An Advice Column Only for
Contact Center Managers
At the beginning of each year Dina Vance, Senior Vice President, Managing Director, North America for Ulysses Learning, shares her thoughts with clients on how to capitalize on the promise of a new year. After receiving several “thumbs up” from readers who resonated with Dina’s message for 2018, we thought we would share that with you now in this month’s Challenge Solved.
Here’s Dina response on business inspiration she received from a 300,000-year-old crater!
What adventures are in store for you and your contact center in 2018? If you’re wondering how you and your team will accomplish all you’ve set out to achieve in the new year, let me offer a few ideas inspired by a visit to a 300,000-year-old crater.
To queue up these ideas, I’ll tell you the tale of my recent trek to the top of Diamond Head on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. For those of you who are aware of my general lack of cardiovascular fitness, I’m imagining that you’re already chortling about what this story could be about.
I had heard that if you’re going to O’ahu, the must-see attraction is Diamond Head which offers breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu (shout out to Jeff Schmidt for making the recommendation). Jeff, a Ulysses client who lives in Hawaii, was also quick to offer this advice: wear appropriate gym shoes, Dina.
Upon doing a little research before embarking on this adventure, I uncovered that the Diamond Head trail takes you to the edge of a 300,000-year-old crater. Parts of the trail are on uneven rock and there is a 99-step staircase near the end of the hike that takes you straight to the top.
To prepare for the journey, my family and I found the nearest Target and loaded up on appropriate hiker-approved footwear, clothing, and sunscreen along with high-performance hydration (water infused with electrolytes), and finally a locally-prepared pineapple concoction made especially for those hiking Diamond Head.
As soon as our Diamond Head adventure begins, my daughter snaps this picture of a small group of women dressed in heels zipping past us on the trail. The speed at which they trekked took my breath away. Right behind these women were the rest of their group, including men and women in their 70s and 80s.
I didn’t give it too much thought though. I was more concerned about my own perilous trek. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you we were struggling most mightily up the trail. It’s exceedingly uneven and your feet slip with every step.
Some time passes and the women we saw going up the mountain, are now passing us going down—high heels still intact. I started to panic. A few moments later I saw the older gentlemen following them in their group and I asked “I remember seeing you earlier. Are we almost to the top?” He proceeded to tell us that we did see him earlier as he and his group go up and down the trail THREE times before leaving Diamond Head and “Keep telling yourself that you are almost there…it will make you feel better.”
When we did eventually make it to the top I had a good laugh at his comment. If he had told me that we were actually only a third of the way up, I would have turned around and called it a day. I am glad to report that my family and I truly did appreciate the reward after the hard journey.
Here are a few business ideas I want to share with you thanks to my Diamond Head experience.
1) Go Boldly. Are there projects that you know your contact center needs to get done in the new year? Be bold, lead the way, and take action. Seeing and “scaling” Diamond Head truly was one of the most memorable experiences of our trip. Sometimes the “mountain” ahead of us seems daunting and yet if you just get started on the path it becomes more manageable. I hear all the time “I can never find time to coach my team” and my response is start with 15 minutes a day and build from there. Just get on the trail.
2) Don’t over think or over plan. Planning and thinking about your plan is needed, yes, but we all know there is a point where too much planning and thinking just doesn’t make sense. By not taking action, you may actually end up costing your business more. Once you get to the point where you know you need or want to do something to improve your business and you have a suitable alternative or plan, just get on with it. Remember, many times the best plans unfold when you take one step at a time. Be the one who hikes up the mountain to Diamond Head in whatever shoes are on your feet. Many of our clients have created excellent reinforcement campaigns to drive performance, but you know the secret to the ones with the most success—they didn’t take a lot of planning and they were easy to implement. Sometimes too much is just too much.
3) And, lastly, embrace the mindset “out with the old, in with the new”. Are there items on your “list” that carried over from 2017? Are these carry overs nice to have or need to have? If your annual performance is not directly tied to that item, release it from your 2018 priorities. Many years ago, I worked with a bank president who placed a pile of “nice to do” projects or communications to consider on the far corner of his desk. He gave himself a business quarter to get to this pile. At the end of the quarter, the remaining items in the pile were tossed. Ultimately, they were not that important. He moved on with the other “must have” priorities which he kept front and center on his desk. It was a great way to lead by example.
Yes, it’s time to prioritize and take meaningful, inspired action to make the most of 2018. My wish for you is that you’ll have your own Diamond Head experience where the exertion of your team’s accomplishment will be the finest reward. It’s time for you and your contact center to scale the mountain!
All the best to you as you embark upon your 2018 adventure,
Senior Vice President,
Managing Director, North America
Dina Vance, is a widely-respected thought leader on developing and leading contact center customer service, sales and coaching staff, and a pioneer in optimizing contact center performance through a focus on results, people, and process.
In her current capacity with Ulysses Learning, Dina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and also serves as the chief client relationship executive, working with Fortune 100 clients and other progressive organizations to redefine the way customers are cared for. Under her leadership, Ulysses has become well known for its work in transforming customer service, sales, and coaching cultures through the development of emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently and expertly applied on every call. The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities, and financial services industries.
Before joining Ulysses in 1999, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers which led to her accepting a role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization.
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