Measuring the Invisible

The board and senior management all want the proof – the evidence that their investment into cultural changes is happening. Show me the numbers! Culture is challenging for two reasons. It is a soft or invisible concept. It’s not concrete like average talk time. Secondly, culture represents behaviors, the collection of behaviors of the group not of one individual.

When the right metrics are selected, you can be confident that the investment is paying off, that the culture is under control, that folks are being held accountable for specific elements of the cultural change, the plan is constantly being adjusted, corrected and tweaked for performance. Any deterioration in culture will be noticed and rectified immediately.

Measuring the invisible may be elusive, but it is not impossible. Being able to zero in on the status of your culture before it takes a turn for the worst allows you to fix the problems before the worst happens. Few companies measure and manage culture yet everyone screams when the nice warm and fuzzy culture you once had disappears. Culture is something that can just happen. If you are lucky it will be an efficient and productive culture. For many organizations, they are not so lucky. Culture is mostly based on the owner or top management’s values but culture can be engineered to be a culture you desire with a plan, some guidance, someone leading the initiative and commitment from the management team.

The first step in measuring the culture is to make sure agents not just know but understand the values of the contact center. Most sites have a fancy list of words on a poster they supposedly they live by but no one every sees those words in action and the behaviors are rarely consistent with the values. There is a disconnect between the value statements and the behaviors. This needs to be re-connected before you can begin measuring anything. You can’t measure what people don’t understand.


Self-Assessment can be conducted in a couple of ways. One way is in a survey, an anonymous survey where employees can evaluate their own behavior. Making it anonymous will get you honest feedback. When people are not afraid of the consequences of sharing how they really think and feel you will elicit the truth. After all that is what you want. You can’t fix shortcomings if you don’t know what there are.

Examples of some possible questions include:
– I feel proud to work at xyz contact center
– The contact center has an inspiring message that I understand and embrace
– I believe in top leadership
– I understand what is expected of me
– I understand how my work contributes to the company’s goals
– I believe my supervisor provides honest feedback and cares about my professional development
– I believe employees are held accountable when standards are not met
– I believe the policy and procedures allow me to do my job without too many obstacles
– I feel that I am well compensated for my work

The second way to gather this information is through focus groups. Hire an outside facilitator to again, get honest answers. A trained facilitator will ask the questions and facilitate discussions, which will provide more insights than a survey. Either way, anonymous is the key.

Tools for Measuring

You may already have many of these tools in your contact center. Now you can use these tools in a whole new light. You can evaluate cultural progress of your contact center by looking at the behavioral shifts, opinion and attitude shifts as well as perceptions of employees. The point is that you don’t necessarily need a special “culture” metric.

You want to view the metrics you have with your “culture awareness glasses” on.

– Employee Opinion Surveys
– Internal Audits
– Performance Scorecards
– Customer Research
– Internal Customer Surveys
– HR monthly reports
– Market research
– Contact Center Metrics

At the end of the day, when the culture is supporting employees, people are productive, and everyone is generally happy so you should see contact center metrics improve.

Overall performance should improve when the culture shifts. When culture is the barrier to progress, metrics stagnate. When you remove those barriers and progress flows, the metrics will take care of themselves.


1. Weed the Garden: Removing the individuals who refuse to get on board with the program and are sabotaging progress. Then watchFocus on the Values: Model the values you expect others to exhibit. Managers are the most watched individuals; agents will mirror what supervisors and managers do. Live and breathe the contact center values. the flowers grow.

2. Weed the Garden: Removing the individuals who refuse to get on board with the program and are sabotaging progress. Then watch the flowers grow.


Measuring the results of your cultural initiatives doesn’t have to be dreadful because it’s not something you can’t see. Actually, it is something you can see if you are looking in the right places. When you focus on the input the output takes care of its self. When your cultural initiative is making progress, and moving in the new direction you will see in real-time contact center metrics as well as historical data greater productivity. When employees are generally happy at work they perform. Look at your contact center metrics with your “cultural awareness glasses” on. You will see the comments change on customer satisfaction surveys; you will see the comments change on the employee survey as well.

Another option is to ask the employees directly either in a survey or focus group, questions that will help you determine the progress of the initiative. Design and create an employee survey that is anonymous where employees rate statements like “I am proud to work at this contact center”, or “I believe in top leadership” just to name a few. To glean more details, conduct focus groups with a third-party facilitator. People will say more than they will write and a good facilitator will engage the group in a lively discussion.

The best indicators of change are how people behave. Observe – walk around and observe daily. Are agents acting different? How about supervisors and managers? How are people talking? Are they expressing new attitudes and opinions? When you see change you like, reward it! People enjoy genuine praise such as “I appreciate how you handled that situation, nice job”. People like chocolate, too!

If you’re not happy with the results it is time to take an honest look. Who is not buying into the change initiative? Is it a manager, a group of agents, an entire department?

You must find the one or ones who are impeding the progress or progress will never happen. Change is possible if you stick to the plan and commit to the people; the results will show in production, how people act and talk and customers will make positive comments.

Metrics Indicators

True culture change requires radical behavior change over a period of time. Change takes time; it can be several months to years depending on the size of your organization and the depth of changes that are being made. The new behaviors need to be entrenched into the management team’s DNA so that they are being demonstrated every moment of every day. Observation is the best indicator to evaluate change. Take notice of what customers and employees do and say and notice the shifts.

Customer – Do you hear customers commenting positively on the small changes? Are customers making positive comments on the customer satisfaction surveys? Can you document how many positive comments vs. how many negative comments? Can you compare those comments to last year or prior to the culture initiative?

Employee Behavior – Behavior speaks louder than words. Do you notice employees acting differently than before? Taking different actions than previously?

Employee Perceptions – Do you hear different language then before – indicating a shift in mindset, attitude, and opinion?

Note the attitude and behavioral shifts and take the time to reward and recognize those individuals and the culture will continue to propagate.

We Are Not Seeing Any Changes

If you are not getting the results you are looking for from your cultural initiatives here are a few places to double check:

Leadership: Someone on the leadership team isn’t on board. Culture is a reflection of the leadership team. A reflection of the commitment, values and behaviors that are modeled consistently. Who on your team isn’t modeling and embracing the desired culture?

Clarity: The cultural initiative lacks clarity of mission, vision and values. If the initiative comes across like the “flavor of the month” it is seen as meaningless. Values must be clearly understood and demonstrated each day to become meaningful. The mission and vision must be connected and clear. The mission statement posted on the wall but never referenced becomes empty words. Do you need to fine-tune your mission, vision and values? You determine that your mission, vision and values are solid; do you need to make them more meaningful? Have you communicated them in a way they are understood by everyone?

Lack of Buy-In: Where in the organization is the cultural initiative stagnating? Look at every level of the contact center, every department. Is it one person or a group that doesn’t see the value in the change initiative? Is someone about to lose his or her power as a result? Who has dug their heels in so deep that they can’t get out of the way and cooperate?

Poor Implementation: Be honest with yourself, if the word on the floor is “this is another flavor of the month thing” the implementation went sideways. Or was there any implementation at all? Just commanding the initiative isn’t enough. True implementation requires buy-in at all levels, modeling the behavior every moment of the day and living and breathing the mindset and behavior of the contact center values.

Changing culture isn’t an easy task. Long time employees have old ways of doing things and old ways of thinking and those things die hard. It’s not impossible to change the culture it takes daily commitment. Never letting your foot off the gas. Model the behavior you desire every moment. Being honest and admitting you must terminate a non-believer. Non-believers degrade progress. Your stick-to-it-ness will pay off and your contact center will flourish because of the commitment and it will be the talk of the town where everyone wants to work.



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NACSMA brings together like-minded professionals focused on advancing the customer contact industry and creating career growth.


Management of a best-in-class contact center sites require the continuous review of Agent Sourcing Models, Organizational Training and Management Development Programs.


NACSMA is a professional, non-profit association whose members represent customer contact organizations and the vendors who support them. 


When a contact center organization expands to an additional site or requires new space, the steps to properly implement are unique to each organization but do have standard phases.