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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
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 [...]
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!
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 [...]
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 [...]
June 15 - For more than a decade, the general consensus in the training industry is that games (aka "gamification") are a valuable way to review a certain topic. But where things are still a bit muddled is how far games can go in actually delivering crucial content. I've outlined below some key insights that take the interactive power of a game to another level of training. WHAT ARE YOU AFTER? Make a list of the key teaching points you want to cover and embed them within the game. By using the power of game-based competition - your learners will have a heightened sense of awareness and retention will increase (yes - this is fact). THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Questions do not specifically have to cover a topic, they can be used simply as a stepping stone to what you want to teach or review. Consider even leaving the game completely [...]
June 8 - 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 [...]
June 1 - Engage your QA Team in your new hire training process from the very start. The call review process should be the right hand of training. Call reviews ensure newly trained staff are retaining the training provided, using resources correctly, and aids in developing skill sets necessary to be successful. By implementing quality assurance training during the training process you begin to develop authentic relationships between staff, trainers, and quality assurance teams. Make sure employees understand the expectations, importance of call reviews, and how the quality assurance process will ultimately aid their professional development.
May 25 - Over the past weeks, companies around the globe have had to shift their focus to establishing a work-from-home infrastructure for their employees. Even companies that already had a strong work-from-home culture in the contact center, have had to focus on bringing everyone outside of the contact center into a work-from-home environment. As companies make the successful transition into this new virtual world, they will need to take advantage of the technology, tools, and solutions available to ensure they are continually driving success. Your Quality Management solution is one of those key solutions that will allow your organization to continue driving success in the new virtual world. Now more than ever, it is important to understand what your customers are asking of your business. It is equally as important that your employees are responding appropriately, and your customer needs are being met. With so much change happening at such [...]
May 18 - Hands down the most common complaint made of quality monitoring programs is that the call standards are too subjective. When the frontline staff perceive quality as subjective, they are inclined to use this as an excuse for not taking their quality evaluation results seriously, making it easier for them to reject feedback from their call coaching sessions. In addition, when performance expectations are open to interpretation, this results in inconsistent service to customers. One way to determine whether or not a standard is objective and behavior-based is to test its “coachability.” In other words, can the quality standard be demonstrated? Let’s say one of your quality standards is “responds compassionately.” Some believe agents need to apologize to meet this end. Others might interpret compassion as being something in the tone of the agent’s voice. And still others might find it more comfortable to provide solutions to help callers [...]
May 11 - Agents sometimes feel that Quality Assurance (QA) only picks their worst calls to score. Combat this by allowing agents to submit calls they deem to be “great caller experiences” for scoring by QA specialists once or twice a month. This allows for self-discovery of the agent’s strengths and weaknesses as well as closes the gap between QA and the agent’s perspective on differing aspects of a call. It also promotes greater understanding from the agent of how QA may score a call vs. what the agent thinks is “great
May 4 - There is a lot of talk around replacing contact center agents with bots or some form of self-service options. But according to research conducted by NewVoiceMedia, 75% of customers still prefer a live agent (voice or chat) to help them solve their issues. Successful companies know how to create a culture that allows agents to not only express empathy but express the Right level of empathy for the customer’s situation. Here is an example. A customer who is calling to get roadside assistance because they have a flat tire. Agent#1: “I apologize for your situation. Agent#2: “I’m sure that’s really frustrating for you.” Agent #2 does a better job of expressing empathy that expresses what the customer must be feeling. They recognize what is going on in the customer’s world. This would be perceived as “more authentic” vs. canned and routine. You can teach agents how to use [...]
April 27 - These are difficult times, and our anxious customers need us more than ever. Some of them need help with a simple task, like “How do I add a new driver to my auto insurance policy?” Others need help solving a problem: “Why was I charged twice for inflight WiFi?” All of them need our empathy. They need us to infuse our emails, chats, and social media responses with words that demonstrate we understand what they are feeling, we see things from their point of view, and we care. Empathy isn’t easy. Some frontline customer service agents resist showing empathy. They think it’s optional or even risky because it implies they agree with the customer’s complaint. And even the most empathy-willing agents will struggle to show empathy when they’re overburdened, like they are now. So, to make empathizing easier, I’ve pulled together this list of 20 ways to empathize with stressed [...]
April 20 - One of the most common questions that has been asked during the last few weeks is if agent metrics should change when they are working from home, as opposed to being in the office. It is a great question, and it falls into that vast category of questions with the most frustrating answer: It depends. Ok, Ok...before you come after me with pitchforks, let me explain. It really depends on the business, the context, the situation, etc. So here are some things you can do to evaluate if your metrics need to change: Is the technology comparable to in-office? Working in an office with super-high speed internet, decent computers, wired connections and no VPN can be vastly different than sitting in an apartment with a shared cable line, a laptop from 2008, and WiFi on a router that is 5 years old. Take some time to look at [...]
April 13 - Contact center quality assurance is the glue to consistent client interactions during times of business continuity. This resource is especially useful during turbulent economic times, which challenges businesses to be more strategic about client retention strategies to sustain clientele during and after the business disruption. Taking care to educate your agents on how to engage with clients during challenging times must be a part of your business continuity strategy, and quality assurance can partner to support. Here’s how to get started: Educate:Identify and share your retention strategy with your team members and share the importance of building client loyalty during challenging times. For example, if your sales team is offering a 50% off discount or a free month of service during this time, train your agents to be confident, show empathy, and promote these initiatives with your clients. Support:Prepare your quality team to provide targeted feedback on business [...]
April 6 - Communication is the most impactful skill that leaders employ at any time, but it becomes even more critical in times of crisis. By now you have probably heard some best practices on communicating with employees while they are working from home due to the pandemic. Most of these recommendations are technology and process focused – such as using multiple communication vehicles, increasing frequency of team and 1:1 meetings, and employing web-based collaboration tools. While these are all very effective protocols, they need to be supported by people-focused communication practices which are those that consider and influence feelings, engagement and relationships. Following are the top 3 people-focused tips to help support a well-rounded communication strategy: Plan time in team meetings for increased small talk. People are feeling isolated and out of sorts. For some who live alone, connecting with colleagues might be their only opportunity for social interaction on [...]
March 30 - A key element for the success of promising new call center employees is to pair them with a mentor — someone that can serve as a role model and trusted advisor. As a supervisor or team manager, you may have senior members of your team serve in a mentor role or you as the direct manager can mentor a new employee. Many supervisors and team managers say they can't find enough time in their busy schedules and long to-do lists to take time out to mentor employees one-on-one. If you find yourself using that excuse, here's one suggested time-management approach that can help you carve out 3-4 hours a week to devote to this important individual support. It's called the 15-5-10 approach. Track all your weekly activities and how much time spent on each one. Prioritize these activities and also look at what activities could either be avoided [...]
March 23 - An interesting way to review your quality monitoring scores is to compare them against all types of other call center performance measures. One of the most important comparisons is between quality monitoring scores and overall customer satisfaction scores. You should see a high correlation. Higher monitoring scores should happen as customer satisfaction scores go up and vice versa. If you don’t find this correlation, then you may be measuring the wrong things. Some call centers find that satisfaction scores may be slipping while monitoring scores are staying stable or going up. The reason for this is that the center is failing to monitor the aspects of the call that have the biggest impact on influencing customer satisfaction. Another comparison might be between quality scores and speed of answer. Many centers find that as service level suffers and delays get longer, quality scores go down. This may be due [...]
March 16 - We hear this question a lot, but the answer is that there is not really an industry standard for anything in call centers. However, most call centers report that they monitor 5-10 calls per month per agent. Having said that, let me give you a few other things to think about. First, you should strive to gather a sample that is significantly significant, and 5-10 calls per month may not be the right number for your center. Popular levels of significance are 5%, 1% and 0.1% (of total calls received). To determine your call center's level of significance you may need to take a stroll down statistics memory lane. Below is a link to this topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_significance Next, it is important to pull a random sample of calls. As you know, there is a lot of quality monitoring buzz these days about selective and targeted call recording which [...]
March 9 - A lot of companies require agents to say the customer name on calls, and QA specialists are listening for that in their reviews. But maybe we should look at why we listen for agents to say the customer name. Using the customer’s name, like all other quality monitoring criteria, needs to be driven by a business objective. Using the caller’s name X number of times on a call may be a nice thing to do, but if it does not help you in achieving a company and/or call center objectives, then it really should not be on your quality evaluation form. For some call centers where customer relationships are vital to their core business, using the customer’s name may be one of the behaviors that contribute to that end. For other centers, the primary focus may be one of sales and thus using the customer name may be an [...]
February 17 - One of the keys to time management for call center supervisors is to identify what tasks can be delegated to others to free up more time for the supervisor's most important activity — one-on-one coaching. Here are a few things to consider when deciding what can be delegated to other members on the team. Time.Analyze how you spend your day. Are you doing some things over and over than someone else on your team could do just as easily and perhaps even enjoy the added variety and responsibility? Use delegation to free yourself up so you can concentrate your efforts on activities that take your team members forward. Business processes.You need to establish concrete procedures and processes as your team develops. When you find yourself directing every activity (or trying to and failing), it’s time to start documenting important practices so your workforce doesn’t have to depend on [...]
January 27 - Last week’s tip outlined the qualities of a “Fix and Forget” leader, which included these characteristics: Spending all (or most) of their time on maintaining the status quo. Viewing the work of a leader as being in conflict with their own work. Choosing short-term fixes over long-term solutions. Failing to reflect on past decisions. Only checking in with team members when there is a problem. If, instead of being a “Fix and Forget” type of leader, you want to be known as someone who really wants to grow their team and achieve better results, think and take action like a gardener. Some tips to make this transition: Talk to your plants. In my leadership training sessions I like posing the question, “Does it really help to talk to your plants?” I typically get at least one person who offers that it does because you are offering your plants [...]
January 20 - Have you thought (or said) any of these statements in the past 30 days? I thought we had that problem handled. When will I have time to focus on what I need to get done? I should have seen this coming. WOW! That came out of nowhere. I can’t believe we are having to deal with this again. All people ever bring me are problems. If you said yes to at least three of these statements, you might be in danger of becoming a “Fix and Forget” type of leader. Characteristics of such a leader are: Spending all (or most) of their time on maintaining the status quo. Time resources are strained and it’s easier to go from crisis to crisis to fill their day. They fail to carve out time to look toward the future and determine how to best lead their team into it. Viewing the work [...]
January 13 - Are you struggling to train your employees? It's alright if you are — most employers and trainers struggle to do so. Employee training today is surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. Some believe that memorization works, while others think that fancy e-Training or assessments are the solution. We're here to tell you that the way most trainers and employers are training isn't working. But, with a few changes it can work, and quickly. So why not change the way you train employees? With actionable knowledge bases and progressive training methods, you can train employees up to 75% faster. Further, your employees will be ready to handle the scenarios they'll face on-the-job and they'll have support to back them up if they get stuck. Rather than sitting employees down and forcing them to memorize their fancy e-Training and then pass an exam on it — try an improved method. [...]
January 6 - Engage your QA Team in your new hire training process from the very start. The call review process should be the right hand of training. Call reviews ensure newly trained staff are retaining the training provided, using resources correctly, and aids in developing skill sets necessary to be successful. By implementing quality assurance training during the training process, you begin to develop authentic relationships between staff, trainers, and quality assurance teams. Make sure employees understand the expectations, importance of call reviews, and how the quality assurance process will ultimately aid their professional development.
December 30 - Two attributes that are very important for agents are confidence and attitude. Share these examples during training or coaching to help them understand what these attributes can give them! When a new driver goes to take their test, they must be confident that they have the ability to pass it. If the driving instructor senses that the driver is not confident, the instructor will not feel secure in the car. As a result, the driver is likely to fail. Confidence is the first step to driving success. On the phones, we must indicate our confidence to the customer through a comfortable delivery of important information. This will allow us to pass through a successful call, as the contact feels secure in our ability to handle the call. And secondly, your attitude reflects your outlook on the world. It may change with your mood or your surroundings, but it [...]
December 23 - One of the deadly sins of coaching is to try to change too many things at once. As coaches with experience and insight that far surpasses that of our coachees, we may tend to overwhelm the coachee with TOO MANY things to work on or think about. The fact is, as humans, we work best when we can focus our efforts. As a wise person once said, “To try many things at once is to do none well.” Only with focus will we be able to hope for meaningful change. Effective coaches focus their coachees on one or two areas for development. Effective coaches know that there will be time to address other areas for development once these priority areas are addressed. Effective coaches resist the tendency to “spray and pray” — to tell the employee EVERYTHING the coach thinks the coachee could change (spray) and hope (pray) [...]
December 16 - I would love to share a game I do with my new hire classes. Once the trainees have learned the database we use, I draw the main database screen with empty fields on a white board. I have them lock their computer first thing in the morning and I pass out laminated cards that have all the icons and fields on them. The game is to put the cards in order as they would appear on the screen and test their memory without using their computer. Some of the fields they haven’t used yet but have visually seen, and some they have practiced the functions. They do this first working independently, and then as a team. Then while the trainees are at lunch, I take the laminated cards and mix them up but leave them on the whiteboard. After lunch, they come up to the board and put the [...]
December 9 - The primary goals of coaching are to develop skills in employees while simultaneously building the employee’s capability to self-assess and work independently. Coaching is used when the employee is willing and has some capability for figuring things out. In other words, you would NOT use the coaching technique in a corrective action situation (someone coming in late from lunch) or in a training situation (when the person simply doesn’t know the answer). It’s unfortunate, but we often overlook the 80% of our employees who are performing well day in and day out to put out fires or address other more urgent issues. Over time, this can be damaging to morale and performance. Coaching is a technique to work with those overlooked 80%. In coaching, the first step is for you to meet with the employee to determine what job-related skill the employee would like to develop. This could [...]
December 2 - Engage your QA Team in your new hire training process from the very start. The call review process should be the right hand of training. Call reviews ensure newly trained staff are retaining the training provided, using resources correctly, and aids in developing skill sets necessary to be successful. By implementing quality assurance training during the training process, you begin to develop authentic relationships between staff, trainers, and quality assurance teams. Make sure employees understand the expectations, importance of call reviews, and how the quality assurance process will ultimately aid their professional development.
November 18 - Leaders are viewed by their people as authentically supportive of their needs. Leaders can translate the needs of their people into actionable goals to support “the cause.” Think about what your employees want from work and from you. Most of them are looking for a paycheck, of course. But we all know that there are often easier ways to make money. So it’s safe to state that your employees work here for other reasons. What are those reasons? Some people work here because they like the people. It gives them the opportunity to have the interaction with others that they’re craving. Maybe it’s directly related to work — like being on a team to work out a solution to a problem. Maybe it’s indirectly related to work — like organizing an office social event. Some people work here because they enjoy helping customers. Solicit feedback from customers — [...]
November 25 - Two attributes that are very important for agents are confidence and attitude. Share these examples during training or coaching to help them understand what these attributes can give them! When a new driver goes to take their test, they must be confident that they have the ability to pass it. If the driving instructor senses that the driver is not confident, the instructor will not feel secure in the car. As a result, the driver is likely to fail. Confidence is the first step to driving success. On the phones, we must indicate our confidence to the customer through a comfortable delivery of important information. This will allow us to pass through a successful call, as the contact feels secure in our ability to handle the call. And secondly, your attitude reflects your outlook on the world. It may change with your mood or your surroundings, but it [...]
November 11 - For more than a decade, the general consensus in the training industry is that games (aka "gamification") are a valuable way to review a certain topic. But where things are still a bit muddled is how far games can go in actually delivering crucial content. Below are some key insights that take the interactive power of a game to another level of training. WHAT ARE YOU AFTER? Make a list of the key teaching points you want to cover and embed them within the game. By using the power of game-based competition - your learners will have a heightened sense of awareness and retention will increase. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Questions do not specifically have to cover a topic -- they can be used simply as a stepping stone to what you want to teach or review. Consider even leaving the game completely to focus more deeply on [...]
November 4 - For more than a decade, the general consensus in the training industry is that games (aka "gamification") are a valuable way to review a certain topic. But where things are still a bit muddled is how far games can go in actually delivering crucial content. Below are some key insights that take the interactive power of a game to another level of training. WHAT ARE YOU AFTER? Make a list of the key teaching points you want to cover and embed them within the game. By using the power of game-based competition - your learners will have a heightened sense of awareness and retention will increase. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Questions do not specifically have to cover a topic -- they can be used simply as a stepping stone to what you want to teach or review. Consider even leaving the game completely to focus more deeply on [...]
October 28 - If doing the same thing 50-75 times a day sounds intellectually stimulating, stop reading. Still there? Since many of you may have begun your career as contact center agents, you probably know how monotonous the job can be. As a manager, there are many things you likely already schedule to break up the agent’s day periodically. Things like training and team meetings along with activities like special projects. (Whether they actually happen or not is a different story.) But what else can agents do in between calls that don’t have to occur at a specific time? Consider putting together a list like the one below to build variety into your agents’ days. Happy agents make happy customers, so read on for ideas to end up with both: Development. How satisfied can you be if the customer knows more than you do by the time they make it through [...]
October 21 - How much effort do you expend in refreshing your team on the organizational impact of their work? We often focus on the quality of each transaction based on the time that it takes to process the work, the adherence to business policy and the technical integrity of the system upon completion. We spend copious hours in training to guide these efforts and even offer support with navigational efficiencies. But how do you get agents to aspire to achieve more than the minimum standard? Might I suggest adding a brief introduction to what connection the material has to the organization’s strategic goals to the next refresher course. For example, if your organization has a strategic goal for transparency and you are training on an interim bill correction process, this is an excellent opportunity to reinforce how important their role is in keeping this commitment to the customer. Transformational leaders [...]
October 14 - Coaching is a really important part of the job for all call center leaders. Establishing a coaching relationship takes time and the ability to build trust. This is something that we should work on continuously to build the relationships with agents in our organization. Some ways to build trust include: Inspiring Trust by Sharing: All of us have examples of when we said the wrong thing, or did something less well than we would have liked. Trust is an essential part of a coaching relationship. Share these instances where appropriate: “This was not my finest hour…” It conveys to your employee that you are human, and that mistakes are not fatal. Lean in to the Pause: Often an inflection point in learning occurs in a conversation at the point where the coachee is quiet or appears to be thinking. Rather than rushing in to fill the silence, sit [...]
. October 7 - Averages are helpful but they are just that, they are averages. They will give you some idea of how agents are doing overall, but they may not give you a complete picture. Consider for a moment that a score of 85% and above is the goal in quality monitoring. It might be entirely possible that the average score for the month was 85% or even higher. One might think, “Great! We had a terrific month and provided excellent service to our customers.” This might or might not be the case. Suppose for a moment, that 100 scored calls were included in that average. The calls could breakdown as follows: 20 of the calls received a score of 100% 45 of the calls received a score of 85% or greater but less than 100% 35 of the calls received a score below 85% With this breakdown, we see [...]
September 16 - Depending on your organization, new hire training classes can be anywhere from 4-6 weeks long, and most workdays are 7-9 hours long. Therefore, your trainees can be receiving somewhere between 150-240 hours of information in a short amount of time and that can make it extremely difficult for their knowledge retention rate. Not only do we incorporate games, learning activities, and exercises to help engage our trainees, but we also schedule different speakers (from other departments) and different trainers on a daily basis. Scheduling different trainers ensures the trainees are staying alert, engaged, and hearing new information from a different perspective/teaching style. This has worked very well for our training team and tends to be a huge positive on evaluations from the trainees. Note: This week’s tip is provided by Debbie Short of Cokesbury, retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House. She may be reached at email@example.com.
September 9 - As a manager, much of your time should be devoted to helping team members to be more successful and (for those interested) to prepare them for promotion or advancement. Setting their expectations against the actual workload helps them become better prepared for unexpected changes and gives them a good baseline for knowing when they’ve met or exceeded expectations. Here are some ideas to put your team members on the road to success: Understand what the team member really wants from their job. If you are the direct manager, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re the mentor, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re a peer, direct manager or mentor, have regular informal conversations. The two keys here are regular meetings (formal or informal) and good communication. Don’t focus only on areas of improvement. People like to know when they’re doing well. Focus on [...]
August 26 - Coaching to celebrate simply focuses on all the positives that take place during the call. This is the coach’s time to reinforce effective behaviors that you want to see repeated on future calls. Coaching to celebrate sessions are great for boosting morale and motivating your strong performers (or maybe just an average performer that had a strong call) to keep up the great work. Remember when you celebrate a call, do so immediately and be specific with your feedback. Ask questions to help agents reflect on the call center and company goals they are helping to achieve when they are succeeding on their calls. Discuss why it’s important to continue making every effort to repeat these behaviors on future calls – not just when they are having a good day! You’ll want to resist the temptation to add in little suggestions for ways they can improve, just to [...]
August 19 - Make sure representatives know they are empowered to take ownership of their calls by listening to the customers and taking care of their needs. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life written by John Miller teaches that when something goes wrong, you do not blame someone else for the problem. The contact center representatives should look at the problem and ask themselves, “What can I do to handle this issue?” When the agents take ownership of the problems, the customers feel like the representatives truly care about their problems. This builds confidence with the customers that your company is ready and able to meet their needs. Note: This week's tip is provided by Debbie Short of Cokesbury, retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 12 - When providing coaching to your agents, make sure to fully explain and provide examples of improvement areas. Don’t just tell the agent they were wrong, explain the customer impact and provide an example of how they could have handled the interaction in a way that would have set the customer’s expectations. For example, an agent doesn’t use the proper hold procedure during a contact. An estimate of hold time was not provided to the customer. Explain the customer impact of not providing them an estimate of their hold time: Our phone system does not provide music or messaging when a customer is placed on hold. If you place a customer on hold and do not provide a hold estimate, at some point during the hold the customer may feel they have been disconnected. This may cause the customer to hang up and call again. The next agent [...]
August 5 - Scoring agent calls is only one part of the quality assurance equation. The second part is giving coaches and managers useful data. The point of QA must always be kept in mind; yes, the score is an indication of quality, but one reason quality is measured is to identify areas where improvement can be made. But what type of shape should this data take to assist in this role? The data should take on two different shapes. The first is to address each individual agent. What items on the form did each individual agent miss—particularly if the same item was missed by the same agent multiple times. By shaping the data for each individual agent, we highlight areas for coaching and improvement giving coaches a targeted approach. The second form the data should take is for the contact center as a whole. Here we want to identify what items in the contact [...]
July 29 - There are a lot of great conferences around, but there is only one that is designed specifically for quality assurance and training professionals in the contact center. We would love for you to join us for this amazing event, which is set for Sept. 17-19 at the Hilton Nashville Downtown Hotel. Here are just a few of the many reasons to attend the QATC Annual Conference: 1. Relevancy to your position. There are a lot of call center conferences out there, but it is hard to find extensive content on training or quality assurance there. QATC surrounds you with people who are doing exactly what you’re doing! 2. High caliber conference content in a small community atmosphere. QATC is not a "mega-conference" where you feel overwhelmed and disconnected. The quality of the speakers is second to none, and the size of the conference makes it easy to connect [...]
July 22 - Empowering trainers helps instill confidence, especially when it comes to day-to-day decision-making. For instance, during our new hire training classes, a different trainer is designated to “take the lead” each day of the week. A basic schedule is laid out ahead of time, but if anything comes up or if there is a scheduling conflict, whoever is the lead has the ability and the encouragement to deal with those situations as they see fit. If a situation does come up that the trainer may not feel comfortable handling, the manager is always available, but instead of just telling the trainer what to do, he asks smaller questions to nudge the trainers in the right direction in a way that still leads the trainers to feel like they are making the decision. This helps in a couple of ways. First, as I mentioned before, it instills confidence in the [...]
July 15 - A key element for the success of promising new call center employees is to pair them with a mentor — someone that can serve as a role model and trusted advisor. As a supervisor or team manager, you may have senior members of your team serve in a mentor role or you as the direct manager can mentor a new employee. Many supervisors and team managers say they can't find enough time in their busy schedules and long to-do lists to take time out to mentor employees one-on-one. If you find yourself using that excuse, here's one suggested time-management approach that can help you carve out 3-4 hours a week to devote to this important individual support. It's called the 15-5-10 approach. Track all your weekly activities and how much time spent on each one. Prioritize these activities and also look at what activities could either be avoided [...]
July 8 - During training, check your audience and make sure they are following you. If not, be prepared to put a spin on your presentation to connect with your group. For example, your Plan B could be a game to get the class participating rather than staying with lecturing. Make the game fun and exciting; like the game called Round Robin. In this game, everyone sits in a circle and is asked a question on the topic you’re teaching. The trainer has 60 seconds to go through a topic so the movement around the circle is quick. Depending on time, you can keep playing the game with different topics until you see the class is comfortable with the material. If your participants don’t know the answers, help them by asking open-ended questions to get them thinking and talking. By switching to Plan B, whatever that might be, you can get [...]
June 24 - The closing of a contact is perhaps one of the most important elements of the customer’s experience. It is in those last few moments that your customer is able to truly feel valued, appreciated, and serviced. Make it a point to have your agents ask your customer, “What else may I assist you with today?” The question should be open-ended, genuine, and sincere. It should seek out any additional issues or opportunities the customer may have prior to letting them go. Pause and allow the customer time to consider the question. Once the customer responds with a “no,” it is time to seal the deal. Smile, show appreciation and enjoyment in the fact you have been able to provide your customer a great experience and thank them for calling. “It has truly been my pleasure to assist you today. Thank you so much for calling,” or “I hope [...]
June 17 - The old phrase “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” rings true for contact centers! When coaching staff have interactions with front line agents, they need to remember that we are all in the same boat, and the agent on the front line is “rowing.” Consultative selling skills are an integral part of our culture, and they remind us that all customer interactions start out with building rapport. When our management team went through the consultative coaching training sessions, it was no surprise to learn that good coaching sessions also start with building rapport. When you first meet with the agent, don’t jump right to business. Share something about yourself and be genuinely interested in what that person has to share back. Once rapport is established, then you are ready for business! Never make the coaching session feel like an “I [...]
June 10 - The role of the contact center agent is more challenging than ever before. New skillsets and greater proficiency are required for agents to succeed with an increased range of channels. But with a new side hustle around every corner, keeping agents motivated and retaining them for the long haul is a common challenge. In a 2018 ICMI study, contact center leaders reported that their number-one challenge was training and retaining the staff needed to be successful; not far behind, at number three, was increasing agent engagement and morale. Engaged and satisfied agents are essential to providing quality customer service that engages and satisfies customers, and they’re motivated to stay in their current jobs and make a career out of customer service. When evaluating the agent experience in your contact center, it is important to evaluate processes including hiring and onboarding, training and development, and the overall feeling of [...]