having to visit multiple channels to get help.

Is the experience ’emotional’ (in the right way of course) – did the Customer leave feeling respected, relieved or reassured?

We’ve found that designing Mystery Shopper work around the 3 ‘E’s to be very helpful in stimulating dialogue and insight.

At the very minimum

At the very minimum – if you are ready to use Mystery Shopper as a Customer experience tool, consider upgrading your measurements beyond compliance standards.

Sure – compliance standards are easy to measure.

But they have very little to tell you with regard to the thoughts, emotions, ease and ‘success’ of the experience.

Adding the phrase ‘Customer Experience’ to something doesn’t make it so.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel Ord and Marcus von Kloeden



Customer Experience lessons we learned and apply in our Art Gallery

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

We opened our Art Gallery in 2011

We’ve learned a lot of Customer Experience lessons in the 7 years since we opened our art gallery, The Art Club Singapore.

Fred Gowland

After months of set-up, crafting our mission and developing our Artist roster, we held our first gallery reception in Singapore on October 2011, featuring California Artist Fred Gowland (shown in photo).

Owning both a CX/Service consultancy, OmniTouch, and an art gallery, The Art Club Singapore, is not as dissimilar as it might sound on paper.

It’s clear that both great service and the consideration of an artwork to purchase are emotionally rich activities.

We learned to apply Customer experience lessons in our work at The Art Club Singapore and in this article, we share some of those lessons.

The (6) Customer Experience Competencies

The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has defined 6 competencies for mastery in Customer experience.

The Missing World, Giada Laiso

In this article, we share our learnings via the (6) competency framework.

Our reasons for using the 6-competency framework approach are simple:

  1. We wanted to work through the mental exercise of applying the (6) competencies to a real business – our gallery
  2. We wanted to help the Reader ‘digest’ the (6) CX competencies for their own use and benefit

(Photograph shown, The Mising World, Italian Artist, Giada Laiso)

The (6) competency areas defined by the CXPA are:

  1. Customer Experience Strategy
  2. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding
  3. Experience Design, Improvement & Innovation
  4. Metrics, Measurement, and ROI
  5. Organizational Adoption and Accountability
  6. Customer-Centric Culture


In this article, we cover our learnings across the first 2 CX competency areas.

#1 – Customer Experience Strategy

From the beginning, we knew what we did not want our Customer experience to be.

We did not want to be a stereotypical gallery with white walls, antiseptic displays and fashionable assistants.  We found that approach to be intimidating and ‘unhelpful’.

Particularly in our local market where art appreciation and widespread collecting was still in a developmental stage.

That allowed us to focus on the kind of experience we did want for our Customers.

We began with the company name, The Art Club Singapore.

The Art Club Singapore

The ‘Club’ was important to us because it represented a space where people could come together to share –

  • Eagerness to explore art
  • Enjoyment to socialize in a home-like space
  • Joy of just being themselves without the pressure of purchase

The logo

Once we had the gallery name, we worked through the design of the logo.

The Art Club Singapore

The logo was designed to represent the three stakeholders involved –

  • Red for the creative Artists that are often misunderstood in their work.
  • Blue for the people that want to appreciate art but may not know where, when, why and how to go about it.
  • Green for the Art Club Singapore that brings the circle of Artists (red) and Art Appreciators (blue) together.

The process of creating the gallery name and the logo helped us clarify the role we wanted to play in the lives of our Customers.

We further refined our intended experience through the following guidelines which have served us well:

Dietmar Gross

For our Artists

  • We would only show the work of professional, full-time Artists, known in their own markets
  • We would show work from Artists based in the Americas, Europe and Australia that we had collected ourselves and who we knew personally

(Briefwechsel, Oil on Belgian canvas, German Artist, Dietmar Gross)

For our Guests

  • We would use our space for public education, benefits and art talks as well as Artist shows
  • We would provide a place where experienced Collectors would mingle with folks who had never attended a gallery event before

The Art Club Singapore

For our Collectors

  • We would provide an eclectic collection of pieces across countries, mediums and Artists in an atypical gallery space
  • We would provide access to the Artists to allow them to immerse themselves in the Artist’s story

After we crafted our name, logo and guidelines we shared them across our small group, our Artists, our Partners and publicly with our Guests & Collectors through social media and marketing communications.

The Mission Statement

Next came our Mission Statement.  The Art Club Singapore, where Art & People meet

The Art Club Singapore

The Mission made it clear to us what we were supposed to ‘do’ or provide every day and we consider it to be an integral part of our Customer Experience strategy.

If I had to sum it up – our Mission Statement = our Customer Experience Strategy while our name, logo and guidelines represent our ‘Corporate Strategy’ and brand.

The Customer Experience Strategy really matters

When it comes to the Customer Experience strategy, it was helpful for us to put first things first.

Who were we, the our intended Customer experience and what ‘purpose’ would we refer to as we evolved over time.

Ingela Johannson

Of course, as a small business we had a major advantage.

We didn’t have hundreds or even thousands of Employees to immerse in our intended Customer experience.

But the process we went through and the learnings gained from doing it right are relevant to anyone pursuing Customer experience as a business strategy.

(With Swedish Artist, Ingela Johansson)

Now let’s turn to Competency #2 – The Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding.

#2 – Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding

While our Customer Experience strategy was clear to us – tying that to who our Customers were and what gallery Customers really want from their visit was an ongoing learning experience.

The Art Club Singapore

We stepped back and used our CX/Service consultancy credentials to look at the entire gallery experience.

How Customers would learn about us, what would entice them to come to a talk or event.

And perhaps most importantly, how could we orchestrate a gallery event that exceeded their expectations.

And result in them telling more people about us?

(Photo of Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo viewing our donation to charity)

Who were our Customers?  The role of Personas

Within months of launch we were able to document our Customer Personas.

The Art Club Singapore

Here are some of the Personas we identified:

  • The Cultured Expat

Married couple, 40s – 60s, very comfortable with their own taste, had purchased art before, looking for an experience not just a ‘purchase’

  • Students / Early working years

20s through early 30s, sought ‘date night’ events, sought a chance to brush up their art viewing skills, appreciated being treated with respect

  • The Professionals

    The Art Club Singapore

30s through 50s working professionals, looking for a new experience, like to learn, interested in refining their art viewing skills, very practical

  • The Gallery event mainstay

All ages, attend all gallery events, catch up with other ‘regulars’, food & drinks matter

  • The Socialite

Generally female, already a collector, events were a chance to dress beautifully, good in a crowd setting, loves being in photos, great with social media

The Art Club Singapore

We continued to refine our Personas based on observation, listening, asking questions and studying our ongoing email correspondence and social media posts.

Even Guest Visitor books provided a lot of rich commentary as to what people enjoyed about their visit with us – we learned to have those prominently featured at all events.

This was an important learning for us because we found people tend to be super direct and specific when signing a Guest Book whereas that same person may be more ‘polite’ in a face to face discussion.

Ethnographic Research

Daniel Ord, The Art Club Singapore

Ethnographic research – which refers to observing Customers in their natural setting – was easy for us as the Guests entered ‘our’ environment.  We simply had to watch and compare notes at the end of the evening (sometimes that was 2AM!).

Examples of Customer Insight that we picked up from our Guests included:

The cultured expat persona was interested in having you come to their home and provide design advice as well as ensure the end to end hanging and arranging service.

They also typically had a home in their country of origin packed with art but were keen on smaller pieces they could display in their current home in Asia.

The Art Club Singapore

We learned that Students /early working years persona were eager but had limited ‘self-confidence’ in how to look at a piece of art and interpret it.

Some useful tips and advice went a long way with this group – as well as the free art lectures.

From our local Guests we learned that certain subject matter, including some animals and depictions of human faces, were considered unlucky.

Fred Gowland, Green Fox

With one series of Foxes done by Fred Gowland we were told that the term ‘fox’ was a colloquialism for a husband-stealer.

It seems that a married woman might not want a fox in her home!

What would our Guest go through?  The role of the Journey

Again, our CX/Service consultancy background served us well.

Arman Fernandez, The Art Club Singapore

We understood that the Customer journey for an art gallery event did not begin when our Guests walked through the door.

It began with receiving our invite, marking the calendar, figuring out how to reach our venue and even what to wear (maybe especially what to wear!).

We realized that each event needed to be unique – so we gave each event its own theme.

  • Travels of Fred Gowland – paintings created through extensive travels of the Artist.
  • Raise the Pink Lantern – An event focussing on the LGBT community in Singapore.
  • The Monk wears Prada – Paintings of Buddhist monks exploring urban Singapore
  • Masterful European Bronzes – A Society Collection

(Bronze shown, La Mandoline, French Artist, Arman Fernandez)

Where the event was a lecture we came up with a new offshoot of our logo, so our Guests would know that the next event was specifically a lecture.

The Art Club Singapore

Even though we had a clear curatorial direction –  the Artists and types of work we wanted to show – the Voice of the Customer encouraged us to try new things and expand our offerings in new ways.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel Ord, Marcus von Kloeden, The Art Club Singapore

Daniel and Marcus – Co-Founders, The Art Club Singapore / Owners, OmniTouch International


What I learned judging this year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018)

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

This year I had the great opportunity to judge at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, covering the latest in complaint handling practices.

After my return from the event my colleagues and friends asked me, Marcus, what did you learn?

First, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people across various industries, including Telcos, Banks, Insurances, Utility providers and many Government agencies.

That’s always one of the great things about participating at an Awards event.

The complaint handling practices shared in this article come from my role as a Judge.

As a Judge, I had the chance to meet all the Entrants, read their written submissions and listen to their respective face to face presentations to the panel.

As a result I learned some of the latest complaint handling practices out there in award winning Organizations.

Across all the Complaint Handling Team Entrants, 3 important things stood out 

There were 3 key complaint handling practices that I picked up from interacting with all the Complaint Handling Teams.

To improve the Customer complaint handling ‘practice’ within their Organization, they focused on:

  1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view
  2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time
  3. Targeting the Ownership of the complaint

Let me give some more detail on each learning

1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view

The Complaint Handling Teams indicated that they analyzed thousands of recorded calls, reviewed piles of surveys and read through thousands of emails and contact forms submitted by Customers.

Their strategic purpose was clear – to understand their Voice of the Customer.

The Complaint Handling Teams told us that, though other departments and functions did their own sets of analyses, they felt that pure focus on the Voice of Customer was missing.

So they created their own analysis function.

Guess, how important is it to the Customer that you use their names three or five times during a call?

Isn’t it more important to listen and understand what their concern or matter is?

Entrants started to read between the lines – from the Customer point of view – and acted on what they learned.

2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time

Equipped with the results of their analyses, the Complaint Handling Team went to their Management to propose changes to processes or rules that caused Customer discomfort.

Some of the process changes the Complaint Handling Teams shared were –


They took out the Average Handling Time to measure the Agent’s performance.

Agents suddenly had the freedom to listen, to react and find with the Customer a solution.

Escalation processes decreased dramatically.  Agents started to become more personal in their conversations.

Frontliners & Agents were officially empowered.

They were given the power to decide on the spot what to do for the Customer instead of getting permission from their superiors.

That helped to ease processes for the customer and complaint could be resolved during one contact.

Adding empowerment to the job makes it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging as well.

Some Complaint Handling Teams introduced new technology into the Contact Centres to support staff members.

Technology was introduced to support Team members to read the Customer’s history, react proactively, share information with other departments and schedule follow ups.

Training around the new technology and processes was scheduled and conducted so Employees were prepared before using the newsolutions.

That eased the transition for the Customer and held back stress on the Employees.

Interestingly, many complaints stemmed from questions about bills and statements.

The Complaint Handling Teams shared they were in the process of breaking this big topic down into workable parts.

3. Owning the Complaint

The Complaint Handling Teams shared was how important the concept of ownership was to complaint resolution.

That took one of two forms.

The Customer gets either one point of contact to deal with them all the way through.

Or the Customer history is made available to everyone in the Organization, and they are tasked to work together to resolve the issue.

While technology supported or ‘helped’ it was the process and the people that put things into action.

This really impressed me.

In closing

This year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018) have shown that Listen & Understanding the Customer’s Voice, more accessibility of data to Agents, simpler processes and taking ownership, lead to big improvements in Customer Experience.

Aside from the many KPIs, like NPS, that were presented, the most impressive part was the presentation was the gathered feedback from real Customers.

These Customers’ shared how impressed they were about the good care (“Ownership”), the easy processes (“History availability/System improvements”) and someone listened and heard their issues (Data analytics).

The Customers felt they were heard and more importantly helped.  They seemed to like using email to share their compliments.

In all cases, these simple changes reduced dramatically painful Customer Journeys throughout the organisations.

The Customer experience score for the organization went up dramatically.

I am glad to share that investment in data analytics, new processes and training in Frontline training have really paid off.

All the Complaint Handling Teams were able to demonstrate a financial ROI to back up their work.

They all retained Customers, gained new business and got promoted by their now happy Customers to others.

Isn’t this reason enough to start thinking on this?

Thank you for reading!

Marcus von Kloeden

Email Writing Tips for better Customer Experience – the Ritz Carlton, Santa Barbara

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this article we share specific email writing tips for better Customer Experience and Service Recovery using a real case study at the Ritz Carlton, Santa Barbara.

The Ritz Carlton Hotels.

From their webpage:

100 years of history. Countless rewards. With an unshakeable credo and corporate philosophy of un-wavering commitment to service, both in our hotels and in our communities, The Ritz-Carlton has been recognized with numerous awards for being the gold standard of hospitality.

Santa Barbara, California.

The city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara’s climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city is referred to as the “American Riviera”.

So, the expectations for service at the Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara, California are understandably high.

The situation

On a recent holiday in the U.S. I spent time with my sister Diana who lives and has her business in Santa Barbara.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

One evening she turned to us and said – let’s have a leisurely dinner at The Ritz Carlton Bacara tonight – to which we all emphatically nodded yes.

The following day, my sister sent a detailed email to the Ritz Carlton to share on our experience.

The purpose of this article is not to complain about service.

I’m not a fan of articles where Customer Service experts write to vent frustration or unhappiness under the guise of promoting Customer experience.

My intention in this article is to share email writing tips for better Customer experience and Service recovery efforts.

The email exchange with the Ritz Carlton provided a perfect and personal case study.

Here is the email my sister (the Customer) sent

Good Morning,

I am writing because I felt compelled after a bumpy visit to the resort yesterday in Santa Barbara and I thought it would be helpful for your managerial staff to be made aware of so many missed opportunities for our visit to have been special.

I have family in town from Singapore and Germany and felt a visit to the Bacara would cap off their trip spectacularly.

I made reservations for the Bistro at 5:30 to enjoy a leisurely time outside during a typically slow time for restaurants.

An hour after the reservation was made, Stephanie called from the Bistro and left a message to inquire whether we would want inside or outside, which I appreciated.

I called back a few minutes after her message and couldn’t reach anyone in the Bistro for a few tries (the PBX call bounced back to the operator).

When I reached her, I verified that we would be outside and see her in an hour and a half.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

We parked in valet and entered the lobby where an absolutely spectacular floral arrangement greeted us. This was going to be great.

We reached the Bistro and the hostess stand was empty.

We waited a few minutes and Stephanie came up and greeted us and led us to our reserved table for four which was only set for three.

We sat and several minutes later the fourth setting arrived.

Approximately 10 minutes later bread arrived but no bread plates, so we waited another 10 minutes to give our order and at that point asked for bread plates.

Our Server was sweet but only came to the table a couple of times in the two hours we were there.

When we ordered our food, she didn’t ask about drinks, and on our side, we forgot to order them.


The food came 45 minutes later, and the chicken/risotto dish was amazing (my visitors had this and they loved it).

I was beginning to get frustrated because of the wait times between visits to our table so we asked for the bill and a person we hadn’t seen yet brought it.

We decided that rather than leave straight away, we would have a drink/coffee in the bar and get a change of scenery.

At the bar the bartender told us that there is no coffee available at their bar but that they would get one from the restaurant.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

We settled in front of the fireplace in the lobby and 30 minutes or more passed without any word or visit from the staff, so we left.

I was so disappointed because I felt like there were so many missed opportunities to be treated like welcome guests.

I truly hope this beautiful setting can be matched by top notch service soon.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our experience,


Here is the reply from ae Food & Beverage Director

From: “Lawrence Teatree”  (names are changed)
Date: April 16, 2018 at 1:50:17 PM CDT
To:” <[email protected]>
Subject: Your stay at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Dear Mrs. XX,

Thank you for choosing to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara and providing your honest feedback.

Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority and we sincerely apologize for falling short of meeting your expectations.

We have shared your feedback with the Bistro and Bar team to ensure the necessary guidelines are in place to improve the restaurant experience. I have also passed your comments to our Chef regarding the risotto! Thanks!

I do appreciate you giving us the opportunity to restore your confidence in Food and Beverage by speaking to me directly. Please let me know the best contact number and time to reach you, or you can call me at any time at 805 XXX XXXX.

Once again, thank you for your valued feedback and we hope to serve you again whenever your travels bring you back to Santa Barbara.

Lawrence Teatree
Food and Beverage
The Ritz Carlton, Bacara Santa Barbara

Here are email writing tips for better Customer Experience –  documented within the body of the reply 

The Subject Line

From: Lawrence Teatree
Date: April 16, 2018 at 1:50:17 PM CDT
To:” <[email protected]>
Subject: Your stay at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

With regard to the Subject Line, we were not hotel guests at the Bacara. We were clearly dinner guests.

The Subject Line made it clear that Alex had not read our email or that he was simply following standard (and robotic) protocols.

The Subject Line matters.  It should be well crafted.

The Opening

Dear Mrs. XX,

Thank you for choosing to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara and providing your honest feedback.

We did not stay at the Bacara, we were dinner guests. So, the Opening line is irrelevant at best, tone deaf at worst.

The Apology

Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority and we sincerely apologize for falling short of meeting your expectations.

Lawrence is a Director of Food & Beverage.

Based on his title, the restaurant where we had dinner and the bar where we later tried to get coffee would both fall under his purview.

The email would have sounded a lot more personal if he referred to himself – “I” and not “we”.

For example:

I apologize that I and our Team fell short of meeting your expectations and that of your dinner Guests…

And by talking about himself and/or his Team, he would have demonstrated that he took ownership of the experience.

This Empathy statement would have sounded more human and sincere than “we sincerely apologize”.

If you need to use the word ‘sincere’ in a Customer communication, that’s already a red flag.

If you have to sincerely apologize, does that mean you have insincere apologies too?

The Corporate Speak

Now let’s get to the Corporate speak.

How does the following phrase help matters?

Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority…

Is that so? Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority?

The entire reason the Customer took the time and effort to write a long and detailed email is because that didn’t happen for her.

He might as well have written –

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority, except obviously what happened in your case…

When you make a mistake – you apologize first.

You don’t couch the apology in ‘corporate-speak’.

This statement, coming at the opening of the Empathy Statement, reduced the impact and sincerity of the apology.

It sounded robotic and scripted.

The Content

We have shared your feedback with the Bistro and Bar team to ensure the necessary guidelines are in place to improve the restaurant experience.

The Customer was very detailed.

She shared no less than 10 observations about the experience across both the restaurant and bar.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

She took effort and time to help the Ritz Carlton improve and even references at the end of her email that “I truly hope this beautiful setting can be matched by top notch service soon.”

Lawrence’s reply did not address a single specific point out of the 10 raised – nor did he share any details of “ensuring the necessary guidelines are in place.”

Lawrence could have done so much to restore the confidence of the Customer.

While it may not be necessary to address each of the 10 points raised by the Customer, Lawrence could have better matched her effort.

He could have specifically shared what he was going to do with that information that had been given.

As an example – and with better service recovery in mind – he could have said –

With regard to the number of settings at the table when you were seated (3 vs. 4), we have asked the Team that takes our reservations to indicate clearly to our Servers, the number of diners expected and the preferred seating location.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

I’m really glad you brought this to my attention.”

When you learn how to write an efficient & effective email, you learn that you need to address both the Tone of the Customer and the Content of the Customer.

This Customer deserved a better ‘Content Match’ than she received.  She put a lot of effort and detail into her email.

That was not reciprocated in the reply.

I have also passed your comments to our Chef regarding the risotto! Thanks!

This was a nice statement and showed that Lawrence read the email.

The Recovery

I do appreciate you giving us the opportunity to restore your confidence in Food and Beverage by speaking to me directly. Please let me know the best contact number and time to reach you, or you can call me at any time at 805 XXX XXXX.

This invitation to reach out to him is excellent and shows a personal touch.

The recovery would have been so much more effective if the overall email had been better.

The Closing

Once again, thank you for your valued feedback and we hope to serve you again whenever your travels bring you back to Santa Barbara.

The Customer is a long-term resident of Santa Barbara – making assumptions that all your Guests are tourists or visitors is not very welcome for locals.

Lawrence Teatree
Food and Beverage
The Ritz Carlton, Bacara Santa Barbara

In closing

If you attend to Customers by email, it’s important to –

Know what your brand ‘voice’ is – and confirm that it sounds human.  The days of Corporate speak and roboticism in email writing are over.

In this new world where chatbots and AI Assistants sound friendlier than a real human being does, humans should sound more human!

Understand  that email is a complex form of one to one communication.  Training and coaching really matter.

Ensure all your Customer channels are operating to the same, high standard.  

I hope this article has been helpful!


Daniel Ord / [email protected]

Getting a handle on Abandonment Rate in the Contact Centre

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

Recently, a Call Centre benchmarking report made the rounds, stating that the industry standard  average abandonment rate was 12%.

It could have said 22%, 2% or even 82% and the report still wouldn’t have been that helpful.

But it was the long thread of comments that struck me.

The tone ranged from mild annoyance – “This just can’t be…The sample size is too small…How do they calculate…” – through to the kind of responses you’d expect from an extinction level event and return of the dinosaurs.

“They should all lose their jobs!…You have to be where your Customers are!…Off with their heads!”  (ok that last one was mine).

If your Centre generates revenue – you can stop reading now

Clearly, if you’re in the revenue generation business – abandonment rate matters – a lot.

We had a Client in the hospitality business that calculated that every 1% increase in abandonment rate represented a potential US$1,000,000 in lost hotel bookings worldwide.

So if you’re DHL, a major hotel chain or even McDonalds delivery – and your Customers still call you to place orders – you have to care.

But if you’re in Technical Support or Customer Care, the importance of Abandonment Rate on the overall performance dashboard is secondary at best.

You are invited to read on.

The best & primary metric to measure the Customer’s wait time experience?  Service Level

Mastery of interval based Service Level performance is where your control lies.

The process for planning and managing Frontline resources to ensure consistent wait time experiences for Customers is well understood and well documented.

Whether you’re 90/10, 80/30 or 70/160, having the right number of people in the right place at the right time is the objective.

That’s how organizations plan for and manage labor cost as well as deliver a consistent Customer experience for wait time.

Intervals matter

Most mid to larger Centres plan, staff and manage down to hourly, half-hourly and even 15 minute intervals.

If the Service Level goes down during any interval – let’s say from 10:00 – 10:30 in the example shown here – the Customer wait time during that interval increases.

And as Customer wait time increases – that’s likely to have an impact on the Abandonment Rate for that interval.

Makes sense doesn’t it.

If I don’t perform to my Service Level objectives then my Customer Wait time goes up, and my Abandonment Rate will likely go up too.

In this situation, you don’t have an Abandonment Rate issue – you have a Service Level issue.

When your Service Level life is good

Operations professionals know that when interval-based Service Level is well managed, there are significant positive impacts across Quality, Engagement and the Customer Experience.

And when your Service Level objectives are being met – interval after interval – then my inner operations guru reminds me that Abandonment Rate will be what it will be.  

Abandonment Rate flows from a combination of your Service Level performance – which is in your control – and your Customer behaviour – which is not.

Let’s make one point very clear.

An accurate discussion on Abandonment – whether yours or that of others – has to be predicated on the understanding that interval-based Service Level objectives are being met.

If they’re not being met, then you need to have an entirely different conversation.

I’m not sure that any of these ‘benchmarking’ studies makes that prerequisite clear.  And that limits their effectiveness.

Back to revenue generating Centres for a moment

If you’re in revenue generation you have to care.  Abandonment costs potential revenue.

But what the smart folks in revenue generation do is set very high Service Level objectives.

Then they work hard to meet them interval after interval.

95/5, 90/10, 100/15 – this level of Service Level objectives is typically associated with revenue generating Centres – or those that deal with life & death or mission critical issues.

Sure – more Staff will be required.

Through the use of ‘incremental revenue analysis’, the additional cost of labor is calculated and measured against revenue gained through the reduction in Abandonment Rate (via quicker answering times).

That was a mouthful.

Customers & Abandonment rate

For non-revenue generating Centres we need to consider – what are the drivers of Customers hanging up before reaching the Agent?

Here are some common drivers:

  • Degree of importance – how important is it for me to get this done ‘right now’?
  • Time available to waitam I calling from work where my time is limited?  Or am I calling from the comfort of my easy chair when I’m home?
  • What other options do I have?can I get what I want from the website?  Perhaps the mobile app?  Did you share an alternative method on your delay announcement?  
  • What kind of mood am I in?Relaxed? Impatient?  Calm? Anxious?
  • What are my expectations?  – Am I a VIP?  Is this a premiere line?  Do I hold some special status?

When I work with Contact Centre management in classes I ask – “Is Abandonment Rate a mathematical behavior?  Or is it a human behaviour?”

Invariably, they answer correctly.

Abandonment Rate is a human behaviour.

It lies in the hands of the Customer – what they want or need at that moment, their mood, their options, their expectations.

What I can control is how well I plan, staff and manage to meet my Service Level objective interval after interval.

What I can’t control is their mood, their unique expectations, what options we offer for digital self-care.

But you do have a viable option

If you are still unhappy about the ‘level’ or number of abandoned calls you receive – you can choose to raise your Service Level objective.

Go from 80/20 to 90/20.

Do the delay profile analysis against abandonment rate patterns to see how many abandons you can possibly do away with.

I’ve even seen Centres proactively raise their Service Level objective for certain intervals across the day.

You just have to ask yourself a classic trade-off question.

Is the increased cost of my labor pool justified by the reduction in Abandonment Rate? 

Or more generically:  Does the benefit exceed the cost?

Not a simple question to answer – but absolutely the right question to ask.

Let’s get formal about it

There are a lot of metrics in a Centre – and some great ways to look at how to classify them and understand their inter-relationships.

Formally, Abandonment Rate is best classified as a secondary measure of Wait Time.

Wait Time:  Because along with metrics like Service Level, Response Time, Longest Wait Time and Average Speed of Answer, Abandonment Rate reflects wait time.

Secondary:  Some metrics are drivers, some metrics are outcomes.   Abandonment Rate is an outcome of the ‘driver’ of Service Level.

You can’t achieve a Service Level objective and an Abandonment Rate objective at the same time – simply because one is a driver and the other is an outcome.

You tell me you can?  That you are?   That you have been for some time?

Then you’re just lucky.

The targets set just happened to work out.  There’s nothing scientific going on here.

What interests me more

The most mature organizations – again in Customer Care & Technical Support – look at Abandonment Rate this way.

They say things like:

  • Wee don’t target Abandonment Rate – but we study it.
  • We look for and find patterns to Abandonment Rate – we know which intervals across the day tend to experience higher or lower rates of abandonment when achieving Service Level.
  • We don’t just study how many abandons we get, nor even the percentage – we like to study the distribution.  Do most hang up in the first 15 seconds or so?  What percentage of abandonment comes after 3 minutes (for example) vs. less than 3 minutes?
  • We’re experimenting with our messaging to understand if our messages contribute to abandonment (which can be good!) or if we need to change the timing or positioning of such messages to try and influence abandonment.

Agents & Abandonment rate

No – your Agents don’t control Abandonment rate – sorry but that’s just silly.

When you use accepted practices to calculate and schedule the number of Agent you need in place to achieve a predetermined Service Level and those Agents are actually there, logged in and part of Capacity – they’re contributing to Service Level performance. 

I met a Client some years back, that intentionally managed their Centre based on Abandonment Rate as a primary metric – not Service Level.

But focus groups with Middle Management and the Frontline revealed the level of extreme stress these folks experienced.

Because you can’t plan and staff to Abandonment Rate – it’s driven by Customer/human behavior.  And that behaviour that fluctuates from interval to interval, day to day.

So they operated like a fire-fighting outfit – chasing constant flare-ups in abandoned calls.

How stressful.  And ultimately not the right way to achieve Customer Experience.

In closing

One of the most important tenets of Customer Experience is to deliver a consistent experience.

In the Contact Centre, Service Level (and Response Time) are the best measures of delivering a consistent wait time experience.

Smart operations folks know not to chase outcomes – but to work on the drivers.

Abandonment Rate is a secondary measure of Wait Time.  It flows from Service Level performance.

And when you’re meeting what you can control –  the Service Level performance – the abandoned calls you get are reflections of Customer/human behaviour.

They change from interval to interval, day to day, month to month and year to year.

If you’re not happy with the level of abandoned calls you receive, you can raise your Service Level completely – or just select certain interval where abandonment happens most often.

Not all abandoned calls are bad.

If a Customer chooses to hang up and use one of my self-care or digital options that can reflect success in my digital uptake strategy.

As long as I’m not ‘pushing’ the Customer to digital self-care by providing a poor Wait Time experience (Service Level).  That’s clearly not ok.

Lastly, the Frontline job is hard enough, and getting harder.  Don’t layer on an abandoned calls objective or target on your Frontline.

It’s not only inappropriate from an operations standpoint – it makes the job of human to human service unnecessarily more stressful.

Thank you for reading!


daniel[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com



















What I’ve learned about Motivational Quotes

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

I’d always been sceptical of Motivational Quotes

I’d always been sceptical of motivational quotes.

Of course, there were exceptions.

President John F. Kennedy’s “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” always stuck with me.

Later on I learned that the design of JFK’s quote – that of ‘parallel construction’ where two halves of the claim are attractively balanced – has much to do with it’s wow factor.


After my Mom passed away

After my Mom passed away, I found a small spiral bound notebook titled “Inspirational Quotes” in her desk.

Over the course of a few small pages – in her painstakingly beautiful handwriting – she had written down about a dozen quotes.

As I read each one, I considered the context of the quote in her life.

For a few I understood the context right away – for a time she was a caregiver for both her husband and son (my brother).

Thematically these quotes focused on personal strength.

Maya Angelou’s “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide to not be reduced by them” was one of these.

For the other quotes I realized that the context belonged to my Mom.  I couldn’t be sure why they had struck a chord with her.

But I as I read these I felt I was looking down into her well of inspiration – and it inspired me in turn.


I’ve rethought the utility of motivational quotes

Not all motivational quotes are created equal.  A quick scan on Pinterest on the topic of ‘motivational quotes’ proves this out.

But when I find one that resonates or inspires, I think first of context.

Who in what situation would benefit from reading this?  That’s an interesting empathy exercise.

Reading my Mom’s selections from her little spiralbound notebook gave me insight into what she needed or wanted to hear.

Sometimes I actively seek out quotes that address my own context – what do I need to hear right now to keep the fire burning.  Or what can I look at in a new or different way?

A resonant quote – at the right time – gives me a chance to dialogue with myself.

What can I do with my CCXP?

There’s nothing new under the sun

When it comes to human frailty, foibles & emotions, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Someone has experienced what I’ve experienced or felt the way I felt.

I love that some of these folks – whether from ancient times or the present – wanted to share perspective.

Thank you for reading!



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