Letters

This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Give call centre staff an incentive

I agree with your article "Call centre brain drain due to lack of
training", (News, 21 August 2001) that opportunities, training and career
paths are important retention matters. However, I feel there are some important
factors that are often overlooked – namely the job design and the management
approach.

If the roles were designed correctly, there would be no need for motivation
or retention programmes. There will always be a need for training, but this is
secondary to a rewarding job.

Designing job roles that are rewarding in themselves calls for some new
thinking. However, the contact centre manager runs into a number of
difficulties here.

The software tools for staffing don’t easily accommodate roles other than
answering phones. So how do you work out productivity and justify better roles,
even if intuitively you know productivity and effectiveness would increase?

As long as we see front-line staff as nothing more than telephone answering
machines and management continues to use production-based staffing models to
extract every second out of each agent, the industry will continue to
experience heavy attrition and a continued brain drain. Even training has
succumbed to the trap, "Can’t free people up for training, productivity
will drop".

One answer is to consider the contact centre as the front end of the whole
organisation, then design the agent’s role in such a way as to make them
responsible for the service or product delivery end-to-end, even if it goes
outside the contact centre.

Even more radically, why not remove measures and targets of call answering
and average handling time from the agent and replace these with measures
related to what matters to the customer and make the agents responsible for
improving them.

I suggest the real candidates for training are the people in charge of the
contact centre manager and IT companies who present productivity tools as the
answer to the managers’ problems.

Only when the industry changes its primary focus on productivity measures in
favour of real customer service supplied by staff working in well-designed,
rewarding roles, can the industry rid itself of the brain drain.

Stephen Parry
Strategy and organisational development manager, ICL helpdesk

Firms try to make e-learning work

I noted the comments of Phil Chalk of KMP Internet (News, 24 July) about the
money wasted by UK businesses because staff are not trained in using
e-learning.

Companies are taking steps to introduce training that maximises software
application and use of e-learning.

Two years, ago my company comprised a man, a boy and a dog. Today, we have
110 people around the world, because we created a tool which shows people how
to use new software and helps them retain this knowledge.

UK businesses seem to be waking up to the fact that the world’s best
software is of little benefit unless people know how to use it.

Brian Carroll
UK director X.HLP

Failure to grasp e-HR capabilities

The term e-HR is being used and abused. It now seems to cover anything from
the use of sophisticated Web-based HR systems with global access and automated
administration down to simply having the term "human resources" on a
company intranet.

For the more forward-thinking HR professionals, systems enable employees and
line managers to maintain basic personal data, review personal development
plans, learn online, investigate and express interest in internal vacancies,
confirm leave arrangements and a range of other administrative activities.
These facilities are available from anywhere in the world with the appropriate
security access in place.

The results of taking this true e-HR approach include much-improved
motivation levels, swifter processing and a big reduction in administration
costs.

Michael Richards
Chief executive, Snowdrop Systems

Need knowledge on knowledge

Can you help? I am currently undertaking a Masters degree in strategic HR.
For my thesis, I am investigating the implications of knowledge management for
the HR function and strategy.

I am seeking to conduct research within companies undertaking knowledge
management initiatives. I am particularly interested in knowledge-acquisition
and sharing initiatives. All contributions will be kept confidential.

Vanessa Giannos
vanessagiannos@hotmail.com

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