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Challenge Solved: How to Avoid Reinventing the Wheel
Submitted by Ulysses Learning

July 1, 2024

Challenge Solved:  How to Avoid Reinventing the Wheel
Submitted by Ulysses Learning
July 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:  Whenever we have a problem to solve we feel like we spend way too much time developing a course of action from scratch. How do we go about tapping into best practices to save some time and energy?

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

A: You can definitely cut some corners by leveraging best practices. Take advantage of cross-industry forums, contact center publications and industry conferences. For anything not free, you can shave cost by sending one representative from your firm or division and ask them to take good notes for everyone back at the office. We often put professional development behind the day-to-day work at hand but this can actually do you a disservice when you’re not on top of industry best practices!

Recently I heard a CEO address the entire company about their firm’s growth and he spoke about the power of sharing knowledge and how it had transformed their workplace. “Innovation isn’t just about solitary genius,” he said. “It’s about the synergy that comes from working together, sharing our struggles and best practices, and learning from each other’s experiences. That is what makes a world-class organization.”

In a rapidly evolving world, where time and resources are precious, the phrase "why reinvent the wheel" holds significant weight for me. It speaks to the importance of leveraging existing knowledge and proven methods rather than starting from scratch. This principle is especially vital in business, technology, and innovation, where best practice sharing across industries can lead to remarkable advancements and efficiencies. As a trusted partner to our client organizations, we promote sharing best practices through our quarterly Master Coach Forum.

Several times a year we hold a cross-industry master coaching forum showcasing best practices from a few featured clients. In our recent spring forum, the feedback received was largely around how helpful it was to gain perspective from other industries. 

In particular, they felt it was powerful that each presenter had all the same basic elements as a starting point - they were part of call center management, they leveraged Ulysses as a partner, they were implementing products like ServiceMentor, and they used the same nomenclature like ‘conversation strategies’ and ‘framework to freedom’. While their customers were calling for different reasons, they still had call center representatives that faced similar concerns, such as remote work, lack of engagement, and hard-to-improve metrics like first call resolution.

Furthermore, they were resorting to similar tactics - boiling things down to basic ingredients. In this forum, one of our clients likened their coaching to cooking - taking us through every element of prepping (training), baking (coaching), and tasting (quality). It was hard not to get hungry talking about the tasting piece! Another thing discussed was creativity - how to really get creative when it comes to and contests. One of our featured panelists broke out a video featuring one of their supervisors sporting a literal rockstar outfit calling himself ‘Mick Jogger’. Another had created an employee recognition program with a major tenet titled “We can do it and have Fun!” Our clients learned firsthand that no idea is out of bounds and that having fun should be part of your strategy.

All fun aside, several themes emerged from the success stories:

Start from Day One

Every client mentioned the importance of spending the right amount of time on new hire training in the first few weeks and months. If you haven’t thoroughly reviewed your new hire training approach and materials in the last year, consider taking the time to do so. Have you ever gone to pick up a new car, especially one with a lot of fancy gadgets and electronics, and the dealer didn’t have time to go over the features with you before you left? Just how much time did it take you to become familiar with all those features? If your answer is “I’m still finding my way” then just think about how your new hires may be feeling!

Face-to-Face Matters

One of our healthcare clients, conducted an in-depth study on whether coaching in-person versus remote/written would make a difference in First Contact Resolution, customer satisfaction, non-technical quality and employee morale. They started with an employee survey and then spent an entire month doing 100% in-person coaching and included an email follow-up to help with information retention. After 30 days, they followed up with the same employee survey. 

During that month they saw every single metric improve - FCR, CSAT, and quality. They started with in-person coaching at 35%  but their steady-state resulted in 64%. More importantly, the percentage of employees preferring in-person coaching rose from 52% to 72%. Citing the benefits of being able to hear tone of voice, see facial instructions and the ability to ask clarifying questions.

As a result, this client set a minimum goal of at least one face-to-face coaching session per representative per month. The metrics jumped up immediately after the requirement went into effect and has been sustained over time by picking up four points in FCR, three points in CSAT and three points in Contact Center CSAT. Quite impressive!

Calibrations Are Key

We talk a lot about calibrations, as I’m sure you do in your business as well. A few unique things were discussed in the last forum. One of our clients does calibrations with every new hire during their first two weeks of on-the-job training. They go deep into how conversation strategies are being used in the call flows and then connect those conversation strategies back to their quality scorecard. This helps the new hires transition to what they call their “nesting period” - the next 60 days of work. During those two months they hold the calibration calls during supervisor team meetings, with the entire production staff, to be sure everyone is hearing the discussions. On an ongoing basis, the calibrations are held monthly with all levels of leadership and the support teams in attendance, and they rotate which job family leads the discussion.

Be An Advocate

Throughout my career, the word ‘mentor’ has given me the warm fuzzies. As soon as I hear that word I think of various mentors I’ve had from high school to present day. One of our clients has taken mentorship to a new level by creating a ‘Peer Coach/Advocate’ job family. Basically a mentor on steroids. They train 90 new people a year into this role to sprinkle across their teams. In order to qualify they need to model expected behaviors around attendance, metrics, and attitudes. They support on-the-job training, help with leaves of absence, conduct listening sessions and teach their peers quality review techniques. They have a handful of these coaches on each supervisor team and have found that this group quickly identifies trends and lifts the performance of all the other job-families.

Put them on a Pedestal

In life, you can never build people up enough. You just can’t. Even people that look like they have it all going on need praise. For many, recognition is their love-language! People, especially hard workers, tend to be hard on themselves. When they listen to their reviews they rarely hear the good parts - all they remember are, if any, the few items that were critical, even if constructive. One of our clients shared their employee recognition program which has a uniquely special name - ‘The Lifetime Way values and behaviors’. The name says it all - these aren’t just a passing fancy - they are behaviors by which to live life. They start literally every meeting by asking if anyone has a value to share. They have created a list of tenets to live by to go along with the program. The tenets include things like being empowered to do our best work, being accountable for our actions, and caring about our well-being. Another that caught my eye, which I shared earlier - we can do it and have fun.

They are creating a lifetime of fun. And we are helping our clients create a community of collaboration. 

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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