You are on page 1of 121

Agent 00

TM

Self-Motivated Agents
Kim A. Cooper

TM

URL’s
Agent00 Self-Motivated Agents Kim A Cooper To schedule a live online demo

2

Copyright © 2004, 2009 by Exceed III, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the author and publisher. Published by Exceed III, LLC, Lindon, Utah, USA Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data ISBN: 0-9771722-1-X

Cooper, Kim A Creating and sustaining self motivated agents maximizes company profits and ROI—while replacing complacency among agents with self esteem. / Kim A Cooper. First Edition

Self-Motivated Agents™ is a trademark owned by Exceed III, LLC.

3

Introduction
In this rich and valuable practical guide, Kim Cooper has distilled the lessons and insights he has learned over the past 25 years while serving in senior leadership roles for WordPerfect Corporation, Novell, Inc., TechTeam Global, Inc., and Sento Corporation’s worldwide technical service programs, and through his participation as a friend and advisor to esteemed global contact centers executives like Dave Garner CEO of Sitel, Jeffrey Tarter CEO of the Association of Support Professionals, John Sykes CEO of Sykes Enterprises, Amy McCarty VP of ACS, Ron Schultz President/COO of Convergys, Richard Munn Chairman and Founder of ITSMA, Chris Brown VP of IBM Global Services; and as a Board member of Sun/JavaSoft, Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), and The Association for Services Management International (AFSMI). This book provides a wealth of background and detailed methods that can be applied in an agent-centric business setting. It conveys with much clarity the depth and breadth of experience of one of the leading practitioners in the field—an innovative non-fiction presentation of, strategies and programs that will help companies motivate, evaluate and train their contact center agents as learned by Mr. Cooper over the course of many years of real time practice and research.

4

Acknowledgements
gents are wonderful individuals. I learned this firsthand when I switched from Sales & Marketing at WordPerfect Corporation to Customer Services. They give others a boost everyday...! They continue to teach me, and I hope this book returns that favor to them, while also helping the contact center industry fortify its most critical resource: its agents.

A

On this project I have also had the collaborative benefit of three brilliant and treasured partners, David M. Brown, Craig C. Smith and the exceptionally talented team at Vertigo Software, Inc.: Scott, Cindy, Eric, Rick, Paul, Phil, Verena, David, Shannon and Dan. Many thanks for your insights and energy. Additionally, my gratitude goes out to my special friends and industry pundits: Jeffrey Tarter, Bob Johnson, Ted Derwa, Alison Harris, and Kurt Johnson – each of whom have given me wise counsel on this work. Most of all, I’d like to acknowledge my undying gratitude and love for my wife Karie, who has been my editor, consultant, pole star, sweetheart, and best friend since our early college days, and for my incredible sons Kris, Michael and Scott, and my incomparable daughter, Kimberly Dawn (Kim Jr.). They are my earthly source of pure joy and inspiration –even as Sophia was for Nathaniel. I am truly blessed, and delighted to be so.
5

6

Contents
Introduction ............................................ 4 Acknowledgements ............................. 5 Chapter One The Missing Link.................................................. 8 Chapter Two Winning With “Heart” ........................................ 18 Chapter Three Is It Real? Is It Possible? Is It Worth It? ............. 59 Chapter Four Objective Performance Evaluations ................... 96 Chapter Five High Morale Culture......................................... 104 Chapter Six A SaaS/BI2.0 Application................................... 113 Appendix Value Table....................................................... 120 Proven Results ............................................. 121 Gartner Survey ...........................................1211

7

Chapter One

The Missing Link
[Circa: 1984]

“T

hat’s pretty cool!” he said over my shoulder. “What is it?”

“A word processor,” I replied —surprised that someone was now in the store with me. Ten minutes earlier, the door to this Tandy Computer Center in Houston was wide open. But when I entered there was no one inside! …? I stood around for five nervous minutes waiting for a store manager to appear from the back room, but then decided to see if WordPerfect™ worked in the Tandy-1000 PC on display. I’d never tried a T-1000 before, but I’d heard it was fast, and knew it was one of the few computers you could buy that had a hot new feature called a hard-disk. I slipped my 5 ¼” floppy disk in it and fired up WordPerfect. A guy walked up from behind. I expected it to be the store manager, but it was just a pleasant looking guy in a pair of khaki pants and a golf shirt…. “What else can it do?” he asked, interested.

Chapter O - The Missing Link

I thought to myself, “This guy thinks I work here. Must be my tie? Oh well, I guess I can give him a demo until the store manager shows up. Maybe the store manager will be interested in WordPerfect if he sees this guy’s interest in it when he comes in.” “WOW!” he exclaimed. [pause] “Hey, do you like to golf?” “Yeah. Sure.” I replied . . . enjoying how friendly he was. He stuck out his hand and said, “Listen, I’m the computer software buyer for Tandy, worldwide. I’m based in Ft. Worth. The manager of this store is in the back room filling out some papers I brought down. Why don’t you fly up on Thursday, shoot a round of golf with me at the club, and we can talk about . . . what did you call it, ‘WordPerfect’?” By the 17th hole we had penciled out a deal where Tandy would buy product from us and sell it through all of their 700 retail computer stores. This was the beginning of a very lucrative, long and enjoyable business relationship.

This story happened to me in early 1984 when I was a sales representative for WordPerfect Corporation. We had some heady, exciting days at WordPerfect as the world fell in love with word processing. Our skyrocketing WordPerfect sales were creating tens of millions of customers –customers we wanted to make sure could use
9

Chapter O - The Missing Link

our product. But with “millions” buying WordPerfect every month, doing so was a problem of massive scope. To care for the millions using our products throughout the world we started a free call-center-based support program. Consumers loved it, and began buying more and more WordPerfect because of our free support program. As word traveled, press coverage of our support offering grew. CBS’s Good Morning America even flew out and did a market trends piece on our support program, which was uncommon in those early days… computer software was still a mystery to most. However, business economics came to bear in the late 1980’s as the price of WordPerfect and other mainstream applications began to fall below $100. By 1990 we were taking 20,000+ support calls a day, but our sales margins were no longer fat enough to pay for free, 24-hour support. The owners of WordPerfect asked me to leave my Sales & Marketing post and head up Customer Services for the company. My charter was to build a sustainable business model underneath our services programs that would increase quality while reducing expenses. There was no such thing as “Workforce Management” or “Quality Monitoring” tools back then. We didn’t even have Automatic Call Distribution systems commercially available. Some of you may remember
10

Chapter O - The Missing Link

our “Hold Jockey” program whereby we played music and gave live traffic reports to those on hold. What you may not have known is that our hold jockeys sat facing a semicircle-wall of monitors showing every team and queue. They manually moved calls from congested queues to open queues. Ours was the harbinger of today’s “ACD” systems. We continued to invest in technologies like statistics monitors, knowledge bases and automated scheduling programs. These helped improve our “process efficiencies.” But we knew the finest call center equipment in the hands of confused, complacent or dissonant agents would be of little good. Our agents talked to 20,000 customers every day. They needed to be motivated to do a superb job on every call. We had 1200 agents in our US call center and another 600 in multiple foreign call centers. I met personally with random groups of agents from these centers every week. We talked openly and they told me what frustrated and discouraged them, and what motivated and inspired them. We constantly brainstormed together on how to weed out the bad and institutionalize the good. Unfortunately we did not have web technology back then to implement some of the progressive ideas they came up with, but I’ve never forgotten those ideas, nor have they become obsolete. Now, nearly twenty years later the same confusion, complacency and dissonance still prevails among contact center agents –for the same reasons.

11

Chapter O - The Missing Link

Indeed, it is getting worse. Turnover (aka, Attrition) rates have increased from 15% in 24 month cycles back then, to 42% - 80% in 12 month cycles today. These high turnover rates kill profit margins in P&L centers and destroy ROI in cost centers. Each rookie replacement agent costs $6,000 to 8,000 extra and takes 3 to 5 months to become productive. This is a downward spiraling death cycle for contact centers –one increasing in frequency. To alleviate the money side of the problem, contact centers are springing up in low income areas around the world. But rapid turnover cycles are setting into these geographies as well. A decade of better technology and efficiency measurement tools has not been enough to solve the demoralized agent problem. *CAUTION* companies do not want demoralized agents caring for their coveted customers. The contact center industry, while increasingly more important in a global market sense, has not yet stabilized its most vital element –its agents. I have remained intimately involved in the contact center business throughout the years but have also been immersed since the mid nineties in the creation of awardwinning, open, browser-based applications.” 1 Combining the best theory and practice from each of these two business sectors I have now produced a commercially available new contact center automation solution called

1 If you are a C-level executive, project manager, software architect, or developer, no doubt you have heard at least some of the hype about SaaS (Software as a Service) the past few years. Twenty years ago, the maze of dissimilar computing platforms and data protocols across WordPerfect’s fifteen worldwide contact centers made it impossible for me to build Agent00. But today’s web technologies have fixed that. Agent00’s amazing SaaS and BI features enable it to cost less and work anywhere/anytime/on any device.

12

Chapter O - The Missing Link

Agent00. It provides the critical missing link in a contact center of immediate personalized agent rewards and instruction –while at the same time increasing profit margins and ROI. [Agent00 patented feature (“ ”)] 1 • Agent00 stands for “Agent’s Own Optimization,” which bespeaks the unique driving force underlying this automation product –namely, the unconquerable human spirit of your own agents. It is branded Agent00™ after Ian Fleming’s famous secret agent 007, because the name Agent00 symbolizes the modern strategic role your agents play in securing and retaining the lifeblood of your company –your customers. Agent00 is an advanced SaaS/BI2.0 application that looks and handles as well as a local application. It quickly integrates with every software program you already have or will ever get –with no need to be loaded on your server(s) or clients. Agent00 automatically gathers meaningful data in a unique way and analyzes it according to the agent performance parameters you set.

1 Exceed III, LLC owns 26 patents, and has 9 additional pending, on Agent00 in the US and Internationally, including but not limited to: i) pay for performance labor management, ii) real time individual balanced scorecard, iii) real time individual behavior-conditioning scorecard, iv) real time customer surveying, v) real time analytical integration of performance and conditioning data, vi) real time, sensory-based data presentment to a human, vii) SOA/SaaS/BI2.0 architecture for rapid deployment and modification, viii) a complex performance optimization process.

13

Chapter O - The Missing Link

Designed for agents, largely by agents, over the course of nineteen years, Agent00 will intensify the good habits of your contact center agents and objectively weed out the bad habits and the chronically bad agents from your contact center— • • • • • Your revenue and profit margins will increase You will keep your best agents longer Morale will steadily rise Turnover will steadily go down, and Customer satisfaction will improve.

This book sets out to build a map of five unique deliverables of Agent00 and then to explore their implications in setting breakthrough contact center business strategy. Agent00 is not just a better balanced scorecard. It is a superior employee conditioning system. The result is a positive, energized agent culture that will steadily increase the productivity in your contact center(s). Here’s a summary of what you can expect in the chapters that follow: Chapter 2 is entitled, “Winning With Heart” and focuses on the unequaled power of agents’ self motivation. Races are seldom won by jockeys that neglect, confuse or abuse their horses –the competition is too intense. Great races are won by horses whose jockeys wisely guide them
14

Chapter O - The Missing Link

through the turns and the traffic and then let them run unrestrained at the right times—a pattern the two develop together with repetition. I’ve started this book with this principle because the energy that can be found within the heart, internal drive and self-motivation of an agent is the crown jewel of a contact center –much more so than its efficiency tools. Once a contact center has learned how to cultivate and harness this energy of the heart within its agents, the rest falls into place and performance optimization steadily and predictably rises to new heights.
Chapter 3 is entitled, “Is It Real? Is It Possible? Is It Worth It?” and draws out from industry experts and executives that there has sadly been very little improvement in contact center operations the past twenty years. Attrition rates are double or worse. Productivity rates are dismal because of turnover. And industry keynotes are still advocating “personal touch” as the only cure for these problems (just as they have done for more than a decade). Fortunately, science and technology are now ready to step in and assist contact centers with a progressive sustainable solution. Daily repetitive contact center activities are a perfect match for the proven principles of scientific behavioral conditioning. And for the first time, automating precise behavioral conditioning is now possible through Agent00. Consistently informed agents, reduced expenses, increased revenues, and increased customer satisfaction & loyalty are among proven results. 1

1 Based upon recent production pilot results. See, Appendix: Proven Results page 120.

15

Chapter O - The Missing Link

Chapter 4 is entitled, “Objective Performance Evaluations” and explores the positive benefits of using Agent00 to objectively tally agents’ actual performance against set goals in real time. [Boss to Dilbert:] "I've been saying for years that employees are our most valuable asset. It turns out that I was wrong. Money is our most valuable asset. Employees are ninth." This now famous Dilbert-ism captures the cynical and skeptical attitude agents have about being rated, valued or evaluated. In this chapter I’ve left the morale issues silent, since they’ll be treated in the next chapter, and have clinically estimated the costs of subjective evaluations that Agent00 can help you do away with –to the profit and increased morale of your company.

Chapter 5 is entitled, “High Morale Culture” and takes an aisle seat look at the people-power that drives Southwest Airlines’ sustained success, and provides three key, scientifically-proven ways to transform your own contact center to a high morale culture. As Jim Collins says in his NY Times best seller, Good To Great, “real people in real companies want to be part of a winning team. They want to contribute to producing real results. They want to feel the excitement and the satisfaction of being part of something that just flat-out works. When people begin to feel the magic of momentum -- when they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed -- that's when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push.”

16

Chapter O - The Missing Link

Chapter 6 is entitled, “A SaaS/BI 2.0 Application” and describes in plain language the truly unique, state-ofthe-art technology that Agent00 is. This chapter explains why you can have rock solid assurance that Agent00 is a confident stride in the right direction toward the next generation of standardized, reliable and secure global computing technologies.

17

Chapter Two

Winning With “Heart”
was a guest at a magnificent Thoroughbred farm in Florida. One crisp sunny morning, the owner of the farm took me over to his Yearling stables and race track. We watched the exercise riders breeze four beautiful yearlings around the track. He told me about each horse as they came back to the barn, talking of blood lines, front legs and hind quarters. Then he pointed to one particularly feisty chestnut stallion prancing up the walk and waved the exercise rider over. This was one of the owner’s favorite yearlings because of what he called the young stallion’s “tremendous heart.” It definitely wanted to run! This excited the owner. He knew if his trainers and riders could develop this horse physically, so that it had the strength, endurance and structure to run hard without breaking down, this horse had the heart and drive to win. This horse was “self motivated” you might say, in need only of strategic development, training and direction. Can drive and desire, what I’m calling “heart,” be developed in agents? Absolutely. Although unfortunately not in every single case. But don’t let that stop you with your agents. Carefully screen them for heart and selfmotivating tendencies during the hiring stage. And when

I

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

you find those with heart, hire them, direct them –and then open the gate and let them run. (*Hold this thought* I’ll come back to it later.) Pavlov is the household name that taught us about being able to condition human reflexes. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist that was doing studies on the digestive process in dogs, especially the interaction between salivation and the action of the stomach. He realized they were closely linked by reflexes in the autonomic nervous system. Without salivation, the stomach didn't get the message to start digesting. Pavlov wanted to see if external stimuli could affect this process, so he rang a bell at the same time he gave the experimental dogs food. After a while, the dogs –which before only salivated when they saw and ate their food– would begin to salivate when the bell sounded, even if no food was present. Pavlov published his results calling this a "conditioned reflex," different from an innate reflex, such as yanking a hand back from a flame, in that it had to be learned. Pavlov called this learning process (in which the dogs came to associate the sound of the bell with the food, for example) "conditioning." Pavlov’s scientific theory has proven to be sound for over a hundred years of research and testing. Heart, drive and self motivation can be conditioned in your agents as well. To best understand how to do this, and call out the breakdowns and demoralization that often happens to agents along the way, let’s start at the beginning of the agent cycle.

19

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Thrill of a new job Starting a new job as an agent is usually very exciting for most people, almost similar to the smell and thrill you feel when you sit in a brand new car. All of your senses are alive, drinking in the experience. It’s definitely a big step above working at the mall, the coal mine or that fast food restaurant where you used to work. You are now a part of global business and high tech computing. You are learning important skills –and getting paid for it at the same time! Most agents in the US are between the ages of 18 and 35, many of them just out of high school starting their first “big company” job. There is usually a mixture of fear and enthusiasm as they do each new thing for the first time: e.g., walk into the office lobby as an employee, survey their new computer and office furniture, take or make that first call (this one usually causes a big wave of fear and enthusiasm –especially if a senior mentor is sitting next to them). Their heart is alive and pumping fast. And with every fiber of their being they want to do a GREAT job on every call. Behavioral Science would say that their behavior is driven by the “consequence” of their being a new employee. Said another way, being a new contact center agent is enough of a reward for them at this point in their career that they pour their heart into every call, every day. So why do agents lose this positive energy?
20

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

“Heart” is driven by immediate consequences Behavior is controlled or influenced most by immediate consequences, the operative word here being “immediate.” A new job is immediate. New appealing business surroundings are immediate. But when immediacy is lost, there is nothing new or additional to compel behavior any longer. Though breathtaking to tourists (a behavior), a resident worker living in Zermatt, Switzerland did not find the Matterhorn beautiful or impressive at all (a behavior). His longing was to someday see the city of New York. On the other hand, how many investment bankers in downtown Manhattan would jump at the chance to escape their noisy confines to be in Zermatt gazing up at the Matterhorn? For a while, the mountain top they have just crested in becoming a new contact center agent is totally exhilarating. They will do just about anything their team leader asks them to do, and be genuinely grateful for the opportunity to do it. All they need is strategic development, training, direction and most importantly immediate consequences to compel productive behavior continually. The lack of continual immediate consequences is usually the first and the biggest breakdown in an agent’s self-motivating behavior. The lobby is now just a lobby. The computer and furniture are now just a blur of beige and gray in every identical cubicle. And calls, while they have some variety because of the diversity of callers, become monotonous and unrewarding.
21

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

In many contact centers there is a promise of a “bonus” at the end of the year if an agent’s performance meets his pre-set goals and all the numbers in the company line up. Unfortunately, this is what is known in Behavioral Science as an “uncertain consequence.” A year-end bonus is too remote to effectively drive daily behavior all year long. Daily immediate consequences are necessary, in smaller more definite bites, to condition heart within agents. “Immediate Consequences” by Agent00 Agent00’s primary reason for being is to help contact centers create and automatically administer meaningful, certain, and objective Positive Immediate Consequences (hereafter “PICs”) that condition and produce self motivation in agents. The Pavlov principle. Agent00’s state of the art technology welds agent instruction and pre-set goals together with PICs and “NICs” (Negative Immediate Consequences), and then divvies these consequences out objectively, automatically and individually based upon performance. To better understand the critical nature of PICs and NICs in conditioning behavior, let’s consider each of these four items one at a time. • • • • Instruction Pre-set Goals PICs NICs
22

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

1. Instruction: Microsoft was the first IT company to really master individual employee awareness and instruction. As early as 1992 it was said that you could walk into Microsoft and ask any employee what the company’s core business was and what the purpose of his job was in promoting that core business –and he could tell you these answers in an instant. When Novell bought WordPerfect in 1994, Novell’s new CEO did a top down/bottom up review of the whole consolidated company for the purpose of getting every employee oriented with and committed to Novell’s core business –and to their individual role in driving Novell’s success. Novell spent millions of dollars processing this company wide exercise, but never did get everyone on the same page. Agent00 makes it easy for the CEO and any other authorized supervisor to communicate contact center instructions to each individual agent with regard to: • • the purpose of every pre-set goal how each goal affects the company’s strategic direction, profits and ROI each individual agent’s performance expectations against each goal.

23

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

From an agent’s perspective: To stay in synch with company instructions, all an agent has to do is click on any element 1 that comes up in her personalized Agent00 dashboard. As she clicks on an element, a current, context-sensitive explanation pops up for her. There need be no gap between the company’s reason for a goal and her understanding of that reason. More importantly, there need be no gap between her understanding of the goal and what she will immediately get for performing that goal well. These are the critical and “certain” PICs that will continually generate her heart driven, self motivated behavior. From the company’s perspective: To keep agents in synch with a company goal, the CEO can simply update an element’s description within Agent00 on the central server and the change is instantly posted to all. Of course, if an element or a goal doesn’t apply to an agent, he will never see that dynamic goal or its elements based upon his login rights. Agent00 is straightforward, powerful, and easy to administer by in house staff. Agent00 helps CEOs keeps every agent informed and instructed in detail. This is a necessary step to conditioning behavior.

An “element” is a specific task within Agent00 that has further description and definition hotlinked to it for agent training and instructional purposes.

1

24

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

2. Pre-Set Goals: Agent00 is flexible enough to be applied to any employee instruction or incentive program in the company, be it sales, marketing, development or production. However, Agent00 comes as a flexible, pre-defined template or dashboard 1 specifically for use in contact centers, with three of the most common agent KPI goals 2 already set up in the template. The three default KPI goals are • volume • customer satisfaction • quality

Volume: I remember a TV commercial where Jay Leno said, “Doritos! Eat all you want! We’ll make more!” Have you ever heard a “cost-based” call center say: “Calls! Make all you want! We’ll take more!”
A “dashboard” is the layout user interface of Agent00 and is made up of goals and rewards. Dashboards are flexible and can be modified. 2 “Goals” are the focused tasks of an agent and are made up of elements.
1

25

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

This is exactly what we said at WordPerfect as part of our beginning product marketing and sales strategy – even though we were an internal cost center. In the mid eighties, during WordPerfect’s market ascent, we opened the support flood gates wide. The actual words we used were “unlimited toll-free support.” At WordPerfect our agents were taking about 20,000 inbound technical calls a day, with an average handle time of 18 minutes per call. A leading ‘outbound’ P&L contact center recently told me it was making about two million calls a day, with an average handle time of 4 minutes per call. An Accenture year-end study stated that each contact center agent speaks to 10,000 customers a year, which suggests an overall average handle time of 9 minutes per call. Regardless of inbound or outbound, P&L or cost center, contact center financials hang on how efficient we are at managing average handle time and the scheduling of agents. Simple math revealed that if I could reduce WordPerfect’s average handle time to 15 minutes a call, and thereby reduce the number of agents we needed to cover 20,000 calls a day, I could cut $16 million from our contact center expense tab. Volume matters. Indeed, volume is often the key metric in a contact center’s master plan. As such, the first metric goal I built into Agent00’s balanced scorecard performance metrics is call volume. Here’s an overview graphic of Agent00’s user interface:
26

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”
[Click here if you would like to request a live demo of Agent00]

A closer look at the Volume speedometer gauge:

For this example, let’s suppose the CEO of an outsource contact center has a service contract with Enta Corp. One of the agents assigned to Enta Corp’s account is

27

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

a female agent, and this is her volume gauge thus far through her day. Agent00 analyzes i) ii) iii) iv) v) vi) how long this agent has been an employee, to what extent she’s trained and certified, what the company pays her, how much the contact center makes on each incident or task 1 she completes for Enta, what qualifies as a completed incident, and even how well Etna’s customers have been rating her quality of service on incidents this day

Agent00 analyzes all these factors and others in the volume equation. With specific regard to the pre-set “Volume” goal, Agent00 keeps this agent continually informed that volume is weighted as her most important goal at 45% out of 100%. Were she confused about anything associated with volume, Agent00’s hotlink feature about Volume can instantly provide her with every meaningful detail she

1 Or the “ROI value” of each incident or task in a “cost” center

28

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

needs to know about volume –some unique to her; others more big picture. Managers with Agent00 system editing rights can change the contents of this hotlink window as easily as writing a memo. No programmers required. In this way they can keep their agents instructed and informed on any goal or detail real-time –without distracting or interrupting their agents’ performance efforts. And with Agent00, managers will be able to keep every agent informed consistently, immediately and world wide if necessary. Were she confused about the volume weighting of 45%, management can even provide a hotlink within a hotlink for further context-sensitive instruction. In each case throughout Agent00, whenever an agent clicks on a live element, a context-sensitive window immediately appears to inform them. Many agents will keep the complete Agent00 dashboard or a mini version open on their screen at all times so they can monitor their daily progress. For example, from the minute her day begins the volume gauge will keep this agent informed real-time about how well she is doing “today:”
Her thoughts: I gotta’ get out of alert almost there … 10:00 am

29

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart” I hafta’ keep pushing 1:00 pm

3:00 pm

I’m getting’ close –can’t slack off

YEAH BABY! one more take another I love it! do another Man, I gotta’ do this again tomorrow! This is Great. Hello new car payment!

4:00 pm

5:00 pm

She will always know when she is on alert for underperformance, when she has covered her own daily costs for the day, if she is making profit for the company, and when she is making bonus money on top of her guaranteed salary.

30

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

This gives her a perfect understanding of how her performance today and every day drives her own prosperity –and the company’s prosperity and stability. This level of awareness and company connection is a CEO’s dream. You might say she has a built in personal performance coach cheering her on every minute of the day – – growling at her when she is underperforming, and rewarding and exciting her when she does well.

Whenever she reaches the bonus level, the company is assured she has cleared their predetermined profit margin on her. The company of course wants her to do this every day. To condition this behavior, it makes it possible for her to make a personal daily bonus amount (can be “points”) on every incident or task she completes in the bonus zone. But even before she gets to the bonus zone, the company relies upon Agent00 to keep her automatically informed of how close she is to the bonus level throughout the day and how much she will make for each bonus incident or task she does once she gets there. This type of crystal clear understanding empowers her, and she will usually do her finest work because of it. She is good at her job and now with the promise of PICs, she even works on her agent skills during her off hours. She has heart –she is self motivated –and she knows she can earn PICs every day. … let her run!

31

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

This is the power of incorporating PICs into her day. 100 years of behavioral science has proven that she will reach for them everyday. This is how Agent00 helps contact centers condition optimized behavior in their agents. Yesterday, she made an additional $3.27 in bonus. That’s a yearly run rate of nearly $800 in bonus that she controls entirely herself with her own performance –no uncertain consequences. When she adds this to her salary and benefits she is thrilled. She plans to stay for at least another year or more. The company is glad to hear it. It has been making 100% of its forecasted profit margin on this agent for several months now, and if it had to replace her it would easily incur $8,000 in sunk costs, all things accounted for. Plus, history has shown it would take around six months before a rookie replacement would begin performing at her level. But what about customer satisfaction? Doesn’t customer satisfaction suffer when agents focus on volume? This brings us to the next important pre-set KPI goal that comes as a default setting in Agent00 –customer satisfaction.

32

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Customer satisfaction:

The VP of an inbound cost center I consulted with in the design of Agent00 explained that customer satisfaction was more important than volume in their contact center because their chief company objective for offering free support was to drive sales of their flagship software product. They weighted their customer satisfaction goal at 50%. Their biggest problem, however, was measuring and applying customer satisfaction ratings to their agents. They were frustrated with the subjective nature and cost involved in their customer satisfaction measurement programs. You can imagine how enthused they were about the automated and objective customer satisfaction monitoring available within Agent00. Customer satisfaction is extremely important in contact centers but has always been difficult to measure and apply. Agent00 not only analyzes indirect contact center factors, like average handle time and good attendance habits (see, Quality section ahead), but more importantly measures, analyzes and records the level of customer satisfaction that takes place on the incident itself : • • Ease of access to the agent? Total time it took us to provide a solution for your problem?
33

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

• • • •

Agent’s professionalism and willingness to listen? Agent’s technical knowledge? Satisfactory solution to your problem? Maybe even Willingness to recommend our company to other customers? 1

Years ago I created a customer satisfaction recognition program at WordPerfect for agents. Any time I received a letter or a phone call from a customer thanking me for an agent’s assistance, I had my secretary produce a certificate on beautiful bank note paper for the agent. The CEO and I both signed each certificate. Then I presented them to the agents personally. Unsolicited customer comments were one of the best ways we could measure customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, many of these certificates were days, weeks or even months old by the time we presented them to agents. They certainly had some motivating power, and remain a staple item of any good contact center today, but agents need immediate feedback on customer satisfaction to develop “heart” in this area. At diving competitions judges immediately rate divers’ performances on a numbered scale from 1 to 10. This type of immediate feedback is critical. It not only spurs them on to do better on the next dive, but also helps them recognize the small things they either did right or wrong while the experience is still fresh in their mind.
1 “The foremost questions that determine the level of ‘Customer Satisfaction’ in today’s contact centers.” Claes Fornell, Director of the National Quality Research Center.

34

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Agent00 does the same thing for agents, only the customers are the judges at the end of the call. Agent00 has a very quick way to extract six 1 customer satisfaction answers from a customer real-time and then register these findings back into the agent’s dashboard immediately – while simultaneously allowing the agent to disconnect from the current call and move on to the next call before this customer query takes place. In this way, Agent00 improves upon at least five of the problems that diminish the value of customer satisfaction surveys. For example, Agent00 enables i) higher customer participation rates because it only takes a customer seconds to answer on the existing call and is simple to do, ii) more accurate findings because the experience is still fresh for the customer, iii) more applicability because the answers are always specific to a particular customer call, iv) more influence on the agent’s behavior because customer scores are reported back immediately to the agent, good or bad, while the experience is still fresh in the agent’s mind,

1 TIP: The number of questions asked, and the clarity of answers sought for can vary as desired, according to response rate. Agent00 can be simplified or expanded as desired.

35

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

v) increased labor savings through automation (not necessary to do follow up customer satisfaction survey emails or phone calls). An agent can see his compiled percentage rate of positive versus negative comments via the customer satisfaction gauge throughout the day. Within seconds of their last call survey an agent can see the Agent00 customer satisfaction elevator bar moving positive or negative. A positive movement gives them a quick boost and the desire to do more good. A negative movement gives them a signal that they have to try harder. Reports can be generated that compile the positive or negative responses to specific customer satisfaction queries as well. For example, if the contact center wants to know how many customers are experiencing first-contact resolutions to their problems, Agent00 can easily provide this specific customer survey information. Since Agent00 can analyze all contact center goals in relationship to one another, a contact center can precisely groom its agents’ most valuable contributions. For example, a minimum customer satisfaction threshold could be set, the likes of which if an agent does not achieve it that day, he will not receive a bonus regardless of his score on other goals. How can an agent produce both high volume and high customer satisfaction performance? The answer to this question leads to the next pre-set goal that comes as a default setting in Agent00 –quality.
36

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Quality:

Agent00 measures Quality in three ways: • Expertise • Schedule adherence • Peer Ratings Expertise A few years ago a relatively new Novell sales rep picked me up at Logan International airport in Boston to drive me out to a meeting with the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation. The new rep missed the proper exit off the I-90 turnpike heading west. We went the wrong way for thirty minutes before we were able to turn around. It was a costly mistake. I missed my appointment with the CEO. I chose this illustration because a driving analogy is easy to apply here. If an agent wants to achieve both high volume and high customer satisfaction marks, she cannot take a customer down a wrong road during a call. Either customer satisfaction or volume or both will suffer. Knowing how to navigate successfully through contact center incidents and tasks takes expertise. Training and practice is essential to an agent’s expertise. A contact center will always provide training for its agents. Personally, I prefer a heavier mix of online training than classroom training for contact center agents,
37

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

so long as it is well done. The reasons are that online training gives agents a chance to interact with the course materials, which has proven to greatly enhance their retention. Online training is also available 24/7 from any web connection, can include video, audio, text and graphics, and online certification testing. Another reason I think online training is preferable is it does not require agents to waste work time during their day walking across the company campus or even down the hall to attend a classroom training session. If they find themselves in a lull, they can click into some online training courses and pursue certification. Through online training, agents can train themselves on new products or processes whenever and wherever they want over today’s secure web. Being able to train themselves is critical. Even Tiger Woods relentlessly analyzes, trains and practices his job on his own. Though he has to rise at 5am to practice in order to avoid the distraction of the crowds that otherwise hound him, to this day he has never stepped up to a tee in a tournament, without having first practiced that tee shot until he’s confident he is expert at it. Tiger has heart. He trains and practices his skills in his pursuit of professional excellence. The same holds true for agents. Training and practice are essential for them to master their profession. Agent00 can link to computer based training programs or web applications, making it easier for an agent to train and practice their skills online. It helps in three ways: it reminds her of her current level of expertise; it
38

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

keeps constant expertise-related PICs before her so she knows the rewards she can obtain if she will improve her skills; and finally Agent00 provides her a convenient hot key to click on so she can initiate her own training and testing sessions anytime she has a spare minute. 1 As mentioned above with customer satisfaction, a contact center can set a rule in Agent00 that requires a certain level of overall quality in an agent before she can receive any bonus regardless of her score on other goals. This is how Agent00 merges the power of PICs with the important goal of increasing one’s own expertise.

Schedule: Scheduling is a very important function in contact centers. It is usually a complex process to do well because of the hundreds or thousands of agents that need to cycle seamlessly through three eight hour shifts every day, assigned to different teams, with cross-trained skill sets. Scheduling is like a tapestry made up of many intricate threads. Agent00 has a built-in schedule adherence feature (for centers that do not have automated schedulers) but is primarily designed to stand on the shoulders of mainstream and in-house scheduling programs. Unlike any other performance optimization program, Agent00 can transform scheduling data into motivational power for agents through PICs. Consider this: Professional basketball players are
1 A contact center should make computer based training programs available to agents 24/7 over the web.

39

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

always anxious to get “more minutes” of playing time. They love the competition of playing, but even more they know the PICs that come with more playing time: lucrative shoe and clothing contracts, photos in the media, fame, etc. Of course they also know the NICs that can sting them if they don’t show up on time to practices and games, such as thousands of dollars in fines. Through Agent00, agents will always be conscious of the PICs that are available to them. Rather than dragging in late to work, they may begin to come early and stay late on their own dime (if allowed) just to qualify for more daily and accumulated PICs. They will want to work more. This principle can be illustrated by a childhood memory. I grew up in a potato farming community. One October day just before sunrise, farmer Cox pointed to his vast field littered everywhere with burlap gunny-sacks and freshly dug potatoes and said with enthusiasm, “I’ll pay you a dime for every hundred pound sack you fill. Pick all you want.” Then he cautioned, “There are only two rules: fill each sack clear up to the line, and don’t sneak any dirt clods in the sack.” I was twelve and really fired up. I knew I could make a dime for every sack I filled. But there were hundreds of pickers anxiously toeing the line to fill sacks. When farmer Cox gave the signal to go ahead and start filling sacks, a storm of mad bees hit the field. I ran from empty sack to empty sack, filling them up to the line and then moving on to the next. I kept a mental tally of how many dimes I had made as I went. I looked to my left from
40

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

time to time to see if my older brother had filled more sacks than me. My hands and legs grew tired, but my heart carried me on … that is until I ran out of sacks. Before it was even time to eat lunch that huge field was picked clean! and a hundred of us were sitting in the soft dirt wishing we had more potatoes to pick. Wouldn’t it be incredible if there were this type of self motivated enthusiasm in contact centers? Instead of a surplus of calls, there is a scarcity of calls –and each is handled well to generate a high quality rating. By continually improving and then keeping your best agents longer, it can happen. This of course would put pressure on management, sales people and the scheduling software to give these energized high quality agents enough calls to keep them satisfied every day. Scheduling is not a trivial issue in a contact center, and Agent00 can help change agents’ attitudes about their schedule from “burden” to “scarce opportunity” and from “survival mode” to “ambitious go getter.” Peer Ratings Agents most often work in teams. As such, team mates are uniquely positioned to give daily appraisals of one another’s level of performance quality on a daily basis. The four questions an agent can be asked to answer about a fellow teammate are as follows: • • • Agent’s adherence to daily work schedule? Agent’s technical knowledge? Agent’s respect for co-workers?
41

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Agent’s skill in caring for and dealing with customers?

The process used to gather these peer evaluations is highly important –in order to ensure continued maximum objectivity. As an agent logs onto the Network the first time each day, she will be presented with this Peer Quality Survey:

Accompanying this survey will be the name of one of her teammates, randomly chosen by the computer. She will be given a different name each day until she has evaluated all of her teammates in this manner. Then, the process will be repeated in an ever-ongoing fashion. What if she was asked to go on a date by a teammate, but refused to go … and in retaliation the teammate gives her an unfair ‘quality’ score? This type of aberration would be easy to identify, and adjust. It would also be a data element that could be made to work against the ‘quality rating’ of the giver of the inappropriate score.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
42

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

3. PICs: (Positive Immediate Consequences) There is nothing as important Believe it or not: The word “cattle” is how one to an agent’s ability to perform well – of the largest contact and therefore to a contact center’s centers in the world success– as the morale of the agents openly refers to its themselves. Agents do amazing thousands of agents – and what’s worse, it’s things when they are filled with self how the agents of that confidence and enthusiasm. company refer to Unfortunately, there is a dismal themselves! Would you want this shortage of morale in contact centers company taking care of and agents are quitting their jobs your customers? within twelve months primarily because their jobs are not rewarding enough in three key areas: respect, money and a variety of awards.
Agent00 links performance with immediate consequences Money

Respect

Awards

43

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

In the center of Agent00’s dashboard, right under their own name, agents first see the daily bonus money (or points) they can make. Next, they see exactly what their job is and how well they are performing it. On the left side of the dashboard they are assured respect and recognition when they do well. On the right they see the variety of exciting awards they can win for doing a great job – everyday. Agent00’s default PICs are • Money (or Points) • Respect & Recognition • Awards

Money Money pays the bills. I began giving prizes away at WordPerfect for good performance. Each month we would give away $100 to $200 prizes to the top performers in the form of goods, catalog credits or gift certificates. After several months many agents began stopping by my office to tell me they were appreciative of my efforts to spice up their work life with prizes. But many of them then quickly suggested they would rather have “money.” “Thanks for the nice Awards, but I need to pay my bills. I would prefer money,” they would say. The great thing about bonus money as a PIC is its flexibility. The bad thing about bonus money is it has little sentimental value. It quickly blends in with the salary money you put in the bank or pay your bills with. But study after study shows agents prefer having money as a bonus
44

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

more than anything else. Part of this is because many of them have an immovable salary ceiling that is suffocating to their spirits. The other bad thing about money is the company’s little problem of coming up with the money to pay its agents. Here’s the trick. As we will discuss more fully in Chapters Three and Four, you will have additional monies in your budget as Agent00 helps you: i) Reduce the amount you spend on poor performers. If agents do not make the margins you need them to make, above the cost of their own expense, within a reasonable amount of time on the job, and with an appropriate amount of management training, mentoring and assistance, you will be able to replace them with a new agent that is better suited for the job without emotional issues and lawsuits. ii) Keep your best performers six to eighteen months longer than average. This will enable you to lower the costs associated with high and frequent turnovers.

45

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

iii)

Reduce the number of managers you need. Most of your agents will begin to drive their own admirable performance, requiring considerably less management personnel. Trade in the stick for a carrot, and in the end you will not need to spend as much on supervision. Remember, “Management” is not a direct revenue generator in a contact center.

iv)

Cut out a great deal of the busy work that ties up agents and managers every day. Agent00 is a scalable real-time instructional process, advanced performance and PICs scorecard system, and a totally objective evaluation process aligned with the company core. Though fewer in number than before, the supervisors you keep on payroll will be freed from all this busy work and will be able to work more closely with agents that need coaching.

These are just four of the ways you will be able to afford to pay your best agents bonus money within your current budget constraints. But there is another monetary surplus you will realize through Agent00 the longer you
46

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

rely on it to help you groom and motivate your entire agent staff. As you successfully use Agent00 over the course of a year or two to help you unleash the unconquerable spirit within your best agents, many of your agents will be consistently exceeding their margin amounts every day. Once agents have exceeded their predetermined “margin” amounts, the company begins earning windfall margin on each additional incident or task these agents do. All of the fixed and variable costs identified to these agents will have been met. All of the profit margins associated with these agents will have been met. Without a doubt, some of this windfall margin will have to pay for the agents that don’t make their margins. But over the course of time and the steady process of improving the performance of more and more of your agents through the power of Agent00, you will be able to pay bonus money to your agents by simply splitting the windfall profits with them that they generate for you. This is the bonus money you will eventually use to pay the bonus amounts to your agents. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Pay bonuses with bonus money. Here’s a position and trending visual that is exciting. It illustrates what can happen over the course of the next two or three years ahead with Agent00’s help and your commitment to condition winning behavior in your agents:

47

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

2008 Position after 20 years of status quo exceeds margin goals underperforms margin goals under 6 mos over 12 mos

Trending in the next 2 years with exceeds margin goals

underperforms margin goals under 6 mos over 12 mos

Agent00 makes it possible for agents to earn PICs in the form of money or points –which are both ultra flexible. Agent00 charts your daily progress toward bonus money or points just like a stock chart. You can see how close you’re getting to the green bonus zone every call you take. The agent glances at her PIC dashboard and thinks to herself, “Wow, I have a couple hours left –and I’m almost to the green zone. I wonder how many bonus incidents I can make today?!” This will be a favorite view spot in Agent00.

48

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

In this section of Agent00’s PIC scorecard, you can also see how much you’ve made thus far during the year. Agents can earn bonus money every day, and Agent00 can make it possible for the company to pay the agent any time they wish –even the next day if desired. This is because Agent00 is designed to integrate with your paycheck system (like ADP or Paychex) or your internal paychecks database. No extra work for the company. Maximum incentive for each agent! Pay For Performance! One of Agent00’s patents is based on its unique ability to shows agents everyday whether they are making money for the company, or losing money for the company. This has incredible impact on agents. If the agent has not made her quota yet, the company cup is empty and upside down.

When she makes her quota and begins earning the company its margin dollars, the company cup is right side up and full of gold.

Every agent will always be aware of whether they are making money for the company on any given day, or losing money for the company. Moreover, via Agent00 every CEO can know exactly down to the penny which agents are making them a return on investment, and which agents are not. Through Agent00 companies can accurately allocate daily individual pay for daily individual performance …if desired.
49

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Respect & Recognition You can be the best agent in the contact center and take more quality incidents than anybody else. But if no one comes up and pats you on the back or praises you for doing a great job to reinforce that behavior, your behavior will decrease. This is a proven scientific fact. Instead of feeling pride in what you are doing, you will begin looking for something else to do where someone will show you respect. Without recognition and praise, improvement does not happen. Without continual improvement, your level of production will drop down to the same level as everyone else’s and your daily battle will be about maintaining, not excelling. Agent00 does an awesome job of providing immediate recognition for stellar performance and improvement. On the left of the dashboard Agent00 posts the pictures (or preferred icons) of the day’s leading performers. It is a real time, dynamic posting and updates throughout the day like a horse race. Agents say “it’s like playing a video game –for real prizes and money!” Agents are thrilled when they see their own picture posted in front of every other agent and upstream supervisor. This gives them an immediate boost. They also see other agents’ pictures that they respect posted there, which inspire them … or make them jealous and stir up their competitive spirits to try harder. Agent00 makes work a fun and rewarding contest every day, more so than anything else. Years ago, as mentioned above, I used the concept of recognition at WordPerfect and created a wall of fame
50

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

where we certificates.

posted

agents’

customer-comment-based

However, we encountered a few problems with the WordPerfect wall of fame. For example, agents could not see the wall of fame while they were working inside their cubicles, so this potential PIC was not a constant positive force for them throughout the day –which is when they need it most. A second problem was that the wall was not updated very often and grew stale in its impact. But the worst problem we encountered was that the agents began to prospect for customer praise during a call so they could get a certificate on the wall. This took time on each call, which was counterproductive, and actually lowered our customer satisfaction ratings because customers began to comment that they felt uneasy about being asked by their agent to send in statements of praise. Agent00 objectively measures and recognizes each agent according to their own CEO/COO-set performance metrics. Every agent has a chance to excel because their metrics are based upon their own individual circumstances. For example, if an agent is making less salary than another because of tenure, it will take her less volume to progress through the “alert ‫ ׀‬quota ‫ ׀‬margin ‫ ׀‬bonus” zones. See the graph below. Agent00 makes it possible for agents to be recognized objectively, and according to their own status.
51

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Agent00’s
Daily Individual Agent Goals $ 250.00 bonus for this $12/hr agent begins at

Call Revenue

$ 200.00 $ 150.00 $ 100.00 $ 50.00 $ 0.00 0 5

margin for this $12/hr agent begins at

10

15

20 25 Number of Calls $10/hr

30

35

40

Call Revenue

$8/hr

$12/hr

$14/hr

Pictures or icons of the highest performing agents at the end of the day can be saved in the company’s “honor roll.” Agents can look back at these archived honor rolls – show their family members. And points for being on the honor roll can be credited toward future quality and ‘Awards’ assessments. Having agent pictures pop up on everyone’s screen will also create a positive buzz of camaraderie among the agents. When they see someone whose picture was posted that day, they can smile and congratulate them even if they don’t yet know them well. A kind word or hello makes the work place very enjoyable and brings the best out in us. This will lead to an environment where agents who are deserving of praise for good performance will begin to be recognized often by their peers and supervisors.

52

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Giving and receiving respect is the foremost form of PIC. Agent00 allocates it immediately and without a trace of bias or preferential treatment. Awards Awards are great PICs, and companies should also strongly consider offering Awards to their best performers. “Money” and “Respect” are both tremendous PICs, but I have to admit, I really like the power of Awards in motivating employees. I wouldn’t run a contact center without them. When I was a sales rep, I received a decent commission on every sale I made. But the company liked to create competition for us and also offered a $250 prize once a month to each regional sales office. It was won by the leading sales rep in each office for that month. I worked extremely hard to win that prize every month. I still have the wool suit and luggage, two of the Awards I won, as trophies. The suit doesn’t fit anymore and the luggage is tattered, but I still enjoy the memory of winning those Awards. Agents will too. The extra productivity and earnings generated by the agents trying to win Awards will more than cover the costs of the Awards. And the workplace will be a more enjoyable experience for the agents. Of course you will have to do the math as you select the Awards you offer your agents. $250 monthly Awards may be a bit much for some contact centers to offer, depending on the price of the incidents, tasks and the ROI point. Good news is,
53

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

Agent00 is flexible. It can work with any type or range of Awards you want to post … the important thing is giving agents a meaningful prize they can be proud of winning. It becomes a monthly trophy for them. As with other aspects spoken of above, Agent00 automates all the hard work out of measuring and distributing PICs, but it also makes it easy to support your well planned budget. Agent00 is extremely flexible, meaning you can fine tune every aspect of it in house. I’ve set the default template up with this same approach to Awards. Make them whatever you want to. I wanted to avoid the problem of having only one Award available to the best agent. Yes, Agent00 could determine who the best agent is, and do so fairly and accurately, as described in some detail above. But it is more important to give the agents the ability to compete with themselves … to drive themselves. Awards should be “certain” in nature –that is, if an agent will do the required work to make the pre-set profit margin for the company, enough times each month, she should be secure in the fact that she will get a meaningful Award for that accomplishment. The exuberance generated by Awards will not be limited to one winner (as it was in my sales office), but all those who win an Award will celebrate together. Knowing agents as I do, there will arise a spirit within these Awardwinning agents of encouragement toward other agents they

54

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

care about. They will encourage them to join them next month in the fun of earning an Award trophy. The theory once again, is that once an agent has made her predetermined “margin” amount for the company, the CEO begins earning surplus on that particular agent on each additional call she takes the rest of the day. Of course, as mentioned above, this is the money you will use to pay her bonus amount with. And without a doubt the conditioned motivation and satisfaction she gets from winning bonuses repeatedly will keep her on the team and in the company longer. This is a key principal for reducing Attrition Rates. The long term goal of Agent00 is to keep agents progressing to the point that they eclipse the company “margin” every day –and start earning more than the promised margin for the company. If every agent were doing this, you would never miss an earnings target or budget forecast. So, why not help this trend accelerate among your agents by offering them, for example, an Award every month if they exceed margin at least 14 days out of the 20 days they work (70%)? This will provide them with a PIC that will be fun and exciting every day. You may want to add a bigger Award like a vacation trip for two to some fun place if they win at least 8 monthly Awards during the year. Of course, these are just figurative examples, and your creativity and budget constraints will not be limited by Agent00’s flexibility. To the contrary, Agent00 will actually compliment the unconquerable spirit within your
55

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

managers too. Managers want the company and all of its agents to do well. Many of them were agents at one time. They will meet with their agents and tailor Agent00’s MONEY, POINTS, RESPECT, and AWARDS scorecard to create the best ROI for the company and the best incentives for their agents. Awards are also a great way to utilize points that can be given for performance on areas like attendance, expertise and quality. Now let’s take a look at NICs.

4. NICs: (Negative Immediate Consequences) Many behavioral scientists contend you should not spend time talking about NICs. But the truth is, PICs and NICs happen to each of us every day, whether we want them to or not. Personally, I believe NICs are powerful behavioral conditioners … for some people more powerful than PICs.

Something as simple as this view above, reminds the agent that she is costing the company extra money so far today. In other words, she hasn’t completed enough incidents or tasks to pay for herself thus far through the work day. This subtle NIC can have an enormous impact for good on agents. They will know they have got to immediately pick it up to stay on the team. And, they will know if they cannot or will not pick it up, there will need to be a splitting of ways at some point.
56

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

This is a “negative” consequence, to be sure, but it is not cruel or malicious. They have been hired, and are being paid to do a professional job. You wouldn’t hire and continue the employment of a professional singer if he couldn’t sing, a professional basketball player if she couldn’t play basketball, a lawyer if he couldn’t lie … ;-) It is no different for a professional contact center agent. If over the course of her employment an agent is constantly underperforming on her daily goals, with Agent00 she will be the first one to know it. Her authorized upstream supervisors can watch her daily scorecard as well, but will not be as constant with it as she is herself in monitoring her own daily performance. Agent00 will keep her equally informed of her daily underperforming efforts as it will of her compliant or overperforming daily efforts. It is just like a gas gauge in your car. If the needle is on empty you are aware of the risk you face of running out of gas. You can remedy the situation by putting more gas in the car. But if you don’t (or can’t) put more gas in the car, it won’t be surprising to you that the car will eventually stop running. It’s just physics. Let’s face it, no matter how nice or attractive or well spoken a person may be, some are not cut out to be contact center agents. They just don’t have the DNA for it. And after a reasonable amount of coaching and mentoring if an agent still cannot or will not perform to acceptable levels, she will have to be let go. In truth, the sooner the better –for both parties.
57

Chapter Two - Winning With “Heart”

This is what should happen. The agent should be employed doing something she can excel at and be happy doing. The contact center has to perform to its level of sustainability, at the very least, or it will cease to be. Agent00 makes this process completely regulated, objective and unemotional –just like a gas gauge in a car. Agent00 could be set up to measure NICs, instead of PICs. But, on this point I definitely side with the behavioral scientists … the water always tastes sweeter when the glass is half full, rather than half empty.

Win with heart –your agents’ hearts! It will make the sustainable difference in your contact center. You can achieve this state in your company by conditioning your agents.

58

Chapter Three

Is It Real? Is It Possible? Is It Worth It?
“Call center managers must continue to invent creative ways to motivate, reward and retain valuable agents. Today, companies must build more sophisticated reward and recognition programs to boost morale and create a light, fun working atmosphere.”
Elio Evangelista, Cutting Edge Information.

very contact center agent I have shown Agent00 to has been genuinely excited about the prospect of being objectively measured and rewarded with PICs – but also very skeptical that owners or managers of contact centers would ever consider giving them PICs. How about it you owners and managers? What do you think about Agent00, so far? Pie in the sky? Dreaming? Setting dangerous expectations that can’t be met? You’d like to offer PICs, but there isn’t enough money to make it happen in any contact center budget?

E

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Many years ago I sat on a panel with Patty Stonesipher the VP of Support for Microsoft and Dave Champagne the VP of Support for Lotus discussing the future of software support. At the conclusion of the seminar, the moderator told the audience she was going to surprise the panel members and ask them to predict the state of software support in ten years. She turned to us and said, “Kim, can we begin with you? Where will we be in ten years?” Being a “product” guy for many years prior to being asked to head up “services” at WordPerfect, I suggested that software and hardware may be self-healing in ten years, and that we may not need human agents taking calls by that time. I have not forgotten that particular top of head comment, because it did not go over well in that ballroom filled with “service” professionals. They interpreted my comment to mean that they would be out of a job in ten years. And they did not like that. Patty and Dave both disagreed with me, stating that people would always want to talk with people and that support centers would continue. In this chapter I hope we can explore and learn together about what is real, what is possible and what is worthwhile with regards to focusing on and optimizing your agents.

60

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Twenty year old problem Obviously, Patty and Dave were right and I was wrong. Technology is self healing to some degree, and growing more intelligent every day. But people still need people, as witnessed by the fact that the number of contact center agents, of all kinds, has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Unfortunately, the agent performance and attrition problems I battled with twenty years ago have not been cured or stabilized in the contact center industry. This is not good. Agents are the staple resource of a contact center – 70% of its investment. Agent turnover rates are twice as bad as back then. And agent productivity is still more an art than a science, which means it is hard to chart and make predictable, sustainable improvement going forward. As witness to this, I recently attended a popular industry conference. This conference had a seminar offering a panel Q&A discussion with five industry experts and authors on reducing the attrition rates and improving the morale and productivity levels of contact center agents. It was literally déjà vu. The packed audience of contact center managers and team leaders asked the same questions of the panelists that their predecessors were asking us nearly twenty years ago. And with very minor exception, the panelist’s answers were exactly the same as those we gave ten years ago. Truth was, there wasn’t a science-based answer in the bunch … either from the panelists or from the audience.
61

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to be critical of their collective expertise, competency or sincerity. Their questions and answers, while very good and appropriately posed and answered were all based on a solution of “art.” Meaning, their conclusions were primarily ‘feel good’ solutions. Again, please don’t misunderstand me. Feel good solutions in a human setting are essential. Feelings and emotions are definitely a divine difference between man and machine. You must have a healthy dose of positive human energy at work every day to succeed in an agentcentric business. But simply stated, feel-good solutions alone, are not fixing the business problems driven by turnover. Attrition is two times worse today than when the audience was asking how to cure it twenty years ago; and it costs a potentially life-threatening amount to a contact center, as disclosed below. A company must make more money than it spends or go out of business. And for that very reason there must be a scientific way to measure and fine tune the agent attrition and productivity levels in a contact center in order to sustain continual growth and profitability. Left unaltered, escalating attrition and falling productivity are cancerous problems of near fatal proportion in the contact center industry. The good news is, there is at least one solution founded in science and based on empirical research: Agent00.

62

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Scientific solution One science that is coming into its own is measurement science (i.e., data gathering and reporting). Computing technology has advanced our ability to provide a comprehensive view of a contact center’s overall performance, by integrating operational, customer, financial and growth measurements with other key performance indicators. This is what Agent00 does through its balanced performance scorecard views:

Agent00 gathers data from ACD, CTI, Workforce Management, Quality Monitoring, CRM, HRIS, and other systems, such as manager observations. Each data
63

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

component is weighted and integrated with the others to provide a holistic view of performance. But the real key to reducing agent attrition rates and increasing agent productivity in a sustainable manner lies in behavioral science. Behavioral science turns “knowledge” into “human action.” Agent00’s behavioralscience-based PIC scorecard, is the tool that acts on the information that Agent00’s performance scorecard gives it. Without this integrated procedure, your balanced scorecard, even Agent00’s balanced scorecard, is just a more complete reporting device.

Agent00’s integrated performance and PIC scorecard automates the conditioning of your agents’ behaviors and activities.
64

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Contact center managers have been receiving data reports every day for years. Yet, agent attrition grows worse, and agent productivity is not much better. 1 This gap between scorecard reports and performance improvements is what Agent00 is designed to bridge. It provides the systematized ability to use performance scorecard information to direct and focus agents’ efforts every minute of the day (real time). By means of integrated PICs (like bonus pay, recognition and awards) agents can be conditioned to excel at the goals they are given. Agent00 is the missing link that binds knowledge together with immediate agent performance improvement.

Is It Real? Yes. When agents are repeatedly, immediately and objectively rewarded for good performance behavior, they perform well again and again. This is the key principle of behavioral science. This process is not art, but an inseparable design of human neurological systems. It should be used in all agent-centric environments to achieve maximum agent optimization. The same is true for Sales, Marketing, Development and Production employees, and other human-centric endeavors.
1

“Over the past few years, software companies have struggled to keep the cost of telephone-based tech support under control. Thousands of hours of consulting time, conferences, and operations research have been spent on finding ways to deliver support more efficiently, without cutting service quality to a level that might send customers to the competition. So what has all this effort accomplished? Sadly, not much. Although individual companies have fine tuned their phone-based support operations, overall industry benchmarks for tech support performance have shown almost no improvement.” --The Association of Support Professionals, Watertown, MA.

65

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Furthermore, this compelling concept has been proven to be real in each call center company that is using Agent00. Is It Possible? Yes. But there are really two issues at question here. First, can the process of determining good agent behavior and immediately rewarding it be systematized? The short answer to this is “Yes” because of the combination of principles of behavioral science and the latest internet and data-management Web Services-based technologies. Creating Agent00 twenty years ago was not possible. I had highly skilled developers trying to do so for two years, but all efforts failed. Second, can a contact center afford to provide immediate meaningful rewards for agents’ good behavior? The short answer to this is also “Yes” because the work the agents perform to qualify for the rewards will pay for the rewards, and then some, depending on how management sets up and dynamically fine tunes Agent00.

66

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It? The answer to this is also “yes,” –but could be the topic of a book in itself. For our purposes herein, I will just hit the highlights and provide some simple case analysis showing how Agent00 will reduce expenses and increase revenues when compared to the current status quo. The modern business environment is one of increasing competition, globalization, and merger and acquisitions. As a result, major business decisions are being made with an increased level of scrutiny on the financial implication of those decisions. This is especially true in the current contact center environment. Most contact centers generally have the same cost components. Salaries and benefits for agents and the management team usually comprise 65% to 85% of a contact center’s total costs. The table below illustrates a typical breakdown and description of costs for a contact center.

67

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?
COST CATEGORY

Is It Worth It?
% OF TOTAL

DESCRIPTION

Labor & Benefits

All agents and management team members, benefits and training All rent, utilities, maintenance, property taxes and building services Phone/data usage, including monthly service fees Transactional support from the following areas: human resources, training, quality assurance, IT, telecom and finance Office supplies, postage, printing Monthly expense for assets, and cost of capital (interest) charges for purchased equipment

75%

Facility Costs Telecommunications Costs

6% 5%

Support Costs

5%

Other Operating Costs Depreciation & Interest

1% 8%

This means that decisions that increase or decrease the number of management team members and agents required to provide service will have the greatest impact on profitability. This is exactly why Agent00 is so important and timely to all contact centers throughout the world. It is the only automated web solution that has been developed specifically to condition self-motivation within agents. Self-motivated agents will improve every aspect of the contact center, from the better use of contact center tools to higher agent morale and the need for less supervision. As they become self motivated, their performance improves. As their performance and self drive improves, they need less management and training attention. They govern themselves, their expertise levels,
68

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

their call handling processes and their schedules much better and more maturely. The business evolution in this type of healthy environment will result in the contact center being able to keep its strongest performers longer and decrease the number of managers required to oversee the contact center. As you will see below, the reduction of management combined with a team primarily made up of senior agents will result in much higher profitability. And it is based on a science that ought to be a part of every winning contact center –i.e., behavioral science. Now let’s identify at least four prominent aspects that help answer the weighty question:

“Is It Worth It?”

• • • •

Informed Agents Reduced Expenses Increased Revenues Increased Customer Satisfaction & Retention

69

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

1. Agent00 is made to speak directly to agents. One of the biggest Most productivity and demoralizers for agents is feeling efficiency solutions are they are not important enough in designed to inform the organization to be kept well management, who must then take report informed. I believe this is one findings and regulate area where we have all missed and motivate agents. the boat. I predict the victory Agent00 is unique! It will go to the contact centers that directly informs agents about their own turn this communication pyramid performance (real upside down and institutionalize time) so they will be technology systems that keep self-motivated! Of course Agent00 also their agents informed first – keeps management including detail about their own informed, and in sole individual performance and control of performance metrics. possible rewards. It naturally shifts the primary responsibility to these agents for determining their own level of success or failure. But can agents handle this responsibility? Sam Walton had a great talent for unleashing the capabilities of his employees. He built the largest company on earth today by relying on good self-motivated employees to rise to their highest potential in every store, every day. Of this principle he said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.”
70

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Sam had to grow very fast in order to prevent Sears or Kmart from stealing his unique and strategic vision, and there was no other way to grow fast other than to make the local employees i) accountable for their own store’s profitability and ii) to stay in synch with Sam’s central vision. Of course Sam then bet heavily on technology to make this happen seamlessly and cost effectively. Walton’s successor CEO, David Glass, recently attributed their surging run of success to Sam’s vision and to the information system they created throughout their global footprint. Their IT solution was the means by which they kept their store employees instructed and in step with Sam’s centralized vision. The integration of these two was the incredible success strategy that enabled them to outdistance all their competitors. I designed Agent00 to communicate directly with agents for the same reason. Agent00’s functionality makes it possible for contact center CEOs to treat agents like the frontline professionals they need to be. It keeps them instructed and in step with the CEO’s vision. Indeed, through it, agents become their own bosses in a pretty literal sense. They will know exactly what they are supposed to do and why they are supposed to do it –at all times. It can even carry a personal touch from the CEO to each agent. And through Agent00’s inviting dashboard agents will always know how well they are doing every day. Just a quick glance is all they need. And every time they give it their best effort and shave a few seconds off their average handle time for example, or make a customer happy, or
71

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

pass that latest online certification test, or get back from lunch on time … they will immediately see the step they just took toward their own personal PICs. David Glass, when he served as CEO of Wal-Mart, would often hang out in Wal-Mart stores, mixing with staffers. He even worked the door as a greeter in stores as a way to personally congratulate employees for reaching their earnings goals. This is the type of top-to-bottom team filled with positive energy that succeeds. It begins at the simple level of understanding and alignment. In a unique way Agent00 helps keep every agent informed about how the company makes money and what their role in that process is. This not only makes each agent feel like an important member of the overall team, but also gives the company that rare advantage of having every agent rowing in the same direction –with great positive energy. Agent00 may be “worth it” –even if this is all it did.

72

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

2. Reduced expenses In a contact center, profitability comes primarily from agent productivity. Agent00 helps you muscle-up your best agents, so to speak (i.e., magnifying their hearts and skills), and helps you trim or prune the dead or nonproductive branches off. Through this process your contact center’s capacity will literally increase, and you will begin to win the battle for sustainable growth and profitability. This is the second question of worth we will explore …namely, does Agent00 help reduce expenses in a constructive way? I like charts and numbers. They help me forecast, see trends, measure results, and better understand processes that take some time to mature. Here are some facts and figures that detail how you can reduce your expenses with Agent00. I will use a contact center that has 1,000 agents as a model. There are many contact centers smaller than this in the world, and quite a few larger ones. But for purposes of illustration, and easy math, I’ve chosen a middle-of-theroad 1,000-agent contact center. (You can scale this model and its results up or down according to your size need.)

Assumptions To set up this model, I’ll base its working parameters on recent report figures from industry market analysts:
73

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

1. Currently the average turnover rates in the contact center industry worldwide is 42% - 80% every 12 months. 1 As such, the contact center model I’ve constructed is based on a model with 1,000 agents, including 300 newly hired agents. 2. The average wage per agent I have assumed is: 2 • Senior Agent, $ 18.50/hr • Agent 2, $ 14.00/hr • Agent 1, $ 11.50/hr 3. The average benefit rate is: 30% 2

4. The average overhead rate (including: phone, equipment, facilities, etc) is: $1,500/employee/mo 2 5. While in-house support groups have to absorb some fixed costs that outsourcers don’t face (making outsourcing cheaper), the median price of an outsourced transaction is: $ 15.38. 2 According to Merced System’s Matt Katz, it costs $16,000 to $24,000 per attrit in the US. Contact centers “spend an average of $ 6,000 to $ 8,000 on recruitment and training per CSR.” Yankee
6.

1 The US Contact Center Operational Review: 2nd edition – 2008 http://www.contactbabel-downloads.com/USOR2008.pdf; “This year’s mean annual attrition rate is an eye-watering 42%.”

2 ASP, “Technical Support Cost Ratios.”

74

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?
Group: Customer Relationship Management Strategies.

Is It Worth It?

The average cost of recruiting and training a call center representative is between $ 5,000 and $ 18,000. BenchmarkPortal.com. For purposes herein, I will use a common median estimate of $8,000 in the model.

Agent Cost with and without Agent00 The single most significant resource of a contact center is its human agents. They are its stock in trade. As part of a recent study Harry Watkins, Ph.D. 1 reported: “Agents with veteran experience are able to immediately recognize customer needs and act decisively and appropriately to satisfy them. These veteran agents are far more likely to resolve issues on the first call or contact than less experienced agents with the same skills.” And yet agents are the most unstable element in the contact center industry. "The turnover rate for agents in call centers is abhorrent. A rate of 50 to 70 percent is not uncommon with some more than 100 percent," notes Christopher Fletcher. 2
1 Research Director, Aberdeen Group 2 Vice president/managing director of Aberdeen Group, The Outsourced Customer Contact Center - Key Findings in Global Contact Center Outsourcing Services, Also, "A lower turnover rate leads to greater stability and more continuity, which is much more important than the initial cost savings," says Peter Ryan, customer relationship management (CRM) analyst for Datamonitor, a business information services company based in London.

75

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Agent00 helps contact centers keep their veteran agents longer and therefore reduces the number of new hires required each year. Notice below how this reduces expenses year over year:

REDUCED LABOR EXPENSES
45,000,000

44,500,000

44,000,000

43,500,000
DOLLARS

43,000,000

Labor $ w/o A00 Labor $ w/ A00

42,500,000

42,000,000

41,500,000

41,000,000 Labor $ w/o A00 Labor $ w/ A00

1 44,614,920 44,753,142

2 44,614,920 43,714,292

3 44,614,920 42,359,692 YEARS

4 44,614,920 43,559,692

5 44,614,920 42,280,086

In this chart, the blue bars represent the status quo costs a contact center will experience, year over year. The red bars represent the reduced labor costs that can be realized using Agent00. You may wonder why there are such dramatic reductions with Agent00, and why there is an erratic upswing in YEAR 4? To help you better understand, I’ll begin with an explanation of the underlying reasons for the dramatic expense reductions. They are twofold: recruiting expense and management expense. a) Recruiting Expense Reductions. In this chart, for simplicity and impact purposes, I began by lumping the annual $ 8,000
76

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

recruiting fee per new Agent 1 at the beginning of YEAR 1 for both labor cost analyses: “Labor Cost w/o Agent00” and “Labor Cost w/ Agent00” (see, assumption #6 above). Since Labor Cost w/o Agent00 operations have an historic 30%|12-month turnover rate, the blue bars remain constant across all five prospective years. operations, however, reflect a reduced attrition rate that follows this simple calendar:
Labor Cost w/ Agent00
Reduced attrition rate over five years – Date Rate
YR1 MO 1 30 % YR1 MO 7 25 % YR2 MO 1 20 % YR2 MO 7 17.5 % YR3 MO 1 15 % YR3 MO 7 15 % YR4 MO 1 15 % YR4 MO 7 15 % YR5 MO 1 15 % YR5 MO 7 15 %

You will notice that as a contact center incorporates Agent00, attrition rates start to fall. I’ve forecasted this positive impact to begin within the first six months of usage, and continue working thereafter until flattening out around 15% in a sustainable fashion. Indeed, a contact center could certainly do better than 15%, but at least for our examination purposes herein you can see the impact of this type of reduction in attrition rate expenses per 1,000 agents as

77

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

compared against status quo expenses per 1,000 agents. In case you’re interested, the total five-year aggregate savings per 1,000 agents in recruiting and new hire training expenses is approximately $ 7 million.
b) Management Expense Reductions. When

agents are self-motivated and driving themselves to attain stretch goals and rewards everyday, a contact center does not need as many supervisors running around with clip-boards trying to spur them on or keep them in line. Agent00 also does away with a great deal of the subjective busy work to instruct and inform, and rate and evaluate agents that currently rests upon the shoulders of the management team.
REDUCED MGMT EXPENSES
60

50

40
NUMBER OF

30

Managers without Managers w/A00 Team Leaders without Team Leaders w/A00

20

10

Managers without Managers w/A00 Team Leaders without Team Leaders w/A00

1 5 5 50 50

2 5 3 50 33

3 5 2 50 22 YEAR

4 5 2 50 20

5 5 2 50 20

78

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

With fewer disgruntled or demoralized agent problems to deal with, and less busy work to do for report and evaluation purposes, managers can better focus on the reduced number of new hires (and any Agent 2s or Senior Agents not cutting it for one reason or another) and really coach and skill them up so they can be better performers. Quick math on the above table reveals the assumed ratios of team leaders and managers in the two scenarios based upon 1,000 agents. For example, in the “w/o A00” examples, each team leader handles 20 agents and each manager handles 10 team leaders. In the “w/ A00” examples, each team leader by YEAR 2 is handling 30 agents and each manager 11 team leaders. By YEAR 3 each team leader is handling 45 selfmotivated agents and each manager handles 11 team leaders. And as things settle and flatten out by YEAR 4, each team leader is handling 50 agents and each manager handles 10 team leaders. The total five-year aggregate savings per 1,000 agents in management expense in this case study is approximately $ 9.5 million. c) Reduction Offset. As you may have guessed the Recruiting and Management expense reductions are offset by the
79

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

increased spending on an overall mix of more veteran agents in the team of 1,000. Here’s what a trending chart of 1st, 2nd and Sr. agents would look like:
AGENT MIX OVER 5 YEARS
700

600

500 Senior Agents without Senior Agents w/A00 Agent 2s without Agent 2s w/A00 Agent 1s without Agent 1s w/A00
NUMBER OF

400

300

200

100

Senior Agents without Senior Agents w/A00 Agent 2s without Agent 2s w/A00 Agent 1s without Agent 1s w/A00

1 200 200 500 500 300 300

2 200 225 500 525 300 250

3 200 300 500 525 300 175 YEAR

4 200 275 500 575 300 150

5 200 275 500 575 300 150

Since veteran agents are more expensive than new agents, the effect of reducing attrition rates is an increase in spending on a more veteran team of agents. The total increase in spending on this mix of 1,000 agents is approximately $ 7.8 million. The net effect of the two major reductions above as offset by the increase for more veteran agents pencils out like this:
80

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?
($ 7M + $ 9.5M) =

Is It Worth It?
expense reduction expense increase savings per 1,000 agents

$ 16.5 M
- $ 7.8 M

$ 8.7 M

d) Erratic Upswing in YEAR 4? The rise in

expenses shown in the “REDUCED LABOR EXPENSES” chart above is a result of attrition cycles that are expanding from 12-month cycles at the beginning, to 24month cycles at the five-year point. (Of course in practical application these expenses would not be charted as lump sums during any given year, but rather as amounts spread over the full twelve months of each year.) Here is a simple table to illustrate how these lump sum recruiting and new hire training expenses are hitting on this fiveyear sample calendar:
YEAR 4
Recruiting and Training fees over five years – Date
Rec & Trng Fees
YR1 MO 1 $2.4M YR1 MO 7 0 YR2 MO 1 0 YR2 MO 7 $1.4M YR3 MO 1 0 YR3 MO 7 0 YR4 MO 1 0 YR4 MO 7 $1.2M YR5 MO 1 0 YR5 MO 7 0

With a positive response by agents to Agent00’s PIC conditioning, attrition cycles could reasonably expand beyond 24 months –perhaps even well beyond. If veteran agents do not have an artificial ceiling and can frequently receive regular bonus money, meaningful respect, and trophy-like awards … they may desire to stay in their agent jobs for several years. So long as they stay productive and above company margins, this would certainly be a big
81

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

advantage to contact centers because they have the capacity to generate a much higher ratio of revenues to cost … which provides a good segue point into our next important section.

82

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

3. Increased Revenues When I was running a contact center I always wished I could keep the really good agents longer. They took more calls, they had greater experience and expertise, and as a rule they were more self-motivated and mature. Agent00 is designed to help you keep your best agents longer through behavioral conditioning. But, is keeping your veteran agents longer really worth the extra salary they cost? We already talked about the contact center expenses that can be saved above, so we won’t treat that topic again, although you can keep a silent tab of other obvious expenses that will likely be reduced or done away with over time through Agent00’s automation. What we will dig into is the positive revenue impact Agent00 can have. We’ll explore this again through the 1,000 agent case study. I laid out some assumptions of this case study contact center above. Those assumptions still apply here, a summary of which is provided in the box below to conveniently refresh your memory.
Quick Review of earlier Assumptions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Turnover rate = 30% every 12 months Agent 1s: $11.50/hr, Agent 2s: $14/hr, Sr As: $18.50/hr Benefits rate = 30% Overhead rate = $1.5k/agent/mo Revenue per call = $15.38 Recruiting & new hire training expense = $8k/agent

83

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

In addition, for purposes of looking specifically at “revenues” we will add a few more industry generated assumptions: Added Assumptions… 7. Based upon the average price per call in the above assumption #5, contact center agents will complete the following number of calls per 8 hour shift: • • • Senior Agents Agent 2s Agent 1s 24 22 18.

8. Each agent that takes bonus calls will complete 2 bonus calls. [The percentage of agents that take bonus calls will be provided in the analysis below.] 9. There are 21.67 eight-hour shifts per month per agent 10. Monthly Awards will be valued at $250. 1 [The percentage of agents that win Awards will be provided in the analysis below.] 11. Companies will split the $15.38 per bonus call with agents (50/50), or $ 7.69 per bonus call.1 These are the new assumptions.
1 Revenues go up if Monthly Awards and Bonus amounts are reduced.

84

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Veteran Agents = Increased # of Calls Taken Even the most talented new agents lack the intuition and skills that come only from experience. A staff of veteran employees translates into less time spent on each contact, and, as a result, greater overall productivity. A study by the University of Calgary further confirms the connection between productivity and agent tenure—Agent 2s achieved a 22% higher level of productivity than Agent 1s, while Sr. Agents averaged 11% higher productivity than Agent 2s. 1

% increase

Agent 1s Agent 2s Sr. Agents

18 22 24

# of calls

x x

1.22 1.11

= 22 = 24

Applying this to our 1,000-agent case study, here’s what happens to call volumes over five years:

1 University of Calgary survey quoted in Meta Group Research Report entitled "Agent Training Automation: More than One Queue" by Elizabeth Ussher. See also: Highperforming employees in operations roles are 40 percent more productive than their average counterparts. McKinsey & Company "War for Talent, Part Two."

85

# of calls

agent tenure

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?
INCREASED NUMBER OF CALLS TAKEN
5,750,000

Is It Worth It?

5,700,000

5,650,000

CALLS

5,600,000 Total Calls Taken w/o A00 Total Calls Taken w/ A00 5,550,000

5,500,000

5,450,000

5,400,000 Total Calls Taken w/o A00 Total Calls Taken w/ A00

1 5,514,000 5,546,550

2 5,514,000 5,670,150

3 5,514,000 5,709,300 YEAR

4 5,514,000 5,709,300

5 5,514,000 5,709,300

The number of calls taken over five years “AS IS,” (the blue bars) compared to the number of calls taken over five years by a team with more veteran agents (the red bars) totals out like this: Calls taken w/o A00 Calls taken w/ A00 # of additional calls w/ A00 27,570,000 28,344,600 +774,600

The above calculation does not include the benefit of agents taking “bonus” calls. That’s an add-on. Skilled, self-motivated agents will want to win monthly Awards and earn Bonus Money. For purposes of showing the positive impact that bonus calls will have on the number of calls taken, let’s assume that a starting level of 10% of the agents (including Agent 1s, Agent 2s and Sr. Agents) take 2 extra calls for
86

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

the company. Here’s a modified chart showing what this number of calls looks like compared to the status quo:
INCREASED NUMBER OF CALLS TAKEN + BONUS CALLS
5,900,000

5,800,000

5,700,000

CALLS

5,600,000

Total calls taken w/o A00 Total calls taken w/ A00 +bc

5,500,000

5,400,000

5,300,000 Total calls taken w/o A00 Total calls taken w/ A00 +bc

1 5,514,000 5,605,059

2 5,514,000 5,754,663

3 5,514,000 5,819,817 YEAR

4 5,514,000 5,845,821

5 5,514,000 5,871,825

As the appeal and momentum of PICs grows, the number of agents taking bonus calls will likely increase throughout the five year period. I assumed a simple step up in this percentage every six months over the 60 month period. This table shows the anticipated increase in the percentage of agents taking 2 bonus calls each:
Rate of increase in agents taking bonus calls over five years – Date %
YR1 MO 1 10% YR1 MO 7 12.5% YR2 MO 1 15% YR2 MO 7 17.5% YR3 MO 1 20% YR3 MO 7 22,5% YR4 MO 1 25% YR4 MO 7 27.5% YR5 MO 1 30% YR5 MO 7 32.5%

The number of calls taken over five years “AS IS,” compared to the number of calls taken over five years by a

87

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

more veteran team with a minor but increasing percent of them taking 2 bonus calls totals out like this: w/o A00 w/ A00 additional calls w/ A00 27,570,000 28,897,185 1,327,185

Veteran Agents = Increased Revenue With the number of calls scoped out, and an assumed average revenue per call of $15.38, the impact to revenue is straight forward:
INCREASED REVENUES
91,000,000

90,000,000

89,000,000

88,000,000
DOLLARS

87,000,000 Total Call Revnue w/o A00 Total Call Revenue w/ A00 86,000,000

85,000,000

84,000,000

83,000,000

82,000,000 Total Call Revnue w/o A00 Total Call Revenue w/ A00

1 84,805,320 86,205,807

2 84,805,320 88,506,717

3 84,805,320 89,508,785 YEAR

4 84,805,320 89,908,727

5 84,805,320 90,308,669

88

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Through the automated assistance of Agent00’s Pavlov-esque behavioral conditioning process, as agents become more productive and continue in their contact center jobs at least six to twelve months longer (for purposes of this case study), revenues will increase over five years in a 1,000 agent contact center in the amount of approximately $20.4 million.

“Can we afford PICs?” … you ask. Assuming the above science and math are accurate, the next issue is to learn how much the PICs cost that drive and condition our agents. “All the posturing about contact center responsibilities, and all the training to support them--will be meaningless without the proper inducements. We've seen companies hire agents based on their ability to be productive, and put fancy automation tools behind those agents, but the real key is compensation and incentive. Pay agents to be productive, and they will be productive. Pay agents to solve problems, and they will solve problems. Pay them to keep queue times low, and they will. Employees are more perceptive than many managers give them credit for being. Send one message in training and another in the review, promotion, and retention process, and they will discern the truth readily enough … and in the end it is the messages managers send about reward and advancement that will dictate agent response.” 1

1 Analyst Chris Selland, of Reservoir Partners

89

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

The burning question on the minds of agents, CEOs and VPs I’ve shown Agent00 to is “Can we afford it?" Can we afford to pay for PICs? The case analysis above shows: increase 1 in total revenues of $ 20.4M total cost of $250 Awards + $ 7.69/call bonus pay - $ 7.4M net profit increase of $ 13M

The answer, then, is affirmative. Indeed, these uncontrived case study numbers seem to suggest you cannot afford to run a contact center in optimal fashion without the assistance of productivity-enhancing PICs. Of course, if a contact center does not want or need to give $250 awards to each agent who makes his or her full margin goals, this can easily be lowered. Many agents would probably be thrilled with a monthly award of a lesser value. And $ 7.69 per call, or ½ of every bonus call may be a bit rich as well. Many agents would love to be able to split any type of bonus margin per call –just the fact that they don’t have this suffocating ceiling on what they can make will be very motivating and morale building. If contact centers use lesser values for awards and bonus incidents, the profit margins go up. I see it much like an old fashion carburetor that can be fine-tuned by management for the best results. If it is running too rich or too lean, adjust the fuel mix.

1 Revenue increase is a result of i) more capacity per agent because of a more veteran mix of agents and ii) bonus calls taken above margin goals.

90

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Keeping veteran agents longer is a critical element of generating this $20.4 million increase in revenues. Attrition rates are the number one profitability problem in the worldwide contact center industry today. Being able to earn daily PICs (respect, bonus pay and awards) in an automated and totally objective method is behavioral science at work (not art or artifice), and the foremost key to keeping agents longer.

91

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

4. Increased Customer Satisfaction & Retention “There is a direct correlation between outstanding agent performance and customer satisfaction. Also, there is a direct correlation between sub-optimal agent performance and customer dissatisfaction. Clearly, Agent00 will create highly motivated, proficient agents that will result in high customer satisfaction and profitability.” 1 On an abstract level, every senior executive assumes some correlation between customer satisfaction and the bottom line. Satisfied customers reward companies with, among other things, their repeat business, which has a huge effect on cumulative profits. “Why does customer satisfaction seem to be so closely linked to economic performance? The answer is simple: for the most part, our economic system works. It was designed with the idea that sellers should compete for buyer’s satisfaction.” 2 Leading researchers have now begun a collaborative study to quantify the “Customer Sat” economic impact. 3 Since 1994 the American Customer Satisfaction Index (“ASCI”) has been measuring the customer satisfaction ratings of over 200 public companies that each have an average market value of 27 billion dollars. According to

1 Ted Derwa, Director of global IT for Ford Motor Company. 2 Claes Fornell, Ph.D., founder of the American Customer Satisfaction Index 3 Shannon Anderson, PhD Harvard University, Sally Widener, PhD University of Colorado, Lisa R. Klein, DBA Harvard Business School, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University.

92

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

ASCI’s findings, each market unit, or one point of customer satisfaction, is worth nearly one billion dollars. They interview thousands of customers every quarter. Customers rate satisfaction on a scale of 1 – 100, with higher scores meaning higher levels of satisfaction. ASCI has then been correlating these scores to the profitability and stock prices of these companies. Over time ASCI has proven there is a definite link between customer satisfaction and financial metrics, such as market value added, stock price, and return on investment. One specific case ASCI cited in a Harvard Business Review article highlighted the impact customer satisfaction has on Amazon’s financial performance. 1 Amazon’s customers have given it an 80% customer satisfaction rating over the years. Amazon sells more than 28 million unique items, and the typical Amazon customer is worth about five purchases. If Amazon can raise its satisfaction and retention rate to 85%, each customer will be worth about seven purchases. Multiply those two additional purchases per customer by Amazon’s total base of more than 29 million users worldwide, and you’re talking real money. With specific regard to the impact call center’s can have on overall economics, Dr. Fornell asks in The Science Of Satisfaction: “How much does it cost a company to dissatisfy a caller? How much does it cost a company if she takes her money elsewhere and tells her friends to do the same?”
1 The Science Of Satisfaction, March 2001

93

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

Fornell does not answer this rhetorical question in detail, but we can generate some idea of the overall economic impact by application. There are over 7 million agents in the U.S. growing at a CAGR of 20% and nearly 14 million contact center ‘seats’ worldwide. 1 As mentioned in Chapter 2, Accenture estimates that an agent speaks to 10,000 customers a year. Combining these two estimates it follows that agents speak to about 140 billion customers a year, on the conservative side – and as many as 210 billion customers a year when multiple shifts and multiple channels (chat & email) are factored in. In a traditional business environment, customers who have had positive experiences with a company’s product or service might recommend it to a friend or colleague. While a satisfied customer typically tells one or two other people, a dissatisfied customer is likely to tell as many as 10 people about a negative experience. In the Internet Age where e-mails, chat rooms, and message boards spread information at the speed of light and hold it in the public eye for great lengths, the spread of positive and negative word-of-mouth experiences has a viral effect that multiplies the traditional impact by up to 100 times. 2 Self motivated contact center agents that satisfy customers with better, faster, more personable service will make a huge positive impact –a viral impact– on customer

1 Telemanagement Search and F.A.C./Equities both report that there are in excess of 7,000,000 contact center agents in the U.S. alone – growing at a CAGR of 20% per year. Ovum reports there are nearly 14,000,000 contact center seats worldwide. 2 Next Generation Web Metrics, Claes Fornell and Larry Freed

94

Chapter Three – Is It Real? Is It Possible?

Is It Worth It?

loyalty and repeat buying trends for companies. In today’s global marketplace, where many competitors fight for the same customer, this will be a significant characteristic of the perennially growing and thriving companies. Those companies and outsourcing partners of companies that already understand this, and are conditioning their agents to exceed their customer expectations, millions upon millions of times every year, will prosper greatly going forward. There is no better tool to help you condition the outstanding behavior of your agents in this critical attitude and skill set than Agent00. It may become a must have element of a contact center in today’s global economy. Continue to look for these research experts 1 to help us all understand more clearly the measurable economic impact our contact center agents have upon our customers, their loyalty, and our profitability.

Agent00 patently systematizes this valuable process today, resulting in Informed Agents, Reduced Expenses, Increased Revenues, and Increased Customer Satisfaction and Retention.

1 Shannon Anderson, PhD Harvard University, Sally Widener, PhD University of Colorado, Lisa R. Klein, DBA Harvard Business School, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University.

95

Chapter Four

Objective Performance Evaluations
“A company’s employees worked long hours on an
important project and were rewarded with tee-shirts, because management felt the employees needed to be given something for their efforts. However, this action equated the value of the employees' extra efforts to a measly tee-shirt. Management would have been better off not giving them any bonus, but instead giving them high praise and treating them fairly in their next review.”
Scott Adams (Dilbert creator)

“M

aybe it’s not objective enough,” said veteran US Olympic coach Frank Carroll, shortly after the 2002 Olympic figure skating gold medal was awarded to the Russians rather than the seemingly flawless Canadians. "Maybe we should just let 'em all race against the clock."

This figure skating scandal captured the world’s attention during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. And while most of us had no personal stake in the outcome of that event, my guess is many an office and coffee shop was

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

abuzz the next day with millions upon millions of personal, emotional opinions issuing forth about the problems with subjective judging. As Frank Carroll intimated in his second comment above, if a person’s performance is measured entirely by who crosses the finish line first or fastest, there is little room for error, dispute or emotion. The accuracy of this viewpoint was recently but unknowingly attested to by professional jockey Mike Smith, who finished second on Lion Heart at the 2004 Kentucky Derby … but graciously said, "I had a great trip, but Smarty Jones 1 just had another gear."

Years ago Novell subcontracted my first web application company Digital Harbor, Inc. to develop an automated agent evaluation program for it. We wrote Novell an innovative Java program specifically to help it do its quarterly agent performance evaluations. Based upon several technology advancements since then, Agent00 now provides contact centers with even better, real-time, objective performance evaluation capabilities. Agents will always know how well they are performing against their core company goals. And similarly, management can instantly generate real time performance evaluation reports based upon an agent’s goals and performance. There are at least two valuable benefits from this: i) no quarterly revenues dip and ii) less labor requirement.
1 Thoroughbred horse and winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

97

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

No revenue dip because of Quarterly Evaluations Each one of us has probably had some negative brushes with “subjective” evaluation processes, whether they’ve been professional, academic or family related. Figuratively speaking, there used to be a long line of disgruntled WordPerfect agents outside my office seeking redress for unfair performance evaluations at the end of every quarter. It was personally draining on me to sort through it all in the best possible way, but my real concern was always the lost weeks of productivity we experienced because of it. Everyone has an innate need to know how well they’re doing. But we all have concerns about subjective judgments because they are human, and by nature imperfect. For a week or two leading up to a scheduled quarterly evaluation, many WordPerfect agents would be upset that they were not going to get a fair and objective evaluation because they didn’t ‘kiss-up’ as well as another. They stewed about this and their productivity suffered some. But the severe overall productivity loss came after they sat through their quarterly evaluations and received lower scores than they felt they deserved. That’s when the costly grumbling and factions and petitions really doused our productivity flame. Our best estimates were that we usually experienced a productivity drop-off among one third to one half of our agents for about two-weeks, totaling a 10% to 15% dip in their performance.
98

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

Reflecting for a moment once again on the 2002 Olympics, the Canadians were very upset at the judges’ subjective evaluation of their skaters. So much so that they filed an application before the court of Arbitration for Sport, a non-Olympic body, asking the court to hear its complaints. The court agreed to hear the case, and the scandal appeared to be spilling over to a dispute-resolution forum beyond the control of the Olympic committee. This created an enormous and nearly fatal blow to the sport, its lucrative commercial sponsors, and to the very reality that figure skating would continue as an Olympic event going forward. On a micro scale compared to that of the Olympics, the negative stewing, grumbling, factions and petitioning that often accompanies quarterly reviews definitely bites into a contact center’s productivity. Agents are just as upset about their own lack of fair treatment and respect as the Canadians were. And the bottom line is a substantial reduction in productivity for about two weeks every quarter, which in the above case model translates into $2.8M in lost revenues over five-years (see the bottom row of numbers in the chart immediately below).

99

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations
PRODUCTIVITY LOSS
100,000,000 90,000,000 80,000,000 70,000,000 60,000,000 50,000,000 40,000,000 30,000,000 20,000,000 10,000,000 Total Revenue Total Revenue Impaired Ttl Rev 2-wks / 33% agents Ttl Rev Loss at 12% / 2-wks / 33% agents

DOLLARS

1

2

3

4

5

86,205,807 88,506,717 89,508,785 89,908,727 90,308,669

Impaired Ttl Rev 2-wks / 33% 85,773,777 87,916,672 88,912,060 89,309,335 89,706,611 agents 432,030 590,045 596,725 599,392 602,058 Ttl Rev Loss at 12% / 2-wks / 33% agents YEAR

Less management labor required with Agent00 Of course in addition to the threat of lost productivity, the undeniable fact is that individual evaluations cost a lot in labor expense to perform. I recently asked the COO’s of two public multi-national contact centers how much time their team leaders and managers spend in processing quarterly agent evaluations. Inclusive of the time spent by team leaders setting quarterly goals with agents, gathering agent-specific performance statistics and information, reviewing recorded calls, and conducting quarterly evaluations, on average, here is what they reported:
Activity Setting Goals Gathering Individual Info Reviewing Recorded Calls Conducting Evaluation Total Hrs/Qtr/Agent 2 12 2 2 18

100

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

Assuming this is representative, traditional quarterly performance evaluations take 9 FTE’s and cost around $3.3M over five years. 1 But once again, what is even more difficult to measure in real time is the number of agents that quit their jobs because of disagreements with their supervisors over subjective evaluation processes: “Agents might seek out a job because of pay or benefits, but if their boss makes them miserable every day, they won’t stick around.” 2

“Worse, executives often don’t act as though they truly value their employees. Many CEOs who say people are their most valuable asset sincerely mean it, but their actions don’t reflect that. They say that, and then at the first sign of a downturn in business, they have layoffs. In contrast, companies that are gathering and analyzing people-related data are seeing interesting results that help them make better decisions and boost the bottom line—not to mention improved employee management leading to better retention rates and higher productivity levels.” 3

1 18 hours per quarter per agent multiplied by 1,000 agents amounts to 18,000 hours per quarter spent on performance evaluations by team leaders or managers. Translated into man-hours per team leader (18k ÷ 2080 hours per FTE), traditional subjective performance evaluations require nine team leaders to conduct. This is equal to about $660k per year based on the ASP salary survey, or $3.3M over five years. 2 Seven Secrets of Minimizing Agent Turnover, BenchmarkPortal.com 3 Jim Hatch, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and co-author of Delivering on the Promise: How to Attract, Manage, and Retain Human Capital.

101

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

Agent00 makes performance evaluations completely objective and supportive of the company’s goals. Agents will always know how they are performing, and so will their supervisors without having to do a lot of expensive busy work and without the emotional conflicts that come with subjective judgments. This is a good culture shift and will likely extend the length of agent turnover cycles because of less conflict and more justified rewards. Through Agent00, agents themselves stay on top of their performance track. This hits close to home for me. Through online programs, my kids follow their grades all the way through the semester now, knowing exactly where they stand before the grade reports come out at the end of the semester. I asked a teacher last week how my daughter was doing. The teacher pulled up the same web report my daughter has 24/7 access to and we went over it together. Totally objective evaluation processes enable true progress and productivity. They come standard in Agent00. It will save you a lot. Better yet, it will empower your agents.

102

Chapter Four - Objective Performance Evaluations

“If you have the right [agents], you don't need to worry about motivating them. The right [agents] are selfmotivated: Nothing beats being a part of a team that is expected to produce great results … the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right [agents].” 1

1 Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't (inserts added –“employees” changed to “agents” for purposes herein)

103

Chapter Five

High Morale Culture
“Our real accomplishment is to have inspired our 19,000 people to buy into a concept, to share a feeling and an attitude, to identify with the company -- and then to execute.”
Herb Kelleher, CEO Southwest Airlines

ontact centers are often the backbone of a company’s customer relations program. Not only do agents provide information for the customer — they can also provide the service and the connection that will keep the customer coming back for years. Why is it, then, that contact centers often seem to have such negative cultures (as witnessed by unusually high turnover rates, and comments like the “cattle” –see clip page 41 above)? Is it the company? Is it the agents? I did a Google advanced search ‘with all of the words,’ “high morale contact center” on the internet and it returned the following finding:
“Results 1 - 10 of about 7,370,000 for high morale contact center.”

C

Of course we all know this does not mean there are 7,370,000 direct hits on-point. But clearly, there is a nearly inexhaustible library of interest and advice on this pervasive topic.

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

I definitely used to worry about the negative culture that existed in our WordPerfect contact centers. It didn’t affect every one of our agents, but we always had a counterculture of negativism. We did our best to keep it in check, but productivity and profitability both suffered because of low staff morale, poor attitudes and negative working atmospheres in various pockets of each contact center. Indeed, no contact center is safe. From the chief supervisor to the front line agent, it’s a silent epidemic sweeping through the contact center industry, worldwide. It can mean millions of lost revenues to companies. According to recent report from HR Direct the two most common quantifiable symptoms of low morale and negative attitudes in a contact center are absenteeism and tardiness. They estimate that a 1,000 agent contact center could stand to lose $ 750,000 per year due to this factor alone. (In our case model above, this amounts to $3.75M over five years.) Not to mention the harder to quantify (but very significant) lost revenue risk associated with having grumbling agents that drive customers away … as your main contact with your customers. It was during this time at WordPerfect that I remember taking my first Southwest Airlines flight. I had seen a derogatory TV commercial a few times about Southwest, herding people onto a plane like they were cattle, so I wasn’t too anxious to fly Southwest. But that particular day, Southwest was the only airline that would get me where I needed to be, when I needed to be there. And was I ever surprised with the experience.
105

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

The flight attendants were like none I had ever seen on any other commercial flight (save a few Island-hopping charter flights). They were dressed casual in bright colored golf shirts and tropical khaki island shorts with boat shoes. Instead of reading the typically boring safety rules as the flight began, they made a comedy routine out of it. Instead of just handing out peanuts and drinks, they created a festival atmosphere out of delivering peanuts and drinks personally to each passenger. Being in the consumer-service business, I remember looking around to see reactions. There didn’t seem to be a grumpy passenger on that flight. Just the opposite –all the passengers seemed as delighted to be a part of this flight as they might have been at a comedy club. Some were really getting into it. I asked one of the ebullient crew members how long she had been a Southwest attendant and what made her so happy? She smiled and said, “I’ve worked here for almost two years, and I love it. It’s my company. I own employee stock in the company, and I even get a share of Southwest’s profits. —So, if you’re happy, I’m happy! I want you to fly Southwest every time you fly. Now cross your heart and raise your hand and swear an oath that you will fly Southwest every time you fly,” she said as she giggled and took hold of my wrist and crossed my heart with my own hand. Then she moved on to deliver the next lucky passenger his peanuts and soda. Curious at what was driving such outstanding customer service, I checked around afterward and found
106

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

that she and the other attendants probably made about $ 20,000 a year in salary. How about that? I expected much more. This was on par with our first-year contact center agents. I also learned that it wasn’t just an act that Southwest choreographed with their attendants beforehand. They hired people that were naturally friendly and positive; they instructed them in the legal matters they had to observe; and then they told them to be themselves: “Be happy and make passengers comfortable and happy … then they’ll want to fly with us –and we’ll split the profits!”
Southwest Airlines Training Manual

I’ve flown Southwest many times since then. And though I’ve heard some of the same comedy routines, their culture is still a breath of fresh air in the travel industry. It is this positive enjoyable culture that sets Southwest apart from other airlines, and what conditions their employees to be happy, energized and full of self-motivated desire and confidence that they are going to succeed individually and as a company. It’s also what causes customers like me to fly them again. So let’s focus for a moment on High Morale Culture in a contact center, and how Agent00 can help you create and sustain it in your own centers. The granite foundation for my comments in Chapter Two above is the decades of research and countless proven concepts from Behavioral Science. The foundation for my comments in this chapter is mainly taken from the decades of research and proven concepts within the Science of
107

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

Psychology. Therein the scientific definition of “Culture” is: “The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization.” 1

As described above motivation” is a behavior that agents through the scientific immediate consequences (aka, goals are met or exceeded.

in Chapter Two, “selfcan be conditioned within administration of positive giving agents PICs) when

But what is “morale” and can you scientifically condition high morale in agents? i) What is morale? “Morale” is a positive attitude that emerges from a group or a team of employees. 2 In a contact center, morale encompasses agents’ attitudes toward their work, their coworkers, their customers, and even themselves. In today’s vernacular, agent morale can either be high or low. In contact centers where morale is high, agents do their work with energy, enthusiasm, and optimism. They enjoy coming to work and are productive and enthusiastic about their jobs once they get there. On the other hand, when contact center morale is low, agents are bored, angry,
1 "C.P. Snow's Two Cultures: Hardware and Software, Discovery and Creation" by MIT research scientist Dan Dewey (July 1999). The American Heritage Dictionary; Usage Note: The application of the term culture to the collective attitudes and behavior of corporations arose in business jargon during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over 80 percent of Usage Panelists accept the sentence The new management style is a reversal of GE's traditional corporate culture, in which virtually everything the company does is measured in some form and filed away somewhere. 2 Impact Learning Systems International, 2004

108

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

discouraged, lethargic and sometimes dishonest. Low morale is a leading reason for high turnover. ii) Can high morale be conditioned in agents? It can. Most psychologists concur that morale is conditioned or “learned” in three primary ways: a. Classical & Operant conditioning is a learning-through-association process which involves the pairing of stimuli. "When one stimulus regularly precedes another, the one that occurs first may soon become a signal for the one that occurs second." 1 After frequent pairings, their exists an expectation that when the first stimulus occurs, the second will then follow. Consider these two examples: (1) Wal-Mart CEO-David Glass frequently promised to treat first line employees with peer-like dignity as they earnestly performed their jobs well. As WalMart profits continued to climb, Glass frequently went from store to store serving as a greeter along side his employees as promised. (2) Southwest Airlines CEO-Herb Kelleher repeatedly promised he would see that all his employees were compensated fairly as they performed their jobs well. As
1 Baron & Byrne, 1994.

109

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

Southwest earnings and stock prices increased year over year, Kelleher repeatedly gave out stock options and a share of the profits to every Southwest employee as promised. In both real life cases, an infectious attitude of trust and loyalty was formed between the employees and the company because the first stimulus (i.e., executive promise) was always followed up with the second stimulus (respect or compensation). The result of this was a high and sustained level of morale, and a positive and empowering corporate culture. These companies became stronger and more successful together because of it. A quick testimony to this is the fact that $ 1,000 invested in Southwest stock in 1973 is worth over $1.8M today. 1 Agent00 automates the Classical & Operant conditioning process which results in high morale culture.

b. Instrumental conditioning. Rewards and punishments are commonly used in Behavioral Science to condition desired behavior as described

1 Southwest is the only airline that has made money every year since 1973, with stock value up more than 500% since 1990. An investment of $1000 in Southwest stock in 1973 would be worth over $1.8 million today. Southwest's stock trades at about 20 times on earnings, double the industry standard, and Wall Street Investor Peter Lynch says "Southwest's (stock) performance has yet to be outdone." Its net profit margins averaged over 5%, the highest in the industry, since 1991. Foundation for Enterprise Development / Beyster Institute, Washington D.C. 20006

110

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

in Chapter Two above. But these same techniques are also often utilized in the Science of Psychology to form positive attitudes in employees and to establish empowering cultural legacies in companies. For example, when daily respect, bonus money, awards or other positive forms of recognition are repeatedly given to an agent who exceeds her daily company goals, the result will be that she will develop a fondness for trying to exceed her goals every day. You might wonder why this subtle scientific detail (fondness) is important? The answer is that a motivated agent may exceed her goals every day, but still not like her job. As a result, she may still quit being an agent sooner than you would like. On the other hand, the Science of Psychology has proven through Classical and Instrumental conditioning, agents can also be conditioned to become fond of their daily successes, and form an attitude and a desire to stay in their jobs longer. As enough agents begin to exhibit a predominance of positive attitudes and positive behaviors in the contact center, the culture of the contact center itself becomes enjoyable –in other words, a workplace environment agents will want to be a part of longer.

111

Chapter Five - High Morale Culture

Agent00 automates the conditioning process which results in high morale culture.

c. Modeling. Finally, this third process of forming attitudes often occurs without intention. This process, often referred to as "Social Learning Theory," suggests that behaviors and attitudes are acquired by observing and imitating the actions displayed by peers. 1 So, for example, if a co-agent is observed receiving a meaningful award, a bonus check, or praiseful recognition, another agent may also increase his performance so he can enjoy the same PIC, regardless of whether he really needs or wants the PIC. Contact center managers frequently ask, “What do I do about our morale problem?” There are scientific ways to fix it, which will amplify your respectful and caring efforts. More important, a system that builds morale, loyalty, and enthusiasm in employees is preventative medicine, so that reactive modes need not be invoked over and over.

1

Bandura, 1969

112

Chapter Six

A SaaS/BI2.0 Application

t the turn of the century, fiber optics broadband was being burrowed into the middle of every metropolis and residential neighborhood. This effort created a new business opportunity for others to provision that broadband “the last mile” into offices and homes.

A

I worked closely with an early national broadband provider. It had an ingenious business model by which it could provision the last mile to metropolitan office buildings. It identified 45 major cities in the US that now had fat fiber optics depots located in mid town or near town, but could not provision it the “last mile.” There was no way these cities could dig up streets, stopping traffic and commerce, in order to stretch “last mile” fiber optics underground to each office building. Seizing the opportunity this broadband provider quickly negotiated “roof space leases” with the tallest buildings in these major cities. They then created the

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

long-range microwave infrastructure to stream rich bandwidth wirelessly from the mid or near town depots to the roofs of these tall buildings; then from the tall buildings to the surrounding shorter buildings; and finally through internal copper and short range wireless infrastructure to all internal offices. Let me apply this story by way of analogy to your call centers. You probably have multiple data crunching systems (I call them data “Silos”) in house to run your call centers more efficiently. Such as: • • • • • • ACD (automatic call distribution) CTI (computer telephony integration) IVR (interactive voice response) WFM (workforce management) CRM (customer relationship management) HRIS (human resources information system)

These various Silos grind along every day doing their jobs—that is, creating “performance metrics results.” In the case of this PSTN> the results might be ‘number of calls taken,’ ‘average handle time,’ or a host of other metrics. But what happens to these results is analogous to my “last mile” story above. “Fat broadband” is only valuable when people can access it and use it. Similarly, metrics results are only valuable when they create desired behaviors within agents.
114

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

However, metric results are not usually delivered to agents quickly and intuitively enough to cause them to improve their behaviors. Most individual agent metric results for a single KPI are buried inside a data table that has metric results for lots of agents on the same KPI. The table is routed to a manager who must sort through it, analyze it for each agent, score it for each agent, and then hopefully use it to improve the performance of each agent. A laborious process, this manual agent by agent system, fraught with human mistakes—a process made even worse by 1) the many KPI results flowing into the manager, 2) the varying times the KPI results arrive, and 3) the need to analyze all the various reports together in order to provide a 360° performance scorecard for each agent and team. Great News! Agent00’s patented SOA | SaaS

-E x a m p l e d a t a s o u r c e s i n a c o n t a c t c e n t e r -

& BI architecture enables it to connect rapidly, securely and affordably to just about any data sources necessary to

115

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

create a real time, intuitive, 360° performance and conditioning scorecard for each individual agent … and for that matter for each team, coach, site, region or company as desired.

SaaS is delivering on its promise of rapid deployment, limited upfront investment in capital and staffing, anywhere accessibility and a reduction in the software management cost and responsibility. All these, and other virtues, are making SaaS a very desirable alternative to on-premise systems, looking forward. As such, stake-holders 1 are trending away from proprietary, on-premise systems with new budget spending,
1 Most notably, CIO’s, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), and End Users.

116

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

and trending towards a new era of computing comprised of SaaS, BI and Cloud Computing. And as of September 19, 2008, this trend has greatly accelerated because of the significant economic benefits available via SaaS, BI and Cloud Computing. As an example, a recent IDC report projected SaaS growth at 42 per cent for 2009 and estimated that 76 per cent of US organizations will deploy at least one SaaSdelivered application for business use. Meanwhile, the percentage of US firms planning to spend at least 25 per cent of their IT budgets on SaaS applications is expect to increase from 23 per cent in 2008 to nearly 45 per cent in 2010. [link] What about your current on-premise systems?
“Metrics and key performance indicators are important

performance management tools, but they’re only as good as the behaviors they elicit.”

Agent00 works with all your existing and future data systems, via its internal Data Collector™. Agent00 is the missing link! It intelligently converts your existing data (i.e., knowledge) into desired agent behavior.
“Managers typically drive performance management, but they tend to focus on reporting and decision support. They often forget the need to drive agent’s behaviors, “yet they’re always surprised when agents don’t respond as expected when they’re confronted with a budget, scorecard, or key performance indicator.”

117

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

Agent00 is an agent-designed, SaaS/BI2.0 application system. There is no closely comparable agent conditioning system in the world market today. Other performance management tools are, at best, non-real-time reporting tools aimed at informing contact center managers—rather than changing the daily behavior of agents.

 Epilogue Agent00 rapidly and most affordably connects to any data source, works across any platform or device that supports a browser, measures the performance and profitability of every individual employee, and positively and personally conditions the thoughts and actions of every agent, every day. In other words, not only do agents like their jobs more, do their jobs better, and stay in their jobs longer—but Agent00 conditions desired behaviors into agents, such as: positive, profitable, satisfied and dedicated. It can be the catalyst of a positively disruptive improvement in your agents as it scientifically conditions self motivation, high morale, and longer tenure into your
most critical resource: your agents.

118

Chapter Six - A SaaS/BI Application

119

Appendix

Value Table
Agent00 does more than just save money and increase revenues, but clearly these are key elements of a thriving contact center. So, for your convenience, I have created this easy index table to provide you with a consolidated look at the productivity gains outlined in this book, associated with the 1,000-agent case study.

POSITIVE IMPACT OF AGENT00 on Expense & Revenue Recruiting Expense Reductions Management Expense Reductions Senior Agent Increased Expense Net Reduction of Expenses Increase in Calls Taken Increased Revenue Cost of Bonus & Awards Net Revenue Increase (- bonus & Awards) Performance Eval Productivity Increase Performance Eval Reduction of Management Morale Productivity Increase + $ 7,000,000 + $ 9,500,000 - $ 7,800,000 + $ 8,700,000 + 1,327,000 + $ 20,400,000 - $ 7,400,000 + $ 13,000,000 + $ 2,800,000 + $ 3,300,000 + $ 3,750,000

Pg. 78 79 80 81 88 89 90 90 99 101 105

Appendix

Proven Results
Beginning in Q1 2006 Agent00 was installed in its first production operation within a global manufacturing company’s centralized helpdesk operation. Thereafter, Agent00 has been used in various contact centers. These three charts click > show the live improvement results from three companies using Agent00, customized to condition their agents in the most advantageous ways as determined by the client. The fourth chart in this series is the summary of a primary research study within call centers of all kinds and locations created by Gartner and administered by their preferred outsource research firm over the course of several months. click > Lastly, while the results were not produced by Agent00, to see recent, incredible proof of concept of the power of conditioning employees performance — and the dramatic 5X effect this had on a major company’s ROI, profitability and brand value. click >

121