The lesson of the 10-key redial

Oh yes, the ubiquitous Redial button on modern telephones. We take it for granted all the time as it helps us save time and the energy of lifting our fingers to press more keys. It allows us to free our brain cells for more important memories, such as remembering 911 and the number to the nearest pizza joint. It is probably as important an invention as the wheel, the light bulb, the transistor, or even — gasp! — sliced bread.

What happens when the Redial button is absent on a phone?! That travesty of a phone indeed appeared during one of my past projects. A team member very much needed to repeat his previously dialed number which was written on a piece of paper. But there was no button labeled Redial on his desk phone, so naturally he raised his fist and cursed the PBX gods to no end.

Being the snarky member of the team, I made a profound, almost Zen-like remark to him: Of course there is a Redial feature, it’s a 10-key redial.

He was not amused, and I quietly went back to pretending to be busy at doing something CTI-ish.

But there is a lesson here… and that’s to avoid taking any simple technological feature for granted. Furthermore, always remember how to do things the “old” way.

In all CTI implementations there is a law. The law simply states, The contact center agent cannot live without CTI once it has been deployed successfully. In other words, an agent becomes dependent on the softphone and screen-pop, unconsciously taking CTI for granted. Remove CTI and the agent becomes incapacitated. AHT and call abandoned rate start going up and now the supervisors start freaking out. Soon enough the whole center becomes a zoo showcasing animals with headsets attached to their ears.

I propose that every well-managed contact center ought to schedule drills to simulate a CTI “system down” crisis. Take the CTI system offline and instruct the agents on how to continue to take calls, be courteous to callers, and continue to perform their tasks effectively. It should be part of the staff training. Go back to the analog technologies — pen and paper — if necessary. As long as calls are still arriving at the center then there is absolutely no excuse to make customers suffer because of your staff’s addiction to screen-pops.

In my past projects I have never seen a client implementing such a drill. Most of the time it was just documenting procedures for a CTI down scenario. Perhaps we all have overwhelming faith in CTI technology for it to be near-perfect? I don’t know about you, but my cable broadband goes down once in a while and my cell phone still drops calls in 2010.


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