A successful call center, just like a successful school, finds itself with the same organizational philosophy. They both are finely tuned machines that predicate themselves on a strong foundation of structure. Agents and students are not finely tuned machines and they don’t predicate themselves on structure. Therefore, the call center and school must provide the framework. For example, perhaps customer care agents are required to staff a shift from 11:00pm to 7:00am. From management’s view, it is impractical for agents to disappear for three hours in the middle of the shift. And, if students are mandated to be in class from 8:00am to 3:00pm, it is impractical for a whole class of students to disappear for three hours in the middle of their school day. Yet, agents see their call center through the prism of their view of school. The impractical can and does become practical. We all remember when students ditched class, took longer lunches and breaks, and gained advantage from any and all loopholes in the structure. Our call center agents do the same because they have been taught to do the same. Students viewed school as a structured entity that they could, in various fashions, manipulate. Agents view the call center in the exact same way.
Call Centers Should Take A Page From Schools
Schools are beginning to embrace changes that allow students to see their institution in a positive light. Many schools now condone their seniors leaving campus for lunch, or allow seniors to take an extra hour for lunch instead of one hour or less. Many schools have allowed class acceleration. Students who wish to graduate a semester early may do so. Or, some students are allowed to start school an hour later, or perhaps end an hour earlier, or drop a class time (usually the last class of the day) for an entire year. Many schools have moved from the semester system to the quarter system and the year-round school system. In addition, schools emphasize more electives today than ever before. Schools have added more multi-cultural clubs and organizations than ever before. One example of the creativity I support wholeheartedly is making gains throughout the country. Many schools take 10-15 minutes out of one class period to promote reading. Every day, all action stops and everybody in school reads. What a great idea! Imagine what would happen in your call center if every day, work stopped for 10-15 minutes, and all employees would be required to do nothing but read? (I remember a class I took in junior high school that was called “reading for pleasure”. For the entire 50 minute class, students read an assortment of books, magazines and newspapers, and turned in synopsis reports about it. Great idea!)
Schools are beginning to change the framework we remember in the hope that this change will foster student growth. In some cities, students now see their school as one of opportunity. It would be wise for call centers to do the same.
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