Alignment: the best tool to keep your call center on track

We have likely all had problems with our cars. wheel alignment, we are driving along fine and then it starts pulling us to the left or to the right. In short it is pulling us where we don’t wish to go. Call centers may no have a great deal in common with your vehicle but alignment is every bit as important to any call center operation. Some times when we think we are pointed in the correct direction we get a rude awakening to find we are dramatically off course. Consider the following ‘real-world’ experiences;

A call center that noted that their AHT (Average Handle Time) had grown dramatically over the past year was determined to bring this into line. They offered an incentive to all agents who completed their calls and we back in ‘available’ state within 3 minutes. Sounds like a reasonable approach on the surface, but it lead to a dramatic increase in overtime with these very same agents staying late every night to complete their ‘paper-work’. In addition their error rate increased as they agents were completing this work disconnected from the caller.

A call center that in order to meet their budget wished to reduce the Talk time for their agents. Once again an incentive was implemented to reward all agents whose handle time was under 2.0 minutes. The program was a great success many agents received incentive dollars, unfortunately call volume increased at the same time as did a new complaint from customer…that the agents were hanging up on them!

Be careful what you wish for you just might get it!

Both of the above examples illustrate a center and a management approach that didn.t understand the fundamental tenet of alignment…every minute action taken in the center must support not only the managers, but the centers and the organizations goals.

It is easy to chuckle at the above examples, but we can’t dismiss them completely as a naive or inexperienced manager. These examples and the countless others show us how easy it is to lose sight of the ‘big-picture’.

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