How to Be a Better Team Leader: A Case Study

Let's Grow Leaders

After all this was a recognition focus group for the top reps in this enormous call center. accountability Authenticity confidence Fear and Courage grow your career Risk taking call centers career development disengagement employee engagement frontline leader frontline leadership leadership team leaders Team Leader Turmoil “I used to be one of those disengaged reps, you’re talking about.” We were all a bit shocked by Mike’s response.

5 Ways to Unblock Leadership Energy

Let's Grow Leaders

I felt my energy drain as I drove toward the call center. The center’s results were stagnant– it was time to dig deeper. I was there to help, but also to deliver some tough messages. Necessary, not fun.

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Getting Things Done: How Great Leadership Moves From Talk To Action

Terry Starbucker

I would have several management calls a week that were focused on that kind of feedback, involving all the key players, that were absolutely invaluable. Leaders do a lot of talking.

Competitive Advantage from the Bottom of the Pyramid


One company is the global conglomerate LG and the other is a social enterprise start-up based out of India called Sevamob. They provide advice on the spot and can create “trouble tickets” which are then handled by subject matter experts via a network, coordinated by a 24/7 call center.

On leadership: My video interview with serial entrepreneur Chris Ducker!

Bernd Geropp

With his company Group Live2Sell Chris offers quality inbound call center services and Telemarketing services for B2B and B2C. Serial Entrepreneur Chris Ducker. Two weeks ago I attended the New Media Expo in Las Vegas.

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Employee Recognition: Why It’s So Important and How to Do It

Chart Your Course

The Harvard Business Review published the results of a study that followed employees of a Chinese call center called Ctrip. Half of the workers telecommuted for nine months while the rest remained in the call center.

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Morning Advantage: The Most Important Stories of 2013

Harvard Business Review

And the bottom dropped out of the Indian outsourcing industry, which contracted as much as 80% while the Indian firm Aegis outsourced its call center — to Dallas. All of which points to a 2013 that looks nothing like 2012. While attention was focused on the rise of the Latino vote, Asians overtook Latin Americans as the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S, Foreign Policy reports in this intriguing list of the 10 most overlooked stories of 2012.

Working from Home: A Work in Progress

Harvard Business Review

A study by Stanford researchers revealed significant differences between call center employees in a Chinese company who were randomly assigned to work from home for nine months and those who were not. It''s now been about six weeks since all Yahoo!

We Appreciate Your Business. Please Stay on the Line.

Harvard Business Review

No big deal, I thought: Simply call the bank. When I got home, I eventually found, hidden on a remote corner of the web site, the number to call for lost cards. On a recent business trip I somehow left my credit card at a restaurant in San Juan.

Emerging-Market Engineers Power Global Innovation

Harvard Business Review

Captive R&D Centers. And this estimate does not count legions of foreign-born and foreign-educated techies who populate R&D centers in hotspots such as Silicon Valley.

Make Your Work More Meaningful

Harvard Business Review

I saw this firsthand when I was a PhD student, in the call center of a large telecommunications company. The pace of work was relentless: as soon as a worker completed a call and hung up the phone, another call would automatically be directed to his or her extension.

New Research: You're Doing Customer Experience Innovation Wrong

Harvard Business Review

In 2013, only 8% of the companies in this annual benchmarking survey received a top grade from their customers — and that''s a pathetically low number in comparison to the amount of professed innovation in the industry. "Innovation" has become a buzzword in the customer experience field.

Make Sure Your Dream Company Can Find You

Harvard Business Review

An HBR Insight Center. It used to be that if you wanted to work for a certain company, you went in for an informational interview or waited for a job opening and submitted your resume. These days, you may be better off liking the company on Facebook or joining their Google+ page.

The Customer Support Hierarchy of Needs

Harvard Business Review

I call this the Great Pyramid of Support Needs. Rows of call center agents patiently guiding customers through their scripted responses and canned email responses aren’t going to cut it, when your customers are on so many different channels.

FAQ 16

QR Codes Aren't Dead Yet

Harvard Business Review

What makes that camera different from all the others Canon makes is not its serial number, but a QR code like the one on the left, called a TalkTag. Messages back and forth are also private and can take many forms, including texts, instant messages, email, phone calls, or whatever.

CRM 16

How IT Professionals Can Embrace the Serendipity Economy

Harvard Business Review

That means not just finding serendipity in the business, but examining your own shop for new value that can''t be found in lines of code per day or the speed of a call center response. Reinventing Corporate IT An HBR Insight Center.

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Here's How to Actually Empower Customer Service Employees

Harvard Business Review

But combining effective best practices from these diverse organizations and others provides a methodology for building a front line-focused organization, as well as the leadership required to enable your front line to make real-time judgment calls.

Mayo 16

Keeping Work Organized when Your Team Is Fragmented

Harvard Business Review

While companies have outsourced low-value work such as payroll processing and call centers for decades, today they farm out critical activities. The retailer now sees inventory accumulating in real time without the administrative overhead of phone calls, e-mails and faxes.

Don’t Let Data Paralysis Stand Between You and Your Customers

Harvard Business Review

To open a bank account today, for instance, a typical customer embarks on a multichannel journey: researching online; downloading an application; speaking to a call center agent; linking brokerage accounts; visiting a branch; and installing the bank’s mobile app. In one example, a leading European energy company generated a lot of data, but most of it was siloed within the web team, call center, and marketing functions.

Leading by Letting Go

Harvard Business Review

The answer many have latched onto might best be called “Tightening the Grip.” In a customer service center, for example, you would create scripts for every possible interaction. You’d ensure quality by listening to recordings and holding service representatives accountable for meeting detailed standards, such as using a customer’s name a certain number of times on each call. You would also monitor average call time closely for every representative.

Six Fundamentals Every Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

Harvard Business Review

What is markedly different about the company is these rates are only available through the call center. Others travel sites outsource their call centers overseas and really push all interactions to be electronic. At, we are a deal and value site, where we use pricing and a well-trained call center to stand out. A sound model doesn''t mean you can''t deviate from the model and innovate when it is the right call.

The Best Way for New Leaders to Build Trust

Harvard Business Review

I spent more than four hours listening in to client support calls at the call center. To say they were surprised is an understatement: Many CEOs never visit the call center, and virtually none do it their first afternoon on the job. In the middle of my first week as CEO, one of the company’s original VCs called. “So,

How Advertisers Can Maximize Mobile Conversions

Harvard Business Review

They do benefit if that user fills out a form, calls to request an appointment, or gets directions. Many mobile marketing services offer to qualify the lead for you, using a call center service to follow up with the customer using the number they provided on the (very short) form.

The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally)

Harvard Business Review

Consider what happened when a call-center company called Appletree consciously set about increasing compassion among employees. The company set up the equivalent of a “Make A Wish” foundation to serve its adult employees, which it called “ Dream On.” Call centers have a notoriously high turnover rate, largely because the employees listen to unhappy callers all day.)

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The Five Superpowers of Marketing

Harvard Business Review

As Caroline says, “The whole program is about putting small business at the center of the conversation. Retailers have stores, call centers, and e-commerce. Customers are more connected and empowered than ever before. If you want to win their hearts and minds, you have to master the latest technology, assimilate vast quantities of data, engage and delight your customers, and deliver products and services that surpass expectations.

Three Questions to Consider Before Deciding Where to Locate Your Start-Up

Harvard Business Review

From engineer to call center employee, people loved being at Zappos. About twice a month I get the opportunity to sit in on Seed and Series A stage startup pitches in Washington DC. However, the unfortunate truth is that those talented founders I see aren’t generally in the right city to build their businesses.

What's Worse -- Glass Ceilings or Glass Cellars?

Harvard Business Review

This was an issue I'd asked about in my essay called "The Silent Sex" in the March issue of HBR. But what's the view like today from the middle manager's office, the R&D lab, the IT service desk, the call center, the assembly line, the retail store floor, the college classroom? Benevolent sexism. Motherhood penalty. Dominant negotiation paradigm. These were some of the ideas discussed at a conference on gender and work hosted by Harvard Business School last week.

What U.S. E-Commerce Can Learn from Its Global Copycats

Harvard Business Review

These are the so-called copycats, the Amazon imitators I mentioned above. From Zappos, it copied the ideas of putting its telephone number on every page (to build trust) and having employees work three days in call centers (to better understand customer issues).

Why Your IT Project Needs a Cognitive Scientist

Harvard Business Review

They also spend time in the field with inspectors (who conduct tax investigations) and call-center staffers (who negotiate with taxpayers). Our research, which has involved studying more than 50 international organizations in a variety of industries, has identified an alternative approach to big data and analytics projects that allows companies to continually exploit data in new ways. Instead of the deployment of technology, it focuses on the exploration of information.

In Performance Appraisals, Make Context Count

Harvard Business Review

Consider a call center where the performance of employees is assessed based on the volume of sales or the dollar amount of charitable donations. Every organization evaluates the performance of its employees in some way, whether that process is formal or informal, or on a regular cycle or an ad-hoc basis.

When Your Incentive System Backfires

Harvard Business Review

How many times have you seen an incentive system produce the exact opposite of the desired behavior? Why is that? And why can't organizations see, let alone fix, the problem? For example, I (Srikanth) went to visit a client in an Asian city. I stayed in a hotel in the middle of the city, and had to meet the client at his factory location that was quite far away. The client suggested that I catch the bus and gave me instructions. I went to the bus stop and waited.

Liberate Your Employees and Recharge your Business Model

Harvard Business Review

LiveOps is a fledgling provider of customer contact services maintains a virtual workforce of independent agents who, based on their schedules, signal their availability to join a pool of talent waiting to be "hired" once a call that matches their skills and experience comes in. Agents are paid only for their time spent on the call, and LiveOps gathers enough data on agent performance and abilities to intelligently route calls to the bets available agent.

How Companies Are Benefiting from “Lite” Artificial Intelligence

Harvard Business Review

Insight Center. ” When the company upgraded its commercial insurance line for small businesses a few years ago, the agents jammed internal call centers with questions about how the policies worked and how to set sales quotes.

How Local Governments Are Using Technology to Serve Citizens Better

Harvard Business Review

Insight Center. They offer subscription opportunities at call centers, customer service touchpoints, and community events, or on their social media accounts.

A Working from Home Experiment Shows High Performers Like It Better

Harvard Business Review

Marissa Mayer’s move to ban working from home at Yahoo in 2013 caused a media firestorm over the costs and benefits of this rapidly growing practice. Ctrip decided to run a nine-month experiment with its airfare and hotel divisions in the firm’s Shanghai headquarters call center.

The Traits of Socially Innovative Companies

Harvard Business Review

” Protests and calls for boycotts put Nike in the center of battles around globalization.

Using IoT Data to Understand How Your Products Perform

Harvard Business Review

The call center logs customer complaints. Insight Center. His wife called the manufacturer, who walked her through a troubleshooting routine, but to no avail. We’ve all seen some eye-bulging numbers in recent years about the internet of things (IoT).

How Life Insurers Can Bring Their Business into the 21st Century

Harvard Business Review

years in 2013. By collecting and organizing data from a variety of sources including phone calls, online interactions, and social media conversations, life insurers can personalize what they bring to the customer.

Rethinking the Bank Branch in a Digital World

Harvard Business Review

More US bank branches closed in 2013 than ever before. Rather than going the way of Tower Records, leading banks are reinventing themselves with innovative mashups of digital technologies and physical facilities, a combination we call “digical.”. Branches in the US accounted for roughly three-quarters of primary new account openings in 2013. More than 85% of retail banking transactions are now digital.

50 Companies That Get Twitter – and 50 That Don’t

Harvard Business Review

A witty comment or botched response on Twitter can travel to Facebook and even news websites in minutes (think of the Oreo tweet during the Superbowl blackout of 2013 ). call centers).

Recruiting Strategies for a Tight Talent Market

Harvard Business Review

Genesys, a pioneer of customer experience and call center software, has offices across the globe, and it’s growing quickly, having acquired 10 companies since 2012. “Feeling pinned down?” ” read the message targeted at Pinterest employees.

Stop Noise from Ruining Your Open Office

Harvard Business Review

A 2013 study from the University of Sydney found that a lack of sound privacy was far and away the biggest drain on employee morale : Further, a 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos found that workers lost as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions.

A Survey of 3,000 Executives Reveals How Businesses Succeed with AI

Harvard Business Review

Total investment (internal and external) in AI reached somewhere in the range of $26 billion to $39 billion in 2016, with external investment tripling since 2013. For example, the AI techniques implemented to improve customer call center performance could be very different from the technology used to identify credit card payments fraud. Photo by Aaron Burson.