Among quality management leaders and executives there is a much talked about theory known as Pareto’s Princple, or the “80/20 Rule.” This theory, originally a socio-economic commentary on the distribution of wealth in early 20th century Italy, was adopted by business strategists in the 1940’s as an all inclusive philosophy of the “vital few and the trivial many,” or that 20% of a group (in this case, employees or clients) contribute to 80% of productivity/profit.
The logical progression from theory to practice is that most time/training/customer service should be devoted to those top 20% that contribute most to the company. However, though there should be specialized individuals in any business, as well as departments dedicated to high-end clients, Pareto’s Principle falls short in the long run.
Let’s apply this theory to a call center. The top 20% of employees are personable, motivated, and successful – so much that they need little supervision or guidance. If training resources are devoted to the remaining 80%, then “helping the good become better is a better use of your time than helping the great become terrific” - and the overall productivity of your call center will improve.
But this doesn’t mean one should neglect the 20%.
Let's examine caller behavior. In every call center, IVR systems are created to be as efficient as possible, but to keep callers within the system. What about the 20% of callers who choose to opt out and speak with a live representative? Your phone system, especially when it comes to IVR announcements, needs to account for this possibility. Does your call center have the customer service resources to handle the 20% outside of the majority?
The 80/20 Rule is a smart way to guide business decisions, but recognizing that it is only a blueprint, and not fact, is the wisdom behind industry experience.