NUTTY CONSUMER’S 3RD RANT AGAINST “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS

customer service

In some cases the call center prototype is adequate for companies to optimize their profits and to retain their reputation for good customer service as is the case for companies selling one time purchases, reservations for airline tickets or car reservations, etc.  The consumer’s purchase of  an airline ticket, etc. can be managed under the standard call center  prototype because the vast majority of purchases or reservations can  be  completed during one phone call while requiring  a minimum level of customer service follow up. It is easy for  any agent to take over the next call with no documentation on the record for their clients.  For example, the adjustment of rental days  is a one step adjustment based on the existing record showing previous dates. It is not too difficult a task to track the  results of these transactions regarding sales, customer service satisfaction and the performance of the agents.

Problems arise when the call center marketers sell this same “cookie cutter” call center system to companies selling more sophisticated products which is where what is best for the company, their customers and their employees gets lost. For example, an insurance, bank, mortgage and/or financial advice company deal with more complicated products than companies selling a one time purchase. The standard call center prototype without modification is  not adequate in the following instances:  (1.)when satisfactory  customer service may require multiple calls from the consumer at a relatively high frequency in order to obtain a resolution on any of their issues; (2.) the product has a high price tag and your company wants the client to maintain or renew year after year; (3.) the company expects future business from current clients as in the form of upgrades and the purchase of future products.  These companies are supposed to be attempting to encourage a long term relationship with their clients in order to expect them to have some loyalty. In short, when a company does not consistently treat their customers with respect and consideration for the consumer’s valuable time and with a sense of fairness and integrity, they will not be rewarded with the clients’ loyalty IN THEIR future business dealings.  Customers do have choices and competition is fierce.

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It only makes sense that a company strives to increase profits in order  to be a viable, successful business. This is the reasoning behind most businesses reticence to deviate from  their “cookie cutter” call center culture. If company leaders were to look at the bigger picture, they could ask themselves, is it possible to modify the culture of the typical call center to better please their clients and their employees while not sacrificing the increase in productivity and the increase in profits due to cost cutting measures? Other companies like American Express, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Zappos are already doing this while also showing a tremendous increase in revenues as well as an improvement in all their parameters across the board. Companies  which step forward and lead their companies in adapting to a modified model of streamlining operations to reduce costs while also catering big time to their clients and employees will be the winners.

There can be unintended consequences when a company selling more sophisticated products buys into the “cookie cutter” call center syndrome without any customization and business planning. One of them is that you definitely will not obtain a true reading as to who are your star employees. You will know how many calls each agent takes and what their average handling time is. In the year 2013, an insurance  sales representative from a very reputable company told me that the amount of monies she brought into the company and/or the actual number of products she sold was NOT  tracked and was not part of her performance review. This same company did keep track of how many times her clients purchased new products within a three month time span after the initial contact. Can you believe these figures did not have any impact on her performance evaluation?  It was more important that she took her breaks and lunch at an allotted time, had a record of  shorter call handling times, took more phone calls during her work schedule; and was able to report a high number of client sale referrals for the possible purchase of additional products. The production of a high number of sale referrals was greatly valued even though there was no tracking as to whether all these referrals ever resulted in a sale. She stated that every day she received sale referral transfer calls from different divisions within the same company with the customer being oblivious as to the reason for the transfer. In addition, agents who sold one policy per client as well as a bank account with a minimum deposit was as highly rated as the agent who sold 5 policies along with products from different lines of business. This was true even if the client never used the bank account and only signed up to benefit from a multi- product discount. I have never heard of a company claiming to have a legitimate sales organization not keeping track as to how many policies and/or products one sold as well as how much money they contributed to the company’s coffers. It is mind numbing to think that a company would not track and reward the sales agent who sold 50 policies per month versus her peer who sold 25. In addition the agent who sold 25 products per month is more valued because his/ her  average call handling time (AHT) for the month would be less than the agent who sold significantly more. In this case the (AHT) is not the best way to measure an agent’s productivity.

images another planet customer serviceIn the year 2014, this same company is now tracking the total sales of each agent per client as well as their referrals which result in a sale. It is no longer okay to create for example, a bank account which is never used and have that count as a sale. When a client calls for customer service, the agent is no longer required to make a sales referral. It is important for companies to focus more on results of the actual products sold and monies produced per agent. A gifted sales person can bring in a lot more funds in half the time of other agents who look really busy.                                                                                                                                    

image_preview gm recall

How does the company culture lead to situations where a company like GM does not openly deal with an in house known problem for 13 years even after many customer lives are lost, or Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase recently being accused of falsifying mortgage loan documents?  The answer is easy. In both of the above cases, the customer was not the priority. Bottom line cost cutting in order to increase profits was partly what ruled the culture in both these companies. I am sure the individual employees in most cases would not want to act unethically but somehow both companies created the environment and conditions which caused employees to act without integrityA major red flag indicating a problem  work culture is when your company’s front line folks do not feel safe to confront, question, talk to, share important information with their direct management without fear of paying a high personal price. Does your company provide a known safe way for an employee to disclose serious issues involving their direct supervisors while maintaining anonymity? If your frontline folks live in fear of retaliation, not being promoted, not receiving plum assignments; not being valued and respected for daring to do their jobs by informing management of  potential costly issues, what can you expect? If you can describe your company as an entity which does not suffer from this dysfunctional work place then you are self insured against the high costs of loss of reputation, loss of branding and the resulting loss of clients, monies and market share.                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a case study, it is interesting to note that the CEO of GM, Mary Barra is the lone survivor after having testified at a U.S. Congressional hearing. She is the only one who arrived at the hearing with a clear vision that GM was burdened with major work cultural problems but she had concrete plans to change this. She has dealt with the negative publicity head on while taking full responsibility. Those harmed are being properly compensated. GM has managed to do well despite this tsunami of bad news because of her handling. Contrast this with how General Eric Shinseki of the VA Administration and Director Julia Pierson of the Secret Service presented themselves at the recent 2014 U.S. hearings, where they both discounted the existence and depth of the systemic work culture problems within their organizations. They did not grasp that the events being discussed were not simply isolated events which could be fixed with a new procedure, practice, study, office, new department head, etc. When General Shinseki resigned, it became obvious that he did internalize how dysfunctional the VA work culture had become and he felt so disheartened; however, I do not believe Director Pierson is even admitting that there is a cultural malfunction within the Secret Service. In both cases, they did NOT see the red flags warning them.

In a Forbes article published 5/29/2014, by Joann Muller, Mary Barra, CEO of GM, was interviewed with the following  question and response:

“Forbes: In a recent Town Hall meeting with employees, you lamented that there’s still a “culture of fear” within GM, a fear of rocking the boat. How do you convince people it’s ok to speak up?

First, it’s having programs like Speak Up For Safety. If someone picks up the phone and says, “Hey, I’m worried about x, y or z, it’s important that you answer them, either to say, ‘Wow, thank you for raising that issue,’ or ‘Hey, that’s not an issue and here’s why,’ so they don’t leave thinking, ‘I tried, and they didn’t listen to me. They just ignored me.’

It also is me demonstrating the culture and making sure the leadership (follows through). Because they can hear me, they can even believe me, but what is their daily work experience like? What is it like in their department?

We rolled out our three core values last year – the Customer is Our Compass, Relationships Matter and Individual Excellence is Crucial. We’re now getting an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of them because they’re seeing from me, from Dan, from Mark, that we mean it. It’s our continuing to be consistent.”

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR COMPANY TO BE FACED WITH THE FOLLOWING NEWS REPORTS?

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NUTTY CONSUMER’S 7TH RANT VS. “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS

call-center-cartoon-100-aht aht cartoonTHIS BLOG WILL FOCUS ON THE CALL CENTER EMPLOYEE AND POSSIBLE LEGAL ISSUES.  After doing some research on the subject of call center issues, I have become increasingly concerned about the well being of the employees being part of the “cookie cutter” call system syndrome. To gain further insight, I have  discussed this subject with several current and former call center employees as well as doing  basic research. It is somewhat depressing to picture a professional with a college degree such as an insurance agent or financial advisor, working under this prototype call center environment without any customization to ensure that both the needs of the customer remains a top priority but also that employees are treated with dignity and respect.

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How could agents not suffer some anguish if they felt required to compromise their moral values in order to keep their job?  How would  anyone not be uncomfortable by finding themselves being placed in a position as at Wells Fargo by which you are directed to sell hard on each and every incoming call no matter what the customers’ circumstances. What if the customer is calling in about a serious complaint; is very upset due a recent tragedy and is calling in a claim; they have just lost thousands of dollars due to a poor investment; they have lost out on the purchase of a dream home due to the company’s poor mortgage customer service  etc.? An agent would have to be blessed with a strong stomach to continue in the hard sales role even if pressured by management. It is easy to think that the employee should just quit. However, what if you are the family breadwinner with several children and can’t risk the consequences of just leaving a company during a time when the job market is on a downturn. You could ask why doesn’t the agent protest to management. As one agent advised me, it is management who are enforcing these standards. If you are perceived as not being a team member, your life will be made very unpleasant. You will be  marginalized with a reputation for being a difficult or disgruntled employee; someone who is unstable as well as not being a team player.  An agent from a well established company described to me what typically occurs when an employee dares to challenge the status quo. The offending agent could be subject to excessive monitoring with supervisors listening in at random and excessive surveillance. As time passes the agent will experience extreme discomfort and will eventually leave.

cartoon6760 customer service joke re agent performanceOne agent described how she had worked for a company for seven years and had many plum assignments typically given to top performing agents along with outstanding employee reviews. She was a young, healthy adult with a college degree as well as some previous successful sales experience and management training with a beauty product company. However, at some point while being employed by a company with an excellent reputation, she voiced concerns about the sales tactics being practiced. She eventually ended up with mental health issues and left the company on disability leave after enduring  many weeks of bullying.  She tried returning to work but found that her anger issues were returning as she would still be working for the same supervisor who had harmed her. She didn’t want to live in fear and so she resigned. She had been subject for weeks to a frequently deployed tactic by call center management of excessive surveillance and constant monitoring. This includes the supervisors listening and recording many calls for hours and at random times with the intent to catch the employees making an error. Then the employees are frequently confronted with all their errors, written notices, increased coaching sessions  with the employees’  full knowledge that they are helpless, and even if they get that they are being treated unfairly and unjustly, they have no legitimate, reliable and effective recourse for relief. This is just for starters! These tactics  are also used to set up an employee to be fired.  If companies believe that this pattern of subjecting offending employees to these bullying and mental harassment tactics  designed to separate out an agent, is a way to avoid legal repercussions, please reconsider this stance.  Currently, these systemic practices  may not be sufficient for claimants to legally prevail on the basis of the companies’ managers, intentionally “inflicting extreme emotional distress” on any particular employee.  However, as per an article in the Insurance  Journal, published 3/4/2013, titled “Workplace Bullying Emerging As Major Employment Liability Battleground “by Sam Hananel, “more than a dozen states — including New York and Massachusetts — have considered anti-bullying laws in the past year that would allow litigants to pursue lost wages, benefits and medical expenses and compel employers to prevent an “abusive work place.”  

rhan518l call system customer service issueIn the text  of the “bullyonline.org” website that I mentioned was very popular in the United Kingdom in a previous blog and which has been inundated with calls from call center employees, lists one of the mental illnesses resulting from working in this highly stressful industry as PTSD. My first reaction is that was just too far fetched as no “cookie cutter” call center worker can claim to have been subject to the stress of a war zone. However, according to a standard definition of PTSD, the leap is at least worth consideration. A standard definition is as follows: “Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered when a person sees or is party to a psychologically traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, or any situation that invokes feelings of helplessness or Intense fear. While most people eventually adjust to the aftereffects of such events, some people find their symptoms getting worse with time. These worsening symptoms are the product of PTSD.”

Why tempt fate? Perhaps your legal division can look at the bigger picture and ask themselves, how would your company’s reputation be tarnished by having some of these practices being depicted on the front pages of the Washington Post  due to some unforeseen incident?

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Some other methods designed to separate a quality employee from a company are more subtle. One gentleman had an MBA, a strong, successful real estate sales background  and he also had received outstanding reviews, accolade letters from the President’s office, had a track record of surpassing any and all sales goals set by management and was well respected by his peers. He just made the politically incorrect move to question some of the company’s sales tactics and treatment of the clients. As a result, whenever he applied for another position within the same company, he was never successful. There came a time when he needed to be able to work from home because of a difficult family health issue. Other representatives with minimally acceptable employee evaluations were granted this exception but this one gentleman with an exceptional record was not. Consequently, he did resign and another company is reaping the rewards of employing an outstanding worker.

imagesLWJQRJLZDEAR COMPANY, do not allow accountants ( cost cutters) or the legal division to recommend actions intended to avoid negative legal consequences which are counter to your mission statement of providing excellent customer products and service while treating  your clients with exceptional levels of integrity and respect; and which could consequently cost you your business reputation.  Frequently, these divisions view the company’s well being from a limited viewpoint and cannot envision the big picture. Right now I am talking about how an employee described to me how she is strongly discouraged from documenting anything she discusses with a client even if it is important. The reason given for this rule was that the writing of notes on the various accounts over time adds to the average call handling time. I suspect that this directive has more to do with the legal department wishing to prevent future legal claims by not leaving a paper trail.  As per “Do You Know Your Call Center Law?” which was published on 1/21/2014, by Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor, “if an agent hands out faulty advice and it results in an injury, the contact center could be liable.” Their advice is to make sure agents are properly trained to provide directions and advice.

The problem with the plan of not allowing your employees to keep notes to avoid the paper trail is that technology is improving. In time,  a customer will be able to record their conversation with a call center representative. As per federal laws, there cannot be any expectation of privacy as most call centers record calls as well. There are discussions on the blogosphere as how to manage the state laws regarding a consumer being legally able to record a call center call.  As an example, on the blog, The Daily Dot, dated August 12, 2014 , titled “How to Record a Customer Service Call Without Breaking The Law, ” the Author Aaron Sankin writes, “if you decide to start recording your customer service calls, it’s a good idea to ask the customer service rep if it’s okay before hitting the little red button. In this case, it may be better to ask permission than forgiveness. Laws regarding the recording of telephone conversations —typically called “wiretap laws”—fall in to two basic categories: one-party consent, and two-party consent. In many two-party-consent states, all parties on the call must consent. At the moment, 18 states and the District of Columbia have wiretap laws on the books. It’s important to note that the location of the person you’re recording matters when it comes to state laws. Here’s a quick rundown of each state’s law, according to the Digital Media Law Project:

Arizona: One party must consent
California: All parties must consent
Florida: All parties must consent
Georgia: One party must consent
Illinois: Unclear—so get two-party consent to be safe
• Indiana: One party must consent
Massachusetts: Two-party consent; secretly recording calls is illegal
Michigan: All parties likely must consent—but courts are divided
• Missouri: One party must consent
New Jersey: One party must consent
New York: One party must consent
• North Carolina: One party must consent
• Ohio: One party must consent
Pennsylvania: All parties must consent
Tennessee: One party must consent
Texas: One party must consent
Virginia: One party must consent
Washington: All parties must consent
 Washington, D.C.: One party must consent

Mr. Sankin recommends that even if you don’t see your state on this list, make sure to check all applicable state laws before recording anybody. He continues to state, “If you’re calling from a smartphone, you’re going to need a different system and a perfect app for that is called TapeACall. TapeACall, which runs on both iPhone and Android phones, lets users record any conversation at the touch of a button. Those recordings are stored on TapeACall’s servers and can be played back instantaneously on the device. The files can also be exported and saved on the phone or a computer in .mp3 format. The service is free for 60-second clips, but costs $9.99 for a version with unlimited recording time. (Full disclosure: I use TapeACall almost every single day doing reporting and can personally attest that it’s magical).”

Mr. Sankin added the following: “Paul Stockford, research director of the National Association of Call Centers, said he doesn’t think it’s especially commonplace for customers to record their calls with customer service reps. ‟I’ve seen isolated incidents,” he said. ‟But I don’t know about this being any kind of trend.” Recent events indicate that it may soon become one. A few weeks ago, another dissatisfied Comcast customer released a legendarily painful recording of a company rep making every possible excuse to avoid letting him cancel his service. The call went massively viral and became a huge black eye for Comcast, which is in the process of waging a publicity campaign to convince federal regulators to approve its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. In short, your best weapon against bad customer service may be a recorded call. Just be careful before you use it.”

In the end, there will be a paper trail and the company will be forced to increase their training programs and to stress quality control as to the reasonableness and accuracy of information provided by their representative. Why allow your company to be impeded by the accountants and legal experts from investing now in increased training and from implementing a constructive, quality control plan to improve the quality, completeness of detail and accuracy of information provided by your agents?

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There are those who are asking me why am I discussing the employee. These “cookie cutter” call center systems have huge expenditures associated with high employee turnover rates, non planned absentee days; employees out for weeks due to mental health disability leave and the higher health care costs due to the increase in physical health and mental health employee claims because of this work stress. The additional costs alone to train professionals with college degrees to keep up with high turnover rates is astronomical in the insurance, banking and financial advice companies. These jobs can involve complicated thinking and long term learning curves and so there is that hidden problem of having customers interacting too often with inexperienced agents. These are unnecessary costs which can be allocated for example, towards lowering the costs of company’s products, investing in research and development and/ or increasing company revenues. It would be helpful if the “cookie cutter’ call center business analytics included tracking the above mentioned costs.

YES, THERE  ARE MAJOR COMPANIES TREATING THEIR BOTH THEIR CUSTOMERS AND THEIR CALL CENTER EMPLOYEES WELL WHILE ENJOYING TREMENDOUS SUCCESS SUCH AS AMERICAN EXPRESS, JACKSON  AND ZAPPOS. I WILL DISH OUT MORE IN MY FUTURE BLOGS.

RELATED ARTICLES:

1.)How American Express Transformed Its Call CentersHarvard blogs.hbr.org/…/american-express-how-we-tran…

2.) Workplace Stress and Mental Health Issues – Academia.edu www.academia.edu/…/Workplace_Stress_and_Mental_Hea

3.) 15 Effects of Stress on Call Center Agents and the Company blog.talkdesk.com/15-effects-of-stress-on-callcenteragents

4.) For mental health, bad job worse than no job – CNN.comvwww.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/14/unemployment.health/
http://www.mirror.co.uk/…/callcentre-staff-facing-targets-22…
6.) The Last Bullying Frontier | Psychology Today by Guy Winch

NUTTY CONSUMER’S 8TH RANT AGAINST “COOKIE CUTTER” CALL CENTERS

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In my Mad Men Business days, prior to the cell phone and easy access to the internet, successful upper managers were able to obtain reliable information from long term trusted front line employees instantly by maintaining discreet and confidential lines of communication. This is how they were able to uncover serious problems and to verify the accuracy of information provided by other managers. Also many companies instituted in house auditing teams to audit different departments to determine better practices.The various departments did not have a choice but to implement the better recommended procedures. Those who were successful on these teams often were rewarded by management and so there was ample incentive to do well. One did well when people trusted you enough to share information. If someone requested credit for their ideas, then one would make sure to give that person credit both verbally and in writing. If someone did not want credit, then it was presumed that they preferred their privacy. In that case one would describe how a practice could be improved without disclosing any names. If one had a reputation for being an actor and trustworthy and if someone approached that person with crucial information, then that person would always know which upper managers to seek to remedy whatever situation needed fixing without having to mention the source. The informal infrastructure was well established to where there were safe ways for employees to come forward without fear of being harmed.

I talked to several agents with a background of working in call center environments, and I was able to discern several areas which caused them to be morally conflicted. One has to do with a company’s  practices regarding the customer service surveys issue. Recall when I described how an agent when dealing with a customer voicing a complaint, could bar this person from access to the customer service survey via several methods such as not hanging up first, or transferring the call to a different division or their direct manager. I did ask some of the agents if this wasn’t an integrity issue. It was explained to me how the agents who insisted on acting with integrity were treated. I was presented with this example. Some team members witnessed a well respected representative being called to her manager’s desk to explain why she received a less than an excellent survey even though the agent had little control over the call. The customer was complaining that the division he was attempting to contact was not available to conduct business during the same hours of other divisions. This agent informed him that the other division had different working hours and instructed him as to when he could call again. This example was not an isolated event. This same agent refused to compromise on her integrity. However view this case from the perspective of the other agents. It became evident that they would be rewarded for having excellent customer service surveys and censored for receiving anything less than perfect surveys. My opinion is that the company needs this feedback to create ways to prevent others from having a similar experience in the future. This practice does not serve the company’s interests as this feedback is necessary; the customer is not serviced; and the agent is not well serviced by being singled out for a discussion by her direct supervisor. Subtly, this  manager is complicit in creating the culture by which their agents are tempted to compromise their integrity. In addition, the employer of these agents has in their mission statement the words of integrity, honesty and honor. How do their employees deal with this message being so counter to the above described practice?

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The agents detailed another ethical problem with me related to insufficient training and retraining in a work arena where the policies, rules, regulations and practices are frequently updated. For example, one agent described how she was written up by her direct supervisor for making a mistake in pricing a policy. She had to find an underwriter to explain and show her boss the written company policy regarding the particular situation by which she was obligated to price the policy. The supervisor asked why she did not hear this discussion in the phone recording in the last conversation with the client. The agent explained that she simply corrected for the prior agent’s mistake which is the same mishap her supervisor would have made. Also, the  agents were faced with another moral conflict by being asked to write up the errors they detect in order to have them forwarded up to management  for coaching and training opportunities, while also being tracked regarding their average call handling times. The agents tell me that spending time to write up every  blunder would add significant time to this parameter and so, the agents who followed this instruction would definitely not be rewarded. Most said they simply did not have enough time to do this.

Another issue that caused some agents to be squeamish had to do when the product delivery to the client was not in keeping with the company’s mission statement. The company’s brand is that of providing exceptional products and services. However, one agent described how the company did not always live up to it’s brand. She had such a bad experience with a client  who had interacted with the mortgage division that she could not consider making any more referrals to this division and she felt let down by her management. The following example also demonstrates  how not documenting a client’s account can do real harm. Prior to this particular contact, the client had talked to more than one sales agent and a supervisor to make sure he met all the requirements necessary for him to close on a property prior to purchase of his first home. He had just graduated from a top rated law school and had accepted his first job at a top tier law firm. When he finally started the closing process, another agent advised him that he did not qualify. There was no documentation regarding the prior multiple calls. This gentleman said if he had been told this upfront, then he would have done business with another company within the time frame that he needed to successfully close on the home he wanted. Because he had foolishly relied on the prior agents’ instructions, he ended up renting because he needed to settle his family which included his very pregnant wife and to start working before a specific deadline. This client stated that in the future, he would be purchasing a mortgage with Quicken Loans and this company would no longer be his first choice for any of his future business dealings as he had lost trust in their competency and integrity. It seems to me that this company will be loosing a lot of future monies from  someone in the 1% earnings level. How many of these clients can a company afford to lose?

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Remember the sales agent that I mentioned in a previous blog who wrote her CEO that she and her coworkers were being barred from making any outbound calls including promised return calls to clients. As a result, she was permitted to return promised phone calls and to provide her personal extension only if the potential client specifically requested it.

This same agent said she informed upper management even though she was concerned about the possibility of retaliation by her  immediate bosses  if they suspected she was the source. As it turned out, her managers did approach her as to why she sent the email and yes, she was subject to retaliatory measures. It came in the form of bullying tactics frequently deployed by frontline managers in the “cookie cutter” call center culture. For several weeks, she was subject to constant monitoring and excessive surveillance to the point she decided to retire one year short of receiving full benefits in order to preserve her mental health.

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My thinking is that when others   witnessed this treatment of what happens to a team member who attempts to appropriately inform upper management about crucial information, it probably stopped  them from ever taking this step. Supposedly there is  a company policy with zero tolerance against supervisors acting in a retaliatory way against an employee in this instance but if the companies’ leaders are serious about this policy, they have to act upon it.

In addition, this same agent stated for the record that her calls often involved the sale of multiple policies, the sale of products from other lines of business with  customers who had been loyal clients with an alternate company for many years. If she did not close the sale involving thousands of dollars on the first contact, then she was barred from contacting the clients in the future even though she understood full well that this meant she was handing over control of the sale now to the competing insurance company whose agents would not have their hands tied behind their backs and would fight to keep the business. Although some of these clients probably did call back, this agent is convinced that many did not. This agent was very conflicted over not being allowed to competently do her job. This same agent confessed that she called a competitor’s sales division, Amica. The Amica sales agent did not hesitate to offer his extension and to arrange for a follow up call based on their conversation.

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What if your company were questioned as to whether it was burdened with this unhealthy work place as I have been detailing, how would your top officers respond? Would your attitude reflect that exemplified by Mary Barra of GM; General Eric Shinseki of the VA; or the Secret Service Director, Julia Pierson?

If a company suffers from a seriously dysfunctional culture by which your frontline professionals  work in fear as I have been describing, then it is only a matter of time before your company will suffer the inevitable negative  consequences. There will be the typical build up over months and even years, steps to keep employees in line and skeletons buried. Eventually there will be the explosion. If you want to prevent this and /or discover for sure if this is the case with your company, hire an outside company to come in to do an independent audit by which every person queried is assured complete confidentiality and that there is no way that a boss or coworker can have access to what anyone has stated. This includes upper management. If important information is forthcoming, who cares about who the source is. What if you learn that your company is entrenched in this culture? You can then figure out ways for the future to obtain crucial, necessary information in a constructive ways by treating your agents as professionals while empowering them to do their jobs well. If some managers decide to continue their old habits of micromanaging by fear, then they have to be fired. The frontline employees have to know that upper management is serious about altering the work culture to better support the frontline skilled workers to where there is a free flow of information.

Then your company will have to return to basics to increase profits such as coming up with new product lines as in the case with Net Flix, or doing the research to improve your current products and practices to make sure that whatever you do offer is better than the competition. Just cutting and streamlining operating costs while squeezing the last bit of productivity out of your employees are not the only ways of increasing revenues.

RELATED ARTICLES:

1.)22 Problems Only Call Centre Workers Will Understand whatculture.com/…/22problemscallcentre-workers-will-understand.ph…

2.)15 Effects of Stress on Call Center Agents and the Company blog.talkdesk.com/15-effects-of-stress-on-callcenteragents-and-the-co…

3.)For mental health, bad job worse than no job CNN.com www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/14/unemployment.health/

4.)[PDF]Occupational Health Problems of Call Center Workers in India www.bowenpublishing.com/DownLoadPaper.aspx?paperid=14339

5.)In Scandal’s Wake, McKinsey Seeks Culture Shift The New York times-Jan 2014

6.)Mental, physical and social health problems of call centrehttp://www.industrialpsychiatry.org/article.asp?issn=0972…17; issue‎2008

7.)Occupational Health Problems of Call Center Workers in India www.bowenpublishing.com/msp/paperInfo.aspx?paperid=14339

8.)Working conditions in callcenters, the impact on employeelink.springer.com/…/10.1007%2Fs004…‎‎‎