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eSharings August 2006

High Tech High Touch Solutions, Inc.

Insights, hints, tips, and resources for service and support professionals, given in the spirit of sharing information in a quick-read, content-rich newsletter.

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  In this issue

Is it ok to play games in the call center and help desk?

* Cell Phone and PDA Etiquette Resources

* FREE RealityCheck at www.BenchmarkPortal.com



8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo
September 25-27, 2006
San Antonio, TX

ITIL Service Management Foundations Certification
September 24-25, 2006
San Antonio, TX

Government Symposium
September 25, 2006
San Antonio, TX

VoIP Workshop
September 25,

8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo 2006
San Antonio, TX

6th Annual Government Customer Support Conference and Expo
May 7-9, 2007
Alexandria, VA

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Is it OK to play games, use PDAs, or cell phones in the call center or service desk when you are working?  Two call center managers sent in these questions:

1. "We are an average sized incoming call center. (150 agents) In the past we have been fairly restrictive in not allowing agents to have cell phones, PDA's, handheld games, etc. on the floor. What we are currently finding is that many employees use their cell phones as a clock, to know if a family member is trying to reach them or to play games in between calls."

"We have had much discussion about why reading a book (which is ok) is any different than playing a handheld game as long as it is not distracting to others. Also, many phones and PDA's help employees track their schedule, trades, etc. We are wondering if it is time to revisit our policy with the many changes in technology but are very curious how other call centers are handling this."

2. "We have a representative on the phones who meets and exceeds the daily call requirements yet she is logged into the Internet for 6-7 hours per day, holding personal chats, using Instant Messaging, and accessing the Internet throughout the day.  When someone is meeting their performance reviews how do you tell them they can't be doing these activities during work time? They don't feel it is impacting their performance."

We sent this question out to numerous people in the industry to find out how they manage these issues.  Their responses are at the bottom of this issue of eSharings.

My personal feeling is that a cell phone should only be allowed if a person is not distracted by it.  The world stopped for one of our team members when their cell phone rang.  The cell phone became the priority over everything else. She admitted it was a distraction to her too and found leaving it in the car was a better solution.

We ask our staff to leave their ringers off.  They need to be on silent or vibrate.  Cell phone users are frequently the greatest culprits for violating telephone etiquette.  It's a distraction to others when all sorts of different ringers go off.  People on cell phones also tend to forget that they don't have to talk that loud.

Accessing the Internet during work hours should be permitted as long as access is educational or stimulating in a positive manner.  During one of my client assessments, I came across someone accessing the Internet for stimulation but it wasn't for professional reasons. What was displayed on the monitor wasn't something that should ever be permitted at work.  If you allow Internet access, be sure random checks are done to know what is being accessed and that it isn't offensive to others.

Bottom line: If the people are getting the job done, meeting their goals, and not disrupting the work environment, you may want to permit these activities. It could be good for morale and keep people's minds stimulated during slow times.

Until the next issue of eSharings, may you not have to listen to everyone else's cell phone conversations.


Ivy Meadors
High Tech High Touch Solutions

www.ivymeadors.com / www.hthts.com


JUST FOR FUN!  If you decide to let your staff 'play' on the Internet see if they can fly this helicopter.  http://www.seethru.co.uk/zine/south_coast/helicopter_game.htmBe careful, it's addicting.

ONLY 20 rooms are left at the Hyatt in San Antonio.  
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Send your managers to the 8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo. They will learn the key factors to guarantee successful operations are designed and incredible service is delivered by your corporate asset, the Frontline. 

You will not hear the same old thing at this event.  We are going to ensure you get the tools you need to move your team to the next advanced level of support.

Will you join me in San Antonio, September 25-27, 2006?

Sign up here!

HDP 2006 Offers "New" Information

If you've wanted to build a Service Desk, if you want to hear proven ways to run a Service Desk, or if you're already begin to design a Service Desk, there's only one place you should be September 25, 26, and 27, 2006. At the 8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo, the premier event for Service Desk Professionals.

High Tech High Touch Solutions understands how important time and resources are to our industry.  Attending conferences is not always at the top of people's lists with so many constraints on the business and budget considerations.  And why go to an event to hear the same thing you hear every year?

Because the 8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo is unique. Speakers are required to be highly interactive in their discussions and present:

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  • Fresh material

  • Handouts, templates, and or resources

Pete McGarahan teaches ITIL Service Management Foundations Certification

Daryl Covey delivers the Government Symposium and Peggy Gritt presents the VoIP workshop, all day sessions prior to HDP 2006 in September.

See the entire content-loaded program details.


BenchMarkPortal.com offers our Readers a RealityCheck!

Through HDP, you will receive a FREE RealityCheck at www.BenchmarkPortal.com. Simply enter your current data using promo code DRU for an immediate Performance Rating (valued at $500),

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We invite event partners (sponsors) to join us and make a contribution to the exclusive community of practice at the 8th Annual Help Desk Professionals Conference and Expo

Email HDP@hthts.com


Cell Phone and PDA Etiquette Resources

You may want to consider pulling some ideas from these websites and create your own wireless device etiquette procedures to provide to your call center and service desk team.  (There are people in restaurants who should get a copy too.)

Readers answering the question, "Is it OK to play games, use PDAs, or cell phones in the call center or service desk when you are working?"  (top)

1. We have a formal policy document on this, but I'll cut to the chase. Cell phones - On vibrate or no ring, and only for emergency contact. Internet - Standard no bad sites, no burning up toner on non-business stuff. PCs - Refrain from downloading the world. Don't download games. Set temp files to clean.

PDAs and other technologies - If it makes noise, or your not working, it doesn't work for us.

Here is where I deviate from most other call centers. For the most part, I really don't care if youíre on the Internet when I'm walking by. My policy is "At the end of the month, your stats are yours to own. If you are performing, then I have no beef with you. If you are not, I'm going to ask you why you are on the Internet when your stats are in the toilet. Also, we are rarely slow enough to have time to read books or surf online. If we are this slow, I start pulling people off the phones to perform other duties including cleaning the marketing materials reference cabinet, re-writing training manuals, answering letters from Consumer Affairs, or other.

The noise restrictions are simply to keep the office disturbance down.

2. I would be happy to share our thoughts on the issue with [name withheld]. We do not allow cell phone use in the call center. However, we allow games to be played as well as Internet searching allowed (appropriate sites). We don't allow cell phones as we don't want a rep getting a call while on a call with a consumer and then try and put the consumer on hold to answer the call. However, they can use their cell during breaks and lunches. We do ask, however, that they leave the call center area when using their phone so as not to disturb others.

With game playing and Internet searching we allow it as long as it does not in any way impact quality or efficiency. If someone's wrap and idle times goes up, we may look at the person's Internet activity. If it is high, we'll suggest this could be a reason for the efficiency issues.

If we are noticing while monitoring that a rep sounds distracted or is having trouble listening we again research to see if the issue is game play or internet (or book reading or whatever else). If we find in our conversations with reps that it is negatively impacting consumers, we would agree that game play or whatever, be suspended until performance improves. We have seldom had this be an issue.
Note: this response is from Nintendo

3. We do not allow this kind of thing. No cell phones, PDA, Walkmanís, Games. In fact we donít allow anyone to be on the Internet except for business use.

4. Because we wanted to foster a supportive environment (family life balance) at both xxx and here at xxx, we let people have cell phones as long as on vibrate, with a few policies: not allowed to put customer on hold to answer phone or leave meeting to answer unless urgent. However, I told them my family "code" of <if I don't answer first time calling and it's emergency, call back again> - and suggested they use the same thing. I found it better to have my staff focused on the job knowing their family could get a hold of them when necessary. In turn, I found they respected their work time because I allowed this freedom. Also, we found it cut down on calls through the xxx switch reserving it for customers and long distance charges too.

As far as PDA's - I encourage my staff to use technology. Partly because of the nature of xxx's business but also because they could keep their schedule synced on it so they wouldn't have excuse to be late. Additionally, keeping them excited about technology tends to foster the excited about solving technical problems.

If they chose to play game in their own break time (vs. reading a book, go for walk, etc), that wasn't something I felt I had right to ask them not to do. It's their time. I considered it a brain-break. As far as doing this between calls, they typically had enough to do that it wasn't a problem.... We assigned project work to everyone whether it be reviewing/writing Knowledgebase articles or internal training procedures, etc.

5. We do not have a policy around cell phone usage although I believe we have "unwritten" rules similar to what [name withheld] has at xxx.

We do however have a strict policy about playing games at work and the answer is it's not allowed - period. We do not even although this to occur during breaks or lunches at an employees desk. We have found that there is a huge perception issue when playing games, even if on your own time. It never fails that this is when the VP's walk through the department. We then are put into a position of explaining why we need as many people as we have (which is never a good conversation to bring on in a call center environment).

We currently do not have a lot of employees with PDA's so this is not an issue for us at this time.

6. We donít allow things that make noise or that distract people like games or cell phones when they are in the work area. We ask analysts to return personal phone calls on breaks or lunches, and all analysts have direct extensions to help eliminate the need for a cell phone. Silent games, books, web surfing are allowed when analysts are on break/lunch in their work areas, and anything, noisy or not, is allowed outside of earshot. We also have a foosball table in a nearby room for stress relief.


Have you signed up yet to attend? Because if you haven't there are only two weeks left to get the early bird discount and the phenomenal hotel room rates we have arranged for you.

The HDP 2006 special room rate at the Hyatt Regency is $179.00 per night, a savings of $180.00 off the regular room rate of $359.00.

Please see the detailed program.  You won't want to miss this.


We hope you enjoyed this edition of eSharings. Feel free to reprint this newsletter in its entirety with our copyright information intact.

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  HDP 2006 Keynotes

Mike Rayburn, "The World's Funniest Guitar Virtuoso"

Click to view clip. Get ready to laugh out loud.

 "Who You Are" as a leader"

Dr. June Gunter teaches revolutionary approaches to developing leadership skills using behaviors of horses.

"Leaders vs. Managers"

Brad Worthley, leadership expert and author teaches advanced, proven leadership techniques.

  HDP Event Partners

Association of Support Professionals

Brad Worthley Intl.


Call Center School




Customer Service Group


Government Customer Support Community of Practice


Help Desk Northwest

iET Solutions

Network Streaming

Northwest Call Center Professionals

Mike Rayburn

Northwest Support Professionals


VoIP Institute


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