It’s So Simple! Why Don’t We Do It?!

When the best sprinters in the world meet in competition, the difference between getting a gold medal and being an "also-ran" can be the difference of tenths or even hundredths of a second. Think about the seemingly insignificant details that can make a hundredth of a second difference.

Great service providers are like world-class athletes. The difference between good customer service and World-class, gold medal winning service are often small details of a call done consistently and done well. The small details that can push a company into that "World-class" range are usually very simple things like using the customer’s name, consistently using "please" when requesting information, apologizing for unmet expectations or offering to help with other needs before closing the call. Executives and managers often bang their heads against a table when their teams fail to do well in these "simple" behaviors, uttering "Why can’t we do this?!?!"

Here are a few reasons:

  • We don’t communicate "why" this detail is important. Often, the customer’s expectations are left out of the equation when communicating what we expect from the front-line – leaving the CSR thinking that this is just a silly management requirement. Even when data is available about what the customer expects, it is rarely well-communicated to the front-line.
  • Internal QA teams are often reticent to focus on these "details", fearing that they will seem nit-picky and that it will create conflict with CSRs. They choose not to mark the CSR down and decide just to "coach them on it". This sends the message that it’s not really that important and CSRs have no motivation or incentive to change their behavior.
  • In the day-to-day pressure cooker of a call center environment, it’s easy for people to get into a "good enough" mentality. "We’re answering the phone. We’re resolving issues. It’s good enough."
  • Behavior change requires conscious effort, and many people aren’t willing to do it.

Great managers are like great coaches. They set a high standard of excellence, they continually coach to that standard, they accept nothing less than that standard – and they find ways to both inspire and motivate their teams.

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of Don Andre

3 thoughts on “It’s So Simple! Why Don’t We Do It?!

  1. Good post Tom.
    The “its good enough” reason dominates my job. When things get busy, and when its all we can do to cover trades at all, let alone according to policy, we all know that management understands if we let things “slide”.
    But on the other hand, we also know that while management may turn a blind eye at the rushed times, we will be held responsible if we get caught or have a QC issue later on. Its that sort of thing that makes me angry and not like my job. If I do things the right way all the time, I don’t meet goals, but if I do things half-way and meet the numerical goals, I am in danger of getting punished when I get my quarterly review.
    I know management is having problems filling the headsets, and that they are doing everything they can to get people in, but I still feel like my fellow workers and I are taking the blame for their failures in QC and unrealistic metrics of performance.

  2. You hit the proverbial nail on the head, AC. Granted, it’s a difficult balance, but we have occasionally taken a look at top quality performers to see if they spend more time on the phone with customers. The answer is no, and there are cases where the best quality performers can provide quality with an efficiency that is above average.
    Nevertheless, we often see the hypocrisy of which you write!

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