Adhering to my freshman English professor's advice – "Write about what you know" – I often address and make allusions to insanity in my monthly column. Why, just last month I penned a piece titled "Contact Center Management for Maniacs," in which I challenged readers to embrace truly unconventional tactics in order to achieve insanely high performance levels in their contact centers. While insanity is often a great source of humor, and also makes for a nice alibi in court when you've done something unconscionable, there is nothing funny nor nice about a well-meaning and otherwise decent human being losing his or her mind while fighting a noble fight – with the possible exception of when Mike Tyson pulled a "Van Gogh" on Evander Holyfield in the ring several years back. Witnessing a man go mad, or even just reading about it in the tabloids, can shake us to our very core, and make us realize how truly fragile the human psyche is – and just how close all of us really are to suddenly biting somebody's ear off. This month, I'd like to pay tribute to a great manager in the contact center ranks, Everett Sloan, who recently succumbed to madness during a horrifically challenging peak season. OK, perhaps he wasn't really a great manager; truth is, he didn't really know his ASA from a hole in the ground even before the peak season deluge commenced. But still, he was an innocent, kind and hard-working professional – one who certainly deserved a better fate than the one he described in his diary, which was recently found inside his favorite stuffed animal. Here I share with you Everett Sloan's rapid spiral into madness, via several excerpts from his personal journal. Everett Sloan's family asked me to kindly change his name out of respect for him and them. Therefore, I now ask that you forget I mentioned Everett Sloan's name and, instead, refer to him as "Bucky" from here on out. May 14, 2007: The calls really started to pick up today – almost triple our normal volume. Fortunately, earlier this month our workforce management team did an excellent job of forecasting and scheduling. Unfortunately, 30% of our agents swapped schedules with their imaginary friends, many of whom did not show up. Consequently, we had our lowest service level since that day two years ago when half our staff contracted 24-hour trichinosis following our failed "pork-for-performance" incentive pilot. May 15, 2007: Revamped our IVR to enhance call-handling efficiency and to help us survive this horrific spike, but didn't realize until the end of the day that we had forgotten to plug it in. That was just one of the many things that didn't go right today: We set a record for high abandonment; endured 120 escalated calls; and we nearly lost one of our top new agents when a large chunk of his training manual got lodged in his throat. I'm beginning to regret not having accepted that unpaid internship with the sanitation department. May 16, 2007: Good news! To help ease the stress and strain in these busiest of busy times, the company has agreed to let me split shifts with the newly arrived voice inside my head. The voice seems like a nice enough guy, but it did reject my invitation to discuss the center's monitoring practices over lunch today. Instead, the voice ate alone on a bench outside, and was 20 minutes late in relieving me. On a related note, I think the readerboard winked at me today. In addition, I've always loved Rice Krispies treats. May 17, 2007: I got reprimanded by the center director today for spending too much time talking to my toes rather than coaching and motivating staff. It's so frustrating how some people have such a difficult time believing in the ability of metatarsals/phalanges to turn service around and create lasting customer satisfaction. The voice inside my head was late again today, but made up for it by promising to cover for me tomorrow while I meet with Winston Churchill to discuss a new speech analytics application he is selling. I've been sensing some dissension among the agent ranks this evening – I fear that several are angry at some of the center's plastic plants, who, admittedly, have been slacking off of late. There are also rumors that some of the staff fear losing their job to my feet. December 11, 2009: Call volume was so intense this morning that the incoming force and pressure actually skewed the space-time continuum and shot our center into late 2009. The bad news is that volume is still heavy, as it's now our holiday peak season; the good news is that, in 2009, agent cyborgs have taken over and have the ability to handle all calls efficiently and effectively without taking breaks and without throwing staplers at me, though they do often misspell "esophagogastroduodenoscopy" during email and chat transactions with our online shoppers. It appears that we have a bigger operating budget here in the future, for I noticed that the pizzas that were ordered tonight had twice the number of toppings as those we used to order in 2007. Also, the contact center finally has a window – outside of which there can be seen brilliant beams of red and purple lights illuminating all the fish. The only drawback of being instantly shot through time from spring 2007 to winter 2009 is that I am underdressed, and fear catching my death of a cold while walking across the parking lot to the Kremlin to ask the President for more lollipops. Must go now – time to oil our team leaders' wrist joints, then hold a calibration session with my pinky toes.
Note: That was Everett's, er, I mean Bucky's final journal entry. Several hours later he was found spraying WD-40 all over himself and shouting that he was going to squeeze into the center's IVR to see how it was functioning from a customer's perspective.
Because he was so greased up, it took three supervisors and the big guy who drives the bus for the local inpatient mental health facility over an hour to finally apprehend Bucky and immobilize him in the aforementioned vehicle. He was driven to the facility, all the while singing Blondie's hit song "Call Me" in falsetto.
Today, he is reportedly responding well to treatment, which entails daily doses of heavy sedatives and the use of an expert hypnotist to help convince him that he is not an acronym but a very crazy human being.
Bucky is also receiving treatment to help put an end to the visions he has been having of such fantastical beings as agent elves, ACD fairies and VoIP implementation experts.