By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I’m a planner. I can’t help it.
The problem is that things seldom go as planned. After a while I began padding my plans for the unexpected. Sometimes the cushion was enough; other times, not so much.
Consider air travel. I used to have the expectation that airline schedules were an accurate representation of what would happen. When airlines began padding their schedules to boast a higher on-time arrival rate, I was still often disappointed. Eventually I realized a more reasonable attitude was to assume the plane would be late and to celebrate each on-time arrival.
Let’s say a trip has two flights there and two flights back. Assume each flight has an on-time arrival of 70 percent. That means for the two flights to get to your destination, you only have a 49 percent chance that both flights will be on time. To include your return flights, you only have a 24 percent chance of all four planes being on time. And if you have three flights (two hubs) in each direction and all six have a 70 percent on-time arrival, your odds of all six being on time drop to 11 percent. Therefore, it’s highly likely you will encounter a delay at some point during your journey.
However, in setting realistic expectations, I assume a problem will occur, which reduces my chances of disappointment. This isn’t pessimism versus optimism; it’s realism.
We likewise need to set realistic expectations for our call center. Whether it’s technology, staff, or callers, we shouldn’t expect everything to go as expected every time. Having a realistic expectation helps us accept glitches and not let them ruin our outlook.
Setting realistic expectations reduces stress and increases contentment. And every call center, and every call center manager, will benefit when this occurs.