So Far – So Fast

Why does an industry so young have so many villains? Our youth and energy are part of the problem. We’ve replaced policies and procedures in rapid succession. We’ve burned through so many ideas so quickly that the previous ideas have not had time to die. In this fast-paced, real-time industry, opportunities are everywhere. Those of us who manage customer contact barely have time to end the day with any sanity let alone invest in developing the 999 million areas of expertise required. We often forget to update our opportunity list and change with the changes in the industry. This leaves the door open for villains to come in.

We’ve come so far so fast. The center I managed twenty-five years ago had two different telephone switches that didn’t talk to each other. Customers could come in on either one. If a customer came in on “Switch 1,” and wanted to talk to someone answering “Switch 2,” we took a message. Because the groups were sitting 50 feet from each other, we devised a vehicle of communication—Legg’s™ Pantyhose containers, the little eggs. The supervisor on Switch 1 inserted the messages into the little containers and hurled them to the supervisor of Switch 2.

Remembering the Legg’s story makes me laugh when I stand in the center of a humming call center today, but has traveling at warp speed from simplicity to complexity left me hanging on to the villains of old? Might I be tempted today to throw a Legg’s across the room if I had one? You never know.

If you are working in a brand new center for an emerging company, you may wonder if you have any villains. You probably do. Some arrive unannounced in the pockets of experienced people. Some come through books or white papers posted on the Internet.

Sometimes I wish we had a reader board in the call center that would count the number of decisions made real time. Numbers would be spinning as fast as they do on the electronic sign in Washington that posts the increase in the national debt. Management teams choose visions with one big decision. Employees implement visions through hundreds and thousands of small decisions—“Should I stop for lunch now?” “Should I issue a rebate to this customer?” “Should I promote her?” or “Should I ask for a new keyboard?” These areas of small decisions are playgrounds for the villains. Except for unusual cases, they tend to stay away from the really big ones.

The purpose of this book is to expose the invisible. If you just know what forces are working to slow you down, you’ll rest easier in the decisions you make. You’ll feel more comfortable reaching the visions that we share.

Unfortunately, we can’t rid you of villains. Weeks and months after you read this book, you’ll still be seeing evidences of them. But rather than letting them slow you down, you’ll be equipped to make them powerless.

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