I Want to Take You Higher


I Want to Take You Higher

I’m going to start this month’s column with one of my life’s greatest mysteries, which I have yet to figure out.

How can there be 240 channels on my television, and most nights, there’s nothing on that I want to watch?

I live out in the desert, so there’s no cable service here. Instead, I have satellite TV and I pay to get Dish TV’s America’s Top 200 Channel package each month, which sends 240 channels through space and into my television. There’s another mystery. Why doesn’t Dish TV call the package America’s Top 240 instead of Top 200?

On any of the infrequent evenings that I get to do nothing but sit down and watch TV, I usually pick up the remote and go to the guide to see what’s on. I scroll through channel after channel, usually with the same result. Nothing interests me.

“Slim Away Belly Fat”


“America’s Auction Channel”


“Dr. Gina, Primetime”


“In the Kitchen with David”


“Noticias Telemundo”


You get the picture. Nothing.

Although cable TV has been around since the late 1940s, it didn’t really take off until 1975 with the introduction of a new television service to cable known as Home Box Office (HBO). Along with HBO, cable providers also began providing other programming. The deal was that if you paid the cable provider for your television service, you didn’t have to watch broadcast television and sit through commercial after commercial during your favorite show. Broadcast TV was supported by revenues from advertisers, so you got commercials. Cable was supported by subscribers, so it didn’t have to rely on advertising revenues. Whatever happened to that deal?

I guess the answer for me is to jettison my expensive, commercial-filled satellite TV service and just get streaming services. Paying a couple of extra bucks a month means you can get the station without commercials, too, but we both know that’s not going to last. It won’t take long for the corporate greed-mongers to figure out that, once they get us hooked, they can charge us the higher monthly fee and ply us with commercials at the same time, so they get ad revenues, too. Sound familiar?

But before I completely give up on my satellite TV, however, I did find one show I like to watch for a half-hour on Sunday nights. It’s condensed reruns of “The Ed Sullivan Show” from the early 1960s to 1971. That, my friends, was entertainment.

The best part of watching old Ed Sullivan shows is the fact that each episode was shot live, so what you see is what you get. Whatever happened, or didn’t happen, the viewers got to see it all live. On last week’s show, the Rolling Stones were Ed’s guests and performed their song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” from a show originally broadcast on February 13, 1966. In the song, there is a very brief drum break in which all the guitars stop playing, but the drumbeat continues, and Mick Jagger always kind of waves his hand back in forth in front of his face in time with the drumbeat. Part of his cool schtick, and he still does that move to this day.

In this particular performance, everyone stopped playing for the drum break except original guitarist Brian Jones who continued to play while Mick did the wavy hand thing in front of his face. Then Brian stopped playing right when the other guitars started up again. This was all live so it couldn’t be edited out or fixed in any way. I love that!

One of the most entertaining musical guests on The Ed Sullivan show was Sly and the Family Stone. They were on the show twice, in 1968 and 1969, usually singing a medley of their hits as was the norm for Ed’s musical guests. Their performance of “Dance to the Music” became an instant classic as members of the band left the stage and went out to dance around in the audience. The looks on the faces of the 1969 audience as Sly et al. danced around them is as entertaining as the music.

Sly and the Family Stone had another hit in 1969—a song called “I Want to Take You Higher.” It was the B side of their Top 30 hit “Stand.” It’s an upbeat song—a song of celebration, and I think it could also be the theme song of the contact center industry in 2022 and beyond.

In the recently completed 2021 survey of contact center professionals conducted by Saddletree Research in partnership with the not-for-profit National Association of Call Centers (NACC), we asked respondents what they saw as their biggest challenge in 2021 and, in a separate question, what their greatest challenge would be in 2022 and beyond.

Not surprisingly, the top challenge of 2021, as cited by the majority of respondents, was working through post-COVID strategies such as remote work, disinfecting the workplace, dealing with shared workstations, testing and so on. What was a surprise, however, was what emerged as the top challenge of 2022 and beyond by the majority of respondents.

Replacing COVID issues at the top of the challenges was formulating strategies that propel the contact center into becoming a central component of the operations of the organization. In other words, respondents were telling us they want to take the contact center higher! The top three challenges for 2022 and beyond are illustrated in the graph.

Top 3 Challenges for 2022 and Beyond

Top 3 Challenges for 2022 and Beyond
Source: Saddletree Research

I think all of these top challenges will actually end up going hand-in-hand if contact center professionals are able to accomplish their top goal of raising the profile of the contact center in the enterprise. Employee engagement will have to remain a top priority if the number one goal is to be accomplished. Unhappy workers don’t usually translate to a successful operation.

Likewise, an overall technology refresh will be in order so that isolated silos of information in the enterprise can be integrated, normalized and made useful for all enterprise functions. Customer intelligence should be of paramount importance to the organization, and fingers crossed, the business should be willing to invest in contact center technologies that make the sharing of that customer intelligence across the enterprise possible.

I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the very conservative and perennially underfunded contact center to undergo 10 years of industry evolution in a one-year period. Case in point—managing the work-from-home workforce. Therefore, I believe that it’s not inconceivable that the enterprise itself has undergone a similar evolution, and it too may be ready to take the contact center, and its standing in the organization, higher.

The National Association of Call Centers

Did you know columnist Paul Stockford is also the editor of In-Queue, the monthly newsletter of the National Association of Call Centers? Get your free subscription and read more of his provocative commentary every month!