03.04.2014
Contact centers are going through a series of changes of which many already are disrupting the status quo. This has to do with costs, benefits, changing customer expectations, the role of the end-to-end customer experience and the impact of technological evolutions. Just as virtually everything in a customer context is becoming omni-channel so are contact center interactions. Where do we seek support or answers to support-related questions regarding the services and products we use? Where we talk about multi-channel and omni-channel, reality is that from a customer behavior and organizational perspective, customer service has become increasingly chaotic. Growing customer expectations and the proliferation of support channels is one challenge among many others.
At first sight the answer to this totally shattered situation whereby people literally seek support everywhere, seems rather obvious.
Using the right technologies to offer service where it matters and to connect with all systems needed to streamline the processes, information flows and responses. Integrating everything so you can get a single view on all customer service related interactions. Turning the contact center into a hub that fits in the broader customer service hub that the organization as such increasingly becomes from both the customer service and customer experience viewpoint. Going for single customer (interaction) views, smarter routing of requests, unified communications. However, as is often the case the remedy to tackle the increasingly difficult customer service question, is not easy at all.
What we notice de facto is that, lacking a holistic view of the contact center, organizations keep working in siloed ways (that have a negative impact on customer service levels and overall customer experience and come with additional costs and sometimes even more costs. The overarching theme in the discussions regarding the contact center transformation and the very future of contact centers revolves around the fact that contact centers should be seen as a crucial strategic resource for organizations.
Within that overarching theme, and given the roots and mainly traditional view of the contact center as cost, the rethinking of the role of the contact center looks at it from a customer relationship or customer experience management perspective, depending on whom you talk with.
The increasing role of the customer experience as a business value creator and even differentiator (and, along with it the continuing customer experience gaps).
Changing customer expectations and behavior (also including digital technologies and driven by customer experiences with the best in class in various industries). The advent of technologies that enable and even force change, increasing competition, commoditization and saturation in many markets. The competive challenges of customer experience champions (who have deployed some of these technologies, improved their processes and created an entirely different approach). The position of the contact center in a holistic customer experience approach: research Research by the Customer Contact Association (CCA), found that customer service divisions and contact centers are not represented well enough in boards as their strategic role is indeed undervalued.
UK-based sabio, a provider of contact center and unified communications solutions, commissioned the Customer Contact Association to identify key contact center challenges in 2013. You can find more data in the infographic below (full PDF version here) and download the full report (PDF opens). ABOUT USi-SCOOP provides publications, educational resources, training and hands-on consulting regarding integrated marketing, digital business, transformation and organizational processes.
An Employee Team That Helps Each Other OutChris has been with Avendra Sales at American Hotel for 25 years, and gives credit to her own department as well as others across the company. Tobias Churton’s biography of Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), the most notorious and controversial spiritual figure of the 20th century, brings together a life of world-shaking ‘magick’, sexual and psychological experimentation at the outer limits, world-record-beating mountaineering and startling prophetic power – as well as poetry, adventure, espionage, wisdom, excess, and intellectual brilliance.
Churton has enjoyed the full co-operation of the world’s Crowley scholars to ensure the accuracy and plausibility of his riveting narrative. The book contains the first ever complete investigation of Crowley’s astonishing family background – including facts he concealed in his lifetime for fear of social prejudice.
Tobias Churton also gives us a detailed account of Crowley’s work as a British spy during World War I in Berlin during the early 1930s and during World War II.
Tobias Churton holds a Master’s degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, he is an Honorary Fellow of Exeter University and Faculty Lecturer in Western Esotericism. The Times talked with some Amazon employees but makes a point of saying that they were offered up by the company and so they are presumed to be like North Korean media handlers; they are to be discounted. I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I agree with your assessment that the piece, long as it was, needed to provide a better basis for readers to make up their own minds. Within about two weeks, we’ll have a pretty good, fully rounded-out portrayal of what Amazon is like as a workplace.
How many months, years or decades away do you think we are from seeing legacy publications treat their big stories as living, ongoing projects, rather than untouchable sculptures?
Hard to believe there would be this must concern about balance if this story was about General Motors or Walmart. It would have been more impressive had the NYT admitted that it was in effect attacking a competitor from the top of the article. I think the point of the article was that this is one possible future for too many businesses, and we should all be afraid, as it represents a powerful tool for the further Mexico-ization of the US, where a tiny elite group of 5 or 10,000 business executives dominate the rest of the population for their personal enrichment through a campaign of brutally savage work environments, the removal of any and all social safety net, and the wholesale consumption of our political system through overwhelming cash. Over time I understood that Amazon didn’t care about me as a person, and that it was not a technology business, it was a logistics business. The fact is that different strategies can work for business success, but as long as business is largely staffed at the C-level with overwhelming majority white males and women who act like them, work will continue to be driven by ego, fear, and a lot of wasted time and pointless suffering. Perhaps you could use your influence and experience as a writer to dive deeper into these practices ? I have worked with many H1-B individuals myself as an American through naturalization and can testify of the true nature of fear they bear daily from losing their employment and returning to India, China, Russia etc. Prevailing wage rates are there to ensure workers are paid fairly and appropriately, and USCIS does frequent audits to check this is the case.
Do you have a source for the fact these people are paid 25%-40% less than their equivalents? I’m not here to defend Amazon, but people need to back up their assertions with data not hearsay. Steve, since you gave no characterization about your knowledge of USMC Snipers, please leave that particular hyperbole at home.
The Times reporting echoed what I’ve heard and seen reported elsewhere, but some of the reporting gave me pause anyway. In both cases, data would indeed be much better than anecdote — as an Amazonian would say. Like others, I agree that the truth is somewhere in between the Times piece and the rebuttal, and, like any company of scale, there are different divisions with different cultures. But perhaps your post is a statement against the dreaded consumer culture, which we all know is shallow and meaningless and draws our attention from the really important things in life, like…moral posturing about the consumer culture. Amazon provides mission-critical server infrastructure to the US Government… that’s not an important business? Do not make the mistake of trusting a single source to be a fair and balanced provider of news and background. In many cases, Ciubotariu denies or waves away issues that are explicitly confirmed in his own denials.
Much of the response piece is that way: this top manager repeatedly tells us that he personally has not seen the things that other workers insist are commonplace. Aside from specific factual details, one of the most damning things about the piece is its simple weirdness. The Times should do a second article, using the first to flush out more Amazonians and ex-workers, surveying the responses at Hacker News, the 3,0000 or so comments at the Times and discussions like this one, along with the LinkedIn posts and Bezos’s reply. Over time the stories about the business groups have grown worse and worse to the point where they mirror the NYT piece. I myself went through periods where I thought the place was hell and others where I thought it was fine.
So if you speak to one type of person you hear one set of stories and you talk to another person you hear a totally different set. This problem appears to have been exasperated by what appears to be Amazon’s lack of cooperation in writing the piece. I would also add that Amazon can’t treat their engineers nearly as bad as the rest of their employees because engineering talent is a high value resource for all tech companies. But make no mistake, the local consensus is that the NYT piece is not nearly as exaggerated as people who don’t like the reporting style think. One little thing to keep in mind: current and former Amazonians cannot speak against the company for legal reasons.
I have nothing against Nick Ciubotariu but there is one thing for sure: upper management is the least likely to know there is a problem. The fallacy of balance: are you suggesting we should replace investigative journalists with pollsters?
Shock me that the libertarianish Tech 2.0 Jarvis would be anti-employee, and definitely anti-union.
When I’m assigned a project for a new client, it’s pretty obvious where the start is, go introduce myself to the client, explain to them what I’m there to do and start an ‘honest relationship’ with them. In the world of Project Management there is a level of Politics involved, it’s the nature of the job when you have multiple stakeholders involved.


I work with my clients and my project teams to take responsibility for success and failure for a project AS A TEAM. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve seen examples of a not-so-honest relationship on a project. So, the long and the short of it, treat your Project Team and Stakeholders like they are the love of your life.
When TrueCar president and CEO Chip Perry announced a revamp of the car-shopping site, he failed to mention one big change: layoffs.
According to a source and confirmed by TrueCar, an undisclosed number of the company’s employees — mostly located at its headquarters in Santa Monica — received layoff notices yesterday. TrueCar, the prolific third-party car shopping site, is changing the way it does business in the hopes of mending dealer relations and reversing the company’s flagging fortunes. When TrueCar president and CEO Chip Perry took the helm of the site last December, his stated goal was to make amends with ornery partners and bring the company out of a period of turmoil. TrueCar announced Monday that it hired former AutoTrader CEO Chip Perry to help the third-party vendor turn around a turbulent year of departing executives and crumbling business relations. According to a statement released by TrueCar, Perry will take over for current CEO and founder Scott Painter on Dec. TrueCar CEO Scott Painter will leave the company at the end of this year, Automotive News is reporting. The lawsuit claims TrueCar’s advertising, which proclaims transparency in vehicle transaction prices for customers, does not disclose the $299 and $399 dollar fees that are paid by dealers for new and used car sales brokered by TrueCar. Over the course of the next year we will receive leadership and business training and be responsible for curating a community of social entrepreneurs in the triangle region.  What’s more, my sponsor is Burt’s Bees, the socially and environmentally minded business founded in Maine and now headquartered at the northern edge of American Tobacco Campus.  I can’t tell you how excited Dave Nicola (my business partner, Duke MBA 2013) and I are to have their support! A short but sweet digression: It was suggested to me by a local bee salesman I met on the roadside ( a back road, of course) last year where I purchased local honey, that if one eats a daily spoonful of LOCAL honey that it helps with allergies and preventing many illnesses.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Especially the role of the inbound contact center and that of the contact center in a customer service context is changing. We also know that seeking customer service is not just a matter of the contact center or customer service team anymore. It’s an evolution that has started over a decade ago and has been strengthened with the advent of ever more channels and, more importantly, a changing customer behavior. Where do we go for answers to urgent issues in regards to these same services and products? In fact, it’s not just a channel-agnostic or, if you prefer, multi-channel and omni-channel behavior we display here.
Nicola is one of the people emphasizing the role of the contact center as a strategic resource. Yet, over the last decade in reality there have been relatively few changes with the necessary exceptions.
Increasing customer engagement and improving multi-channel service were the two main customer challenges. It’s clear that in order to put the contact center in the heart of the business, there is still some work to do. The book reveals the man behind the appalling reputation, demolishing a century of scandalmongering that persuaded the world that Crowley was a black magician, a traitor and a sexual wastrel, addicted to drugs and antisocial posing, rather than the mind-blowing truth that Crowley was a genius as significant as Jung, Freud or Einstein.
The author has also been in contact with Crowley’s grandson, who has vouchsafed rare, previously untold accounts of family relationships. Tobias Churton hooks the reader immediately and presents a very well written and informative narrative on Crowley.
Written by NYC insider Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine covers news, media, journalism, and politics. Since then, I’ve seen many tweets presenting another perspective and just read a point-by-point rebuttal by an Amazonian.
Nick Ciubotariu, an engineer and executive at Amazon, wrote a very long rebuttal on LinkedIn, which I found only thanks to a Dan Gillmor link.
Well, some of you might remind me: Haven’t you, Jarvis, argued that journalism is by definition advocacy?
I wouldn’t be wondering that if The Times had given me greater context and balance and sufficient information to let me decide about Amazon for myself rather than having it decided for me. I am saying that it will open itself up to such questioning by not being sufficiently transparent and not exhibiting intellectual honesty by providing sufficient balance to make clear that in the end the judgment is the reader’s. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way. There’s an excellent discussion over at Hacker News, with many current and former Amazon engineers sharing their perspectives. In an ideal world, the Times would provide a digital version of Expose 2.0, making additions and amendments as needed.
Appreciate one manager stepped forward to defend his employer, but it doesn’t mean what The Times reported is incorrect. This system was outright disgusting and crassly exploitative the way the railroads were in the 1850s.
The H1-B workers come to the US of their own volition, presumably with the hope of a better life for them and their family.
However a skilled worker can get an H1-B at another employer and move there should they wish. That’s absolutely not the case at the high tech companies I work for and others that I know of. The image of a sniper sitting in a spot for days on end, not moving even for bowel movements or other bodily needs and functions, was the image that came to mind. How much do you think giving the workers a voice would curtail that growth, and why would that be a bad thing? Looking at a 2013 Payscale survey of turnover at Fortune 500 companies, I see Amazon was near the bottom of the average tenure list. In particular I wondered why the reporting about disturbing family and health issues was concentrated in the last third of the story. And why is Amazon’s entire enterprise (which includes cloud computing, content creation, and advertising) reduced to its simplest parts?
From my own daily dealings with Amazon as a manufacturer, their employees are consistently driven with varying politeness, and some talented people don’t succeed there. And what it does is essentially provide convenience in obtaining things that aren’t very important. At best, a well-researched and written article can spur me to want to find out more about a subject. He explicitly admits that things described in the article were true, maybe way, way back in the distant past of, say . There’s no reason to think they are not exactly as described for the thousands who are not three levels away from the company president, or who are churned out of the company every year. As a Seattle resident, I like many others have heard 1st hand stories like the ones in the NYT piece.
When I had discussions with people over the years, I first heard one set of stories describing the place like hell from the business folks and then would hear another set from the engineer types making it sound like a cake walk. While on the other hand engineers who I’ve spoken to refer to Amazon as just like any other place to work. If they treated them like this then they’d bail and go work somewhere else in a flash.
You made a commitment to be honest, communicate clearly with each other and to share the good, the bad and the ugly!!
Painter had a public, messy breakup with AutoNation this summer and a $14.7 million loss in the second quarter. What was once known as the call center (with calls still mattering a lot) and has been becoming the multi-channel contact center, enabling omni-channel interactions center (many still aren’t there yet), is gradually moving to a customer experience or customer engagement center as some call it.
Furthermore, chance is high that you’ll consult several sources for just one question, sometimes even at the same time. It’s also human, organizational and deep-reaching regarding the very role of customer service and contact centers as such. The good news: by optimizing processes and enhancing efficiency, the goals of better servicing the customer, innovating, acting on insights and simply doing better, cost efficiencies can be realized as well. The result is an intimate portrait that has never before been shown, and one that has great emotional impact. The Times should have presented enough of that conflicting evidence so that we could weigh evidence and decide for ourselves whether Amazon is hell in Seattle. It devoted two reporters for six months to do just that (who would devote such resource to finding out that it’s an OK place to work, if you have to work?). Yes, and it’s clear The Times wanted to tackle the issues that arise from such demanding work.
The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.


A read of Brad Stone’s book The Everything Store would give a bit more context to the NY Times piece. But he’s still doing the same thing, this time to tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods are in his hands. How many readers have no doubts at all about the Times or ever think about a possible agenda? I delivered projects, often with just 1-2 other colleagues, that literally made 10’s of millions of dollars, if not more over time, for the company. New college grads will continue to want jobs there, and they will be better software engineers as a result – but not necessarily better people.
Therefore input from you should be preceded with full disclosure as you are essentially profiteering from Amazon’s internal practices such as exploiting H1-B workers.
That may have an impact on their priority date for a green card, but it means they are not restricted by Amazon in this regard. Also, those folks are paid between 40 and 25% less for the same work an American will make, if they work directly for the company.. But it has good company down there — landing on the list very close to Google, actually, which also had similar numbers on job satisfaction. That seemed indisputably important and newsy to be that far down, if the pattern is as consistent as the story suggests — and that made me wonder if it was that far down for a reason. If Amazon believes it cannot allow its employees to speak freely about working conditions, that tells us everything about their working conditions.
The anonymous denunciation program may seem abusive to some, or others may insist it is only used for good. The company principles he defends so aggressively are filled with creepy personality-molding and weird slogans.
And the overall tone of the piece only convinces me that Amazon management is exactly as smug, self-absorbed, oblivious and indifferent as its victims describe. To actually answer legitimate concerns about their company, rather than just attack the fact that there are concerns?
We have no idea of the methodology used by the times to find and interview those in the article. There is always a way to fix this, and sometimes it’s the client team themselves who come up with the solution that prevents stress and far too many late nights that may have been unwarranted.
Perry will also be president of the company, a position which was also vacated earlier this year. An overview of the challenges, solutions and transformations in the contact center today and in the future. However, this requires that execs who really want to put the customer first start paying more attention to the contact center and integrate, let alone align, what customer-facing divisions do.
In 2011, we launched our first annual Brand Ambassador Awards to recognize these outstanding individuals.After discovering who the best of the best are, we picked their brains to discover why they are the best of the best. But as a journalistic institution, The Times is still required to exhibit the intellectual honesty to credibly and fairly present evidence that counters its worldview.
More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. That said, a lot of people at Amazon have more joy and less pain than the NYT’s portrayal suggests.
It is not just a place with too many assholes who lack empathy, it is actually a sweatshop. While I was amazed at what heartless, ruthless assholes some of my colleagues were, Amazon and I both got a good deal out of my time there. This is designed to balance protecting the American worker vs ensuring companies can hire talent to drive their business. My point was that employees of tech companies often display a similar level of mental toughness and fortitude (commander’s intent, inspect and adapt, mission success against all odds, etc), but their weapon of choice is the keyboard and not a rifle, and the work is much safer.
Read NYT long-form pieces only if the subject really interests you and if you are willing to invest the time to look elsewhere for a balancing view. If any of his oblivious nonsense were true, it would be true for every company in the world. Think about buying a used car, you know before you are even on the car lot that the sales person is NOT going to be 100% straight with you. He says that the cases of how employees with pregnancies and health and family issues were allegedly mistreated are appalling and the company must address them. It is still required to give us in the public the respect and trust to make our own decisions about what it presents. I worry about a culture that can allow the cases of cold-hearted lack of empathy for employees’ lives that The Times presents, even if they are just anecdotal. Disney was letting their American staff go to hire a contract company to provide the same services that were going to pay even less to the H1-B visa people they would then staff at Disney.
Amazon staff have been known to stay up for over 24 hours at a time staring at log files to ensure that a product launch or holiday rush goes well. What types of questions were asked and were they slanted to get a certain type of response.? As much as the NYT appears to be one sided, there’s a dynamic at Amazon that could explain why they reported the story the way they did.
Whether you are an Administrator or the CEO of the Company, you are still a member of the Project Team and have to step up to the mark and accept the responsibility of submitting your share of the deliverables along with everyone else. She states that a quick response is extremely important, as well as getting to know your customers personally, which she always does to the best of her ability.“It might sound simple,” she says, “but make sure you’re nice!
He acknowledges that Amazon might have changed between its founding and his hiring 18 months ago. On the other hand, I admire greatly the commercial and logistical miracle that Amazon has built. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.
What I thought they were alluding to as sinister was the draconian brutality of the place as a possible north star for other businesses (get better results by turning the asshole knob to 11), and the fact that it is so obviously a male-ego, male-dominated institution that takes discussions of gender equality back to 1950. It was only after bad press, and the threat of senate hearings, that they changed up that plan. This isn’t outright slavery, no laws are broken, no whip is employed, but H1-B workers will work to 10PM at the office when other people leave at 5, they will stay at a company that offers them no raise for years on end, when everyone around them is getting raises or leaving to get higher pay, they will not go on vacation, they will not take sick days if they can help it, they will break their backs willingly.
I found the last copy of a vintage sheet music arrangement of Stella By Starlight on Amazon that I couldn’t find elsewhere.
You will get more credit and respect for identifying Risks before they become ISSUES when you leave them until it’s too late. You’ll get more comfortable as you form a relationship with them.”Overall – Happy Employees, Happy CustomersChris finds inspiration in many places.
I love the idea of working side-by-side with people as smart, accomplished, dedicated, and passionate as the people who have built Amazon. And that is how I illustrate my last point: The Times did not say until halfway down its very long piece that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, which some say is closing in on The Times. I already now of two instances where they reported partial descriptions leaving off circumstances that changed the tone of the anecdote.
The same likewise, if the development team is struggling, I want to know about it, I want to talk to the client about it, understand why they are struggling and work as a team to figure it out. You don’t have to try to keep your stories straight if they’re the truth.”She emphasizes the importance of getting to personally know the person on the end of the line and to have enough knowledge of the product to offer solutions and substitutions as needed.
He, like many colleagues, is attracted to tackling huge problems — and that is obviously not easy work. When Brad Stone wrote his book, Bezos refused to be interviewed but gave access to employees. Creating an environment of trust and honesty where everyone on the Project Team is there for a reason and ALL are invested in a successful outcome begins with developing Honest Relationships. As for this article, Bezos did not attack it but encouraged employees to read it and provide feedback.
Cooking or selling something, either way, you’ve got to make them happy.”What You Can Learn (For Free) From Your Own Brand AmbassadorsYour Brand Ambassadors are your experts, tuned to your business, and closest to your customers.
These individuals will give you a ground-level view of the customer’s needs and wants.Sit down with them, and just chat.
Asking questions like, “What do you think customers really need?” and “What could we do better for the customers?” will give you insight you never had before.If you don’t know who your Brand Ambassadors are, simply pick a person that has received customer kudos most recently. As far as these H1-B workers know, they EXPECT this, and complaining will only get them in trouble because the company is following the letter of the law. I guarantee you’ll come away from that “free” conversation with something that is priceless.Become More Customer-Centric TodayAre you interested in discovering your true Brand Ambassadors?



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