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Inside Outsourced: Something To Chew On

As this episode starts off, Todd is still on a high after kissing Asha last week. As he recounts the night to Charlie, Rajiv is yelling at Gupta because of his addiction to paan, an Indian form of chewing tobacco. Though not concerned about his health, Rajiv is upset since Gupta keeps leaving his desk to go outside and spit.

A little later, Manmeet pulls Todd aside to tell him that he found a folder on Asha’s desk containing resumes for potential husbands. He explains that since she has officially started the arranged marriage process, Todd is going to lose his chance to be with her. With that, they come up with a plan to create a fake resume for Todd and slip it in with the rest.

After Todd spies on Asha and witnesses her throwing out the resume of Pradeep (Todd’s pseudonym), he goes over to talk to her. After pulling the discarded resume out of the garbage, he talks up "Pradeep" and says how he must be such a catch. Asha politely tells him to mind his own business. She then adds that her parents bought her tickets for a Bollywood concert that night to take one of her potential suitors.

Meanwhile, Gupta hasn’t been able to shake his paan habit and even got Charlie addicted. When he sneaks out to meet up with Charlie to get some more, Rajiv follows. He confronts Gupta and threatens to fire him. Charlie jumps to his defense saying they need it to relax. He adds, "I’ve got corporate breathing down my neck, employees that don’t know what they’re doing. You have no idea what it’s like to run a call center." This little speech went right to Rajiv’s heart; in the next scene, he joins Gupta and Charlie in chewing the stuff.

Back at the office, Todd discovers that Asha didn’t pick any of the men in her folder and gave her extra concert ticket to Madhuri. Since Todd is surprised she would want to go, Madhuri explains, "I cut loose in the most dramatic way." I’ll take her word on that. Anyway, she ends up giving Todd her ticket to the Bollywood concert, saying that the romance between Todd and Asha is like a real-life Bollywood show.

When Todd meets up with Asha, he tells her that she has to give him a chance. However, she bursts his bubble by saying that she did in fact pick a husband.

The next day, Todd comes across Gupta, Rajiv and Charlie standing in front of the paan vendor. They’re holding little tasers to shock themselves whenever they think about buying it, to help them get over their additions. Todd then takes one of the tasers to help him get over Asha.

Though paan addictions, Bollywood concerts, and arranged marriages might not come up in your contact center, it’s just another day at Mid America Novelties. To help make sense of it all, here again is ICMI’s Executive Director of Consulting, Macklin Martin.

Q. Rajiv was upset with Gupta for taking constant breaks to chew paan. How should breaks in the call center be handled? And what methods can be used to schedule breaks with minimal affect on operations?

A. Brad Cleveland said it best when he stated that call center management is "the art of having the right number of skilled people and supporting resources in place at the right times to handle an accurately forecasted workload, at service level and with quality."

This simple but profound quote highlights the challenge of management, getting the right number of people where we need them. Unplanned breaks and other non-productive activities create shrinkage and limit a center’s ability to achieve service level. The typical contact center employs a variety of tactics to manage shrinkage, including being proactive and planning for an adequate number of scheduled and unscheduled breaks. Adherence goals and real-time management also help to optimize the productive time delivered by agents.

Q. Charlie told Rajiv that he need to chew the paan to relieve the stress of running a call center. What are some aspects of the job that can make running a center so stressful?

A. Call center leaders face a tremendous workload typically consisting of administrative responsibilities, day to day people management, reporting and analysis. They handle the most irate callers and, most frustrating of all, they typically have to deal with others in non-call center departments who don’t have a clue about the challenges they face daily with their teams. Call centers can be pressure cookers, but they don’t have to be.

Q. What are some ways (not including chewing paan) call center managers can deal with on-the-job stress?

A. I once visited a call center located in Chicago, IL that had a heavy bag suspended from the ceiling rafters; frustrated workers would go a round or two with the 70-pound black Everlast bag and come back feeling refreshed. I’m sure their insurance company eventually put the practice to rest, but the idea had some merits. For those less inclined to pugilism as a stress reliever, ICMI recommends a meditation or "quiet room" adjacent to the center. Prominent features in the quiet room can include a wall of water, green foliage and soft natural lighting. Whether it’s throwing a few roundhouse kicks after a frustrating call or chanting a mantra in the meditation chamber, all call center employees must find good ways to quickly identify, avoid and vent stress if they want to consistently deliver emotionally satisfying experiences.

Did you miss this episode of Outsourced? You can watch it online right here . As always, check back soon for our recap and analysis of each new episode!