• October 1, 2008

Feedback: October 2008

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No Wonder They’re Calling It Quits

After reading your article, “Calling It Quits” (August 2008), you totally missed the answer. What’s changed in the last 10 years is how reps are measured. The measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) is the true culprit, especially when the KPI's are inversely related, forcing the rep to balance as many as eight objectives at once. I’ve seen this, working for a large cellular company—and I can provide examples, even examples on customer call-back surveys: “Yes, let’s call an angry customer for a survey right after the call.” I’ve listened to these calls; the rep could not have been better working with a difficult, unreasonable individual—yet was held accountable and marked against.

Now consider the intense dashboard/micromanagement style used in contact centers. This can create a focus on negative rather than positive performance aspects. Add that to interfacing with demanding customers, and common sense truly does not prevail. Reps and their supervisors are in a losing position.

Better hires? Now that’s truly brilliant. “Yes, we’ll hire better, maybe provide cash incentives to some of our better reps to make hire recommendations!” Ridiculous. A low-paying, stressful job with little reward—hmmm, let’s move the contact center to the Philippines. Yeah, that’s the answer.

You were right about the impact of technology—but real-time, actionable measurement technology will cause a further increase in rep dissatisfaction, turnover, etc. Just remember: Today’s contact centers are managed in a manner similar to the old factory assembly lines. But hey, let’s hang some balloons around the contact center so that the reps can feel good about themselves.

David Boyle


Your article (“Calling It Quits,” August 2008) really struck home as I reviewed it. I don’t know whether you’re old enough to remember those good old days when you called a number and connected with a switchboard operator, who sat at her job with myriad wires and plugs, and who could almost always give you an instant connection to, or at least close to, the party with the solution to your problem. (I know because I moonlighted as my school’s switchboard operator.)

In today’s world, equivalency to this should be the gold standard, but it’s not. This week alone, I felt I contributed to the potential departures of at least three agents. Several calls I’ve made (for various kinds of service) connected me with automatic choice-givers—none of which matched my particular problem, and none of which provided an exit strategy to get to a real, live person. This tended to so enrage me that when I finally did the research to call back and reach an individual, I had become so frustrated that I tended to make that person a scapegoat and had to try to hold back and return to civility. It’s no wonder agents in those situations want out.

The auto-answerers seemed like a good idea initially but I believe they have outworn their welcome. They put the time burden on the customer, not to mention the stress in coping with and remembering multiple choices and numbers for inquiries that should only take seconds or maybe minutes of the customer’s time—and instead become unendurable.

The present generation is literally being abused by technology—and they don’t know it because they never had the chance to know what real service was like.

In closing, there was a time when a company would be embarrassed if there was any delay in correctly, and promptly, servicing a customer. Why can’t technology strive to bring that objective back? (Maybe it is—but it’s taking too long.)

Bob Kimmel
(A senior who longs for the old days.)


Making CRM Social
Brilliant post! (Viewpoint: “Attaining Enterprise 2.0 Through ‘Social CRM,’ ” July 29, http://snipurl.com/3nb9l.) The observations by Oracle’s Anthony Lye are right on target, particularly this one: “At its very heart, CRM is all about knowing your customer better, which requires the right information, at the right time, delivered in the right way.” Bingo! This is precisely the value that “socialprise” applications—i.e., converged social media and enterprise applications—bring to the ho-hum world of business computing. Socialprise delivers the who, what, and when about your customers, where you need it most (e.g., inside your CRM). Is anyone else as excited as I am to hear this coming from Oracle’s leadership? Bravo to Oracle’s Social CRM team. The concept has wings (just ask CRM guru Brent Leary).

Marc Perramond

An Eloquent Rebuttal
good article on Web services APIs (“Eloqua Opens Up with Web Services,” Aug. 26, http://snipurl.com/3nb7u), but Eloqua’s claim to be the first marketing/lead automation vendor to launch an open API came as a big surprise to us: Silverpop’s Vtrenz solution launched one in 2006. In fact, we have dozens of clients using the API for a variety of technical integrations and processes, and many clients using it for off-the-shelf integrations with leading CRM applications. We congratulate Eloqua for finally launching what our Vtrenz clients have already enjoyed for some time, and look forward to continuing coverage of this exciting and rapidly growing space.

Loren McDonald
VP, Industry Relations

Letters may be edited for length or clarity.

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