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Promote the Power of your Quality Management Program

May 25 - Over the past weeks, companies around the globe have had to shift their focus to establishing a work-from-home infrastructure for their employees.  Even companies that already had a strong work-from-home culture in the contact center, have had to focus on bringing everyone outside of the contact center into a work-from-home environment.  As companies make the successful transition into this new virtual world, they will need to take advantage of the technology, tools, and solutions available to ensure they are continually driving success. Your Quality Management solution is one of those key solutions that will allow your organization to continue driving success in the new virtual world.  Now more than ever, it is important to understand what your customers are asking of your business.  It is equally as important that your employees are responding appropriately, and your customer needs are being met. With so much change happening at such [...]

2020-05-26T14:54:21+00:00

Applying the “Coachability” Test to Your Quality Standards.

May 18 - Hands down the most common complaint made of quality monitoring programs is that the call standards are too subjective. When the frontline staff perceive quality as subjective, they are inclined to use this as an excuse for not taking their quality evaluation results seriously, making it easier for them to reject feedback from their call coaching sessions. In addition, when performance expectations are open to interpretation, this results in inconsistent service to customers. One way to determine whether or not a standard is objective and behavior-based is to test its “coachability.”  In other words, can the quality standard be demonstrated?  Let’s say one of your quality standards is “responds compassionately.”  Some believe agents need to apologize to meet this end.  Others might interpret compassion as being something in the tone of the agent’s voice.  And still others might find it more comfortable to provide solutions to help callers [...]

2020-05-26T14:55:57+00:00

Let agents submit “great calls” for scoring. 

May 11 - Agents sometimes feel that Quality Assurance (QA) only picks their worst calls to score.  Combat this by allowing agents to submit calls they deem to be “great caller experiences” for scoring by QA specialists once or twice a month. This allows for self-discovery of the agent’s strengths and weaknesses as well as closes the gap between QA and the agent’s perspective on differing aspects of a call. It also promotes greater understanding from the agent of how QA may score a call vs. what the agent thinks is “great

2020-05-26T14:56:47+00:00

How Active Listening benefits your company.

May 4 - There is a lot of talk around replacing contact center agents with bots or some form of self-service options. But according to research conducted by NewVoiceMedia, 75% of customers still prefer a live agent (voice or chat) to help them solve their issues. Successful companies know how to create a culture that allows agents to not only express empathy but express the Right level of empathy for the customer’s situation. Here is an example. A customer who is calling to get roadside assistance because they have a flat tire. Agent#1: “I apologize for your situation. Agent#2: “I’m sure that’s really frustrating for you.” Agent #2 does a better job of expressing empathy that expresses what the customer must be feeling. They recognize what is going on in the customer’s world. This would be perceived as “more authentic” vs. canned and routine. You can teach agents how to use [...]

2020-05-26T14:58:05+00:00

How to show empathy to your stressed out customers. 

April 27 - These are difficult times, and our anxious customers need us more than ever. Some of them need help with a simple task, like “How do I add a new driver to my auto insurance policy?” Others need help solving a problem: “Why was I charged twice for inflight WiFi?” All of them need our empathy. They need us to infuse our emails, chats, and social media responses with words that demonstrate we understand what they are feeling, we see things from their point of view, and we care. Empathy isn’t easy. Some frontline customer service agents resist showing empathy. They think it’s optional or even risky because it implies they agree with the customer’s complaint. And even the most empathy-willing agents will struggle to show empathy when they’re overburdened, like they are now. So, to make empathizing easier, I’ve pulled together this list of 20 ways to empathize with stressed [...]

2020-05-26T14:54:40+00:00

Should agent metrics change for agents working at home?

April 20 - One of the most common questions that has been asked during the last few weeks is if agent metrics should change when they are working from home, as opposed to being in the office.  It is a great question, and it falls into that vast category of questions with the most frustrating answer: It depends. Ok, Ok...before you come after me with pitchforks, let me explain.  It really depends on the business, the context, the situation, etc.  So here are some things you can do to evaluate if your metrics need to change: Is the technology comparable to in-office? Working in an office with super-high speed internet, decent computers, wired connections and no VPN can be vastly different than sitting in an apartment with a shared cable line, a laptop from 2008, and WiFi on a router that is 5 years old.  Take some time to look at [...]

2020-05-12T16:33:06+00:00

Quality Assurance support strategies while maintaining business continuity. 

April 13 - Contact center quality assurance is the glue to consistent client interactions during times of business continuity. This resource is especially useful during turbulent economic times, which challenges businesses to be more strategic about client retention strategies to sustain clientele during and after the business disruption. Taking care to educate your agents on how to engage with clients during challenging times must be a part of your business continuity strategy, and quality assurance can partner to support.  Here’s how to get started: Educate:Identify and share your retention strategy with your team members and share the importance of building client loyalty during challenging times. For example, if your sales team is offering a 50% off discount or a free month of service during this time, train your agents to be confident, show empathy, and promote these initiatives with your clients. Support:Prepare your quality team to provide targeted feedback on business [...]

2020-05-12T16:33:15+00:00

Top 3 People-Oriented Communication Tips for Leading Remotely.

April 6 - Communication is the most impactful skill that leaders employ at any time, but it becomes even more critical in times of crisis. By now you have probably heard some best practices on communicating with employees while they are working from home due to the pandemic. Most of these recommendations are technology and process focused – such as using multiple communication vehicles, increasing frequency of team and 1:1 meetings, and employing web-based collaboration tools. While these are all very effective protocols, they need to be supported by people-focused communication practices which are those that consider and influence feelings, engagement and relationships. Following are the top 3 people-focused tips to help support a well-rounded communication strategy: Plan time in team meetings for increased small talk. People are feeling isolated and out of sorts. For some who live alone, connecting with colleagues might be their only opportunity for social interaction on [...]

2020-04-15T19:50:05+00:00

Finding time for mentoring. 

March 30 - A key element for the success of promising new call center employees is to pair them with a mentor — someone that can serve as a role model and trusted advisor.  As a supervisor or team manager, you may have senior members of your team serve in a mentor role or you as the direct manager can mentor a new employee. Many supervisors and team managers say they can't find enough time in their busy schedules and long to-do lists to take time out to mentor employees one-on-one.  If you find yourself using that excuse, here's one suggested time-management approach that can help you carve out 3-4 hours a week to devote to this important individual support.  It's called the 15-5-10 approach. Track all your weekly activities and how much time spent on each one. Prioritize these activities and also look at what activities could either be avoided [...]

2020-05-12T16:33:25+00:00

Compare monitoring scores against other call center measures for operational insights.

March 23 - An interesting way to review your quality monitoring scores is to compare them against all types of other call center performance measures. One of the most important comparisons is between quality monitoring scores and overall customer satisfaction scores. You should see a high correlation. Higher monitoring scores should happen as customer satisfaction scores go up and vice versa.  If you don’t find this correlation, then you may be measuring the wrong things. Some call centers find that satisfaction scores may be slipping while monitoring scores are staying stable or going up. The reason for this is that the center is failing to monitor the aspects of the call that have the biggest impact on influencing customer satisfaction. Another comparison might be between quality scores and speed of answer. Many centers find that as service level suffers and delays get longer, quality scores go down. This may be due [...]

2020-04-08T16:00:46+00:00

Is there an industry standard for how many calls you should monitor?

March 16 -  We hear this question a lot, but the answer is that there is not really an industry standard for anything in call centers.  However, most call centers report that they monitor 5-10 calls per month per agent.  Having said that, let me give you a few other things to think about. First, you should strive to gather a sample that is significantly significant, and 5-10 calls per month may not be the right number for your center. Popular levels of significance are 5%, 1% and 0.1% (of total calls received). To determine your call center's level of significance you may need to take a stroll down statistics memory lane.  Below is a link to this topic:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_significance Next, it is important to pull a random sample of calls.  As you know, there is a lot of quality monitoring buzz these days about selective and targeted call recording which [...]

2020-03-27T21:41:55+00:00

Why do you listen for the customer name on calls?

March 9 - A lot of companies require agents to say the customer name on calls, and QA specialists are listening for that in their reviews.  But maybe we should look at why we listen for agents to say the customer name. Using the customer’s name, like all other quality monitoring criteria, needs to be driven by a business objective. Using the caller’s name X number of times on a call may be a nice thing to do, but if it does not help you in achieving a company and/or call center objectives, then it really should not be on your quality evaluation form. For some call centers where customer relationships are vital to their core business, using the customer’s name may be one of the behaviors that contribute to that end.  For other centers, the primary focus may be one of sales and thus using the customer name may be an [...]

2020-03-18T14:23:43+00:00

Delegate tasks to free up time for coaching. 

February 17 - One of the keys to time management for call center supervisors is to identify what tasks can be delegated to others to free up more time for the supervisor's most important activity — one-on-one coaching. Here are a few things to consider when deciding what can be delegated to other members on the team. Time.Analyze how you spend your day. Are you doing some things over and over than someone else on your team could do just as easily and perhaps even enjoy the added variety and responsibility? Use delegation to free yourself up so you can concentrate your efforts on activities that take your team members forward. Business processes.You need to establish concrete procedures and processes as your team develops. When you find yourself directing every activity (or trying to and failing), it’s time to start documenting important practices so your workforce doesn’t have to depend on [...]

2020-03-11T14:25:34+00:00

Moving away from “Fix and Forget” leadership. 

January 27 - Last week’s tip outlined the qualities of a “Fix and Forget” leader, which included these characteristics: Spending all (or most) of their time on maintaining the status quo. Viewing the work of a leader as being in conflict with their own work. Choosing short-term fixes over long-term solutions. Failing to reflect on past decisions. Only checking in with team members when there is a problem. If, instead of being a “Fix and Forget” type of leader, you want to be known as someone who really wants to grow their team and achieve better results, think and take action like a gardener.  Some tips to make this transition: Talk to your plants.  In my leadership training sessions I like posing the question, “Does it really help to talk to your plants?” I typically get at least one person who offers that it does because you are offering your plants [...]

2020-02-21T14:42:31+00:00

Is “Fix and Forget” the way you lead?

January 20 - Have you thought (or said) any of these statements in the past 30 days? I thought we had that problem handled. When will I have time to focus on what I need to get done? I should have seen this coming. WOW! That came out of nowhere. I can’t believe we are having to deal with this again. All people ever bring me are problems. If you said yes to at least three of these statements, you might be in danger of becoming a “Fix and Forget” type of leader. Characteristics of such a leader are: Spending all (or most) of their time on maintaining the status quo. Time resources are strained and it’s easier to go from crisis to crisis to fill their day. They fail to carve out time to look toward the future and determine how to best lead their team into it. Viewing the work [...]

2020-01-27T15:50:57+00:00

How to improve your company training process. 

January 13 - Are you struggling to train your employees? It's alright if you are — most employers and trainers struggle to do so. Employee training today is surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. Some believe that memorization works, while others think that fancy e-Training or assessments are the solution. We're here to tell you that the way most trainers and employers are training isn't working. But, with a few changes it can work, and quickly. So why not change the way you train employees? With actionable knowledge bases and progressive training methods, you can train employees up to 75% faster. Further, your employees will be ready to handle the scenarios they'll face on-the-job and they'll have support to back them up if they get stuck. Rather than sitting employees down and forcing them to memorize their fancy e-Training and then pass an exam on it — try an improved method. [...]

2020-01-22T15:40:15+00:00

Engage your QA team in the training process. 

January 6 - Engage your QA Team in your new hire training process from the very start.  The call review process should be the right hand of training. Call reviews ensure newly trained staff are retaining the training provided, using resources correctly, and aids in developing skill sets necessary to be successful.  By implementing quality assurance training during the training process, you begin to develop authentic relationships between staff, trainers, and quality assurance teams. Make sure employees understand the expectations, importance of call reviews, and how the quality assurance process will ultimately aid their professional development.

2020-01-14T22:24:34+00:00

Confidence is key and attitude is everything! 

December 30 - Two attributes that are very important for agents are confidence and attitude.  Share these examples during training or coaching to help them understand what these attributes can give them! When a new driver goes to take their test, they must be confident that they have the ability to pass it. If the driving instructor senses that the driver is not confident, the instructor will not feel secure in the car. As a result, the driver is likely to fail. Confidence is the first step to driving success. On the phones, we must indicate our confidence to the customer through a comfortable delivery of important information. This will allow us to pass through a successful call, as the contact feels secure in our ability to handle the call. And secondly, your attitude reflects your outlook on the world. It may change with your mood or your surroundings, but it [...]

2020-01-14T22:24:14+00:00

Don’t change too many things at once during coaching.

December 23 - One of the deadly sins of coaching is to try to change too many things at once. As coaches with experience and insight that far surpasses that of our coachees, we may tend to overwhelm the coachee with TOO MANY things to work on or think about. The fact is, as humans, we work best when we can focus our efforts. As a wise person once said, “To try many things at once is to do none well.” Only with focus will we be able to hope for meaningful change. Effective coaches focus their coachees on one or two areas for development. Effective coaches know that there will be time to address other areas for development once these priority areas are addressed. Effective coaches resist the tendency to “spray and pray” — to tell the employee EVERYTHING the coach thinks the coachee could change (spray) and hope (pray) [...]

2019-12-30T21:23:42+00:00

Using games to test for knowledge in new hire classes. 

December 16 - I would love to share a game I do with my new hire classes.  Once the trainees have learned the database we use, I draw the main database screen with empty fields on a white board.  I have them lock their computer first thing in the morning and I pass out laminated cards that have all the icons and fields on them.  The game is to put the cards in order as they would appear on the screen and test their memory without using their computer.  Some of the fields they haven’t used yet but have visually seen, and some they have practiced the functions. They do this first working independently, and then as a team. Then while the trainees are at lunch, I take the laminated cards and mix them up but leave them on the whiteboard.  After lunch, they come up to the board and put the [...]

2019-12-27T20:14:47+00:00

Let’s discuss coaching.

December 9 - The primary goals of coaching are to develop skills in employees while simultaneously building the employee’s capability to self-assess and work independently. Coaching is used when the employee is willing and has some capability for figuring things out. In other words, you would NOT use the coaching technique in a corrective action situation (someone coming in late from lunch) or in a training situation (when the person simply doesn’t know the answer). It’s unfortunate, but we often overlook the 80% of our employees who are performing well day in and day out to put out fires or address other more urgent issues. Over time, this can be damaging to morale and performance. Coaching is a technique to work with those overlooked 80%. In coaching, the first step is for you to meet with the employee to determine what job-related skill the employee would like to develop. This could [...]

2019-12-27T20:13:44+00:00

Engage your QA team in the training process.

  December 2 - Engage your QA Team in your new hire training process from the very start.  The call review process should be the right hand of training. Call reviews ensure newly trained staff are retaining the training provided, using resources correctly, and aids in developing skill sets necessary to be successful.  By implementing quality assurance training during the training process, you begin to develop authentic relationships between staff, trainers, and quality assurance teams. Make sure employees understand the expectations, importance of call reviews, and how the quality assurance process will ultimately aid their professional development.

2019-12-10T16:29:17+00:00

Why do your employees work for you?

November 18 - Leaders are viewed by their people as authentically supportive of their needs. Leaders can translate the needs of their people into actionable goals to support “the cause.” Think about what your employees want from work and from you. Most of them are looking for a paycheck, of course. But we all know that there are often easier ways to make money. So it’s safe to state that your employees work here for other reasons. What are those reasons? Some people work here because they like the people. It gives them the opportunity to have the interaction with others that they’re craving. Maybe it’s directly related to work — like being on a team to work out a solution to a problem. Maybe it’s indirectly related to work — like organizing an office social event. Some people work here because they enjoy helping customers. Solicit feedback from customers — [...]

2019-11-29T18:05:09+00:00

Confidence is key and attitude is everything! 

November 25 - Two attributes that are very important for agents are confidence and attitude.  Share these examples during training or coaching to help them understand what these attributes can give them! When a new driver goes to take their test, they must be confident that they have the ability to pass it. If the driving instructor senses that the driver is not confident, the instructor will not feel secure in the car. As a result, the driver is likely to fail. Confidence is the first step to driving success. On the phones, we must indicate our confidence to the customer through a comfortable delivery of important information. This will allow us to pass through a successful call, as the contact feels secure in our ability to handle the call. And secondly, your attitude reflects your outlook on the world. It may change with your mood or your surroundings, but it [...]

2019-12-04T13:54:06+00:00

Five Important Considerations When Using Games to Teach.  

November 11 - For more than a decade, the general consensus in the training industry is that games (aka "gamification") are a valuable way to review a certain topic. But where things are still a bit muddled is how far games can go in actually delivering crucial content. Below are some key insights that take the interactive power of a game to another level of training. WHAT ARE YOU AFTER? Make a list of the key teaching points you want to cover and embed them within the game. By using the power of game-based competition - your learners will have a heightened sense of awareness and retention will increase. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Questions do not specifically have to cover a topic -- they can be used simply as a stepping stone to what you want to teach or review. Consider even leaving the game completely to focus more deeply on [...]

2019-11-29T18:02:37+00:00

Five Important Considerations When Using Games to Teach.  

November 4 - For more than a decade, the general consensus in the training industry is that games (aka "gamification") are a valuable way to review a certain topic. But where things are still a bit muddled is how far games can go in actually delivering crucial content. Below are some key insights that take the interactive power of a game to another level of training. WHAT ARE YOU AFTER? Make a list of the key teaching points you want to cover and embed them within the game. By using the power of game-based competition - your learners will have a heightened sense of awareness and retention will increase. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Questions do not specifically have to cover a topic -- they can be used simply as a stepping stone to what you want to teach or review. Consider even leaving the game completely to focus more deeply on [...]

2019-11-29T18:01:15+00:00

Boredom-busting ideas to improve agent retention. 

October 28 - If doing the same thing 50-75 times a day sounds intellectually stimulating, stop reading.  Still there? Since many of you may have begun your career as contact center agents, you probably know how monotonous the job can be. As a manager, there are many things you likely already schedule to break up the agent’s day periodically. Things like training and team meetings along with activities like special projects. (Whether they actually happen or not is a different story.) But what else can agents do in between calls that don’t have to occur at a specific time? Consider putting together a list like the one below to build variety into your agents’ days. Happy agents make happy customers, so read on for ideas to end up with both: Development. How satisfied can you be if the customer knows more than you do by the time they make it through [...]

2019-11-05T02:32:27+00:00

Give the gift of knowledge.

October 21 - How much effort do you expend in refreshing your team on the organizational impact of their work?  We often focus on the quality of each transaction based on the time that it takes to process the work, the adherence to business policy and the technical integrity of the system upon completion. We spend copious hours in training to guide these efforts and even offer support with navigational efficiencies.  But how do you get agents to aspire to achieve more than the minimum standard? Might I suggest adding a brief introduction to what connection the material has to the organization’s strategic goals to the next refresher course.  For example, if your organization has a strategic goal for transparency and you are training on an interim bill correction process, this is an excellent opportunity to reinforce how important their role is in keeping this commitment to the customer. Transformational leaders [...]

2019-11-05T02:30:34+00:00

Establishing a Coaching Relationship.

October 14 - Coaching is a really important part of the job for all call center leaders.  Establishing a coaching relationship takes time and the ability to build trust.  This is something that we should work on continuously to build the relationships with agents in our organization. Some ways to build trust include: Inspiring Trust by Sharing: All of us have examples of when we said the wrong thing, or did something less well than we would have liked. Trust is an essential part of a coaching relationship. Share these instances where appropriate: “This was not my finest hour…” It conveys to your employee that you are human, and that mistakes are not fatal. Lean in to the Pause: Often an inflection point in learning occurs in a conversation at the point where the coachee is quiet or appears to be thinking. Rather than rushing in to fill the silence, sit [...]

2019-10-23T14:21:43+00:00

Look beyond averages in quality monitoring scores

. October 7 - Averages are helpful but they are just that, they are averages.  They will give you some idea of how agents are doing overall, but they may not give you a complete picture.  Consider for a moment that a score of 85% and above is the goal in quality monitoring.  It might be entirely possible that the average score for the month was 85% or even higher.  One might think, “Great! We had a terrific month and provided excellent service to our customers.”  This might or might not be the case. Suppose for a moment, that 100 scored calls were included in that average.  The calls could breakdown as follows: 20 of the calls received a score of 100% 45 of the calls received a score of 85% or greater but less than 100% 35 of the calls received a score below 85% With this breakdown, we see [...]

2019-10-23T14:20:43+00:00

Keep trainees engaged during long new hire training periods. 

September 16 - Depending on your organization, new hire training classes can be anywhere from 4-6 weeks long, and most workdays are 7-9 hours long. Therefore, your trainees can be receiving somewhere between 150-240 hours of information in a short amount of time and that can make it extremely difficult for their knowledge retention rate. Not only do we incorporate games, learning activities, and exercises to help engage our trainees, but we also schedule different speakers (from other departments) and different trainers on a daily basis. Scheduling different trainers ensures the trainees are staying alert, engaged, and hearing new information from a different perspective/teaching style. This has worked very well for our training team and tends to be a huge positive on evaluations from the trainees. Note:  This week’s tip is provided by Debbie Short of Cokesbury, retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House.  She may be reached at dshort@cokesbury.com.  

2019-10-23T14:20:31+00:00

Developing your direct reports or team members for success.

September 9 - As a manager, much of your time should be devoted to helping team members to be more successful and (for those interested) to prepare them for promotion or advancement. Setting their expectations against the actual workload helps them become better prepared for unexpected changes and gives them a good baseline for knowing when they’ve met or exceeded expectations. Here are some ideas to put your team members on the road to success: Understand what the team member really wants from their job. If you are the direct manager, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re the mentor, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re a peer, direct manager or mentor, have regular informal conversations. The two keys here are regular meetings (formal or informal) and good communication. Don’t focus only on areas of improvement. People like to know when they’re doing well. Focus on [...]

2019-09-17T13:43:44+00:00

Coaching to Celebrate!

August 26 - Coaching to celebrate simply focuses on all the positives that take place during the call.  This is the coach’s time to reinforce effective behaviors that you want to see repeated on future calls.  Coaching to celebrate sessions are great for boosting morale and motivating your strong performers (or maybe just an average performer that had a strong call) to keep up the great work. Remember when you celebrate a call, do so immediately and be specific with your feedback. Ask questions to help agents reflect on the call center and company goals they are helping to achieve when they are succeeding on their calls.  Discuss why it’s important to continue making every effort to repeat these behaviors on future calls – not just when they are having a good day! You’ll want to resist the temptation to add in little suggestions for ways they can improve, just to [...]

2019-09-12T20:52:22+00:00

Empower representatives to take ownership.

August 19 -  Make sure representatives know they are empowered to take ownership of their calls by listening to the customers and taking care of their needs. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life written by John Miller teaches that when something goes wrong, you do not blame someone else for the problem. The contact center representatives should look at the problem and ask themselves, “What can I do to handle this issue?” When the agents take ownership of the problems, the customers feel like the representatives truly care about their problems. This builds confidence with the customers that your company is ready and able to meet their needs. Note:  This week's tip is provided by Debbie Short of Cokesbury, retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House. She can be reached at dshort@cokesbury.com.  

2019-08-26T13:29:55+00:00

Provide examples when coaching.

  August 12 - When providing coaching to your agents, make sure to fully explain and provide examples of improvement areas.   Don’t just tell the agent they were wrong, explain the customer impact and provide an example of how they could have handled the interaction in a way that would have set the customer’s expectations. For example, an agent doesn’t use the proper hold procedure during a contact.   An estimate of hold time was not provided to the customer.   Explain the customer impact of not providing them an estimate of their hold time: Our phone system does not provide music or messaging when a customer is placed on hold.   If you place a customer on hold and do not provide a hold estimate, at some point during the hold the customer may feel they have been disconnected.   This may cause the customer to hang up and call again.   The next agent [...]

2019-08-21T16:44:06+00:00

Providing missed item data for coaches.

August 5 - Scoring agent calls is only one part of the quality assurance equation. The second part is giving coaches and managers useful data. The point of QA must always be kept in mind; yes, the score is an indication of quality, but one reason quality is measured is to identify areas where improvement can be made. But what type of shape should this data take to assist in this role? The data should take on two different shapes. The first is to address each individual agent. What items on the form did each individual agent miss—particularly if the same item was missed by the same agent multiple times. By shaping the data for each individual agent, we highlight areas for coaching and improvement giving coaches a targeted approach. The second form the data should take is for the contact center as a whole. Here we want to identify what items in the contact [...]

2019-08-13T14:09:44+00:00

Why attend the QATC Annual Conference?

July 29 - There are a lot of great conferences around, but there is only one that is designed specifically for quality assurance and training professionals in the contact center.  We would love for you to join us for this amazing event, which is set for Sept. 17-19 at the Hilton Nashville Downtown Hotel.  Here are just a few of the many reasons to attend the QATC Annual Conference: 1. Relevancy to your position. There are a lot of call center conferences out there, but it is hard to find extensive content on training or quality assurance there. QATC surrounds you with people who are doing exactly what you’re doing! 2. High caliber conference content in a small community atmosphere. QATC is not a "mega-conference" where you feel overwhelmed and disconnected. The quality of the speakers is second to none, and the size of the conference makes it easy to connect [...]

2019-08-13T14:11:48+00:00

Empower your trainers to instill confidence. 

July 22 - Empowering trainers helps instill confidence, especially when it comes to day-to-day decision-making. For instance, during our new hire training classes, a different trainer is designated to “take the lead” each day of the week. A basic schedule is laid out ahead of time, but if anything comes up or if there is a scheduling conflict, whoever is the lead has the ability and the encouragement to deal with those situations as they see fit. If a situation does come up that the trainer may not feel comfortable handling, the manager is always available, but instead of just telling the trainer what to do, he asks smaller questions to nudge the trainers in the right direction in a way that still leads the trainers to feel like they are making the decision. This helps in a couple of ways. First, as I mentioned before, it instills confidence in the [...]

2019-08-13T14:11:35+00:00

Finding time for mentoring. 

July 15 - A key element for the success of promising new call center employees is to pair them with a mentor — someone that can serve as a role model and trusted advisor.  As a supervisor or team manager, you may have senior members of your team serve in a mentor role or you as the direct manager can mentor a new employee. Many supervisors and team managers say they can't find enough time in their busy schedules and long to-do lists to take time out to mentor employees one-on-one.  If you find yourself using that excuse, here's one suggested time-management approach that can help you carve out 3-4 hours a week to devote to this important individual support.  It's called the 15-5-10 approach. Track all your weekly activities and how much time spent on each one. Prioritize these activities and also look at what activities could either be avoided [...]

2019-07-24T19:52:30+00:00

Always have a Plan B!

July 8 - During training, check your audience and make sure they are following you. If not, be prepared to put a spin on your presentation to connect with your group. For example, your Plan B could be a game to get the class participating rather than staying with lecturing. Make the game fun and exciting; like the game called Round Robin. In this game, everyone sits in a circle and is asked a question on the topic you’re teaching. The trainer has 60 seconds to go through a topic so the movement around the circle is quick. Depending on time, you can keep playing the game with different topics until you see the class is comfortable with the material. If your participants don’t know the answers, help them by asking open-ended questions to get them thinking and talking. By switching to Plan B, whatever that might be, you can get [...]

2019-07-24T19:51:10+00:00

Wrap it up and put a bow on it!

June 24 - The closing of a contact is perhaps one of the most important elements of the customer’s experience. It is in those last few moments that your customer is able to truly feel valued, appreciated, and serviced. Make it a point to have your agents ask your customer, “What else may I assist you with today?” The question should be open-ended, genuine, and sincere. It should seek out any additional issues or opportunities the customer may have prior to letting them go. Pause and allow the customer time to consider the question. Once the customer responds with a “no,” it is time to seal the deal. Smile, show appreciation and enjoyment in the fact you have been able to provide your customer a great experience and thank them for calling. “It has truly been my pleasure to assist you today. Thank you so much for calling,” or “I hope [...]

2019-07-08T13:27:08+00:00

Building rapport is not just for customer interactions!

June 17 - The old phrase “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” rings true for contact centers! When coaching staff have interactions with front line agents, they need to remember that we are all in the same boat, and the agent on the front line is “rowing.” Consultative selling skills are an integral part of our culture, and they remind us that all customer interactions start out with building rapport. When our management team went through the consultative coaching training sessions, it was no surprise to learn that good coaching sessions also start with building rapport. When you first meet with the agent, don’t jump right to business. Share something about yourself and be genuinely interested in what that person has to share back. Once rapport is established, then you are ready for business! Never make the coaching session feel like an “I [...]

2019-06-27T16:28:22+00:00

The agent experience in today’s omnichannel world.

June 10 - The role of the contact center agent is more challenging than ever before. New skillsets and greater proficiency are required for agents to succeed with an increased range of channels. But with a new side hustle around every corner, keeping agents motivated and retaining them for the long haul is a common challenge. In a 2018 ICMI study, contact center leaders reported that their number-one challenge was training and retaining the staff needed to be successful; not far behind, at number three, was increasing agent engagement and morale. Engaged and satisfied agents are essential to providing quality customer service that engages and satisfies customers, and they’re motivated to stay in their current jobs and make a career out of customer service. When evaluating the agent experience in your contact center, it is important to evaluate processes including hiring and onboarding, training and development, and the overall feeling of [...]

2019-06-27T16:27:05+00:00

Create your own “Tip of the Week” for your management team!

June 3 - Each week I send out a tip, insight, industry information, or a coaching resource to the management team in my call center. I choose what to send out from all kinds of resources: management websites, blogs I have subscribed to, books and industry magazines that I receive. This not only allows the management teams access to many of the resources that I have available but it also lets them know that they can come to me if they have a particular issue so that we can research a solution together. The topic that I pick each week is based on the discussions that I have been a part of, the coaching sessions that I have participated in, the calibrations that I have lead, and the team meetings that I have attended. By having a presence on the front line call center floor, I am able to keep a [...]

2019-06-12T14:09:05+00:00

What are the main reasons that employees don’t perform?

May 27 - The first steps of performance management involve defining performance expectations and communicating them to your employees.  Once these standards are in place, you can observe actual performance to see how it measures up against your expectations. Just as a doctor would use a systematic diagnostic process to correctly determine the cause of medical symptoms, you should use a diagnostic process to guide your analysis of an employee’s performance problem.  Instead of relying on your “gut feeling,” you’ll want to use a systematic approach to guide your diagnosis.  Some presenting problems are simple and don’t require sophisticated analysis to identify the cause, but others are more complicated. There are three basic reasons behind all performance problems in the call center or any other work situation.  Each performance problem can be attributed to one of these reasons: Don’t Know – An employee may be unaware of performance.  He may not [...]

2019-06-12T14:11:49+00:00

How do you know if training is working?

May 20 - It’s important to constantly assess the effectiveness of your call center training program.  You’ll want to measure immediate reaction, successful transfer of learning to the job, ongoing behaviors, and long-term results in order to evaluate the success or failure of the program. At a minimum, make sure you utilize an evaluation form for each program and pre-class and post-class assessments to measure before and after learning.  In addition, you should keep a formal or informal log of each new employee’s performance where you track observations of actual performance once the training program has been completed. There are five points at which the training program should be evaluated using formal assessment tools: Before training During training After training In the workplace Leaving the workplace The call center management team must make a commitment to evaluate the end results of any training program to define the success or failure of [...]

2019-05-29T14:52:48+00:00

Clarabridge Unveils New Customer Experience Innovations to Drive Digital Engagement

Miami, FL — April 30, 2019 — Clarabridge Inc., the leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions for the world’s top brands, revealed new digital customer care innovations at its 11th annual Clarabridge Customer Connections (C3) conference. The technology unveiled in Miami will provide customers with a deeper understanding of the digital conversations happening on every channel, the tools to operationalize customer feedback data across all business operations, and the insights required to drive customer loyalty. “Consumers want exceptional, empathetic, and effortless experiences everywhere, and to do that, brands need to understand their customers as people,” said Mark Bishof, CEO of Clarabridge. “The innovations we’re bringing to market empower organizations to build relationships internally and externally at scale, implement insights from customer feedback data across all areas of the business, and evolve the traditional, siloed approach to customer experience into one that is data-driven and focused on digital customer care.” [...]

2019-05-16T21:23:28+00:00

Clarabridge Closes 2018 with Record Growth in the Contact Center

RESTON, Va.—BUSINESS WIRE—Clarabridge, Inc., the leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions for the world’s top brands, today revealed that it has closed a momentous 2018, with a record-setting fourth quarter, positioning the company for continued growth in 2019. The Clarabridge Contact Center Solution has grown in use by 800% in less than two years since launch, fueling the company’s success. In 2018, Clarabridge added nearly 100 new customers spanning Fortune 500 healthcare, financial, CPG, and high-tech institutions, and experienced a 45% increase in Q4 bookings. With its cutting-edge conversation analytics, the Clarabridge Contact Center solution has analyzed over 3.5 billion sentences since 2017, including voice calls, chat, email, chatbots, messaging and social media interactions. Together, these digital conversation channels yield critical, actionable insights that help brands around the world drive loyalty and reduce churn. Collectively across its solutions, the company has processed nearly 20 billion customer service interactions with [...]

2019-05-16T21:20:05+00:00

Managing your Quality Assurance team’s productivity.

May 13 - All too often contact center leaders are focused on agent key performance indicators but fail to identify quality assurance metrics to the align to the business goals. Here are some key performance metrics to begin holding your quality teams accountable for their contributions to the overall success of client experience.  This will certainly build trust with your key stakeholders and show your dedication as quality leader in leading by example. Evaluation Average Handle Time: This metric will be comprised of length of interaction plus evaluation wrap time.  The benefit of measuring evaluation handle times allows leaders to see how efficient each team is individually and in comparison, to the team.  In addition, it allows the leader to quantify workload and gauge the ability to provide additional services to your stakeholders (such as take calls, additional evaluations/assessments, coaching, etc.) Number of Evaluations Completed Daily/Weekly/Monthly:  Tracking each quality analyst’s contributions [...]

2019-05-20T14:46:28+00:00

Use additional QA Analysis to add Strategic Value.

May 6 - In my consulting with contact centers, I’ve talked about the opportunity for QA groups to provide additional analysis that creates strategic value for the organization.  When reviewing contacts, the QA team can compile information on not only the technical and customer experience portion from the agent’s performance, but also gather information on other areas like; “How did you hear about this?” “Where did you search for this information on our website?” “What is the customer saying about our Brand?” “What are the technical positives or negatives in working with our IVR, Systems, Website?”  All of these tell us something about our Marketing, IT, PR, Sales, and other areas of the business. Any information we can glean from these contacts benefit the organization strategically and provide additional insight to our programs, policies and initiatives.  This is the additional value we can provide that go beyond just the normal contact [...]

2019-05-16T21:27:27+00:00

5 unusual things to do when you are crazy busy.

April 29 - "I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to handle my dilemma," John (not his real name) said. "It seems like we just never slow down around here anymore. I thought if I worked longer hours and pushed my team harder, we'd get caught up. Now I'm exhausted and I think everyone on my team hates me." John's comments on the phone to me last week mirror what I am hearing too often. We have this mental mirage of a nebulous time in the future when things are going to slow down. So we plow ahead with little thought to how we're getting things done... and just when we think we're close to this oasis of rest... another project, problem, or even opportunity surfaces. We then take a deep breath, release a reflective sigh, and dive in again. What was my reply to John? I didn't start out by saying, "We're all busy." [...]

2019-05-06T13:57:04+00:00

Key ground rules for conducting calibration sessions.

April 22 - This week is the final tip in our series on calibration with some final thoughts.  We have discussed the benefits of calibration, and the steps for conducting a successful calibration session. Start slowly and use a phased approach to best achieve a successful level of calibration. When you’re just beginning the calibration process, set an attainable goal; e.g., strive for overall contact scores to be within, say five points or 10 percent of each other – as more sessions are conducted consistency should improve. The goal should never be to agree on an exact score. Rather, the emphasis should be on achieving a common understanding of how performance is measured. Once initial goals have been achieved, raise the bar by lowering the scoring variation goal from five points to three points (or a comparable variation percentage). It may take between two to four hours a month to keep [...]

2019-05-06T13:17:21+00:00

How to conduct a calibration session.

April 15 - Last week’s tip started our conversation on calibration with a discussion on why calibration is important and the benefits of calibration.  This week we will look at some how to conduct a calibration session. The following basic steps are prerequisites to consistent calibration: Every employee responsible for monitoring and scoring contacts should have an excellent working knowledge of the contact center’s services. Those doing the monitoring must understand how the standards are administered. Those doing the monitoring should be given formal training in the program, as well as relevant documentation on criteria and definitions. The following describes some tips for a successful calibration session: Schedule at least one hour of uninterruptible time. Choose a facilitator. The role of the facilitator is to direct discussions, take notes and keep the team focused. Observe a contact and have all participants use your monitoring form to make notes and score the [...]

2019-04-24T13:57:32+00:00

Why does calibration matter?

April 8 - Call calibration is necessary to ensure consistency and fairness in the monitoring process. Calibration provides the opportunity to test the process and confirm that consistent standards are applied to each monitored contact. When high levels of calibration are achieved, it will not matter who did the monitoring and scoring; the outcome will be the same. For a monitoring process to succeed, it is essential to integrate calibration into the planning, implementation and ongoing maintenance of your monitoring program. When you and your team are successfully calibrated, you can enjoy a number of benefits.  Successful calibration does the following: Provides consistency Reduces the likelihood of agents questioning fairness Continuously develops and assesses monitoring criteria Eliminates perceived biases by ensuring consistent application of standards and scoring Allows the coaching process to focus on recognizing achievements and identifying opportunities for improvement, instead of whether a particular score is accurate It’s important [...]

2019-04-15T15:18:19+00:00