Call centers have taken a lot of heat over the years and rightly so, dealing with them is like carrying a snowball thru death valley – it’s a long shot. Why is a risk management guy talking about call centers? Because Risk Management is more than safety, more than long contracts, it’s also about marketing your message. And when you market your message to your internal staff who are supposed to be helping other staff members resolve their problems, risk gets ugly – hostile work environments, privacy concerns, turnover issues and a host of other dilemmas we won’t mention.
I was recently in an IT department’s help desk bullpen of a fairly large school district (hence they have a help desk bullpen) and saw this poster. At first I admired the artwork and design, then I read the nice copy. And it hit me like a shot to the solar plexus – this poster is making fun of help desk callers, but it is being misinterpreted just like the Alex Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross movie yells – “always be closing.” It is meant to be a spoof, but people take it to heart. Take a look at the poster below and ask yourself how you feel if you are calling in to a help desk and this is the type of thoughts they have about you? More below image.
And that is the problem folks. It is the same problem we have in liability claims, work comp claims and the like. We maintain preconceived notions of people and that leads us down the wrong track. If you want to save money, increase retention and solve problems, then you have to set the right tone and culture. And that starts with treating people with respect and getting rid of posters like this.