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Call Handing - Using a “Motto with Muscle” to Improve Customer Service

July 14, 2021 | 4min read

Call Center Main Purpose

When SQM examined call centers that deliver world-class customer service, it was discovered that employees from the senior management level to the agent level clearly understood the call center’s main purpose. Understanding the main purpose is one of the key reasons why world class call centers have high First Call Resolution (FCR), excellent customer service, lower operating costs, and higher employee satisfaction.

​The vast majority of organizations have a vision and mission statement, but very few call centers have a vision and mission statement specific to their call center’s main purpose. SQM considers having a vision, mission, motto with muscle statement, and key performance indicators specific to the call center to be a best practice for defining and communicating their main purpose. Therefore, call center management should develop the main purpose model that includes a vision statement, mission statement, motto statement, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

​The below model is an effective way to describe the call center’s main purpose and KPI performance metrics that can be used to determine if a call center is achieving its vision and mission. The call center’s main purpose model should also be communicated on call center walls, via newsletters, intranet, meetings, TV monitors, and documents.

​Suppose the call center main purpose is communicated enough and the commitment at all levels is high. In that case, it will start to change how agents, support, fulfillment department employees, and managers use the call center’s main purpose model as a guiding principle for the way they work.

Senior call center managers should be responsible for developing the call center’s main purpose model because they typically define and deliver the goals and expectations to all call center employees. Figure 1 is an example of a call center main purpose model for a call center that aspires to be at the world-class customer service level and includes the following:

  • Vision statement - What the call center should look like in the future
  • Mission statement - How the call center should operate today
  • Motto statement - How you want agents to handle calls
  • KPIs - Metrics that can be used to determine if the call center is achieving its vision and mission statements

Figure 1: Call Center’s Main Purpose Model (Example)

Cal Center Call Handling Purpose


Call Handling ‘Motto with Muscle’

Having a call handling ‘motto with muscle’ that agents can use to assist them in resolving calls can be a beneficial practice for improving First Call Resolution. For example, an SQM client had improved their FCR performance by 8% in one year. Their improvement was not a result of processes or technology advancement; rather, it was due to creating an environment of agents who ‘go the extra mile’. This client created this environment by using an agent call handling ‘motto with muscle’ approach called ‘I own it’. 

​The client would not contribute their significant FCR improvement entirely to creating a call handling ‘motto with muscle’ business practice but would say this approach significantly helped them improve their FCR performance. The muscle component of the motto is the key. As a prominent president of a prestigious company said, “A motto without muscle means nothing.” In other words, if it does not have ‘muscle’, it means nothing to the agents who need to put it into practice, and it has meaning only to those who wrote it. Interestingly, most clients that SQM consults with who have achieved quick FCR improvements created an environment where agents ‘go the extra mile’ through a ‘motto with muscle’ call handling practice.

Motto with Muscle

Call Handling ‘Motto with Muscle’ Tips

  • The motto should be simple and actionable (e.g., ‘I own it’, ‘who hears the call owns the call’, ‘I resolved it’ and ‘I solved it’)
  • Business practices need to support the motto (e.g., concierge service for contacting an external organization or internal department)
  • Authority level that supports the motto (e.g., agent has appropriate authority level or can easily seek out the person who does have the authority level)
  • In the QA form, adherence to the motto is evaluated (e.g., ‘Did the agent own it?’, if the answer is ‘No’, then the agent fails the QA evaluation)
  • Remove roadblocks that are hindering agents from achieving the motto (e.g., using focus groups or employee satisfaction surveys to identify the roadblocks that need to be removed)

  • Create accountability at the management level for enabling agents to achieve the motto (e.g., can be done by conducting employee satisfaction surveys to find out if agents believe that management is enabling them to achieve the motto)
  • Remove Average Handle Time (AHT) requirements when appropriate (e.g., for certain calls, encourage agents to take the necessary time to resolve the calls)
  • Provide training to agents so they can achieve the motto (e.g., ensure that the agents have the necessary call type training to resolve the customers call on the first call)

At the call center that had improved their FCR, partly by using a ‘motto with muscle’ of ‘I own it’, an agent said they had improved their FCR/call resolution performance drastically by having a high ‘I own it’ attitude.

The agent also said that the ‘I own it’ motto is highly encouraged by all levels of management. In their mind, the fact that management supported and encouraged the motto through their words and policies gave them the feeling that the ‘I own it’ motto was important for them to ‘go the extra mile’ for the customer.

Furthermore, the agent felt that delivering on the motto was helping the customer and the organization. The agent was not punished by management for going the extra mile (e.g., increasing AHT to ‘go the extra mile’ to resolve the customer’s call). The bottom line is that an effective motto, such as ‘I own it’, serves as a catalyst for agents to take ownership for resolving a customer’s call.

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