The Human Brain is Amazing... Are Your Agents Using Theirs

The human brain is an amazing piece of work.  Ars Technica published a fascinating article on the comparison of the human brain and the world's computing resources.  It got me thinking that we employ agents in our call centers who are each equipped with their own personal human brain with all of this capability.  That means that there is a lot of human potential in your contact center.  If your contact center has so much to offer in terms of human potential, the question is, "Are we leveraging this potential or have we created systems and processes that actually limit the ability of our agents to provide the service that could be provided to our customers?"


I don't profess to have the answer to that question, but as I have observed the operations, processes, tools, and protocols in contact centers, I have seen that we limit the human potential quite a bit as opposed to opening it up and taking the risk that a well directed human brain on the phone will do amazing things in terms of service.  


Here are some examples:  


One contact center I visited recently doesn't show the agents the queue counter at all.  They don't want them to know how full the queue is.  They only show them how they are performing against all of the other agents on the floor.  This has created an environment where they aren't just answering another phone call to keep the service level in check...but rather, they are actually thinking about what they can do to improve their individual performance against other agents on the floor.  In some cases they may take the risk on a long call hoping for a larger sale, or they may wrap up an easy sale to move on to the next caller and bet that more calls will improve their performance.  I was fascinated to also learn that those agents were applying their human potential on the call and not just proxy for the customer to update a data entry system.


Another contact center I have visited recently is growing like crazy, and they are constantly adding agents.  As they add a new agent, they give them a little orientation on how to answer the call and process the customer request.  They want the service level to be in front of the agent at all times and as a result, the agent is focused on wrapping up a call and moving on as quickly as possible.  I don't have the service measurements for this contact center, but I could tell that the agents were stretched thin and I suspect that customer service was suffering.  Were those agents really applying all of that human potential to serving the customer or were they just doing data entry on behalf of the customer?


Take a look at your contact center.  Are you tapping into the full potential of all those human brains that you employ?  If you are doing something cool and creative...share it with us here.