Have you ever made elaborate plans for an event or project only to see a multitude of things go wrong with it? If you said yes, don’t worry, it’s happened to all of us! The key is to expect that in everything, something is bound to go wrong at some point, so it’s best to have realistic expectations going into any plan or project.
The article “Set Realistic Expectations for Your Call Center” by Peter L. DeHaan, PhD discusses the idea of planning while having realistic expectations. DeHaan says that he’s a planner, no matter how hard he’s tried to just go with the flow, in the end he can’t help but plan. But something he’s learned throughout his life as a planner is that things don’t always go according to his plans. How does he deal with this? Simple, he pads his plans for unexpected things to occur.
To elaborate on this concept, DeHaan uses air travel as an example. People often expect the departure and arrival times given for flights to be exactly accurate. However, due to a variety of factors within airports, the flight crews, and the airplanes themselves, departure and arrival times can often suffer from minor to substantial delays. This could easily be infuriating, but DeHaan suggests that it’s best to assume the flight will be late and then be happy when it's on time because the odds are high that there will be delays eventually during your travels.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I have to be pessimistic when I’m making plans and what does any of this have to do with call centers?”
It’s not pessimistic to expect something could go wrong in your plans. It’s realistic. If you adopt a realistic outlook on plans and life in general, you will actually end up lowering your chance of being disappointed. This realistic outlook should be applied in more than just travel arrangements. It should also be applied to your expectations of your call center.
You want your call center to provide the best customer experience possible no matter what industry your company serves. The expectation to live up to this standard can present a stressful environment in your call center, especially if you expect everything to go exactly according to plan every day. Here are a couple examples of what can go wrong in a call center:
- Technology: Even the highest-quality technology can produce problems in a call center environment. Technology, no matter how advanced it’s gotten over the last twenty years, is subject to problems. Computers can get viruses or freeze up on employees, agents’ headsets can malfunction or breakup during calls, the internet can go down for a brief (or extended) period of time depending on your service quality, your system could be targeted by hackers, and many more issues could arise. Plan for, and expect, all of these issues as possibilities of things that could go wrong with your call center technology.
- Staff: You can provide the best training possible for as many weeks as you deem necessary, but ultimately, your call center agents are human. They will make mistakes, and you should not only expect it, you should support them when it happens. Agent morale plays a major role in how happy the callers are with your service, so it’s important that your call center managers provide proper support and coaching during critical times.
- Callers: You might have scripts for every possible call imaginable, but just as your call center agents are human, so are the people calling on the other end of the phone. We like to think that we can satisfy every caller, but sometimes it just won’t happen. Callers will get angry and calls will need to be escalated, no matter how intricate your scripts are. It should always be the goal to give a great customer experience, but you do have to accept that sometimes there are people who just won’t be happy.
These examples are very real, and no amount of planning will keep them all from never happening in your call center. However, if you have realistic expectations and include the possibility of these issues arising when you make your plans, your overall outlook will not being ruined when problems occur and you'll be able to handle them more efficiently. Call center managers can benefit greatly from reducing their stress, and ultimately, setting realistic expectations can make that happen.
This blog post is based on an article by Peter DeHaan. To read the original article, please click here.
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