If you’ve felt like exploding with rage recently, be careful you don’t bring on a heart attack. New research by Harvard School of Public Health found that getting angry can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by up to five times.  Click here to read more.

Spare a thought then for the general public who cite dealing with contact centres as the thing most likely to make them angry. I have more than once been called into newsrooms to comment on this, including following a BBC poll which found that call centre delays were more infuriating to people than being physically attacked or insulted.

Now clearly no-one in the customer contact world sets out to infuriate customers - so why does this still happen so frequently? We have focused many times on the impact of lack of investment in digital technology, system failings, and silo-ed operations but far less attention has been focused on the people aspect of our operations.

Technology has advanced so rapidly that often our customers know more than our colleagues, with smartphone use endemic and ‘always-on’ digitally connected consumers fast becoming the norm rather than an aberration.

Also, a generation born into the digital age, will in a few years become the customers we serve, placing an even greater onus on all of us to prepare for this eventuality. There was a stark reminder of the generation gap this week when children aged five to 13 were confronted by a traditional rotary dialler phone and were totally confused as to how to operate it. Be warned, reading the article is guaranteed to make you feel old.  Click here to read more.

Most of the UK contact centre workforce grew up using rotary phones and have had to adapt to new digital communication channels. Also, the majority of the workforce were recruited according to their ability to perform well in a ‘command and control’ working environment with rigid rules and measures and under tight supervision.

The customer service environment has changed faster than the skills and attributes of the workforce (and will continue to do so) and that is causing stresses and strains for customers, organisations and employees.  Agile organisations need to focus on talent rather than resource as a means to satisfy changing demand.

In our work to enhance and update Global Standard©, we have placed a strong emphasis on recognising the importance of human talent in delivering superior service. Recognition is an important step but it takes the whole organisation to unite and drive forward a progressive human resources agenda encompassing new methods of recruiting, training, assessing and developing people with a far broader skill set than in traditional centres.

Single skill set teams will become an anachronism as multi-skilling and an emphasis on problem-solving and knowledge sharing become the order of the day. We need to develop people who are not just focused on transactional issues but also equipped to tackle strategic ones.

It is the only way to keep pace with the needs and demands of customers of today and those of the future. Lack of knowledge leads to customers being passed around and CCA research tells us that being put on hold, passed around and not having their query resolved is one of the top three customer frustrations.

I was impressed by the calibre of debate on the people agenda at our consultation meeting this week to discuss CCA Global Standard© Version 6.  There is a serious commitment to tackling the people agenda to ensure that organisations can meet the needs of increasingly impatient and well-informed customers.

Global Standard© has an important role to play as a transformational tool at this pivotal moment in the evolution of customer service. It can be used to bridge the gap between what is good today and what good will look like in future. Join us in shaping Version 6 to meet your needs.