“Are you doing okay?” I finally asked.

“No,” he groaned. I could practically hear his eyelids closing. “I’m just wiped out.”

I pressed further. “What’s going on?”

“I can’t stop yelling at people to get them out of ACW,” he admitted. “It was half my day today.”

ACW—the aux code agents spend wrapping up previous call notes, processes or issues—often serves as a breather for overwhelmed (or lazy) agents. Agents are afforded a certain amount of time per call, and most eventually take full advantage of this time to relax, vent or chat with their neighbors. This is a problem, but BPOs’ traditional efforts to dissuade this behavior only make matters worse.

Here’s a sample of an email from one BPO’s Senior Supervisor:

“Starting immediately, the use of ACW is prohibited. All order notes are to be written while on the call. We will remove this function during the next (dialer) update. Any future use of this aux code will result in immediate write-up. No exceptions.”

Forget for the moment that threatening agents can foster astronomically high attrition rates, or that a promise to remove the aux code button is an empty threat. This directive is counterproductive and undercuts your authority.

Why? Because it’s not consistent with reality. That email was the fourth regarding aux usage THAT MONTH. While the Senior Sup had sent two emails ordering the abolition of ACW, he’d sent two others that commanded other aux habits cease. One of those earlier emails suggested agents USE ACW. At this point, the Senior Supervisor has little credibility with the agents he’s entrusted to monitor.

Deeper, however, is a fundamental flaw in logic. After Call Work is often a requirement of a call—especially BPOs—and critical to an exceptional customer experience. But because some—even many—agents abuse ACW, you’ve chosen to eliminate a tool from the toolbox. This is no different than discovering a surgeon committed malpractice, but instead of disciplining the doctor, you choose to remove scalpels from every operating room.

Instead of monitoring aux, monitor agents. Compare ACW instances to notes. Observe what instances are necessary and what are free breaks. Drive your solution from there.

And start thinking long-term about queue management. ACW is only a fraction of your availability. Look for more efficient means of handling calls, script corrections, staffing changes, client accommodations, and other aux codes that might run long. These can all accomplish the same goal without damaging the customer relationship.

Otherwise, your haphazard, reckless recoil against ACW will be viewed exactly as it should: ill-prepared pushback from an overworked BPO.