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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reading Material III

48 Days To The Work You Love

How To Make Your Income Double By Working Half - Work To Live, Not Live To WorkWhile the title might indicate that this is a guide to finding a new job, that's actually not what this book is about!  This book is actually more of a process to help you find out who you can be.  Once you've learnt this about yourself and made this discovery then you can actually understand why you are in a job you hate!

Dan Miller will help you see clear patterns which will help you in making your future job and career decisions and along the way, help you find the work that you really do love!  The book does a good job of giving you purpose for finding work that has both passion and meaning.

Starting off Dan Miller covers whether or not work and play can co-exist and why doing both is not a bad thing to actually enjoy your work (i.e. not just to pay the bills and "work to live NOT live to work").  Then he covers the fact that the current work environment is not that of our parents or grand-parents universe - the fact that most employees change jobs every 3-4 years with (hopefully) a significant pay increase by undertaking this move!  We are currently in a shift from a production based job market to a knowledge based market with a concurrent increase in the speed of technological change.

As Miller explains, "everyone lives on the edge of job obsolescence and the threshold of career opportunity" and he provides some very interesting statistics to the current job market. 
  •  Fewer than 1% of job seekers find work by responding to an internet ad
  • During an interview, your answer to any question should be no longer than 60 seconds
  • The best times to have an interview are Tues-Thurs between 8-10am
  • 2,322 of 2,756 managers rank enthusiasm as #1 in what they want in applicants
  • Today people are paid for their productivity, not their time, not their seniority
  • IQ contributes only about 20% to the factors that predict success
  • 69% of businesses today cost less than $10,000 to start; and 24% cost $0
  • The most successful people got there not by being in the most lucrative industry, but by doing work they loved
Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals (Worksmart)

Dan Miller goes on to describe that to truly achieve success you must create goals.  Write these down (including short and long term goals) and then break each goal down into it component parts to determine what you need to do to achieve each one.  These goals should NOT just be career based, but should also cover your personal life.  The seven areas of life he recommends to make goals in are:
  1. Finances
  2. Physical
  3. Personal Development
  4. Family
  5. Spiritual
  6. Social
  7. Career
Finally there is some really good templates and reading material with regards to resumes and interviewing as well as how to best conduct your job search.  The job seeking advice is not just a “How to Interview” or “How to get your resume noticed” but rather goes into defining what work is and how to face this current job market that is constantly changing. 
Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars / The End of Time Parts 1 and 2) [Blu-ray]As always, I try to emphasize reading (or in this case watching) something unrelated to work.  Its important to relax and let your mind wind down and for the fans of SciFi and Fantasy, Doctor Who is a "classic" of the oldest school and the re imaging of the show by Russel T. Davies has definitely brought it into the 20th century in a big way. 
 This is the last episode (in 2 parts) with the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and it is a moving finale to the character he has made his own.  With some significant changes in store for "The Doctor" iin the coming season, this episode is essential viewing for any true SciFi buff.

You may find these related posts of interest:

Friday, February 19, 2010

How do you measure First Call Resolution?

Probably the first question to answer is “What is FCR?” – In its simplest form it is a measurement used by most technical call centres to determine how often a customer’s call is resolved at the first interaction.

Measuring FCR

Now while this statement is fairly easy to make ... measuring it gets a bit difficult as you can well imagine.  Measuring this correctly depends on how you are tracking customer issues – if you are able to correlate the customers to their issues you should be able to pull reports that inform you if/when a customer issue is re-opened and that metric would apply as a negative value.  If you do not have such a tool available or in house, measurement gets significantly more difficult.

In addition, you must account for time of reports and the potential of customers re-opening closed issues incorrectly.

As I’ve mentioned, you need to determine an appropriate time frame as customers will often utilize the same (fixed) issue when reporting a new issue regardless of if the issue has re-occurred or not.  In addition, you should track if a customer does not verify/dispute a fix in a specific time frame.  As a starting point, you should aim for 5-10 days as your target time frame.  Any reports after this period in time would count as a new issue.

If you are unable to correlate customer reports by a CRM system (see this good review on JIRA), you might be able to pull information from your phone system or ACD/IVR system although this does get a little bit more difficult and complicated.  Another option of course is via email addresses.

Now in addition to measuring from a customer report perspective, you can also utilize Customer Survey’s to determine what the FCR is.  However, this is a very “subjective” measurement as it is very dependent on the customers mindset and viewpoint and might be unrelated to the question being asked.

What is it good for?

Is FCR a useful metric?  By itself it probably isn’t.  FCR is dependent on historical data and trending.  The goal at all times should be to improve the FCR that you are providing to your customer as that ensures they are getting a speedy and useful resolution to all of their issues at their first call.  So if you initial measurement of FCR is 80% (i.e. 80% of issues resolved at the first call) your goal should be to aim for 85% in a reasonable time frame, and so on as time progresses.

In addition to the goal of improving the FCR %’age, you also need to determine and this is where your reports come in useful – why are your customers calling?  More than likely you will find that the 80/20 rule applies here – i.e. 80% of your contacts are due to 20 issues.  If you can focus on those 20 issues, you will drive down your overall quantity of issues quite significantly.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Importance of Training (Part II) - Management Skills

How important is it to ensure that your skills are up to date?  Assuming that you received your certification or degree several years ago, has the technology you are supporting changed?  Are the teams you are managing still using the same tools and resources they used to in the past?  

The one thing that is constant in this world of ours is that change is inevitable and universal.  This very much means that what you knew last week and last year is now obsolete. Just as it is important to ensure that your team is appropriately trained to support your customers and products, it is also essential that you are trained on the latest and greatest.

The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel CompanyThink about it like this - in school a syllabus would change from year to year.  Regardless of the subject being taught, neearch and knowledge constantly advanced and grew and what the next batch of students were taught differed in a lesser or greater degree.  Now, it was fine in school as you were with your peers and everyone was being tested against the same standard - however in the real world, this just doesn't work.  Your peers are also your competition and whether they are inside your company or part of another company it is crucial that you maintain a current and relevant base of knowledge with regards to your companies products and services and how to best support them.  There is a constant need to get yourself trained and to upgrade your skills irrespective of your position in the company.

What most employees tend to forget is that while Senior Management are key instruments in providing direction and support to the entire company, they have not forgotten the importance of ongoing training and learning and this lesson needs to be realized at the middle Management level also.  The transition from an average Manager to a top tier Manager is gradual, but knowing the latest trends and information definitely play a factor in this.  This is obviously NOT just a matter of being able to spout the latest and greatest "buzz word" that is currently in vogue.  The only way to truly advance is to actually understand what you are talking about and to believe in its value and potential.  Being ISO certified is easy - understanding that ISO is NOT just paper-pushing which is the common misconception is something else altogether.Management

Someone just starting out on the Management track however needs to focus on soft skills.  Things like Team Work, Leadership, Dealing with Change, Time Management are all crucial skills that are useful for the young Manager and also show a demonstrable return for the company.  Once this base is in place additional training which is focused on industry and technology trends should be looked at and into with the focus being on advancing the Manager and department that he is responsible for.  
Management, Ninth EditionAs you gradually work your way up the ladder, this training becomes more theoretical in basis, however it will have an increased value to the organization as the scope of your responsibilities continue to increase.

A Manager at any level is well advised to keep abreast of the latest trends and information affecting his industry through the use of technical journals, trade publications, networking and even the Internet as a whole.  By speaking to customers and other managers in the industry further training and planning can be determined and while Managers today have less time then yesterday, the training if structured correctly can be useful and relevant and should be able to show an immediate impact to the organization.

It is key to remember to that training cannot be a single event and should be considered a constant - just like change - as that is the only way to stay in the running.