Getting to the Catchpoint: Paving the Way to a Happy Ending for All
by Jean Marie Johnson
Many years ago, as the manager of a growing contact center, I hired a new associate named Keith. Keith was polished, articulate, kind and likeable. I was thrilled when he accepted our offer and knew that he would be a welcome addition to our team.
In the months that followed, my early enthusiasm turned to bewilderment and then dismay. To put it simply, Keith wasn't working out. While he had passed his initial training with flying colors, now his numbers were low on all counts. He wasn't handling enough calls, his talk time was too high; and, to my utter surprise, his new teammates were, shall we say, not exactly thrilled with Keith.
What Went Wrong?
The interview went well, Keith passed his training with flying colors, and he was enthusiastic. So, what happened? I was determined to get to the bottom of this.
After several coaching sessions with Keith, we finally got to the heart of the matter and Keith's catchpoint was clear: He hated this job. The more we talked, the better I understood what went awry.
At the slightest hint of an opportunity to educate the customer on a technical matter, Keith was off and running; he was in his element. This is where he felt most productive and most fulfilled. However, it was this very desire to help, even when not needed, that was making Keith ineffective in his role.
In retrospect, it made sense. Keith had come from another country where he had been trained as an engineer. Accepting our offer was part of his “foot in the door” strategy. After all, this was a Fortune 250 company with ample room to grow, and he was more than willing to pay his dues. But, while he may have been willing, he found it increasingly difficult to limit his conversations with customers.
The pieces started to come together – we had identified both the source of his low numbers and his personal dissatisfaction with his job.
Small Changes Yield Big Results
Now that we both understood why he was underperforming, Keith had a choice to make. He could commit to adjusting his approach to customers and move on, or experience the very real risk of losing his job. Keith chose to adjust, but not without a few adjustments on my part, too.
We worked together to tap into his expertise in a way that would benefit the team and our customers. Keith became the subject matter expert for technical questions. At each weekly huddle, he shared tips with teammates. He began to create much-needed documentation when call volume was low. And, at the same time, he kept his numbers within the acceptable range.
A Memorable Lesson for All
Two months later, Keith came to me one day to tell me that he was applying for an entry-level engineering position in one of our plants. With great humility, he asked if I would be a reference. I told him that it would be my privilege.
Keith went on to take that job and to excel. That Christmas, he came by to visit me at the contact center—a homemade rum cake in hand. It was a touching moment as we had traveled a road together that was ripe with learning—for both of us.
Keith's story serves as a reminder to get to the heart of the matter. Rather than focusing on what went wrong during the interview process and what I had missed, I talked with Keith, really listened and reflected back to him what I was beginning to hear. This allowed us to get to his catchpoint.
Keith's story had a happy ending and a positive outcome for Keith, for the team, for the company, and yes, even for me.
Jean Marie Johnson is a Communico facilitator and has helped clients with their MAGIC initiatives. And for 20 years she has specialized in cultivating the customer experience as a key competitive advantage.