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Author's profile photo John Burton

Customer Service New Year’s Resolutions: Eat More Chocolate, Drink More Wine, Sleep In Longer!

@Rob Qld 2.jpgIt’s no secret that many of us struggle with our weight, fitness, and health – especially during the holidays. Part of the issue, particularly for business folks who work at a desk in an office, is that well… we work at desk, in an office.

Generations ago many of us had jobs that involved strenuous physical labor and hours of walking around on our feet. Farming, mining, manufacturing, construction, or maintenance will get you fit faster than any gym membership! But today, with the exceptions of postal letter carriers and Zumba instructors, most of us aren’t getting much exercise during the workday (unless you consider banging on your keyboard and cursing your computer as exercise).

And let’s not get started on the temptation of holiday food – all that stuffing and mashed potatoes, cookies and pumpkin pie. Oh my! And when it’s already dark and cold by the time we leave the office, who can blame us for skipping the gym and head straight home to hibernate. It’s no wonder that we put on a few extra holiday pounds.

Then predictably, each January, we flock to health clubs like salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Nobody really knows how or why or we do it. Perhaps it’s just something programmed into our DNA. But every year we make the same new year’s resolution that this is going to be the year we get fit and dramatically change our life. We strap on the sweat bands, knee braces, and heart rate monitors. And then we hit the gym running. It’s fast, its furious. There’s sweat flying everywhere. And then around February it all fizzles out.

The same thing happens in the business world with customer service departments. Each year companies read the annual reports where their industry – or worse yet their actual company – is prominently featured in a “Top 10 Worst Customer Service of 2013” list. The company promises that this is going to be the year that they revamp their cludgy self-service website, fully empower their hapless contact center agents, and re-energize their disgruntled front-line employees.

The CEO summons his troops. The line of business managers scramble into action. Customer surveys are furiously fired off. Feedback is collected, collated, clustered, calibrated, and cross-examined. But by then it’s late February and everyone’s attention has shifted to the lagging Q1 pipeline. It’s back to business as normal.

Here’s the problem with new year’s resolutions. They are usually made under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. After a dozen champagne toasts nothing seems impossible! Sure, you can sculpt your abs like Channing Tatum or Alessandra Ambrosio  by summertime.  Of course you can totally revamp you customer service department overnight. But then the hangover and reality set in.

With unrealistic overly-aggressive new year’s resolutions like this, we would be just as well off resolving to eat more chocolate, drink more wine, and sleep in longer. We might not end up with chiseled abs or a best-in-class Net Promoter score, but at least we would be happier. Besides chocolate and wine are both packed with anti-oxidants and studies have shown that getting more sleep improves everything from brain function to libido!

You’ve probably seen the WestJet Christmas Miracle video that went viral on YouTube and Facebook last week featuring a flight of passengers who got to talk with  Santa at a kiosk in the boarding area before their flight and were surprised with wrapped packages in the baggage claim area when they landed. It’s a great publicity stunt. But it’s not a business model. With airlines charging these days for everything from checked baggage to pillows and blankets, no one’s going to stay in business by giving away flat screen TVs to all their passengers.

A better and more realistic approach is to pick one or two manageable but critical goals to focus our efforts on. For example, maybe cutting out soda and candy, and eating more raw fruits and vegetables. Or, on the business side, replacing that old outdated ACD/PBX in the contact center with a new state of the art IP-communications system (like SAP Business Communications Management) that lets contact center agents collaborate in real-time with anyone across the customer service organization, from reps in the field to knowledge workers in the back office.

New year’s resolutions don’t have to be grandiose. But they should be meaningful, and of course achievable.

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