Life Lessons: The Glass Half Empty

One of the life lessons I’ve learned from thirteen years in Quality Assessment (QA) is that human nature leans towards a negative, critical, glass-half-empty view of things. I read some research years ago that revealed an interesting truth about Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing: when someone has a great customer service experience they may tell 10 people but if they have a negative experience they tell 25.

The same trend holds true in QA. I spent the past two days training CSRs at a call center in Nebraska. We had recreated an actual phone call that was analyzed as part of our Service Quality Assessment (SQA), using voice-actors to simulate what took place between the CSR and the customer and editing anything that might identify the CSR who actually handled the call. The SQA data clearly showed that the team I was training is very good and the call we recreated was an example of a positive interaction. When I asked the group "What did this CSR do well?" I was regularly met with blank stares and hesitant comments. Yet, when I asked "What could we have improved on this call?" it was as if the floodgates had opened. There were usually two or three critical comments to every positive one.

I wish this was an isolated case, but it holds true with any group I’ve ever trained. We are quick to criticize, but struggle to encourage and build up. Being positive and encouraging is usually a conscious choice and it requires effort to keep feedback balanced and objective.

How are you going to build-up and encourage your team today?

  1 comment for “Life Lessons: The Glass Half Empty

  1. October 12, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Great post. I think many of us grew up in a critical environment – supposedly to help us improve. What they didn’t know was positive reinforcement is much more effective. I have to make a conscious effort to dwell on the positive instead of the negative, even after all these years. Early lessons stick.

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