The Hero and Villain of Contact Center Performance: 3 Lessons Learned from Batman

In the spirit of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, I believe there a number of lessons we can learn from the caped crusader concerning the call center’s love hate relationship with performance and productivity. For those of you who have watched the films or read the comics, you realize that Batman was, well, torn. He didn’t fit neatly into a category. On one side he was a hero and to others a villain. Batman single-handedly walked the fine line between being useful and being harmful to Gotham City.

In the contact center, that same line is drawn in the sand every day. The call center’s hero and villain is time. How could such a simple thing have such a positive or negative impact? Time affects every major key performance indicator, including customer satisfaction, agent utilization and aggregate call center performance.

  • Customer Satisfaction. Customers are demanding more. They want requests and complaints handled quickly from a knowledgeable, well-trained agent. Moreover, having additional time to devote towards training and coaching would be ideal to deliver a great customer experience. Then again, what extra time?
  • Agent Utilization. On average, call center agents are idle for 11% of the time. And with increased enterprise objectives of accomplishing more, agent time is always top-of-mind and yet seemingly out-of-reach.
  • Aggregate Call Center Performance. Meeting service level objectives on top of accomplishing enterprise goals remains a challenge for most call centers. In a recent survey, increasing agent productivity and aligning corporate goals with call center staff goals are executives’ top two priorities. Yet finding time to ensure increased performance has become even more difficult.

As you can see, time is the common thread of call center success (and failure). How it is used directly impacts whether it is the hero or villain of performance. However, like Batman, you can be the hero. Here are three great lessons we can take away from the Dark Knight:

  • Lesson #1 – Always look for the Bat Signal. Batman had a bat signal and contact centers have a few key metrics that indicate the successful or unsuccessful use of time. By measuring number of agents, labor costs, utilization rates, occupancy rate and shrinkage activities, you can determine how much time your contact center can save and put to good use.
  • Lesson #2 – Tools give heroes a competitive advantage. Remember Batman’s utility belt? Well, contact centers don’t have crime-fighting equipment, but new intraday management technology does allow you to find and manage time to increase performance. In addition, delivering off-phone activities such as training and coaching become easier. Providing continuous customer satisfaction becomes more possible.
  • Lesson #3 – Don’t be afraid to take action. In the words of Batman, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” Oftentimes, it is easier to continue down one path versus changing direction mid-course for fear that everything will go awry. After taking a serious look at your metrics, take action! Call center performance relies on time put into looking at metrics and tools and increases with the efficient and effective use of time. So, don’t be afraid to make some changes. Be a hero. You’ll thank yourself later (and so will your boss).

 

About the author

Matt McConnell

Matt is chairman, president and CEO of Intradiem. Matt co-founded Intradiem in 1995 with a vision of helping companies increase the level of customer service they deliver by improving the performance of their agents. Today, Intradiem is a leader in its market with more than 300,000 call center agents around the world using Intradiem every day. Matt is the author of the book Customer Service at a Crossroads and holds 11 software patents. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering.

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