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Just Shut Up And Take The Win

May 1, 2017

It was ten minutes to launch time. The nervousness I have before we launch a new line of business was tempered by the fact that I’d checked and double-checked everything.

It takes weeks to launch a new line in the call center business. There’s the people aspect, of course. You have to train new agents, (typically a multi-week process.) I had very little to do with that portion. My role was the make sure the IT functions were complete. Calls are routed using something called “skills.” You need a separate skill for each type of call you intend to take. The skills have numbers associated with them for tracking purposes. We were launching Skill 2520 last Friday.

To make the skills work, you also have to have telecom routing rules defined. When you dial 1-800-helpline, the phone company figures out first who owns that number. Then, they route the call to that company. The company has routing defined to make sure that those calls go to the right group. There are more pieces involved, but it’s enough to say, there’s a pretty strong IT piece involved.

We define and test the skills long before the day of our first call. We will configure the routing and associate that routing with a particular skill. (In this case 2520.) Then, we’ll take an agent and “skill” them to 2520 and have them log into the phone. Finally, we’ll send a test call to the VDN associated with skill 2520 and make sure the test agent actually gets the call. It’s a little complicated, but we do it a lot and it’s part of the reason they haven’t hired a trained monkey to do my job, yet. (That and the monkey asked for too much money.)

Our test calls had been completed weeks ago. Friday was the launch day. We were supposed to take our first call at 8:00AM. At 7:48AM, I was standing on the call floor going over anything I might have missed. The agents, fresh out of weeks stuck in a classroom were anxious to get on the phone and talk to real live members. Supervisors were getting their teams online.

Okay, everyone go ahead and start logging in. We still have a few minutes before the calls will start.

I was logged into a conference call with our client and other members of our launch team. We’d all been through this before, so we understood the drill. We’d get our agents logged in and have their phones set on “available.” The client would check their monitoring dashboards and when they could see the same number logged in as we were showing on our end, they would start sending us calls.

It can be a bit of drama as we wait for that first call to arrive.

We had drama last week, just not what we were expecting.

Okay, Rodney, I see your first agent logged in. How many do you have total this morning?

I think we should have 19 total.

Oh wait! Can you have them switch to unavailable?


We just sent you the first call!

Someone screwed up. They were supposed to be blocking all calls until 8:00AM. When we launch, anything within 10 minutes is considered a good launch. If we take the first call within 30 minutes, that’s still considered okay. But, we are never supposed to take calls early.

We can try to get them to switch to unavailable. Some aren’t even logged in yet.

Well, never mind. I guess we’ll just keep going. It’s too much to try to change it now.

I could hear the disappointment in my friend’s voice. We work for months to present a flawless launch and we are all disappointed when something goes wrong. As screw-ups go, this one was minor. And our agents were completely at ease through the entire thing.

However, not everyone was disappointed. My collegues on the business side were thrilled that they were able to not only launch on time, but early!

Sometimes, it’s just better to be quiet and take credit for the win.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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