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Challenge Solved! - An Advice Column For Contact Center Managers
Submitted by Ulysses Learning

March 1, 2021

Challenge Solved!  

An Advice Column for Contact Center Managers


March 2021

Curious about other contact centers’ top priorities? We certainly care about this topic and wanted to share what we learned through a recent survey we conducted with our clients—top North American contact centers in the health insurance, energy, and financial services industries. We hope you find value in what we learned and enjoy additional insights offered by Dina Vance, managing director of our North American Operations. 

SPOILER ALERT: You’ll also learn what many of your agents may have in common with Mozart and why that matters to your business!

Have your question answered in an upcoming Challenge Solved advice column. Email your question to: 

Q:  What priorities are contact centers most focused on in 2021?  

A person wearing a purple shirt and smiling at the cameraDescription automatically generated

Our featured expert for this month’s question is:
Dina Vance
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations at Ulysses Learning



A:      We asked our clients this question recently in a survey which yielded tremendous insights for contact center leaders in the new year. First, I will share with you our research results. Second, I will reveal an important message that was inspired by write-in survey comments, as well as the experience of the great composer Amadeus Mozart. (Yes, you read that correctly! Stay tuned, I’ll share more on this a bit later.) 

First, here are highlights from our study. 

Regarding the top three most pressing PROCESS-RELATED contact center priorities…

  • 90% of said they are either in the process of or plan to focus in 2021 on remote worker/WFH performance tools and analytics
  • 89% are in the process or will launch priorities to implement chatbots/virtual assistants
  • 83% have prioritized initiatives to improve self-service channels (IVR, web, mobile, etc.)
  • As a side note, the lowest rated priority was the use of cloud-based software, 75% said they had no plans at this time.

Regarding the top three most pressing STRATEGIC-RELATED contact center priorities…

  • 96% said that priorities to improve cross-departmental collaboration already had begun in 2020 and will continue to be implemented in 2021
  • 96% already had begun and will continue to focus on priorities to improve performance on customer experience KPIs (quality, cSat, FCR)
  • 96% are in the process of and will continue to improve Quality Management/QA performance tools and analytics
  • While only 11% noted that initiatives to attract new hires was a top priority in 2020, 67% reported this as a top priority in 2021. This was the highest rated priority in 2021, followed by initiatives to lower attrition (59%) 

Regarding the top three most pressing PEOPLE-RELATED contact center priorities…

  • 100% indicated they had already begun and will continue to focus on priorities that improve agent performance in problem solving and complex interactions
  • 100% are and will continue to prioritize initiatives that improve agent performance in empathy and other emotional intelligence attributes
  • 94% have begun and will continue to prioritize initiatives to improve agent performance in team collaboration
  • In 2020, the highest rated priorities were to improve agent performance in problem solving and complex interactions (75%); improve agent schedule adherence (67%) and strengthen leadership skills to address rapidly changing environment and needs (67%)

Second, here are some insights from the write-in survey comments…and Mozart.

When we asked survey respondents to write in their thoughts to the question “What is the greatest concern for your contact center at this time?” the majority of you told us that your greatest concerns were of a people-related nature. Specifically, these concerns fell into categories that were directly related to the top three PEOPLE-RELATED priorities noted above, which made perfect sense! 

Additionally, we received feedback that the greatest concern one client felt was “Keeping agents engaged and using the Ulysses tools they've been given to improve FCR and customer satisfaction.” And another client who said, “Ulysses is becoming a renewed focus due to changes in leadership and staff, we need to engage and focus on the tools and strategies associated with Ulysses.”   

We agree refocusing on the use of Ulysses Learning’s processes and strategies is a smart move in the new year. Why? Because Ulysses Learning’s call strategies are scientifically proven to develop emotional intelligence attributes, including empathy and a wide variety of relationship building skills needed to solve complex problems, strengthen customer bonds, and maximize positive team dynamics. By focusing on this one priority, you’ll gain traction in several others.

And here’s where Mozart comes in.

Mozart has been documented as saying he detested learning the “strategies” of music—the notes, chords, dynamics, and the many proven “rules” of composition. He also was not a fan of the repetitive nature of excellence—playing the same chords over and over again to gain musical knowledge and dexterity. But he also recognized that was exactly what made him excel. Practicing the strategies for years and long hours on end, gave him the essential base from which he was able to express his musical genius—and his extraordinary personal flair.

It occurred to me that your reps may probably feel the same way. Reps ask me time and again “Why can’t I handle my calls in my own way?” And my response is “You can. You can add your personal flair and personality when you have mastered the basic strategies…and that requires plenty of repetition!”

Without mastery of the basics, it’s tough to create a customer experience where customers feel reps not only empathize with them but are equipped to take control of calls and solve problems with confidence, consistency, and excellence. 

If exceptional customer service is a science AND an art, think of Ulysses Learning’s approach as the science that enables your reps to transform into customer experience “artists” with a solid scientific foundation so their personality can shine brightly (and achieve the best results)!

On that note, may your contact center shine brightly in the new year. And remember, your Ulysses Learning consulting team has loads of fun and winning ideas to re-energize your reps around using their call strategies. Contact us or reach out to your consultant today!

 More on this month’s featured expert…

A person standing posing for the cameraDescription automatically generatedDina Vance
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations

In her current capacity with Ulysses Learning, Dina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and also serves as the chief client relationship executive, working with Fortune 100 clients and other progressive organizations to redefine the way customers are cared for.  Under her leadership, Ulysses has become well known for its work in transforming customer service, sales and coaching cultures through the development of emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently and expertly applied on every call.  The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities and financial services industries.  

Before joining Ulysses in 1999, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers which led to her accepting a role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization.

Dina can be reached on LinkedIn or at; for more details on Ulysses Learning visit

 Email us your toughest challenge today!

 Managers looking for answers to their toughest contact center challenges are encouraged to Email their challenges to: 

NOTE:  Your identity is protected; we will not publish your name or company name.  

Challenge Solved! is sponsored by:

Ulysses Learning was founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s world renown Learning Sciences department. Since then, Ulysses continued focus on research and development brings clients new, innovative enhancements to its industry-leading training and performance improvement solutions. Contact centers achieve profound business results, ahead of schedule, with Ulysses Learnings’ artful blend of patented simulation-based e-learning, facilitated exercises, coaching, and tools, that redefine the way customers are cared for and transform customer service, sales, and coaching cultures. Ulysses has one of the only training systems proven to build emotional intelligence or “EQ” enabling reps to develop skills to empathize with others, build stronger customer bonds, and improve team dynamics with confidence, consistency, and excellence.

Ulysses Learning is a multi-year recipient of the Gold Stevie© Award for best contact center customer service training.

Begin your contact center transformation now. Phone 800-662-4066 or visit to get started.    

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