I had an interesting conversation with a call center manager the other day over breakfast. I asked him how things were going at work. After a pause and a long sigh, I wondered if our breakfast was going to become an informal counseling session. He launched into his story. His company recently made a huge capital investment in the latest technology for call monitoring and evaluation. This is good news, right?! He’s got the latest programs that allow him to do all sorts of things in capturing, analyzing, and reporting on service quality. So, why was he looking so glum?
With all the investment in technology, there was no money in the budget to hire anyone to actually use the shiny new QA program. The marching orders from the executive suite were to use the new whiz-bang technology to work more efficiently and productively. “We bought you technology so we don’t have to hire more people,” was the mantra. He went on to make an interesting statement:
“It makes about as much sense as me going out and buying a new airplane. What can I do with it sitting there on the ground? I can stare at it. I can keep it clean. I can sit on the ground, stare at the dials, and play with the controls. But, I certainly can’t fly the thing.”
My colleague went on to explain how the corporate decision not to back-fill positions while increasing responsibilities for his call center staff meant that everyone had far more on their plate than could reasonably be accomplished. He knew his skeletal QA efforts were not coming close to utilizing the new, expensive technology, but the IT department who chose the system does not have the human resources to help the get it optimized or train the call center staff on how to best utilize it. Without human resources and human expertise, the investment in technology seemed a total waste. The company can certainly brag and feel good about having the latest technology that will allow them to fly with the best in the business world. However, without the necessary expertise and investment in human capital to actually make it fly, their team will sit on the tarmac admiring the dials on their very expensive placebo.