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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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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” [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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.      


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 [...]


Quality in the Digital, Work-from-Home Age. 

March 8 - The future of work is here. Work from home is here to stay. The only question that remains is to what extent. The adoption of chatbots and self-service channels will continue to grow. This leaves the more complex, variable work for your agents. Consumers expect accurate, real-time responses from both virtual and human agents. To address these trends, contact centers might be better served by focusing on delivering a quality experience in the moment, in addition to post-call QA.  Technology can help you proactively address quality. Here are a just a few ways. Keep your knowledge resources up to date by leveraging a community to crowdsource responses from your agents and subject matter experts. As agents encounter unique situations, they can share their experiences in the community for the benefit of others. Leverage robotic process automation to execute the rules-based tasks, eliminating human error. Provide real-time agent assistance [...]


What exactly is coaching?

March 1 - Effective coaching has the power to take good performance to great. And, great performance can boost employee morale, customer experience, productivity, innovation, and ultimately the bottom line. So, what exactly is coaching? Coaching is the conversation that managers use to engage and develop willing employees — employees who want to grow and develop. While that’s not everyone, it is most of your team. Coaching is used to develop skills that are critical to the employee’s current (or immediate next) position. Coaching helps people perform better at their current jobs. Why should we spend time and energy on developing performance that is already acceptable or good? Many managers spend 80% of their “people time” dealing with performance problems, which are typically found in less than 20% of their employees. The poor performers in most organizations get most of the attention, with little or no attention devoted to developing one [...]


Is “Fix and Forget” the way you lead?

January 18 - 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 [...]


How to improve your company training process.

 January 11 - 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. [...]


Learn what’s sticking. 

January 4 - 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!


Build caring relationships. 

December 28 - As a leader you can consistently demonstrate that your teammates are valued and cared for by looking for opportunities to connect with them as individuals.  Great leaders make caring for their team a regular, daily priority; they don’t limit their show of appreciation to a few times a year.  Strong teams also actively demonstrate their support for one another, and actively listen to each other. Recall someone who has believed in you.  Maybe that someone was a teacher, your boss, or a friend.  What was the result of their confidence in you?  When someone believes in you it fuels the belief that you have in yourself and your own abilities.  The feeling becomes contagious and provides you with confidence and the motivation you need to succeed.  It only takes one person to make a difference in your life. Believing in someone is one way to create a positive [...]


Looking Forward: Improving Your Leadership Skills.

December 21 - Practicing leadership skills is like the practice of yoga – it can always be a learning moment, and the more you do it, the stronger you and your endurance become. Practicing good skills can include showing up on time to meetings and turning in work on schedule to offering support and coaching to less experienced employees. Taking the time to work on your own development is just as important as empowering your team to be the best they can be. Below are six ways you can continue to develop your leadership skills. Identify your Leadership Style: While you will use different styles of leadership for different occasions or individuals. Identifying your style of communication can help you refine specific skills that will be effective for your team or project. You might use your team or project’s goals to help identify what leadership styles will be most effective. Find [...]


Rethinking your quality program in a time of change.

December 14 - Despite the events of 2020, technology has allowed us to move entire workforces out of the contact center and into work from home environments. Communication has expanded from face-to-face interaction to tools that allow us to continue to collaborate in real time.  Automation has given us the ability to provide a great customer experience, as well as the ability to keep our employees engaged in ways we never dreamed were possible just a few short years ago. In this new remote-working environment, quality management teams can also find ways that transform the way we evaluate and improve employee engagement. Here are a couple of ideas: Involve your employees in the form design – ask them for input on responses and best phrases and terminology to use. Just because agents are not in the office does not mean you can’t keep collaboration and peer-to-peer discussions in the forefront of [...]


Use projects to measure ROI for training.

November 23 - How effectively do you measure the ROI of your training efforts?  Sure, most of us ask the students if they liked it and thought it was useful, but do we check to see if they actually apply that learning on the job?  This is being asked of more and more training departments when they go to senior management for more money. One process that we have seen that helps to demonstrate the value is to have the students do projects at the end of training that apply what they have learned in the day-to-day operation.  They can be individual or group projects but they need to be relevant and useful and the student’s manager needs to sign off on it to be sure she will be given the time needed to complete it.  And the trainer needs to make time available to assist the students as they run [...]


Crowdsource from the front lines to improve your Knowledge Base. 

November 16 - Pushing knowledge to remote workers is crucial, but so too is garnering feedback from those experts on the front lines. If agents are getting asked questions and the answer doesn’t exist in the knowledge base, or is incorrect, they need a mechanism to correct it in a compliant way. It’s not just a case of taking suggestions, as we may need to engage with them to get clarity. Organizations need to be able to respond and communicate with agents for knowledge curation. Knowledge suggestions (including answers) and knowledge feedback with time-saving predefined tags allow new knowledge and recommendations for improvement flow back in from the remote workforce, into a workflow that can be managed and prioritized by the content owners. This enables that tribal knowledge to be captured permanently and accessed quickly by all. One of our clients has seen 40 agent submissions per day on average, allowing [...]


10 Things to Look for In A Great Call Quality Analyst.

November 9 - Call center Quality Assurance is a job that many can do, but few can do consistently well. Not only does it involve a wide range of skills and disciplines, it also demands a certain attitude.  With that in mind, a great call quality analyst may not necessarily be your top agent.  Rather, your ideal call center QA analyst will have these 10 attributes at their beck and call: An Analytical Approach - The most obvious trait is baked right into the job title: they must be analytical.  The analyst will be expected to mine information for trends or discrepancies and make recommendations based on their conclusions. Keen Perception - Related to a strong analytical approach, the call center QA analyst must be perceptive. Superior attention to detail is essential. Discernment - Discernment is an important subset of your call quality analyst’s strength in perception. It is important that [...]


How do you keep “advanced learners” engaged in your training classes?

November 2 - A common problem in training classes is that you have some “advanced learners” who are way ahead of the rest of the class.  There always seems to be one or two people who learn quickly and are ready to move on while the rest of the class is still struggling through the material. You don't want them bored, so it's important to keep them engaged. More… One way is to pair them with some of the folks that are taking a little longer to learn — this works especially well if they're learning the computer system and a more advanced person can help others along by providing some one-on-one assistance. You can also ask them to help out by writing some review questions for the material just covered. You may also want to keep some additional review materials or readings they can do if finished earlier than everyone [...]


Don’t cancel training even if your service level is tanking….

October 26 - When your center is not reaching service level goals, often the first thing to be cancelled is training. But in my estimation, if you are cancelling training, this will not necessarily help you reach your service level goal anyway. What may be overlooked here is that scheduled training is usually designed to help your agents be better informed and often more efficient, which could be a factor in getting closer to achieving your service level consistently over the long term. Call center agents are often lectured on the importance of adherence, but this feels a bit like a one way street when the management does not have to adhere to other scheduled activities; and this is not only training, it’s breaks, lunches, shifts etc. The truth is if your service level is in trouble often enough, and chaos causes cancellation of agent training, issues will be much broader [...]


Clear the path to agent success by removing roadblocks.

October 19 - Sometimes agents cannot achieve success because of real or perceived roadblocks.  Discussing these roadblocks and determining how to remove them can help both the agent and the business succeed. Just talking about roadblocks can sometimes clear the path to success.  While several roadblocks are real, many are perceived.  Getting them out in the open goes a long way to making them manageable or completely eliminating them.  Asking an agent “why” can start the conversation towards determining what the roadblocks might be. Many things are out of the agent’s control.  Is information not included or hard to find in your Knowledge Base?   Is there a process that needs to be fixed?  One customer experience consulting company study surveyed over 200 large companies and found that only 20-25% issues were agent-based, 15-20% were customer-based, and a whopping 55-65% were company-based (billing errors, products services deficiencies broken processes, etc.). It's amazing how [...]


Include quality monitoring procedures in your new hire training program.

October 12 - Educate staff early. It’s never too early to inform call center agents of your monitoring process. Include a detailed description of how the quality monitoring process works in your orientation and training process. Inform agents “why” they are being monitored. Agents will buy into the process more if they understand the purpose of the monitoring and how it will be used. Help them understand that monitoring is all about helping them improve and not just a way to catch them doing something wrong. Those centers that use the monitoring system as a way to earn rewards find that agents welcome the monitoring process rather than dreading it. Inform agents about the “when” of quality monitoring. Inform agents when they are to be monitored in accordance with legal guidelines. While you wouldn’t want to announce the specific call that will be monitored, you will want to let them know [...]


The Top 10 coaching mistakes.

October 5 - We all make mistakes. Even the very best coaches make mistakes. However, what distinguishes these coaches is that they readily recognize these mistakes and take immediate corrective action. Additionally, they minimize the impact of any coaching mistakes by having noble intention (i.e., always doing what is best for the person being coached and being their fiercest advocate). Here are the Top 10 Coaching Mistakes: #1. Trying to be a great coach - instead, put your energy into helping the person being coached become great. #2. Working too hard - it’s your job to challenge the person being coached to do the hard work. #3. Not saying what needs to be said - always walk away empty knowing that nothing important was left unsaid. #4. Neglecting to ask the person being coached how you can be most helpful - you do not own the agenda, the person being coached [...]


The top 10 outcomes of great coaching.

September 28 - Challenging questions, affirming feedback and fresh insights make coaching an often exhilarating process. But so what? Is it making a real difference in the work or career of the person being coached? There is only one way to measure the effectiveness of coaching and that is by measuring the outcomes…and here are the top 10. Has the person you are coaching: 1. Raised their standards of performance and career ambitions to scary heights. 2. Redesigned how their precious time, attention and energy is invested. 3. Eliminated those once-important practices and habits that no longer serve them well. 4. Challenged and laid bare their most closely-held beliefs and assumptions. 5. Set unbelievably ambitious goals for themselves 6. De-junked their lives of incessant time-wasters, stresses and distractions. 7. Gained a greatly enlarged view of their amazing strengths and capabilities. 8. Confronted and slayed the principal demons that had been blocking [...]


Are you finding the right fit for your contact center?

September 21 - "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  -  Albert Einstein Do you ever feel that you're struggling to find qualified agents for your center? Or perhaps you've noticed that your new hires are having a difficult time adjusting to their new position.  Or despite your best efforts to coach and guide the individual, they just don't seem to be the right fit.  If this is becoming routine for you, it might be time to re-evaluate your interview process. - Determine the qualities that matter to your team and organization. - Discover the attributes of your top performers. - Interview past employees on the value they received from the position. - Match your goals and objectives with identifiable behaviors. - Educate your recruiters on your expectations. - Have them shadow the position. - Collaborate to identify ideal candidate pools. - Keep open communication [...]


Fine-tune your vocabulary when giving feedback.

September 14 - Sometimes just a few changes in language can make a big difference when you are coaching agents. To minimize the risk of doing more harm than good when giving constructive criticism, make these vocabulary adjustments: Substitute ineffective for bad. Telling people they’ve made bad decisions or done bad things can make them feel stupid and inferior. Instead, explain why their choices may prove ineffective and what they can do to achieve a better outcome. Substitute often/seldom for always/never. Avoid using extreme terms even when dealing with chronic problems. The most persistently tardy workers occasionally arrive on time and the most reliable employees sometimes mess up. If you accuse people of always or never doing something, they may become defensive and point out exceptions to the rule. Or they may decide the situation is hopeless and stop trying to improve. Soften the blow by suggesting they seldom exhibit the [...]


Boredom-busting ideas to improve agent retention. 

September 7 - 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 [...]


The danger of masked productivity.

August 31 - In a training program recently, one of the participants made an interesting analogy. We were talking about the false sense of security we get when we are busy but not really getting to those things that are most important. His comment was, "It's like masked productivity." What a strong visual image! We "mask" our true lack of productivity in many ways. We plow through emails, take care of simple tasks and check lots of items off our list. We say "Yes" to every meeting, rationalizing that we need to be there, instead of attempting to communicate to the meeting planner that we really need to be working on something else and will follow up with them to get the information from the meeting. We also mask productivity in our personal lives. We take way too long on tasks that really aren't all that important, but we tell ourselves they must be done. And we [...]


Forget about “one size fits all” motivation programs.

August 24 - The hard thing about motivational promotions is that no matter how great or exciting the program is, it’s not going to motivate everybody.  Creating a successful motivation program is not a “one size fits all” project. What excites Bob may actually irritate Sally. What makes Rachel want to give that extra effort may push Alex out the door. Everybody is motivated by something and it’s each supervisor’s job to figure out what the motivators are for each person. There are generally six categories of motivators: Social bonds (guidance, support, time, attention, encouragement) Recognition (acknowledgement of desirable behaviors) Rewards (tangible rewards, trophies, cool stuff) Development opportunities (career advancement, training, new skills) Teamwork (feeling part of team, networking, social activities) Fun (pleasurable activities in the workplace) Rachel may just need lots of handholding and supervisor attention and will treasure simple recognition for work well done. Alex may prefer not to [...]


Consider “grouping” online Supervisory courses with follow-up workshops. 

August 17 - If you utilize online learning as part of your Supervisory development training, consider grouping or "chunking" several courses together that have similar behavioral or competency applications. For example, compliance-type courses, such as Ethics, Sexual Harassment, and Diversity can be grouped together for completion in a particular time frame.  Then utilize team meetings or a small workshop to de-brief from those courses and discuss applicable company policies or procedures that you wish to highlight. Additional "groupings" might be Leadership, Team Building, Performance Management, and General Business Tools (Excel, Access, WFM reports). When coupled with a short, follow-up workshop or team discussion, it allows you to maximize the impact of eLearning while still benefitting from group interactions and discussions. Note:  This week’s tip was provided by QATC Board Member Todd Gladden of PlanMen.  He may be reached at todd.gladden@planmen.com.       


Invest in employee engagement. 

August 10 - The cost estimates for replacing an employee vary widely depending upon the nature of the role. Regardless, it is an expensive and time-consuming task to recruit and onboard a new employee. Just as we are concerned with customer acquisition and retention the same thinking can be applied to recruiting and retaining top employee talent. Research shows that engaged employees, compared to their lesser engaged counterparts, are 18% more productive and yield work that is of 60% higher quality. The Harvard Business Review estimates that disengaged employees in the United States cost the economy between $450 and $550 billion each year. It would make financial sense then to invest in employee engagement which can lead to direct impact on the bottom line. The 360 survey is commonplace among companies of varying sizes and across industries. These annual surveys create a momentary snapshot of employee sentiment. They can provide an [...]


Who gets coached first and why – Part 2.  

August 3 - Whether you are launching a new coaching program or refining an existing one, when it comes time for the coaching to begin, someone gets selected to be the first person coached. You have an entire staff to coach. Where do you start? Here are some tips on whom to choose first along with the benefits of taking that choice:
Ask someone to volunteer. In most instances the employee who volunteers is confident about his or her ability to do the job and receives feedback well. Most confident individuals talk openly and are usually at ease, which also puts the coach at ease.  Approach a staff member who traditionally adopts easily to change. This individual can be a strong ally and ambassador to the rest of the team members that coaching is a motivating experience. Also, this sends a strong message to the team that coaching is for everyone and [...]


Who gets coached first and why.  

July 27 - You’ve just finished a major training effort and a major financial investment to improve the skills of your team. Congratulations! Good decision! You also know that people more easily make behavior changes when they receive positive reinforcement of new ideas, encouragement for their efforts and personal attention. The best tool to provide this support is coaching, and you’re ready to begin.  Sounds simple, right? Consider though where you start … someone is always first to be coached. Who will you pick for the first coaching session? Let’s back up a bit for an important reminder. Coaches must have a fundamental belief that coaching reinforces what a person is doing well and then builds upon that base. This might run contrary to our natural instinct. Many well-intentioned coaches fall into the trap of thinking that the best approach to coaching is to begin with employees who “need” it the [...]


Make sure the quality monitoring team works with training on quality scoring issues.  

July 20 - Does your quality monitoring team work effectively with your training team in your center on quality scoring issues? Sometimes there is a problem that is coming up on a significant percentage of calls monitored, either for a single agent or for the population as a whole.  When it is a single agent issue, then coaching is the appropriate remedy.  But if it is coming up on multiple agents, then it is probably a training issue that needs to be addressed across the center. Can you tell if you have a systemic problem easily?  How is it communicated from QA to training?  A review of these processes can help to focus the right fix on problems that show up in quality scoring.


Change management tips for the QA & Training teams. 

July 13 - One thing that is constant in business is change.   We can't avoid it. Customers, products, service, call flows ― everything changes over time. But as much as we don’t like change, if we didn't change in positive ways, we wouldn't stay in business. How we personally approach change in business says a lot about our potential longevity in the business world. We can choose to be "Change Champions" and help others through transitions of change, or we can choose to jump on the "Whine Train" and grumble and moan about why we have to change. Human nature is to resist change, so we have to encourage ourselves and others to embrace change. Those who survive and succeed during times of great challenge are the individuals and organizations who learn to take advantage of opportunities that come from change and cultivate resiliency. Here are four easy B-Attitudes for managing [...]


Learn what’s sticking. 

July 6 - 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 CSR’s 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!


Employee rewards are not “one size fits all.” 

June 29 - It’s important not just to recognize outstanding performance, but to reward it in a meaningful way to each employee. Rewards fall into the area of social reinforcement (the recognition discussed above) and tangible reinforcement.  In call centers today, this tangible reinforcement takes the form of gift cards, movie tickets, trips, electronics, and many other items. The key to building an effective reward program is to have rewards that are viewed as desirable and valuable by each employee. Reward programs are not “one size fits all” in terms of perceived value. While one person may be thrilled with tickets to a theatre or sporting event, another would much prefer housecleaning services or a catalog certificate.  Some might perceive lunch with the company Vice President a powerful reward, while others may see this as an intimidating negative experience. In selecting the reward options for your team members, careful consideration should [...]


Employee rewards are not “one size fits all.” 

June 22 - It’s important not just to recognize outstanding performance, but to reward it in a meaningful way to each employee. Rewards fall into the area of social reinforcement (the recognition discussed above) and tangible reinforcement.  In call centers today, this tangible reinforcement takes the form of gift cards, movie tickets, trips, electronics, and many other items. The key to building an effective reward program is to have rewards that are viewed as desirable and valuable by each employee. Reward programs are not “one size fits all” in terms of perceived value. While one person may be thrilled with tickets to a theatre or sporting event, another would much prefer housecleaning services or a catalog certificate.  Some might perceive lunch with the company Vice President a powerful reward, while others may see this as an intimidating negative experience. In selecting the reward options for your team members, careful consideration should [...]

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