You’ve probably watched a Farmers® Insurance commercial, with the familiar tagline: “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” The series, with actor J. K. Simmons, has aired since 2010.
At Working Solutions, Ken Wheeley is our equivalent of the unflappable Professor Nathaniel Burke at the University of Farmers’ Hall of Claims.
As senior director of business intelligence, Wheeley knows because he’s seen a thing or two after more than 29 years in the call center industry.
Things such as:
For every oddball incident, Wheeley also knows that many positive things occur. As planned, no less. And that it’s wise to concentrate on them to ensure smooth operations and great customer service.
In 2018, he recommends five tips to help call center leaders maximize productivity and achieve desired outcomes for clients and their customers.
1. As anyone in the industry knows, scheduling or workforce management is part art and part science. Done well, it blends applications and actuality. The science, while precise, can be too one-sided in certain circumstances. An experienced call center leader, wise in the ways of real-world management, should be skilled in the art of making adjustments as needed. Think on-paper planning versus practical execution.
2. Take the time to develop a truly balanced scorecard for your call center and agents. On any given day, there are at least a handful of metrics to achieve. And yes, it’s tempting to focus on one or two key indicators and think everything and everyone are doing fine. Don’t be deceived, though. If average handle time dominates, then other metrics, such as quality, come up short. And that isn’t balanced performance.
3. You’ve seen the classic bell curve. Ten percentage at the top and 10% at the bottom, with 80% in the middle. As a leader, it’s normal to congratulate the high achievers and motivate the low performers. But they’re not the only ones in your center. Don’t forget to give credit to those agents in the middle. The Steady Eddies and Dependable Dianes. They’re the backbone of your operations and deserve plenty of praise. Just try running things without them.
4. Don’t go halfway with part-time agents. They’re much more than fill-in-the-gap workers. Their flexibility gives operations a competitive advantage for fast starts and quick turns for business continuity. Many a time these agents bridged business spikes or handled unforeseen demands to ensure nonstop service. Part-time is all the time for top-performing virtual call centers
5. Gotta say it: “Make sure everything is secure.” Billy West, who runs Working Solutions IT, just did a blog, outlining security tips to remember. Threats come from the outside-and the inside as well. Wheeley recalls a call center agent, who did adhere to the mandatory clean-desk policy, but scratched a customer’s credit card number onto her fingernails to steal it. Who knew cuticles could be complicit?
To his credit, Ken Wheeley of Working Solutions has nearly 30 years in the call center business—and 24 in outsourcing. He’s run both virtual and brick-and-mortar operations. Wheeley has directed domestic, near and offshore centers—with client accounts ranging from $5 million to $100 million in annual revenue. Been there. Done that. And still doing it.