Industry / Jul 17, 2021 / 3 min read

Why Average Handle Time Matters

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Rob Dwyer

Many years ago, an agent who I had trained needed someone to vent her frustration to one day and I ended being that someone. Her frustration was with the Average Handle Time (AHT) target. We both worked in the retention group for a large telecom provider and she was always so proactive in reviewing bills, plans, equipment, and everything else under the sun, trying to ensure the customer was really taken care of so they wouldn't cancel.

I struggled to explain to her why the target was so much lower than her actual performance and why it mattered. I didn't actually know why it mattered! Maybe you've wondered the same thing.

Spoiler alert - Average Handle Time targets aren't about money - they're about customer experience. Let me explain:

First of all, while we know some calls take longer than others (that's why it's an average), no matter how wonderful you are, no one wakes up and thinks, "Gee, I can't wait to spend 15 minutes today talking with [insert company name here]'s customer service!" Yes, you can provide a wonderful experience, but believe me, 99.9% of calls are based on need, not the desire to make a new friend. People are busy and they want to finish this call quickly. They have other things to do. Those kids you hear in the background - this parent is now trying to listen to you and stop little Jimmy from putting his baba down the toilet necessitating a call to a plumber after this call.

Second of all, Average Handle Time only includes the time you're talking with them, have them on hold, or are in wrap, also known as After Call Work (ACW). It does not include the time they waited in queue listening to highly compressed, rather un-danceable, mono music which was interrupted by a recorded voice saying that their call was important every 45 seconds. "But Rob," you're thinking, "what does that have to do with AHT if it's not included?" I'm glad you asked!

There are a couple of metrics that involve how long customers wait in queue before reaching an agent - Average Speed to Answer (ASA) and Service Level. ASA is just the average time customers wait in queue before reaching an agent. You've probably heard of Service Level which is expressed as the percentage of interactions answered within a specific timeframe, usually 20 to 60 seconds. A common Service Level is 80/30 meaning 80% of calls answered in 30 seconds. If you're meeting that Service Level, it still means up to 20% of calls are in queue for half a minute or more. Staffing is based on Service Level requirements - there's a whole lot of math involved in that, but this is where AHT comes in. To know how many agents are needed to meet a specific Service Level, we need to know AHT. And if AHT goes up, then the scheduled staff are unlikely to hit Service Level requirements. This means longer times in queue for customers.

This is a really long way to say that AHT impacts not only the customer experience when they're talking with you, but also impacts how long they have to wait to actually begin talking with you or one of your peers. Despite what Heinz would have you believe, people don't want to wait. That's why they sell ketchup in squeeze bottles now.

Remember that agent I mentioned at the beginning of this? I wish I could go back and explain all of this. I also wish I could explain that, because she really did take pride in helping people, if she could handle each call just a little faster, she would be able to help even more people. I can't do that, but I can do that for you instead.

If you are struggling with high handle times or cannot hit your service level, let us show you how Happitu can help in 30-minutes or less. Happitu gives even the newest agents the confidence and ability to be the best agent possible by eliminating mistakes and reducing call times and process inefficiencies.

Schedule a demo or find out for yourself with a free 45-day trial

Industry / May 26, 2021 / 2 min read

Are You Making These Post-Interaction Survey Mistakes?

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Rob Dwyer

Last summer, my apartment complex sent me a survey via email after a maintenance request had been taken care of.

“We'd like to hear your thoughts on your recent experience with us! Please let us know how we're doing by answering one quick question. Based on your recent service request experience, how likely are you to recommend [Apartment Name] to a friend or colleague?

There were buttons labeled 0 (Not at all likely) through 10 (Extremely likely) for me to click to submit my response.

Using the Wrong Survey at the Wrong Time

Most of you probably recognize this as the Net Promoter® question used to derive a Net Promoter Score℠ often referred to simply as NPS®. Perhaps you use this question today in post-interaction surveys. There’s just one problem – I would never consider recommending an apartment complex to a friend or colleague based solely on a maintenance request. If I were to use one of the most popular apartment search engines on the internet, it would give me dozens of search criteria – bedroom count, bathroom count, amenities, pet policy, budget, square footage, rating, etc. – but it will NOT give me an option to filter by maintenance request NPS® because almost NO ONE would factor that into their decision!

This is just one example of how surveys like NPS® can be misused. Had they sent me a CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) survey and just asked me to rate my maintenance request experience, that would have made sense. But NPS® is an entirely different kind of measure and one that should not be tied to a specific interaction because it doesn’t provide actionable feedback.

Tying Agent Compensation to Survey Results

But there are other mistakes that an organization can make with surveys aside from using the wrong one at the wrong time. In some instances, coupling front-line employee compensation with survey results can lead to unintended consequences, like simply not helping customers. Yes, “Voice of the Customer” is important to hear, but customers are human – they don’t always separate the empathetic and helpful agent from a lousy experience that has caused them to call.

Ignoring Critical Factors of Customer Effort

Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys are gaining traction as well, but keep in mind that the effort the customer had to put forth starts with figuring out how to contact you. From there, they might have to navigate a complex IVR and resort to shouting “Representative!!” into the phone hoping to just be connected to a live person. And once they’ve navigated that, they might wait in queue for what seems like an eternity before they’re connected to an agent who now has to make this interaction seem effortless to get a good survey. Agents can make a huge impact on customer perception, but there are a lot of things out of their control.

Not Actioning Feedback

Another mistake companies often make with surveys is either not getting actionable feedback, or simply not taking action on feedback that is actionable. I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t use an NPS® survey tied to a specific interaction because it doesn’t provide actionable feedback – the “why” behind their willingness to recommend. If you’re getting customer feedback that they called multiple times and received different answers about a policy or process and you’re not addressing the root cause of that issue, why bother asking? If you’re asking the NPS® question only and not following up with customers who aren’t promoters to find out what you could do better, how are you going to improve your results?

Customer feedback is critical to understanding how you’re performing and how you can improve. But how you implement a system of feedback is critical to its success.

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Industry / Mar 16, 2021 / 3 min read

The Top 10 Dos and Don'ts for Contact Center Scripts

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Rob Dwyer

The word "script" in the context of a contact center is often considered a dirty word, both by customers and agents. There's a reason for this. I remember my first contact center job when I was in college, an outbound credit card sales campaign that used a rolodex-like system to provide responses to almost any customer response. It was really frustrating - both because of the delays while flipping pages to find the right one and having to fill in blanks with potential customer names, hoping I remembered them correctly. But… by the end of that first week, I was actually getting sales. I got better at flipping the pages and the words that I needed to successfully overcome objections were right there. Our training was incredibly short and here I was, a college kid with zero sales experience, actually selling credit cards. I didn't even have my own credit card, yet. Why was I successful so quickly? It was the script.

The script worked. Why?

Because it wasn't a script like you would read for a play - I couldn't just memorize the lines and repeat them for every call. It was really a guide that helped me navigate an intricate sales process that was different from call to call and also provided me proven words that work along the way. It ensured consistency in messaging, it filled the gaps in my training, it allowed me to sound like I had really in-depth product knowledge, and ultimately, it made me confident. When they had a question, I had the answer. When they had an objection, the script gave me words that worked to attempt to overcome that objection. It was decades of sales wisdom at my fingertips.

Not only did it make me successful very quickly, the company only had to provide a few days of paid training before they could get me on the phones to earn some revenue. In the high-turnover world of outbound sales, lengthy paid training is like throwing away money. In fact, contact centers, in general, tend to have high turnover rates, regardless of their function. Customer Service, Tech Support, Customer Retention - all of these call types need agents to be able to navigate intricate processes and systems and they often need guidance on what to say. What we call "scripts" are simply guides to First Call Resolution and facilitate efficient Handle Times no matter the context of the call.

Scripts have other benefits - they provide verbatims required by compliance regulations like GDPR, safeguarding companies from legal liabilities. Like your GPS-enabled map application, they can guide agents to resolution using the most efficient path, even if the issue is complex. They can eliminate all the paper, paper, paper that has your PCI compliance leader going crazy, crazy, crazy! And ultimately, when agents feel more supported and confident, they're less likely to leave and more likely to get really good at supporting your customers.

Okay, so scripts can be really useful - but how do you make a good script? Follow along for our Top 10 Do's and Don'ts of call center agent scripting!

1. DO provide verbatims for greetings and regulatory / compliance disclosures

2. DON'T make everything verbatim - scripts should be guides that agents can inject their own personality into

3. DO provide timely updates on product, process, and/or policy changes

4. DON'T require agents to leave the script for the latest information

5. DO provide optional detailed guidance for complicated or infrequent issues that are easy to forget

6. DON'T over-script - tenured agents may get frustrated if they can't move through the script quickly enough

7. DO collect data to improve your scripting and business processes

8. DON'T pepper your script with blank spaces your agents need to fill in

9. DO insert the customer's name in the script - using the customer's name appropriately makes the conversation personal

10. DON'T use the same script for chat and voice - while the process/policies may be the same, chat scripts should be far more detailed and have copy/paste templates for efficiency

There's one last DO - DO sign up for a 45-day free trial of Happitu and find out for yourself how our responsive agent scripting and dynamic help topics can reduce handle times and increase resolution and conversion rates, all while reducing training time and turnover.

Industry / Feb 25, 2021 / 4 min read

3 Steps to Reduce Call Center Turnover Rate

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Rob Dwyer

Finding employees is only half the battle—to say the least—in the call center industry now. Not only do you have to find these top-notch go-getters, but you have to retain them...and in order to retain them, you must keep them happy! Because a happy employee = a happy customer. After all, no one wants to stay on the line with an agent who is uninformed, unhelpful, or simply uncaring.

High agent turnover (also known as employee attrition) is one of the biggest problems facing call centers today and has a dramatic effect on not only the bottom line but the quality of service call centers are able to offer. Just take a look at the metrics. According to the The Quality Assurance & Training Connection (QATC), an organization devoted to the education of professionals in call centers across the nation, the overall turnover average ranges between 30–45 percent (, with some call centers having almost no turnover and others having turnover in the triple digits.

In general, employee turnover is at an all-time high in today’s workplace with workers aged 20-24 staying at an organization only 1.1 years and those aged 25-34 staying only 2.7 years (compared to over 3 years in the 1980s, according to labor statistics). Call center workers who fall into this 20-34 age group stay for an even shorter period of time at only about one year. This is not ideal as it costs about $10-$15k to replace a frontline employee due to the cost of training materials, overtime, supervisory time, and training time for which the employee is being paid but not yet available to take calls. It goes without saying: you need to take steps to not only reduce high attrition rates but, in turn, increase retention of your best call center agents. Here's what to do:

Step 1: Proper Training Programs

In many cases, people who are starting off down the call center career path are often entry-level and therefore do not have any prior training or skill sets—and even those with a background only know as much as about your call center's processes as you teach them. Without adequate training, agents can start off on the wrong foot making them more susceptible to the increased stress and workload of a call center job, especially if they feel like they never got the tools they needed to succeed in the first place.

A study ( revealed that new hires will start planning their exit strategy right away if they don’t receive initial training. For example, employees are 12 times more likely to consider leaving if they feel they cannot achieve their career goals, and this number increases dramatically to about 30 times for new employees. Furthermore, if a company doesn't take the proper amount of time and care to train new hires, only 21% of them will intend to stay; meanwhile, 62% of new hires will commit to a role and company as long as they are adequately trained.

All new employees should have substantial product training and communication in place before they ever talk to one of the customers. This is where Happitu comes in!

Happitu makes training of new hires quick, easy, and more streamlined than ever before! Rather than relying on TL;DR documents that detail company processes on everyday occurrences, Happitu's interactive Help Topics put employees right into the action. By presenting need-to-know information in a digestible format, it can not only be helpful for new employees but also for managers who need call center staffing fast. Overall, Happitu can reduce training costs by as much as 80%!

Step 2: Setting Up Simple-to-Use Workflows

A proper training program only takes you so far. When the training wheels come off, it is up to the employee to take over phone calls on their own which can be intimidating, especially when looking at the variety of ways that customer complaints can go awry. Confusing operations, especially in the first few weeks on the job, can send employees running for the hills. You need to set up simple-to-use backends that make it easy for your agent—no matter how new or seasoned they are— to follow procedures and find the information they need when they need it.

With customizable workflows from Happitu, you can guide your agents step-by-step through standard operating procedures successfully. Additionally, the dynamic help topics can give them as much or as little supplemental support as they need to learn and be successful. Altogether these features mean your call center employees will never feel completely lost or in the dark, ultimately reducing high turnover rates.

Step 3: Smart Agent Scripting

While scripts and protocols might be necessary in a contact center, an unmotivated agent is one who sees their role as merely reciting answers. This can lead to burnout or, worse, disengagement that affects the customer experience because they can see right through an employee reading something line-by-line. This is where Happitu's smart and responsive agent scripting can help spice things up. Your script can be whatever you want it to be! Since you are setting it up and customizing the workflow yourself, you can allow your agents to take as much or as little ownership of the process as they want. This will make them feel important and acknowledged. This empowerment will not only increase their employee engagement but also reduce their on-the-job frustration.

Ready to Empower Your Employees? Get Started With Happitu Now

To deliver the best experience possible, agents should be given the latest technology for excellent omnichannel customer service, receive the proper training required to master these tools, AND be empowered at every step via a positive work environment. The Happitu software can make all of this possible — it’s like a personal coach for every interaction!

Get in touch to find out how Happitu reduces training time up to 80% and improves your First Call Resolution on top of lowering handle times today! Sign up for a 45-day trial here.

Inside Happitu / Feb 16, 2021 / 2 min read

Release Notes: Scheduled Reports & a new way to Breakdown Interaction Dispositions

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Robert Nolan

Welcome to Release Notes, our monthly update that showcases recent product enhancements that our crack team of wizards conjured. Here's the latest:

Scheduled Reports

Scheduled reporting brings the power of the reporting module to your inbox. Configure reports to send out daily, weekly, or monthly; select your timespan; who should receive it; and go.

Set your schedule report interval and receipts

Our simple but powerful visual date picker allows you to address questions like:

  • What are the top issues my customers called for this month?
  • Has my average handle time reduced since I implemented my new process?
  • What's my volume for the last three days?

Interaction Cases

When your agents ask the question, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" at the end of a call, what happens when your customer says, "yes"? How do you categorize the new interaction?

This choice either results in lost data that doesn't explain a higher Average Handle Time or too much information that doesn't give an accurate account for the call.

Interaction Cases restores meaningful dispositions that help you better understand the customer experience. By utilizing your existing decision trees, you can set breakpoints in your paths that trigger a new case. Breakpoints eliminate the need for agents to decide how to tag an interaction if they handle multiple concerns. Our ticketing platform does it for them.

Demonstrating an interaction that handled multiple cases

In this example a single interaction handled two issue types.

Moreover, it allows you to evaluate your volume by both the number of cases handled and interactions.This becomes a very powerful metric to compare your team's efficiency and understanding of the overall customer experience.

Happitu Early Spring Cleaning

We pride ourselves on utilizing leading edge technology to create responsive applications, and as we continue to add more functionality that improves the agent experience, we need to periodically step back and evaluate the impact that the software stack has on the user experience.

So, to remind ourselves of warmer days, we jumped on the opportunity for some early spring cleaning.

With the latest release, Happitu dropped more than 50% from its initial payload. For real-time interactions, application responsiveness is paramount. This reduction results is faster load times which result in less "dead air" during interactions.

Helpful Pro-Tip

Don't grab the mouse to close a ticket, use your keyboard. When you finish working a ticket, press ctrl + s (or ⌘ + s for my mac friends) then 1. Boom, you're ready for your next interaction!

Contact Center How To / Nov 9, 2020 / 3 min read

Why Virtual Y-Jacking is Better than Traditional Y-Jacking (and how to execute it with NICE inContact CXOne)

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Rob Dwyer

2020 changed how we approach work in many industries and contact centers were no exception. About 80% of contact center agents are now working from home. This shift requires a rethinking of many different aspects of contact center life, including how we train.

Nesting, Y-Jacking, Double Jacking, Side-by-Side, Shadowing, Plugging In… no matter your local jargon, direct observation of a contact center agent actually doing the job is an integral part of the agent training experience. Listening to both sides of the conversation is still critical for agents that will support the voice channel.

Once upon a time, we simply walked a new hire class out to the contact center floor, headsets and splitters in hand. As contact centers move away from physical phones and even physical contact centers, providing this experience is not as simple as it used to be.

Of course, there were always some shortcomings of this strategy anyway:

  • Finding enough agents to pair up each new hire might be difficult, especially for teams that flex in size seasonally
  • Agents taking lunch or break lead to unproductive time for New Hires
  • Agents might be spread among different rooms or even different floors
  • Even before "Social Distancing" became a household term, not every agent was comfortable with the close proximity required
  • Hardware often got lost or broken
  • If calls are in queue, agents have no time to debrief
  • If calls are NOT in queue, new hires experience limited customer interactions
  • Both good habits and BAD habits might be learned
  • New Hire experiences were inconsistent based on pairing

Hello! We've been doing it wrong the whole time!

Reap the benefits of direct observation while eliminating these shortcomings with Virtual Y-Jacking. While monitoring agent calls as a Supervisor in NICE inContact is well documented, Virtual Y-Jacking for agents is not and we're here to help.

What you'll need to do this with NICE inContact CXOne:

  • Admin access to your NICE inContact platform
  • Agent access to screen sharing technology - Teams, Skype, and Adobe Connect are just a few of the dozens of communication platforms that can accomplish this - if you're training virtually, there's a good chance you're already using the appropriate technology

You need to adjust two settings for the agents involved - Team and Security Profile / Role.*


Set up a team specifically for this group - you could call it training or nesting, etc. This allows users to be focused only on the agents within that team. Any agents that you will listen to should be moved into this team for the duration of the session.

Security Profile / Role

Set up a Security Profile or Role that allows access to the Supervisor Console but only to monitor. Assign all agents who need to "plug in" to listen this Security Profile / Role. Agents who are only being listened to need no adjustment. Restrict access to this team using the Restricted Access option within the Role / Security Profile.

* Your interface will vary in appearance and layout depending on the version of NICE inContact you are using, Central or Userhub. Consult with your Technical Account Manager to determine best settings for your account.

inContact Role and Security Profile

Once everything is set up in the ACD, the agent taking the call shares their screen using whatever technology you have in place.

To listen, agents will open the Bento menu (9 dots arranged in a square) in the upper right hand corner of NICE inContact and click on Launch Supervisor. This will launch the Supervisor Console. When the Supervisor Console is active, click Teams and choose the team you set up from the list. All the agents assigned to that team will be visible. When an agent is on a call, you’ll see a purple phone icon to the left of their name – hover to the right of their name until you see the headset (Monitor) icon. Click on it, then connect your agent leg (if you've not already done so) and the resulting audio will be the agent’s call. Neither the agent nor the customer will be able to hear you from your phone.

inContact Sup Console

When the call is over, the trainer can lead a debrief with the entire team and reinforce good habits and address and bad habits exhibited. You can also use the technique for peer coaching during their transition from the training environment to production!

Now that you've solved your Y-Jacking problems before your new hires "hit the floor", take your real-time agent support to the next level with Happitu! Happitu supports your agents by guiding them through every interaction with custom workflows, responsive scripting, and dynamic help topics – it’s like a personal coach for every interaction. Find out how Happitu reduces training time up to 80% and improves your First Call Resolution while reducing handle times today!

Trademark Note: NICE and the NICE logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NICE Ltd. All other marks are trademarks of their respective owners. For a full list of NICE’s marks, please see:

Industry / Sep 28, 2020 / 1 min read

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

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Rob Dwyer

In the 1983 song Mr. Roboto by Styx, Dennis DeYoung sings:

The problem's plain to see
Too much technology
Machines to save our lives
Machines dehumanize

It would be interesting to discuss Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant with him today.  Google's Duplex technology is now answering phone calls for dinner reservations while AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the buzz word in just about every new software solution coming to market.

Of course, the defining feature of AI is that it's artificial.

It doesn't understand the satisfying smells of hotdogs at the ballpark, freshly cut grass, or pumpkin spice. It's doesn't have a favorite team, food, hotel, or city. It doesn't understand the wonderous beauty of a sunset on a summer night or an undisturbed blanket of white snow on a winter morning. It doesn't provide a warm smile and it doesn't care about your experience as a customer - that's what we do.

What we offer is Human Intelligence: The kind of intelligence that offers sympathy when a customer shares something sad with us. The kind of intelligence that laughs at a customer's joke. The kind of intelligence that brightens with a huge smile and offers a "Happy birthday!" or "Congratulations!" wish to a customer who is soon to be celebrating.

AI might be great for adjusting the thermostat, but when your customers call, they want Human Intelligence.  We offer the kind of intelligence that can relate to our customers in ways that no AI will ever be able to replicate.  AI is ready to handle the "tasks" part of our job and do it for a lot less money if we don't continue to offer extraordinary customer experiences, so... Be Extraordinary!!

Happitu empowers teams with information they need, when they need it, leading to extraordinary customer experiences only a human can provide! Get in touch to learn how Happitu can help, or sign up for a 45-day trial.

Industry / Sep 14, 2020 / 2 min read

Are you still there?!

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Rob Dwyer

How many times have you been talking with someone on your cellphone and at some point in the conversation, you've asked, "Are you still there?"  With modern cellphones and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) dominating our modern phone communications, it's not uncommon to lose a connection and carry on talking to absolutely no one, that is until we notice the silence on the other end.

While you probably have no control over the internet or how well a cell phone grabs a wireless signal, your Customer Service Agents do have control over silence or "dead air" while they help customers over the phone.  One of the ways they can eliminate dead air is through the use of hold - "Hold music" is a way to let one side of the conversation know that the call is still connected while they wait and an effective way for Agents to focus on the customer's issue.  Maybe they need a little time to research or perhaps the system that contains their account details is notoriously slow - whatever the reason, the use of hold is an effective way to ensure that the caller knows they're still there.

Proper hold technique is  easy to master and contains only 3 elements:

  1. Request permission to place caller on hold
  2. Refresh caller if extended period of hold is needed
  3. Express appreciation for their patience when ending hold

"Telling" is not the same as "asking."  Always get permission for hold by asking - it's as simple as, "Mrs. Parker, do you mind if I place you on a brief hold while I…?"  Once they agree, then place them on hold.

How long you keep a caller on hold before refreshing them is up to your organization, but it's typically no more than 2 minutes.  To do this, simply ask them to hold a little longer.  "I apologize for delay, Ms. Watson.  It should only be another minute or so - do you mind holding again?"

Let's face it - hold is useful and certainly better than dead air, but it's still not great.  When used the caller should be thanked for their patience when it's over!!  This is also a great opportunity to personalize the interaction by using their name - "I really appreciate your patience, Mr. Osborn."

The next step is providing your agents with the tools to avoid hold altogether by providing them the resources and Words that Work when they need them, which is why we developed Happitu.

Fun Fact:

Hold music was born in the early 1960s, a few years after the first transatlantic phone cable was laid, between Newfoundland and Scotland. As a greater volume of calls were being placed, especially to big businesses, the phenomenon of being asked by the switchboard operator to please "hold" — a word that connotes both the cradling of a telephone and a clinging on to one's patience — increased in turn. An industry legend is that Alfred Levy, a factory owner, discovered the potential of hold music accidentally when an exposed wire in his telephone system was picking up the broadcast of a radio next door. Levy submitted a patent in 1966 for a "Telephone Hold Program System," which described the psychological frustrations of being on hold in prim detail. "Courteous telephone practice requires that a held caller be assured at reasonable intervals that the party to whom he wishes to speak still is busy but the pressure of her duties may prevent the operator from so advising the incoming caller so that he may be bereft of even this small consolation," Levy wrote. "In any event, listening to a completely unresponsive instrument is tedious and calls often are abandoned altogether or remade which leads to annoyance and a waste of time and money." So, Levy proposed, some music might be in order — much like the kind that was increasingly broadcast to restaurants and bars and department stores by Muzak.


Customer Service / Aug 12, 2020 / 2 min read

Green Eggs and Ham

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Rob Dwyer

August 12th marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most famous children's books of all time - Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham.  The book was the result of a \$50 bet between the author and his publisher that Dr. Seuss couldn't write a book using only 50 words.

This "simple" book is full of lessons that are worth revisiting.

Be willing to change your mind

The unnamed character in the book doesn't think he'll like Green Eggs and Ham and that belief drives his refusal to try them.  Spoiler Alert:  He ends up liking them quite a bit.  New things can often make us feel like Sam-I-am offering us Green Eggs and Ham but if we have an open mind, we may be pleasantly surprised!

Be Persistent

For those of us engaged in sales, Sam-I-am is the ultimate salesperson!!  He simply did not accept defeat and kept on selling the virtues of Green Eggs and Ham!  While we probably can't use "in a house" or "with a mouse" as effective strategies, Sam-I-am surely modeled the willingness to overcome objections at every turn!

Be willing to use a different approach

Persistence is important, but overcoming objections means sometimes changing your approach.  It means that if you can't make the sale with a box or with a fox, perhaps you need to try to make the sale with a goat or a boat!  Seriously, every customer is different and finding the right benefits is the key to making the sale!

Ask Questions

Asking the right questions is the key to handling so many different customer issues!  Before you rush to a solution, make sure you're asking all the right questions first.  Whether you're troubleshooting, selling, or servicing, asking questions to allow you to see the whole picture leads to efficient resolution!

Be optimistic

Sam-I-am spent an entire book dealing with a cantankerous customer and did so with a smile the entire time!  "You may like them.  You will see."  That optimism and positive attitude eventually led the unnamed character to try those Green Eggs and Ham!

Focus on your goal

It's easy to get distracted.  In a car, in a tree, on a train, in the rain, in the dark, with a goat, on a boat - Sam-I-am kept  his eyes on the goal at every crazy turn and that focus paid off!

While I've outlined a few here, I am sure there are even more lessons to be learned from this classic, even if our reading skills suggest a more "complicated" book.  If you now feel an immediate and insatiable desire to experience this book again, you can listen and read along here.  Learn even more about Dr. Seuss with Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones.

Company / Dec 4, 2019 / 3 min read

Customer Experience at the Point of Contact

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Shane Cook

A solid Customer Experience (CX) strategy touches on many different aspects of the customer journey. The digital experience (according to Customer Strategist Journal) comes down to how well the strategy addresses the following:

  • Reachability – The active channels involved in communicating with your customers.
  • Service Convenience – Are self-serve channels established? In what channels are they offered?
  • Purchase Convenience – Eliminating as much friction as possible.
  • Personalization – Catering to the individual customer.
  • Simplicity and ease of use – Are channels optimized for mobile? Is the customer journey cumbersome?
  • Channel Flexibility – Is context about the customer applied across all channels?

The thought process laid out suggests that that if we address these areas for the customer, we are well on our way towards creating a comprehensive CX strategy.

Is there more to think about? YES! These 6 areas of the digital experience provide a great foundation for organizations that are taking a serious look at their CX strategy. And in today’s digital environment, it’s an essential exercise for those organizations that want to excel and win the customer’s admiration.

The digital experience architecture is what allows the interaction to take place – and on the customer’s terms (which is fantastic!). It lays out the vehicles which lead us up to, but falls short of, reaching the ‘Razor’s Edge’.

Ultimately, and regardless of the customer’s preferred communication channel, there is an expectation that an interaction will occur. The customer is trying to resolve “x”. It’s the point in time where the ‘rubber hits the road’, so to speak.

For most organizations, the Contact Center introduces the human element into the equation. And while the Contact Center is often both provider and beneficiary of the digital experience strategy, it’s still operated by agents that facilitate human interactions.

In some ways, the digital strategy outlined can be interpreted as one-sided. It focuses on providing a seamless experience for the customer.

But as we know, 1-on-1 communication that happens in the Contact Center arena requires both parties (agent & customer) to be properly equipped in order to make the customer’s experience truly effective and delightful.

If an organization lacks the proper strategy to account for and equip the agent to seamlessly act upon the interaction request, the best digital strategy (focused on the customer) runs the risk of falling flat.

Contact Center agents have a herculean task to accomplish. They must quickly understand the nature of why a customer is contacting them (regardless of channel), decipher the best path to resolution, perhaps acquire ancillary information from the customer, upsell, cross-sell, return, exchange, etc. – all while doing it as quickly as possible and ideally without having the customer wait!

Therefore, in preparing a comprehensive digital CX strategy it behooves any organization to include a strategy that properly equips the Contact Center agent as well.

Important components to the Contact Center strategy should consider:

  • A nimble and flexible Workflow Design toolset/capability that allows Contact Center leaders to:
    • Anticipate the most frequent reasons customers are contacting the organization;
    • Design and implement new workflows – complete with relevant decision tree paths - as the need arises;
    • Capture the most frequent workflow paths and publish them as self-serve resolution topics for customers that choose that route.
  • A Ticketing Engine that captures every step of the interaction, combines it with a recorded version of the interaction, and serves as data input to create robust reporting capability. In addition, it can:
    • Dynamically generate and pass the ticket to the most appropriate agent utilizing skills-based routing techniques;
    • Integrate with 3rd party CRMs to expose and present relevant customer information as the interaction spawns on the agent desktop;
    • Include side bar help topics to aid the agent through scenarios that require a higher degree of technical acumen.
  • An Analytics and Reporting dashboard that provides a comprehensive, end-to-end view of every channel, reason, and path to resolution of every single customer interaction. Information captured regarding these interactions will illuminate:
    • Opportunities to improve specific areas of the business;
    • Agent performance relative to handle times, resolution times, etc.;
    • New workflow paths that can be created to reduce friction;
    • And many other benefits.

In an ideal scenario, the benefits of including an Agent viewpoint while creating the Digital CX strategy will significantly enhance the customer’s experience when they have reason to contact the organization.

The side benefits are multiplied when we consider that our Agents are better equipped, unbound by the customer’s channel preference and can be equally nimble in their response times. In addition, there’s a high probability that the Agents will reach higher levels of proficiency more quickly!

Industry / Dec 3, 2019 / 2 min read

Garbage In, Garbage Out

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Shane Cook

“Garbage In…Garbage Out” must be one of the more prolific sayings in all of modern computing. The essence of this saying is the rub between the potential of the information that can be gleaned from the automation of certain processes, and the reality of what is actually available for consumption. Too often in our use of computerized systems, we build the minimum necessary to get the job done; a transaction processed, a support issue resolved, a simple question answered. So, while we begin with goal of getting great reports, and learning what our data tells us about what is happening with our business, we often fall short of realizing those goals for three reasons.

First, it is time consuming (and therefore, expensive) to design the “Inputs” so that the “Outputs” are valuable.

Second, the people who are in roles that understand which “Inputs” are necessary to create “Output” are not the same people who build the systems.

Third, the business climate is so fast-paced and ever-changing that maintaining the “Inputs” so that they retain their value is an on-going challenge for those who are often already over-tasked.

To address the first obstacle, devise a system where the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can intuitively and easily participate in the process of identifying the data inputs that will be needed to generate the valuable “Outputs” you seek in relation to reports and information about the business. Start with a clear definition of the “Outputs” e.g., Resolution Rate, Conversation Rate, Disposition Analysis, Initial Contact Reason, Service Levels, Contact Channel.

As for the second obstacle, once the “Output” needs are clearly identified, provide a system whereby the SME can easily Tag the data “Inputs” that are required to create the intended reports. Presented within an intuitive interface where they request this information in the form that is most useful to them (e.g., the ability to perform simple mathematical functions, averages, and sums) will yield positive reactions. It is critical that the SMEs have the ability to not only define, but to systemically create the “Output”. Equally important, the SMEs must have a system whereby the “Inputs” can easily be enforced through validation, restrictions on input types, and pre-defined decision trees. This cuts to the heart of the “Garbage In…Garbage Out” conundrum. By strictly defining, enforcing, and guiding the data “Inputs”, you make it virtually impossible to allow any “Garbage In”. Clearly, that is the greater half of the battle!

To overcome the third obstacle, it is critical to have a system that is simple and easy for the SMEs themselves to modify. Adding a new data element, creating a new validation, limiting a series of choices, re-aligning a decision tree, altering data tagging…all of these activities must be contemplated as daily and weekly activities in order to maintain the health of your information reporting system. In order to make this process as intuitive as possible for the SMEs, special attention must be paid to how data is stored and categorized over multiple “versions” of the system. Making changes to the system must become a “safe environment” for the SMEs; a “I can’t mess this up no matter what…” situation that encourages regular updating, experimentation, and creativity from the users.

In the end, “Garbage In…Garbage Out” can be systemically overcome if you have a system that not only accommodates the people who use the system every day, but also provides them with the control and flexibility to make the data they are generating “their own”. Inevitably, when we own and control the data that goes into our systems, we are much more satisfied with the knowledge and information we get out.