Empowering Change: What You Can Learn from Your Most Frustrated Employees


Recently, I was watching as one of the largest airlines in the world unloaded carry-on luggage from a regional jet. Overhead space was limited, so carry-on items needed to be checked and returned once the plane landed. As we exited, all the passengers lined up on both sides of the jet bridge waiting for our luggage. Eventually, one airline employee arrived up front and started haphazardly unloading and piling bags into a small area. Those of us waiting were all jockeying for a position to grab our own bag, located somewhere in this pile which was now about six feet deep.

Why didn’t the luggage handler start lining the bags up on the opposite side of the jet bridge along the wall in single file order?  Why were people stepping on top of each other to get their bags?  Have you ever been in the position of knowing there is a better process or procedure that could be implemented?

It’s so frustrating to be a part of something you want to change when you’re not in a position of influence. However, I am betting that this is not the case when it comes to your contact center. There has to be at least one thing that you have input on in terms of streamlining a process or procedure, right? In my situation, I was probably not as powerless as I felt. I could have asked the baggage attendant to request that the travelers stand to one side and wait in line until they saw their bags.

I also have a suspicion that if someone had asked this airline employee about her biggest frustrations, they might have started with:

  • I wish there was a way we could…
  • Why can’t we ever…
  • I don’t understand why…
  • It doesn’t make sense that…

If you are hearing any of these phrases from your employees, stop and listen. What follows is usually a valuable clue to a process that at best could be streamlined or improved – and at worst might be negatively impacting your business’ operations, customer experience and profitability.

Empowering an employee to make one small change in the contact center could have a significant impact on their productivity and outlook, while at the same time improving your customers’ experience.

Better yet, why not ask the people who are actually doing the job what they need in order to be more successful? I am sure the airline employee that I encountered would have an idea or two to share. So will your contact center agents.

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