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Preparing for a job interview. 

June 27 - In a real sense, preparing for a job interview takes place long before submitting your application. When applying internally, hiring managers will be looking at how well you perform your current job and be looking to see if you demonstrate the skills and qualifications needed for the next one. Focus on mastering your current position. Ask the questions that you need to succeed. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, admit failure, and pick yourself up to try again. Find ways to be more efficient in your role. Learn how to be reliable and how to demonstrate that to those around you. While mastering your current position, focus on developing the skills that your future position needs you to have, then demonstrate that you have those skills in your current role. And when all is said and done, don't wait for perfection before reaching for what you want. In [...]

2022-06-27T10:49:51-04:00

Create a 5 Call Challenge to drive First Contact Resolution (FCR). 

June 20 - Do you see an opportunity to drive FCR in your contact center?  Here’s a great way to get your agents involved in the process. Setup a 5 Call Challenge for your customer service reps to pick 5 calls and follow over the next month to observe the following: Did the person you interacted with call, email, or chat back in? And why? Think about what you could have done (within your powers) to have prevented the contact back to the company. Did the person you interacted with NOT call, email or chat back in? Think about what you did on the interaction that prevented the need to call back that was the success. What do you plan to apply in your service in the future based on your observations over the past month? Tip for leaders: Create a spreadsheet for the customer service reps to document their observations, [...]

2022-06-27T10:52:03-04:00

Verint Introduces Total Quality, New Quality Management Capabilities to Help Brands Close the Engagement Capacity Gap 

Total Quality Leverages Innovative AI and Automation to Drive Significant ROI While Reducing the Operational Effort to Manage Comprehensive Quality Programs  Engage 2022, ORLANDO, Fla., June 14, 2022 —  Verint® (Nasdaq: VRNT), The Customer Engagement Company™, today announced Verint Total Quality, a strategic, holistic approach to elevating quality across the enterprise, driving employee engagement, performance improvement, compliance adherence and an overall exceptional customer experience. The announcement was made during the company’s Verint Engage 2022 customer conference. Organizations find it more difficult than ever to deliver the desired customer experience as they grapple with new workforce dynamics, ever-expanding customer engagement channels, and exponentially more consumer interactions – all with limited budget and resources. This creates an Engagement Capacity Gap, making the need for breakthrough quality management approaches essential. With traditional Quality Management solutions, organizations monitor and evaluate only a small sampling of interactions ranging between one and three percent, which surprisingly excludes the [...]

2022-06-27T11:09:37-04:00

Use Mindfulness to work through stress. 

June 13 - As our agents focus in daily demands in a contact center, balancing inbound and outbound calls, emails, ACW, follow ups, and much more -- all while answering call after call -- emotions may bring them into a stressed moment.  Here is some information I sent out to our agents recently: The continuous pressure and endless ups and downs may trigger stress responses that impact the way we work:  struggling to focus, stay in the moment, and preventing feeling overwhelmed or burned out. Not only does too much stress take a mental toll on us, it can impact our productivity and effectiveness, and take a physical toll, too. What can we do to help when feeling this?  Enter mindfulness. Here’s a quick recap of mindfulness: Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment. It’s about tuning out the distracting noise and zooming in on what you’re thinking and feeling [...]

2022-06-27T10:53:41-04:00

Give your agents the opportunity to contribute to the development of your QA program. 

June 6 - Quality programs in contact centers should be continuously reviewed and modified to meet the evolving needs of the customers, business, and market. As the saying goes, “To stand still is to fall behind.” Never has that been truer than in the last two years. As you advance your quality program—whether that means expanding manual evaluations to digital channels, moving to a fully-automated quality process, or adding in the customer’s perspective—it’s good to remember that change is hard. And is often met with opposition—and some negative attitudes. So, what can you do to help pave the way? Simply involve call center agents in the process from the very start. When call center agents are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the program, to provide feedback and suggestions, it increases their engagement overall. It creates a sense of ownership and empowerment. It helps them to really understand [...]

2022-06-27T10:50:26-04:00

Are you considering how to launch a quality program? 

May 30 - Starting a quality initiative may seem like a daunting task but there are few approaches to introducing quality initiatives that help turn attention to organizational objectives and begin the work of modifying behavior to match customer service goals. Start with you! Build credibility among the target audience by using long calls and high hold times to identify the call types that require leadership action to improve resources and or training. Listening workshops. Grant CSRs the opportunity to hear themselves.  This is a common strategy for improving performance; however, targeted listening has a much greater impact.  Time is the greatest challenge to this initiative but it is by far the most productive approach to engaging CSRs positively in the quality initiative. Example: Select 2 Calls per CSR based on call times of 8-10 minutes or hold instances of 3 or more.  Provide the CSR with a simplified quality form [...]

2022-06-06T07:53:37-04:00

Developing your direct reports or team members for success.

May 23 - 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 [...]

2022-06-02T09:32:23-04:00

Agent pushback – things to consider when addressing disputed assessments. 

May 16 - Do you agree with everything someone tells you about yourself?  If so, then I would like to meet you and tell you how indiscriminately generous you are and how willing you are to share your wealth with complete strangers -- like me!  While the illustration is extreme, please consider the underlying truth:  we are selective about the feedback we receive and believe.  Our acceptance, or rejection for that matter, is largely dependent on our awareness of the issue, the source of the feedback, and our personal acuity concerning the same. Dynamic and engaging quality programs provide a place for individuals to conscientiously and professionally address these three elements of the feedback.  Just as quality feedback should be delivered in a timely manner, a venue for questions and disputes should be structured with the same time of timely follow-through.  For example, if quality feedback is assured within a 30-day [...]

2022-06-02T09:34:10-04:00

Add adaptable training to your training sessions. 

May 9 - Training in a call center is at best generalized. Not every situation can be covered in training to ensure the agent is fully capable to handle all situations.  So most training has to be generalized, but generalized training has the tendency to remove the “human element” – what specific training does this agent need? Adaptable training, or training on specific situations, can be conducted by supervisors on a one-on-one basis after listening to the agent’s calls and seeing what information is needed. You can’t remove “generalized training” from the curriculum, but it is a best practice to add this kind of adaptable training to the training of both the new and experienced agents. Through listening to the calls handled by the agent, individual strategic plans can be made, and personalized training can become adaptable to many different situations.  Note:  This week’s tip was provided by QATC Board Member [...]

2022-06-02T09:30:47-04:00

Coaching for “talkative” callers.

May 2 -  When an agent receives a call from someone who is overly “talkative,” it can be annoying and also a drain on staffing resources.  Coaches need to help agents develop a way to control the conversation without being insulting or disrespectful to the customer. The key to working with an overly talkative called is to be polite, yet firm.  It is important that the agent is careful not to damage the customer’s self-esteem while taking control of the conversation. Agents should avoid open-ended questions with these callers, since these type of questions provide an open door for a new round of conversations and explanations.  The key to controlling a talkative caller is to ask closed-end questions where the response is a single word or two. Another technique is the use of space control – the amount of time left between words or phrases.  If there’s too much of a [...]

2022-05-09T13:02:26-04:00

Stick to your guns – don’t cancel that training!

April 25 - Stick to your guns! You might have a great training plan in place, but you can’t let it hit the backburner every time your call volume increases.   There will be times that yes; it might make sense to postpone training due to higher than normal volume, but that should not be the norm. It’s important that you and your leadership team recognize, encourage, and support the importance of on-going regular training.  It’s going to keep your staff engaged, informed, and most importantly, trusting of the management team. Remember, your employees are often your primary point of customer contact and you want them to be advocates of your organization. One of the best ways to do that is to show them that you’re invested in them.  Note:  This week’s tip was provided by QATC Board Member Justin Robbins.  He may be reached at justin@jmrobbins.com. 

2022-05-09T13:03:39-04:00

The impact of power phrases in your feedback.

April 18 - Let’s look at the impact of power phrases to improve your feedback. (Actually, many leaders say that power phrases change the way the communicate with everyone — not just their colleagues). Power phrases sound like: “To make [the communication, the reports, the meetings, etc.]even better the next time, you may want to…” “Toincrease the effectiveness of your next [communication, report, meeting, etc.], you might want to try…” The reason these power phrases WORK is because they: Focus the feedback on the future. Too often feedback focuses on the past — the meeting you just conducted, the report you just turned in, the communication you just had with the customer — when, in fact, the person can’t do anything to change the past. Power phrases provide the guidance employees need to improve. Are optional. People are more receptive when they feel that the choice is theirs. Power phrases enable the employee to choose [...]

2022-05-09T13:01:18-04:00

Verint Announces Compliance Recording for Zoom, Streamlining Compliance Review and Analysis for Regulated Industries

New Integration Combines Verint Compliance Recording with Zoom Phone and Zoom Meetings MELVILLE, N.Y. , April 11, 2022 Verint® (NASDAQ: VRNT), the Customer Engagement Company™, today announced the availability of its new compliance recording integration with Zoom. This integration will help heavily regulated businesses centrally capture, retain, analyze, and retrieve communications from Zoom Phone and Zoom Meetings scenarios – including voice calling, video meetings, and screen sharing. Verint’s Compliance Recording native integration with Zoom helps organizations leverage the latest digital collaboration channels while enabling compliance with industry regulations and international banking standards. “For decades, traditional on-premise PBX systems were used to support the compliance requirements in regulated markets. Today, UCaaS and cloud-based collaboration solutions are increasingly replacing these traditional systems for this purpose,” says Verint’s John Bourne, senior vice president, global channels and alliances. “The new Verint Compliance Recording integration with Zoom now enables organizations in heavily regulated sectors to capture, [...]

2022-05-09T14:45:06-04:00

Take notes during coaching sessions!

April 11 - My tip is simple – take notes! I always write up a brief summary after a coaching session. It may be about the call we discussed, a goal we are working on, a call they wanted to tell me about or on a personal note like a child’s upcoming birthday. Then before the session I review my notes and touch on something from our past session.  Such as how did the birthday party go, or I remember when you told me about that call -- did any more like that happen? It creates a great connection and they feel thrilled that you remembered (with a little spreadsheet help) the conversation you previously had and creates a nice jumping off place.  Note:  This tip is provided by Krisi Jendusa of Landmark Credit Union.  She may be reached at KristiJendusa@landmarkcu.com. 

2022-04-21T19:06:23-04:00

How do you start training each day?

April 4 - Experience has shown that starting the training day with a recap of topics covered from the previous day brings the class back to focus on recent learnings.  Once this recap is complete, a good rule of thumb is to then cover the expectations for the coming day’s training topics.  Laying out the agenda items and expectations of how far through the agenda the trainer plans to get the class gives the trainee clear and measurable expectations to follow for the day. A well planned agenda is IMPORTANT!  Prepare a detailed agenda that allows the trainer to know what specifically needs to be trained by line item and the time allotted for each topic.  Build in your hands-on activities, games, and exercises that are planned for that segment so the trainer is prepared and has these activities at their fingertips to keep the class running smoothly.  By doing this, [...]

2022-04-21T19:07:23-04:00

Applying the “Coachability” test to your quality standards.

March 28 - 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 [...]

2022-04-21T19:08:30-04:00

How do you know if the training is working?

March 21 - 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 results in order to evaluate the success or failure of the program. At a minimum, make sure you utilize an evaluation form for each training 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 assessments tools: Before training. Assessments used in advance of, or at the start of, a learning experience are sometimes called diagnostic assessments, pre-assessments, or placement exams. These assessments may include a self-assessment of knowledge, skills, learning style, and attitudes, [...]

2022-04-21T19:05:26-04:00

Delegate tasks to free up time for coaching. 

March 14 - 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 that 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 [...]

2022-03-22T11:25:41-04:00

Use directive questions to focus your coaching conversations.

February 14 - A great tactic in coaching is to use questions to direct the coaching conversation, and you can use a directive question to focus the coaching conversation on areas that YOU think are important. Sometimes using a fairly OPEN yet DIRECTIVE question such as, “How do you feel you’re doing with the number of calls handled?” will be enough to focus the employee’s attention on the area you want; the employee’s self-assessment will then be sufficient to get to the skills and behaviors that the employee needs to develop. And sometimes even MORE DIRECTIVE questions are required. Use increasingly directive questions to direct and guide the employee. Use your own insights and observations to help guide the conversation. As always, a good coach uses questions to help the employee self-assess as much as possible. When the employee comes up with the solution, the chances for implementation are SIGNIFICANTLY increased. [...]

2022-03-15T12:24:04-04:00

Don’t try to change too many things at once.

February 7 - 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) [...]

2022-02-16T11:13:46-05:00

Why does coaching work?

January 31 - Why does coaching work? Studies have shown that employees want specific things from their work. These include the following: Interesting work Recognition for a job well done Involvement in decisions that affect me Job security Compensation Opportunity to develop and grow Coaching directly addresses 1-3 and 6, and may indirectly affect 4 and 5. By taking an active interest in the employee’s development and growth, you help make the work more interesting (#1) and help the employee grow (#6). By focusing on two strengths in each coaching conversation — and by praising hard work and progress when you see it on the job — you are recognizing good performance (#2). Because coaching is employee-centered and employee-directed, you are encouraging employees to make decisions that affect them and their performance (#3). Use coaching to develop employees for additional responsibilities, and you could be directly impacting job security and compensation [...]

2022-02-16T11:15:18-05:00

Investigate attrition by team.

January 24 - As a follow up to last week’s tip on investigating attrition, you may want to include an evaluation of the attrition in your center specific to front line supervisors or team leaders. Compare attrition numbers for each supervisor team.  It may be an issue at the supervisor level.   All too often, a great agent will be promoted to a supervisor based on agent skills.  Some do well but others fail miserably, not due to lack of technical skills but more around soft skills like the abilities to coach, teach, and just talk to team members from a supervisory perspective.  This can lead to attrition issues and you may not realize the cause. I would recommend that when you promote a new supervisor, ensure they get training to develop leadership skills.  They need to learn when, how and where to have discussions with their team members.  Teach them how to conduct meetings, counsel [...]

2022-02-16T11:31:02-05:00

Don’t forget to investigate attrition in your center.

January 17 - Attrition is a crucial measurement to managers interested in keeping costs down and customer satisfaction high.  Customer satisfaction suffers when a steady stream of inexperienced CSRs handle calls, and the cost of replacing an agent can approach 150 percent of the employee’s annual salary.  Other costs associated with attrition take the form of call escalations, repeat calls, and, potentially, customer attrition. Employee morale can be difficult to quantify but attrition can be used as a good indicator.  Poor morale has consequences for customer service levels, productivity, and overall performance.  It can also lead to higher attrition rates. Attrition measurements depend on the contact center’s location, industry, and objectives.  In order to measure attrition so that a contact center can properly plan replacements for those who leave and identify the cause of controllable attrition, the following should be considered: State the percentage of the workforce that has left in [...]

2022-02-16T11:32:39-05:00

Rethink training delivery methodology to keep agents engaged. 

January 10 - With current events going on, many of us have had to alter our thinking about how we are training our agents on everything from new hire training to anything that has changed with the existing staff.  Communication methods, in general, have changed, so we may have had to re-evaluate our delivery mechanisms.  With the advent of virtual training, webinar platforms, and all that goes with them, we have the ability to reach individuals not physically facing us in a classroom or chair beside us.  But moving our training to a virtual environment requires us to rethink some of our delivery methodology in order to keep folks engaged and maximize learning.  Just lecturing off of Powerpoint slides is likely to give you a class of snoozing participants. One point to keep in mind is that although you may have the same material and information that you have used in [...]

2022-01-13T12:01:16-05:00

Learn what’s sticking. 

January 3 - Do you know what your agents are taking away from training sessions?  Let’s find out!  End every training session by asking each person to say something that they don’t want to forget by tomorrow – something new that they learned or a key takeaway that they had. Allow a dedicated amount of time for this closure and be sure to complement their feedback and reiterate key points of their statement. The responses will help you as the trainer identify what stuck and stood out from your session.  In addition, the agents will often build off each other’s comments and engage in beneficial dialogue around the day’s topic. Remember – you want your training to be a sticky as possible, so the more avenues you use to drive your point home – the better!

2022-01-13T12:00:06-05:00

SME may not equal trainer without some training. 

Ocotber 4 - Have you ever thought about using a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to expedite training? But are you worried that this may not be the best way to do this? If you answered yes to both, it’s understandable. Subject Matter Expert (SME) literally means one who is expert in a certain area. It does not mean one can teach or train that skill. Training is a unique skill set unto itself. However, in call centers promotions are often given to agents to positions such as Team Leads, Trainers, Analysts, Coaches, and Supervisors. There is one truth though -- just because an agent can take calls, that does not mean they will automatically make a good trainer or lead or analyst. But if an agent has high quality scores, good caller satisfaction, and strong first contact resolution, likely they know the job, and the subject well. This agent [...]

2021-10-04T18:01:56-04:00

Model good listening behaviors.

September 27 - One of the simplest things to do in motivating staff to perform is to demonstrate in an active way that you care about them. The best way to do this is to spend time with each person just listening. If your team members feel heard, understood, and valued, they will work harder to produce better results and make you proud. One of the keys to providing great customer service is to listen carefully to what the customer needs. You can teach frontline staff how to do this by simply being a role model and a good listener yourself during your interactions with them.  Be aware of common listening problems and take care you don’t make these common listening mistakes. The Interrupter. This person finishes other people’s sentences or breaks in to share thoughts before the other person is finished. If you do this, your employees will lose patience [...]

2021-10-04T18:10:12-04:00

Identify the “why” of performance problems.

September 20 - Coaching is all about helping someone improve performance and when done right, it’s an experience frontline staff will welcome and appreciate. However, for many call center supervisors, coaching is simply a meaningless presentation of numbers or pointing out of errors with no positive roadmap for improvement. It’s much like the basketball coach who points out that the last three shots were missed and that the team needs to score ten points in the next three minutes to win the game. Telling someone that handle time is too high and they need to work on call control does not constitute an effective coaching session. Before coaching, supervisors need to pinpoint the reason that someone has a performance gap. For example, if an agent has failed to ask additional discovery questions in order to recommend the best solution for a caller, the supervisor has to figure out why the agent [...]

2021-10-04T18:04:49-04:00

Avoid “good…but” coaching.

September 13 - The best way to encourage staff to repeat customer-pleasing behaviors is to catch them doing something right and rewarding those behaviors as soon as possible. However, since many supervisors are pressed for time and looking for ways to make the most of coaching time, it’s tempting to recognize the good behaviors, but also take time to clean up any performance problems. An important rule of “on the spot” coaching is to keep it simple. If you’ve heard someone do something great for the customer on the phone, praise that behavior as soon as you can. And try to make it all about the positive feedback. Let the person bask in the glow of recognition without any other corrections. Sometimes the good behavior is pointed out, but then glowing words are following by a “but…” statement that serves as a verbal eraser for the initial praise. If you’ve heard [...]

2021-10-04T18:06:05-04:00

Five things to change about how you lead. 

September 6 -  The new leader's power to influence will not come from their position or title but from their ability to articulate a vision that connects with the workforce. -- Michelle Pallas  What makes leadership so different today? Is it technology? Multiple generations? Globalization? Or maybe just the pace of business and life in general? I think the answer to all of them is "Yes!" While some skills needed by leaders are timeless, I think there are some attitudes or actions leaders must take that represent a departure from what has been done in the past. If you're struggling to find your footing as a leader or manager, here are five potential changes I believe will help you achieve greater success: Quit trying to have all the answers.  The old "command and control" days are long gone. Information is immediately accessible to anyone. Your strength as a leader today lies [...]

2021-10-04T18:07:23-04:00

Looking at the cost of staff turnover.

August 30 - There are many costs associated with call center staff turnover.  Some of these are direct, measurable costs to your organization, while others are indirect costs that may not be so obvious. Some of the direct costs associated with turnover include the following: Recruiting costs Hiring costs Training costs Supervision costs Unproductive paid time Overtime costs Another hard cost of turnover can be the revenues lost if not enough people are in place to handle the call workload.  If you are a revenue-generating call center, such as a catalog or reservations center, then there is significant lost revenue associated with lost calls. In addition to the direct costs, you should also consider the harder to measure, but just as important costs or customer dissatisfaction, damaged reputation, lost skills and knowledge, and low morale.  When these costs are factored in too, the costs simply skyrocket. It is important that your [...]

2021-10-04T18:09:19-04:00

Determining effective rewards for good performance.

August 23 - It is important not just to recognize desirable performance, but to reward it in some way so that it will be repeated.  Designing and administering an effective reward program is critical to your call center employees’ ongoing performance improvement. Rewards fall into two categories:  1) natural reinforcers, such as thanks for customers or the internal satisfaction of solving a problem; or 2)  “created” reinforcement, which is made up of social reinforcers and tangible reinforcers.  Simple words of appreciation are samples of social reinforcers, while other reinforcers are tangible items that are given to the employee as a reward for desired behavior. A tangible reward should be unique and relevant to each employee, so that is viewed as a positive consequence, rather than neutral or negative.  You will want to ask each employee what would be viewed as a positive, neutral, or negative consequence – don’t assume that just [...]

2021-10-04T18:08:03-04:00

Verint is Expanding its Cloud Platform Capabilities to Help Brands Accelerate Digital-First Customer Engagement

Conversocial Acquisition Will Enhance Verint Customer Engagement Platform with Additional Social and Messaging Channels and Further Expand its Conversational AI Capabilities MELVILLE, N.Y., August 10, 2021 – Verint® (NASDAQ: VRNT), The Customer Engagement Company™, today announced the expansion of the digital-first capabilities of its cloud platform through the acquisition of Conversocial. With this expansion, Verint’s market-leading conversational AI provides brands the ability to orchestrate customer journeys with a connected experience across their channels of choice. The acquisition will expand Verint’s robust support for digital customer engagement with connections to most of the commonly used messaging channels, including Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, and more. Conversocial helps leading brands such as Google, Sephora, British Airways, and Hertz build and scale relationships via the personal touch and convenience of social messaging. In recent years, customer conversations have shifted from public social channels to one-to-one personalized messaging and brands are increasingly looking [...]

2021-08-17T15:00:24-04:00

Feedback is a gift. 

August 16 - Engaging with employees to provide continuous feedback to grow and develop is the essence of call center success and individual performance improvement.  In fact, we often refer to feedback as a gift to present the expectations to repeat the positive and change the negative.  The “packaging” in which we offer feedback may look different, but simple tactics can reshape the ways you coach agents to achieve desired outcomes. Focus coaching sessions on a few key behaviors; highlight strengths and create an environment for agents to uncover their opportunities.  Avoid tackling every opportunity in one feedback session. Know your employees both personally and professionally.  Understand what motivates agents to do their best and find individualized ways to show appreciation for strong performance. Coach often and impromptu; don’t fall into the habit of formalized coaching sessions as the only path to offering agent feedback. Grow together with your agent by driving conversations [...]

2021-08-24T14:54:05-04:00

Plan and document coaching sessions. 

August 9 - A good coaching session should be planned and documented.  Here are some ideas for making this process go smoothly: Make sure there is a planned approach. Review calls and data before the session. Start by acknowledging the successful elements of calls you have previously reviewed. Playing a representative call for the agent to hear is desirable as well. Ask the agent what they feel they would like assistance with based on the call they just heard or just in general. Select no more than three items to coach on and offer a plan of attack for the agent in writing. This is great material for your managers and you to refer back to over time. Consider these sessions as a building block for the agent's success. Look for incremental improvements and continually set the standard higher. Make sure you end the session on a positive note. For future [...]

2021-08-17T15:01:02-04:00

Quality Games: Handling each call with quality service. 

August 2 - To successfully engage your call center representatives, one must find creative ways to capture their interest and make them a part of the solution.  One way to do this is through fun learning breaks that allow agents to play the role of a quality analyst. The game below is a great way to center your quality goals on enhancing understanding of why quality is important and develop a willingness to embrace the results your company wants to achieve. So here’s one way. Game Objectives:   In this activity, participants review quality attributes that are critical to their sales or customer service role, assess their understanding of each skill, and learn to accurately define and apply call quality with excellence on every call. This activity helps the new or current employee understand the assets possessed by top-notch sales and customer service representatives.  It also gives the representative an opportunity to [...]

2021-08-11T14:23:10-04:00

Consider environmental fit when making a hiring decision.

July 12 - In addition to defining the knowledge, skills, and attributes that make up the ideal call center employee, another important consideration in assessing the job is to define the unique working environment of your call center. In particular, you’ll want to identify aspects of the job and the environment that may be less than desirable and assess candidates’ motivation to accept these conditions. Some examples include the following: Repetitive tasks. Is there variety in the type of work your agents do, or are the tasks fairly repetitive in nature? While some people like the predictability of call center work, others need more variety and challenge on an ongoing basis. Solo work. Will the employee get to interact with others in the organization? While you may be looking for a “people person” when making a hiring decision, it is important to recognize that a call center employee may have limited [...]

2021-08-03T17:43:34-04:00

Model good listening behaviors to motivate your team. 

July 5 - One of the simplest things to do in motivating staff to perform is to demonstrate in an active way that you care about them. The best way to do this is to spend time with each person just listening. If your team members feel heard, understood, and valued, they will work harder to produce better results and make you proud. One of the keys to providing great customer service is to listen carefully to what the customer needs. You can teach frontline staff how to do this by simply being a role model and a good listener yourself during your interactions with them.  Be aware of common listening problems and take care you don’t make these common listening mistakes. The Interrupter. This person finishes other people’s sentences or breaks in to share thoughts before the other person is finished. If you do this, your employees will lose patience [...]

2021-07-15T14:31:26-04:00

Perform regular assessments of call center training requirements.

June 28 - Training for the agent shouldn’t stop after the new hire orientation and initial training period is completed. Training is an ongoing evolutionary process. The goal of your call center’s ongoing training program is to provide training for the skills necessary to perform the job, plus training for the skills necessary to enhance ongoing performance. In developing your ongoing training program, it is useful to define what employees need to know and be able to do at defined job anniversaries. Common milestones are at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and 120 days. For each of these timeframes, a checklist should be developed that outlines critical knowledge and skills so training gaps and performance issues can be identified. Some typical questions you might ask at each of these stages are: What additional things does the agent need to know? What policies and procedures could affect job performance? What behaviors [...]

2021-07-15T14:32:40-04:00

What kind of training techniques are most effective?

June 14 - Do you ever wonder why some of your employees come out of a training program and just simply don’t seem to get it?  Do some of the trainees seem to assimilate all the information just fine, but others seem like they were never even in the class? The problem may not be in the intelligence levels or the classroom efforts of the trainees, but in the way the training is designed and presented.  It’s important that your training programs are designed to engage and stimulate all types of students and learning styles. An important consideration in developing call center training programs is to understand how adults learn.  The concept of adult learning theory suggests that we learn differently as adults than we did as children in school.  Some characteristics of adult learners are: Adults need to be able to integrate new ideas with what they already know. Adults [...]

2021-07-15T14:29:59-04:00

What do your employees need in order to perform?

June 7 - There are two primary things people need to perform: they need the capability and they need the willingness.  You can further divide the reasons as follows: Capability Employees need to clearly understand your expectations (what you want, when you want it, who you want included in the work, what level of autonomy you’re authorizing, how frequent you want status reports, etc.) AND they need to hear if they’re on the right track or not through ongoing constructive and positive feedback. They need the resources (time, people, information, budget) to do what you expect them to do. They need the skills or knowledge — and confidence in their abilities — to do what you expect. Willingness Employees perform best when they are motivated and when the perceived positive outcomes for performing outweighs the effort or the perceived negative consequences. Sometimes there is a reason to do something a certain way yet employees may choose to do it their way, not your way. Employees need [...]

2021-06-17T22:07:18-04:00

Clarabridge Launches Groundbreaking AI-Augmented Quality Management Solution

Solution includes Intelligent Scoring of every interaction, agent self-coaching, and integrated workflows for a modernized and humanistic approach to QM RESTON, VA—(BUSINESS WIRE, April 28, 2021)—Clarabridge, a global leader in Customer Experience Management (CEM) for the world’s top brands, announced today its integrated quality management solution that is changing the game for contact centers. The rapid shift to remote work and new online service models over the past year has fundamentally changed the way customers interact with companies. Contact centers and consumers have had to adapt and evolve quickly. At the heart of this transformation are quality management and service teams, pressured to deliver a consistently high quality of service across all channels. But this is not easy to do. IDG research reports that only 15 percent of CIOs say their companies do “very well” in maintaining a consistent user experience across all communication channels. That is because most quality management [...]

2021-05-24T16:06:38-04:00

Train all staff on the meaning of metrics.

May 24 - We are always “managing by the numbers” in a contact center, and there are dozens of metrics associated with front-line performance.  Agents may get feedback on their average handle time (AHT), after-call work (ACW) percentages, average speed of answer (ASA), quality scores, and adherence numbers, just to name a few.  But do they know what these numbers (and acronyms) really mean? It is a good practice to have definitions of all the terms used in performance management explained to agents in the new hire training but also available to them in your knowledge management tool or company intranet.  Make sure the agents know the terms, what the numbers mean, how they are measured, and the relevance of each number to the bigger team picture and the performance of the center as whole.  Note that QATC has a glossary of contact center terms in our members-only Library that can [...]

2021-07-15T14:30:25-04:00

Document the benefits of working at home. 

May 17 - It is fair to say that when we have the option to bring all of our employees back into the workplace again, we may find that there are real benefits to keeping some of them in their home offices zinstead.  There has been a trend toward home working over the last few years, but this recent situation has driven many organizations to enable it a lot faster than anticipated.  Now is a good time to analyze the benefits of some (or even all) employees working from home, such as: Less physical space/real estate required and all of the infrastructure to support it More flexible scheduling options when long commutes are not required Less security to support overnight and late night shift personnel Happier staff = lower turnover and absenteeism We have all had to learn quickly how to support the IT infrastructure, supervise, motivate and train from a [...]

2021-05-24T16:02:38-04:00

Virtual Water Cooler talk.

May 10 - Like other organizations, our Contact Center temporarily deployed to 100% remote in March 2020.   We were already 40% remote so we had experience with both deployment and work management.  After a few months of operating effectively, our leadership team moved forward with a decision to make this a permanent arrangement.   We gave up our real estate and started our new mode of operations. One of the challenges with an all-virtual center, is the feeling of being disconnected.   Now don't get me wrong, we are more connected from a business perspective.   We have more cross functional business meetings which allows us to collaborate.   But the opportunities for the personal engagement have lessened - no social crossing paths in the breakroom, on the elevator, in the parking lot, etc. So one of our managers came up with an awesome solution.   He schedules periodic meetings entitled "Virtual Water Cooler Talk".   The entire management team [...]

2021-05-24T16:02:52-04:00

Ideas for feedback with good agents.

May 3 - Audits where an agent hasn't done anything wrong can often be hard discussions to have. Especially if the agent is consistently getting 100% audits. Some of the issues or concerns coaches come across in situations like this are: I don't want to give "cookie cutter" feedback about a "cookie cutter" call. (I want the praise to be genuine) I don't want to repeat the same feedback each week. (Praising an agent for correctly verifying a customer EVERY week feels ineffective, meaningless, and will lose its impact over time) I don't want the conversation to be short and weak. (I want to feel like I have coached them in the end and helped them to grow) It's really easy when talking about a 100% audit to sit down and say, "Whelp, you got 100% on this call. AGAIN. You did a great job verifying with the customer what they [...]

2021-05-12T13:53:20-04:00

Calabrio Unlocks Voice-of-the-Customer Business Intelligence That Fuels the Modern Enterprise with Newly Launched CXI Solution

Minneapolis — April 20, 2021 — Calabrio, the customer experience intelligence company, today announced the availability of Enterprise Customer Experience Intelligence (CXI) to better connect and elevate the modern enterprise with voice-of-the-customer business intelligence. Using the out-the-box solution, organizations gain immediate value with comprehensive dashboards that disseminate intelligent, analytics-driven insights from the contact center and focus on metrics that matter most to key functions, beginning with marketing, finance and the contact center itself. The foundation of a successful customer-centric organization lies with positioning the contact center at the heart of the business intelligence (BI) platform. Businesses know that the market landscape is evolving rapidly, led by changing customer needs and expectations. To meet the demands of today’s customer, automated AI-driven business intelligence can help the wider enterprise dynamically stay in tune with the true voice, needs, and behaviors of customers and frontline employees. “Too many businesses are spending valuable time and [...]

2021-04-27T18:35:58-04:00

You can’t teach it all.

April 26 - If you have ever been on a backpacking trip, then you know that a backpacker has to deal with competing goals when packing. The only way to successfully complete the trip is to balance the competing requirements of what you will need vs. what you can actually carry. Many times when we are preparing to on-board new employees we begin gathering information about everything they will need to know and then put it in a PowerPoint deck. The resulting training is rarely successful. Attendees either tune out or they are overwhelmed, furiously taking notes on everything that is being said. A teacher that only focuses on the list of requirements, but doesn’t consider the limitations of what their employees can understand, absorb, remember and apply, is like a backpacker who is trying to overstuff their pack. One of my favorite books is “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” [...]

2021-05-24T16:03:07-04:00

Learn the ABC’s of Engagement.

 April 19 - For employees to do better, we as leaders and managers have to be better.  We hold the power to engage and empower our people - to Advocate.  Believe.  And Communicate. These ABC's are not new.  We know them at a gut level.  But consistently implementing them is where we struggle, given our workdays are often filled with dozens of competing priorities.  It's not that we don't know the right things to do to engage and develop our people, rather its 16 other urgencies that result in us moving off tasks whose delay do not appear to create immediate consequences - like catching up, recognizing, or coaching.  But there are cumulative consequences, especially when you consider that what you accept, becomes acceptable - so pushing aside personnel-related interactions once, makes it only easier to do so again, and worse, models that as acceptable behavior to those who report to you. Many feel engagement comes from being inspired.  I believe inspiration [...]

2021-04-27T18:34:32-04:00

Tips for training content retention.

April 12 - How many times have employees left a training session only to forget what they learned a week later?  According to some sources, people can forget up to 50-80% of what they learned after one day, and 97-98% after one month.  But a few reminders disguised as visual tips can keep the momentum going months after a training. Daily (or at least regular) trivia:  There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, especially when it keeps your team on their toes and at the forefront of new trends and information.  Plus, it helps keep the employees engaged. Pocket guides or job aids:  These can be shared with employees and kept at their workplace.  Most of us don’t want a huge stack of papers or a workbook cluttering our desk, but a smaller version or a one-page tip sheet works best as a quick reference. Posters:  Once we are all [...]

2021-04-20T15:45:34-04:00

Coach to more than just “Agent Performance.”

April 5 - Much is being publicized about the virtual environment, especially about communicating and coaching during these tenuous times.  Many times, we tend to focus our virtual coaching in the areas of agent performance, i.e., AHT, Sales, Adherence, Attendance, Accuracy.  While these are all important and needed, we must understand that there are other areas of coaching opportunities that should be included to help develop and maintain engaged, positive and balanced employees. Communicating and coaching employees on their well-being, stress concerns, career development, and contact center culture is extremely important to develop well-rounded and engaged employees.  If we don’t take opportunities to develop the relationship of coaching beyond performance areas, we run the risk of employees seeing coaching as “just another way to tell me I’m not doing something right.”  They tend to shut down over time and not contribute to the process of continuous improvement. As the Field of [...]

2021-04-20T15:46:30-04:00

Tips for online classroom learning. 

March 29 - Employees – and leaders – working remotely still need training.  As we make the transition to online learning, we need to “transform” our content, not just “convert” it.  For example, it’s not as easy as taking your PowerPoint slides from your classroom course, putting it in an online platform, and lecturing to those slides.  Here are some tips for online learning: Create pre-work.  A certain percentage of the classroom materials can be converted to pre-work done prior to any virtual learning.  This is normally “foundational” content (i.e., overviews of a process, product information, etc…). Have learners read with a purpose in mind; for example, “Read this article and answer the following questions.” Put the impetus for learning on the learners.  Give them a problem, give them access to the knowledge and information needed, and then do a debrief and provide additional insights. Utilize built-in online collaboration tools.  For [...]

2021-04-20T15:47:41-04:00

How do you define success?

March 22 - We are well into 2021, but it is never too late to reflect on defining success.  It might be the perfect time for each of us to reflect on our own personal definition of success.  What inspires, motivates and drives each of us to find purpose, passion and a sense of fulfillment in both our professional and personal lives? Below is a link to an article that I hope you’ll find time to check out. This article gives you some insight into several influential people who – by all definitions – have led very successful lives.  Each of them shares their personal definition of success, shedding light on what they believe truly matters.  It’s an easy, but insightful, read.  Enjoy! https://www.globalexperiences.com/blog/successful-people-define-success This tip provided by Rich Bores of Sentry Insurance.   He may be reached at Richard.bores@sentry.com.      

2021-04-20T15:44:34-04:00

Debrief with new hires at the end of the day. 

March 15 - We recently had a group of New Hires that transitioned from the training classroom to taking calls.  We found taking 30 minutes at the end of each day during the first week in their new role as a debrief assists in supporting & weaning them from the classroom to taking calls 100% of the time. This practice along with individual Quality sessions weekly was very helpful to the group as they transitioned from training. The Wins: The group gets to touch base and see each other again on the cameras. We can cover any class trends we see on the calls reviewed. It builds strong call flow and service behaviors from the start. We can touch base to see how they are feeling, especially while we are working remotely from home. We can answer any questions they may have. This tip provided by QATC Board Member Michelle Chevalier [...]

2021-03-25T16:54:18-04:00
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