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Challenge Solved: How to move the needle on key performance indicators
Submitted by Ulysses Learning

April 1, 2024

Challenge Solved:  How to move the needle on key performance indicators.

Submitted by Ulysses Learning

April 2024


Dina Vance, Senior Vice President from Ulysses Learning, takes on our reader’s question this month. She offers several observations and best practices that are commonly overlooked in contact centers across the US. According to Dina, these are among the top of those best practices that can transform your contact center into a customer experience-focused operation that gets high marks. 

NOTE: We’re looking for more of your challenges. Email your contact center-related questions to:

Q:  Recently we are experiencing more challenging calls with a noticeable increase in emotion and difficulty. What are your current training and performance improvement recommendations for our teams on the frontline managing these conversations?

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

A: As we drive our simpler to handle calls to self service options, our contact center agents are left to manage the more challenging calls that often come with complications and emotions.  The key to successfully navigating these changes is in investing in our frontline team members through training, coaching and ongoing support to ensure they have tools necessary to manage the shifting expectations. 


Consider these tips.

Tip #1:  Ensuring agents have the experience to manage higher percentages of “sensitive” or “emotionally charged” calls.

The customers choosing to speak to a live agent are often seeking not only the right answer but also a human interaction that ultimately results in resolution.  These conversations require a high degree of finesse when it comes to connecting with the customer, understanding their need and presenting oneself as an expert willing to help. Research shows the destiny of most customer interaction is determined in the first 30 seconds of the call – first impressions count!  Often agents are busy in the first 30 seconds of a call trying to figure out where to navigate, wrapping up notes from the last interaction or simply mentally preparing for the conversation that they miss connecting with their callers.  To ensure a strong first impression and diffuse any emotion so the call can progress to a productive end, the agent must be empowered to set up aside the distractions and engage in the caller’s story and respond appropriately.  This slight adjustment has a positive effect on both the customer experience and your performance measures. 

Tip  #2:  Certain representatives find it easier to transform  the customer interaction.

Certain contact center representatives find it easier to transform the customer interaction into  their own expression of service  excellence, activating what we call EQ@Work or emotional intelligence. . There are several factors that come into play, with the more prevalent being the representative’s:  experience level, age, attitude, and performance level. While Emotional Intelligence (EQ) comes naturally to some, research shows EQ can be developed over time through experience and practice.  For those reps needing an EQ boost, additional learning through targeted simulated role plays will help hone their EQ skills and allow them to have a safe environment to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.  Think about learning to drive a stick shift.  The best way to learn how to use a clutch is on a hill when there is car right behind you.  The key is creating the scenario of a hill and a car without the actual risk of hitting another person’s car.  In the contact center, it works the same.  Creating real life examples for agents to practice their EQ skills is critical and lessens the risk of impact with live customers. 

Tip #3:  Contact Centers with Leadership-Led approaches to coaching, quality and measurement outperform others.

Contact centers that have adopted a strategic, leadership led approach to coaching, quality and measuring the customer experience, reported higher levels of both customer AND employee satisfaction. Top performing organizations ask an additional question when listening to customer calls – instead of simply asking what the agent could do better, they ask what as leaders do we need to adjust whether it is people, process and technology.  As emotional and challenging calls increase, it is key as leaders that there is a constant eye on the current versus future state. 

Today’s business environment can be challenging!  That said, here’s what I know to be true — if there is a segment of business that is best suited to meet the demands of the times, it has always been and will continue to be those closest to the customer—and that’s YOU and your business!  Contact center leadership teams are best positioned to implement the changes that will drive a better customer experience and lower costs.

To further explore  how your contact center may benefit, let’s put aside some time for a  discussion. I can be reached at, or for more details on Ulysses Learning visit


My best,


About Dina Vance
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations at Ulysses Learning


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,” enabling reps to confidently, consistently and expertly handle every call. The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities, and financial services industries. 

Before joining Ulysses in 2001, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers to serve bankers including Fortune 100 clients First Chicago, Harris Bank, American Express and Citibank.  This led to her role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization prior to Ulysses. Outside of work Dina is actively involved in local volunteerism and enjoys cooking, gardening and nature walks.

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

Challenge Solved! Is sponsored by:

Ulysses Learning was founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s world-renowned Learning Sciences department. Since then, Ulysses’ continued focus on research and development has earned it prestigious awards and recognition and, most importantly, the respect from its clients who rely on Ulysses for innovative performance improvement solutions that change with their rapidly developing and evolving environments.

Contact centers achieve profound business results ahead of schedule with Ulysses Learnings’ artful blend of patented simulation-based e-learning, facilitated exercises, coaching, and technology-driven 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 EQ with its proprietary Framework with Freedom© approach, 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 the 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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