Confessions of a Former Agent

A note from the author: I acknowledge that most of you discovering this article on our website are not contact center agents.  Since that’s the case, I ask that you share this with the agents in your life after you read it. Send them the link to this article in their email, post it in your break room, or recite it using your best Shakespearean accent during a team meeting.  However you best communicate things in your contact center – use that way – and get the word out:

Contact center agents have a very specific, very important role that is critical to the success of the organization. 

My message doesn’t end there though.  It’s a very endearing thing to say but if we stop there it’s really just a lot of meaningless fluff.  As an agent, you need to know how and why you matter. It’s a message that isn’t shared enough and the really scary part is that it’s not new information.

I got my start in contact centers as an agent and, to make a long story short, was convinced that I didn’t matter.  I felt like a faceless, nameless robot that existed for two purposes:

  1. Be the personal punching bag for my customers
  2. Feed my supervisor’s superiority complex

I didn’t want to be either of these things and actually worked adamantly to try and overcome those perceptions.  It seemed, though, like the impossible task. I was forced to keep all of my calls under four minutes, so even if I thought that I could solve my customers problem – it would often take more than the “time allotted” and resulted in my getting penalized.  I was either scolded by my manager or cursed out by the customer.  Since the customer couldn’t fire me, you can guess who I aimed to please. Even that plan managed to backfire on me, as I was also held accountable for the ratings on my customer satisfaction surveys. 

I remember my first conversation with my supervisor regarding the topic… “So, you want me to fully address the customer’s needs and resolve their concerns – but only if I can do so in less than four minutes? How is that fair?” My supervisor’s response? “I don’t care if it’s fair. It’s what you need to make happen.” 

WOW. If that wasn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is! The strange part here is that I found it to be incredibly inspiring and motivating – to make it my personal mission to grow within the contact center industry and eradicate these terrible perceptions, conflicting objectives, and cancerous individuals. 

The reality is that by working in the contact center we have an incredible opportunity to have a very real, very positive impact on our organization.  An impact that can be felt by our customers, our co-workers, and our competition. When we align our focus, use metrics appropriately, and educate on the powerful role that each person plays – awesome things can happen.  But maybe you don’t feel that way today.  Whether you’re one of 50, 500, or 5,000 agents in your contact center, the truth is that there are ways in which you can impact the organization every day.  But, do you know what those are?

I’d love for you to find out by joining me on May 16 from 2-4PM ET for our live, virtual training session: The Agent’s Role in Contact Center Success.  We’re going to take a look at the contact center and review the two key areas that you’re able to impact: 1) Doing the Right Things 2) At the Right Times. We’ll uncover some of the key dynamics that make contact centers unique and discuss the reasons why things like “Quality” and “Schedule Adherence” matter.  It’s going to be a fun, enlightening two hours where this former agent will share some battle stories and provide you with the tools and knowledge that can lead to future success in your role.

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