hints, tips, and resources for service
and support professionals, given in the spirit of
Government Customer Support
Conference and Expo (GCS 2006)
Explore Your Options:
Community of Practices
visit our website for loads of useful information.
Drop in anytime. We love having you visit. "
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Thirty-one years ago I was a High School student when I
got one of my first part-time jobs. It was as a
switchboard operator for a hotel on the Oregon Coast.
The town where I grew up had a population of just over
300. A small town, country girl typically had one thing
on her mind - how to get out of town and move to the
"big city". The way out was to have a dream, be
assertive and be very "hungry" for all that life had to
offer. When I ventured out of this little community as a
teenager, I had only my skills in customer service
delivery and switchboard operation combined with a whole
lot of ambition and wide-eyed hopefulness.
I moved to the
"big city" - Portland, Oregon and went to work as a
telephone operator for the Bell Systems (Pacific
Northwest Bell, at that time a part of AT&T, and later
becoming US West Communications now Qwest). My skills from my
little hometown job paid off and helped me get a job
with one of the most prestigious companies in the world
- THE telephone company.
At the age of
nineteen, when I joined the telephone company, there
were hundreds of thousands of people in the Bell Systems
across the United States. Training and mentoring was a
high priority and the people were recognized as core
assets to the business. This focus on the people
resulted in some of the most advanced deliveries in
telecommunications in the world.
(Read more about
The Mentoring Group. Many f#ree articles are
shared on their website.)
Bell System Memorial website for some
amazing history about the telephone industry. They
were the first business in the call center industry
and the first to design the technologies we use
Traffic modeling analyzes traffic patterns and determines the
necessary resources to handle that traffic. Traffic
modeling originated in the telephone industry.
Amazingly many of these theories still in use today
were developed between 1909 and 1917 by the Danish
mathematician, Agner Krarup Erlang. Erlang's
biography and additional traffic modeling
bibliography are available at
During my tenure with the Bell System I moved into IT operations
and was given the opportunity to relocate to an even
"bigger city" - Seattle, Washington. In Seattle, I
landed in the right place at the right time. My
assignment was to work with a very small handful of
people to build a brand new reproducible 'model' help
desk to support people in the client server world moving
from a one hundred percent mainframe based environment.
Divestiture of the "Baby Bells" required us to consolidate
seventy-six IT Help Desks in a fourteen state
region. Our Help Desk was to be the model used for the
consolidation, standing out above anything they had done
like this before in service and support.
Our Help Desk turned out to be one of the first in the world,
possibly THE first, to deploy and support Microsoft 1.0
on 100 desktops. And trust me on this one - there were
no books, user groups, conferences, or even people in
the local community to learn how to tackle this
effort from. Our team designed one of the first client server
help desks in the world on the Microsoft platform.
We certainly had our challenges to overcome and made mistakes
along the way. Primarily we based our designs on the
disciplines from the mainframe environment: change
management, service level management, network and
configuration management, problem and incident
management, etc. We avoided many of our possible
pitfalls early on using these proven disciplines.
The ITIL methodology includes these same disciplines.
Click here to learn more about ITIL.
Not only were we one of the first on the Microsoft platform but
we also had one of the first client server knowledge
management systems. A brilliant young man presented an
idea for a knowledge based system, coincidentally to my
mentor, and he gave me my next dream come true – the
chance to be part of an incredible team that would
design, from scratch, one of the first knowledge
management systems that would run on a PC.
Our small team designed a solution that delivered phenomenal
results. Our help desk started realizing first call
resolution rates of ninety-three percent for our
software support efforts after one year in production.
Our other “first” claim to fame, along with the U S Army
being the other "first", was a client server knowledge
management system, known as
Primus, also based in Seattle and now owned by ATG.
Our team formed the Customer Support Consortium (now the
Consortium for Service Innovation) and began the
initial design for the methodology known today as KCS
(Knowledge Centered Support).
Email us at
if you would like me to send you a
copy of "How to Get Started
in KCS", which was
developed by the consortium.
Our help desk was a showcase when our team finished it in 1990,
one that would have then rivaled many help desks today.
This help desk’s name, defined in the late 80’s, was Service
Center, not far off from the desired name today of
Why was the Bell Systems first to have these incredible
opportunities? As to being one of the first on the
Microsoft platform, I'm not sure if it helped that Bill
Gate's office was only two blocks away from our office,
or that his mother was on the board of directors for the
local Bell operating company, or simply that the Bell
Systems were always one to do things first. Whatever it
was, I am grateful for the personal gain and the chance
of a lifetime to be on the forefront of the information
age in the support industry and to work with such
brilliant minds. The experience was life changing.
Over the years, working in the call center and help desk industry
I have had countless memorable experiences, traveled
around the world consulting with others in our industry,
learned what works and what doesn't, and made many
wonderful friends on this journey.
A whole lot of drive, a goal and a dream, a lot of assertiveness,
and the "hunger for knowledge" helped this small town
girl make it to the "big city". This month on January
23rd, I turn 48 years old. I love this industry and all
the "gifts" I have been given on this journey.
It's my turn now to give back for all that I have received by
sharing my knowledge and far-reaching experiences in my
newsletters, presentations, consultations, and
conferences. The dream has been realized.
I hope you find your own "big city" and
realize your dreams.
High Tech High Touch Solutions, Inc.
P.S. Les Brown, an incredible
professional speaker, and a member of the National
Speakers Association which I am also a member of, has a wealth of tools and
books to inspire you to "Live Your Dreams." The
book with the same title is an excellent read.
I've met with Les and heard him speak on multiple
Click here to visit his website for more information
and get inspired to "Live Your Dreams."
to be part of something really big and gain personal
We are currently
accepting applications for the board of
encourage you to submit your proposals if you wish to be
considered as a speaker for HDP 2006. There are
only a few sessions left. Email
Government customer support conference and
MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW FOR JUNE
5th Annual Government
Customer Support Conference and Expo 2006 (GCS)
June 14-15, 2006
Sheraton Crystal City in Arlington, VA
This premier, only one-of-its-kind conference in the
United States is focused exclusively on
local and federal call centers, help desks, and web service
You will benefit from
practical, actionable information on strategy, vision, and
execution from industry experts and peers. This event
offers comprehensive coverage in the major areas of service and
support, with the primary emphasis on leadership and best
No more of the same old thing.
Our speakers are delivering information on the ways to move to the next more
advanced levels of service and support.
our Director has designed an incredible program far exceeding
previous year's events.
Program details are posted on our website at
Daryl Covey, our event Chair, will
be running the
program, now in its 5th year, for Customer Support organizations in the public sector.
There are 30 candidates being considered for this years
prestigious awards program.
If you want to be part of GCS 2006, email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org right away.
Interested sponsors can email us
There are a limited number of these exclusive sponsorship
Explore Your Options
The concept of a community of practice
(often abbreviated as CoP) refers to the process of
social learning that occurs when people who have a
common interest in some subject or problem collaborate
over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions,
and build innovations.
Communities of Practice have become
associated with knowledge management as people have
begun to see them as ways of developing social capital,
nurturing new knowledge, stimulating innovation or
sharing existing tacit knowledge within an organization.
It is now an accepted part of organizational development
Definition From Wikipedia, the free
Access a growing
pool of information: receive hints, tips, resources,
access to articles, and more and not cost.
Northwest has had active user groups in the
call center and help desk industry since the early 90's.
Help Desk Northwest (HDNW) and Northwest Call Center
Professionals (NWCCP) both in Seattle and
Support Professionals (NWSP)
in Portland, have tightly
aligned to formalize an even stronger community of
practice for those in service and support.
NWSP, NWCCP, and HDNW have teamed
together to advance our existing knowledge distribution.
We share our knowledge in open discussions at monthly
meetings, online communications, web publications, and
by connecting people to people. The combination of
our three organizations exceed 1300+ members and
continues to grow.
Our CoP is far-reaching and no longer
limited to the Pacific Northwest. Our communities
in the Northwest are primarily funded by the vendors and
the local corporations. Fifteen volunteer board
members in Oregon and Washington plus many volunteer
committee members work to facilitate the sharing of this
incredible pool of knowledge. We are preparing to
release a brand new repository of resources made
available for no fee to anyone that joins our secure,
never-shared membership database.
Multiple times a month, information is
shared via our newsletters. We also hold monthly
meetings in both Portland and Seattle. Seattle
monthly meetings are f#ree to everyone. In
Portland, for a small sum and a high return on the
investment, you can attend their monthly meetings.
Our speakers are exceptional and deliver content-rich
material applicable to your current and future needs.
We invite our readers to join our
Northwest Call Center and Help Desk Communities of
Practice to increase the breadth of knowledge sharing
possible. To join our ever-growing membership,
simply visit the NWCCP (www.hthts.com/nwccp.htm)
website and sign up now. We promise, your email
addresses will not be shared with others outside of a
few select members of our leadership team.
The Pacific Northwest is known and
recognized for their friendly and giving nature. We want
to extend our offerings now worldwide - so everyone can
benefit from the information we share locally. Again, it
won't cost anything to access the information and there
are no fees to join our online community of practice.
As the President of the Washington
groups, HDNW and NWCCP, I am personally committed to the
ongoing success of our efforts.
- Ivy Meadors
Sign up now and join the Pacific
Northwest Call Center and Help Desk Community of
And if you aren't already a
eSharings, sign up now
for even more great information.
I spoke about the Erlang
table earlier. Did you know that most workforce
management systems and network call routing is based on calculations using the
Erlang Table? This is Erlang's formula.
The left hand
side, E(v,C), represents the proportion of callers that
find all the lines already full, and the right hand side
gives an equation for that quantity. If you know how big
v and C are, you can work out what proportion of calls
cannot get out.
Reservation, Sticky Routing - what do these mean to your
call center and the routing of your calls through the
networks around the world. This website is well
worth taking a look at.
www.hthts.com for more resources and learn how we can
work with you to build a world-class service and support center.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of
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