Why Do You Want To Be The Same Mediocre Loser?

The most common calls I used to field at Gartner were people looking for average metrics. The conversation would be:

“We are measuring Average Handle Time and we need to know what the average is for our industry”
“Why are you measuring AHT?”
“Well, that is something we have always done – so we want to know if we are doing the same as everybody else”
(picture a Bugs Bunny cartoon, crickets chirping, no other noises)

Most organizations are using metrics without knowing why and want to make sure they are doing it the same as everybody else.  They don’t know where they are going, but want to make sure they don’t get there too fast!

Why be like everybody else? Are you assuming that they are all doing such an exceptional job at Customer Service that if you meet their metrics you’d do the same? Not only that is not true, but that leaves out the ability of your organization to do something unique and different and use that as a differentiator.

When Four Seasons delivers exceptionally personalized customer service –do they want to make sure that no one talks to a guest on the phone for more than three minutes?

When Zappos tries to wow each customer by exceeding their expectations –are they ensuring they won’t spend more than two minutes on hold on the phone?

Emulating other’s metrics only makes sense if you have their exact strategy and setup.  If you operations and processes are identical.  If you can never aspire to be more than mediocre and have to depend on someone else to tell you how to act and behave to impress your customers.

Do you want to deliver mediocre results as your competitor tells you it should be done?

5 Replies to “Why Do You Want To Be The Same Mediocre Loser?”

  1. The good news is that I talk with more and more call center leaders who have moved away from the old standards such as AHT and service level to focus more on customer sat, quality, FCR, and proditability.

    That said, there are still many businesses who view the call center as a necessary evil and metrics as a tool to prove they are doing good enough. Those are the folks you are referencing in this article – they are looking for support for the idea that they’ve done enough.

    Benchmarking studies are another favorite tool of these managers. We have examples of world class sales/service behavior – some that you reference above – but it is convenient to compare myself to others in my industry so I don’t have to stretch.


  2. Mark,

    Thanks for the validation. I have basically the same experiences and find it rewarding to work with the former in your example. Of course, that brings the issues of properly defining the metrics that matter and determining what really constitutes a cost and a revenue (for example, when is FCR truly completed if you have a multi-channel experience? how do you calculate profitability if you don’t know the true cost of customer acquisition? etc.).

    Alas, I will take those problems anytime over trying to convince the old guard that they need to change. That is the closest thing I have ever seen to a fool errand.

    Thanks for reading, keep up the good work at TriSynergy!


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