Beware my son the Consultant

Beware my son the Consultant
By Colin Taylor
Founder & CEO
With my Apologies to Lewis Carol, but most of the poem Jabberwocky does sound like some meetings with consultants I have sat in on “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe”. Maybe it’s the recession or just the stage of life and career that many of the folks I know are at, but it seems you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a call/contact center consultant. (Please note that no cats were harmed in the preparation of this article, nor are we advocating that any harm should come to any specific cat.) Of course as always there are two types of consultants: those who actually consult for money and those who are really just unemployed, but believe that ‘consulting’ sounds much better than ‘unemployed’. I must agree that being a ‘consultant’ has a much better ring to it than, say; ‘unemployed former acquaintance who is now just looking for a free lunch while being a general burden on society’. And of course ‘consultant’ is easier to fit on a business card.
Consulting sounds much better than unemployed
Call Center consultants seem to all have taken one of a few of paths to this auspicious role. The first is the consultant who comes from the captive center organization; having spent the past number of years travelling and speaking at all sundry of call and contact center events and conferences. This acknowledged expert has been wined and dined, by technology vendors, fawned over by outsourcers and cuddled by conference organizers that want to sell access and influence to these ‘grantors of favors and purchase orders’. So upon having survived the indignity of actually being downsized, packaged out or otherwise dismissed by lesser beings, these pocket potentates figure they are likely better off without the corporate baggage, as now they are free to leverage their knowledge and contacts, now freed from the shackles of corporate servitude they can become Consultants. Dizzy with the euphoria of the moment, they send out an email to all of their contacts informing each of their good fortune…they can now hire or recommend their best friend, who they have previously confirmed as the smartest person of this or any similar sized planet. The freshly minted Consultant, then sits back and looks at suitable executive office space, close to a golf course with hot and cold running minions and they wait. And wait and quite astonishingly wait. Is it their internet connection? Is Outlook overwhelmed by the responses being received? Puzzled they reboot a couple of times. Slowly and darkly an evil thought flits through their mind. They dismiss it quickly at first, as they pick up the phone to share the good news of their availability, but after 50 voice mails and 82 more unanswered emails it comes back and won’t leave. “What if maybe, just maybe, no it’s to preposterous to imagine, but perhaps, it wasn’t their brilliance and insightful knowledge that made them an expert and pre-eminent speaker, but rather their positions, spending budget and ability to source and select suppliers. No, this couldn’t possible the case, these people were good friends; they enjoyed each others company and the fact they did business together was just a happy coincidence. Or was it?”

The second path to call center consulting greatness, or at least eating regularly are those who used to sell technologies, outsourcing and/or conferences to the first class of new consultants. These are the Do-ers, and the sometimes occasional doer, and unfortunately the “I didn’t do it then, but I could have if I had really wanted to do-ers”. Some of these folks actually do know what they are doing and some while they are adept at selling are blissfully unencumbered by any deep knowledge or insight. It is some perverse quirk of the universe that that both of these camps or consultants will struggle, the first because their knowledge and insight is handicapped by a lack of sales skills and networking aptitude and the second camp, because you always have to sell to new prospects as the old ones keep mentioning lawsuits and other ugly words.
A small third path is made of those individuals that actually know what they are doing and can effectively share their knowledge. They are not handicapped by their past histories (captive center nor vendor). While these are the fewest consultants, they are the ones that if you require or think you need assistance, are the people you want. So how can you recognize the differences between these three species of consultants, before it is too late or has cost you too much money or you are looking for your lawyer’s number? This article will strive to help you through the ‘glad-handing’ jungle of consultants to assist you to identify, source and select a consultant that can help you to succeed. At the end of the day that has to be your motivation…’what’s in it for me?’ Yes self interest is alive and well.
So why would you ever want to hire a call center consultant? In a culture that denigrates consultants as those who borrow your watch to tell you the time and charge you for the privilege, many organizations are opposed to hiring consultants on principle. But in any discipline at virtually any company consultants may be able to do things better. It is this quest for improvement that drives organization to hire consultants. In the call/contact center environment there are great opportunities for improvement and the appropriate consultant may be able to help you to capitalize on these opportunities. The wrong one might just comment on how nice your Rolex is.

In my next post I will look at why, when and how a company should hire a call/contact center consultant.

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