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Train all staff on the meaning of metrics.

May 29 - 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 [...]


Debrief with new hires at the end of the day. 

May 22 - 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 [...]


Focus on Agent Retention in tight times. But what really drives agent engagement?

May 8 - The strongest driver of engagement isn’t poor fit or complex work. By far the biggest predictor, according to a Gartner study, was a lack of clarity in the agent’s role and goals — agents were 90% more likely to disengage if they didn’t understand what they were supposed to prioritize and work toward. Here are a few areas the contact center managers and leaders can build engaged, high-performing teams. Training makes agents feel more competent and everyone likes to feel good at what they do. Employees of all generations have shown themselves to be adept at learning online. To further engagement, ensure you’re offering agents personalized training during initial onboarding and ongoing development. Coaching empowers agents to know what they can do to improve and how to achieve it. For young adults just entering the workforce, upskilling is an important factor when evaluating a job. Agent engagement and [...]


Keeping a positive coaching relationship with remote agents.

May 1 - Since the pandemic and the rush for many to move associates out to remote working, we were forced to re-look at how we manage and coach employees in the new “norm.”  Now that some time has gone by, we want to refresh ourselves with some “best practices” for coaching in the remote environment.  Here are some points to remember: Value the person first Manage your own state of mind – Be Constructive Listen to understand & Involve them in the solution Have consistent check-ins Align the goals – both employee and organizational Use Webcams & Share Screens Remember their career development Give affirmations and compliments Avoid multi-tasking Use a Coaching Guide to Plan Also, by focusing on behaviors, both positive and not-so-positive, you can develop a clear plan/path to sustaining improvement and truly developing the individual. Note:  This week’s tip is provided by QATC Board Member Todd Gladden [...]


Helping current employees stay connected with new staff. 

April 24 -   We are always looking for ways that our 100% remote staff can stay connected and get to know our new employees. We have added what we call “This is Me” lessons to the training program. Each new employee is asked to create a lesson in our LMS to share information about themselves – where they’re from, hobbies, favorites, family, community activities, etc. They include images or videos to make them fun. They know they only have to share what they’re comfortable sharing. It’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other and find connections. The lessons are stored in the LMS and anyone can go read someone else’s lesson at any time. Note:  This week’s tip is provided by QATC Board Member Debbie Short.  She may be reached at shortfamily@comcast.net.    


Stay amazing…

April 17 - Salutations are so common we often forget they are there. Words like sincerely, or thank you, or yours truly. We just have these messages at the closing of communication. Then in the age of social media and text we have one-liners that we use as taglines that became the salutations. Somewhere along the way, I started saying, “Stay Amazing.” I’m not sure when, or exactly what specifically prompted it, but it became my closing line on a lot of posts, texts, or just on conversations, notes, or e-mails. When someone once asked me why I used it, my reply was as encouragement, because people often don’t think they are, or recognize the fact that they accomplished as much as they have, or are as important as they are. This applies to Quality and Training Professionals. They are amazing. They need to stay that way. What makes them amazing? Think about how they [...]


Playvox Announces Strategic Partnership with NeuraFlash

Contact center leaders to provide best-in-class AI and cloud-based workforce engagement solutions  SUNNYVALE, Calif., March 17, 2023—Playvox, the leading provider of Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) solutions for digital-first contact and support centers, today announced a strategic partnership with NeuraFlash, a leading AI and Consulting/ ISV Partner of Salesforce and AWS. Together, the companies will offer best-in-class integrated solutions leveraging AI and automation to transform customers’ cloud-based contact center workforce engagement experiences. “Our customers are increasingly demanding workforce engagement to better manage their contact centers,” said Brett Chisholm, CEO of NeuraFlash. “It was clear early on that Playvox was the best partner for transforming our customers’ contact center experience. The company’s proven track record, deep industry expertise and workforce engagement, along with the tight integration to Salesforce solutions, combined with the power of AI, will be instrumental in achieving better business outcomes.” “Following the Playvox partnership announcement with Salesforce in January, we [...]


Overlooked KPIs that influence customer retention. 

April 10 - Most contact centers are tracking tried-and-true KPIs, many of which are based on voice interactions and not the array of digital channels customers flock to today. Using enhanced KPIs to analyze your customer sentiment will reveal more actionable insights than the traditional Customer Satisfaction rating or Net Promoter Score. You’ll gain greater visibility into why customers are contacting you so you can resolve issues faster — wherever the problem lies. By fixing problems or avoiding them altogether, you’ll be able to increase customer retention. Customer Complaint Volumes - Measure the volume of customer complaints, but take it a step further by segmenting them to find a suitable resolution. Use tags to identify complaints and their causes, uncovering the true voice of your customers. Largest Interaction Drivers - This KPI tracks why people are reaching out to your business and is aided by tagging as well. It can easily [...]


Recognize good performance on a timely, consistent basis.

April 1 - One-on-one feedback is critical to reinforce desirable behaviors being demonstrated by your staff.  Employees need to know what to repeat and what not to do again and recognized behavior is repeated behavior.  Try to catch them doing something right and recognize it as soon as possible since the more time that passes between the behavior and the recognition, the less effective the feedback. If you’re waiting on perfect performance to recognize, you may be waiting a long time. Sometimes we need to recognize initiative as well as the final end result.  Recognizing improvements along the way will help reinforce behaviors that you want to see repeated and the employee will make continual progress toward the ultimate goal. Use different means to recognize. Always do one-on-one, but in addition provide the recognition in writing sometimes.  And while one-on-one is nice to build the relationship between agent and supervisory, it’s [...]


A healthy business is always looking at what’s on the road ahead. 

March 27 - So you are offering your customers digital channels like chat, email, SMS, and social media, now what? Offering these channels also means your processes need a digital makeover behind the scenes. Spreadsheets and manual processes can’t handle the complexities of staffing digital channels. Issues like scheduling for concurrent volumes and forecasting to provide the experience customers expect in each channel are just too much for old-fashioned methods. So, where can you start? Focus on these key areas to initiate your digital transformation for your key processes: Scheduling, forecasting, and capacity planning are prime targets for digital transformation. Get agents in the right channels. Stay on budget with accurate staffing by considering concurrency, multi-channel interactions, and service level management. Reduce manager time spent on manual efforts related to reporting, capacity planning, scheduling, forecasting, and QM research and follow-up. Modernize Training and Coaching considering whether your team is remote, hybrid, [...]


Make sure training evaluations reflect the content of the training.

March 20 - Do you judge your trainers’ performance on how the learners evaluate the training? If so, do you have them fill out one evaluation at the end of the entire training period or one after each module of training? If you go with one after each module, be sure that the evaluation reflects the learning intended with each module. We used one generic form for all modules and found that after a while, the learners didn’t even read the statements. They just went down the list and circled all 5s or all 3s (even though some should have been N/As) without truly giving a lot of thought to their answers. The repetition kept them from giving the quality of the training careful thought. I found the most helpful part of the evaluation was the comment section BUT more often than not, all we got were the quick and easy [...]


Plan for ongoing development for your agents.

March 13 - Training should not end when the new-hire training program is over.  While orientation and new-hire training should be sufficient to get new employees on the phones and performing at a satisfactory level, it should never be the end of their training. All staff need regular, ongoing training and coaching to perform at their best. Many of the principles learned in the early days of training need to be reinforced several times to take hold. Even if the staff learn customer service basics during new-hire training, they may not yet have enough of a context to fully understand how to apply it all yet.  Therefore, it’s vitally important that once they’ve been on the phones for a while, you reinforce the critical elements and techniques of providing great service. Just as you would have refresher training for a new product development or upgrade, you’ll want to have refresher training [...]


Define performance standards for outstanding coaching.

March 6 - You can’t coach unless you have defined standards of performance.  A supervisor can’t possibly sit down to coach without having clear definitions about what good performance looks and sounds like.   Your call center needs to have a road map of detailed definitions of competencies, defined all the way down to specific measurable behaviors that can be observed. For example, most call centers would agree that a desirable competency is to be able to demonstrate call control techniques that balance quality and service provision with length of call.  The observable, measurable behaviors would be the specific call control techniques learned in a training class that keep talkative callers on track but still allow for the discovery of customer needs and ample time for presentation of solutions and needed information. Part of the work in defining these standards is creating a definition large enough to allow for and even encourage [...]


Recognize New Hires with a superlative. 

February 27 - Once a year, at our contact center sales conference, we recognize every new hire for the past year. We share what they’ve accomplished (could be sales totals or QA scores just to name a couple), and we share a fun superlative for each one to showcase their personality or a fun contribution they made while in training (Most Contagious Smile or Most Likely to Take Work Home or Most Likely to Answer the Phone with an Impersonation). What is so fun about the superlatives is that they are most meaningful within each new hire training group because many of them wouldn’t be understood unless you went through the training with that person. So, this is an example that doesn’t cost anything but means a lot to the new hires to realize they are valued and that their work is noticed. Note:  This week’s tip is provided by QATC [...]


Why Digital Matters.

February 20 - For much of the world, COVID expedited digital transformation for many businesses.  Consumers found ways to do business online or through chats and emails amid the pandemic and don’t appear to be turning back.  Customers are moving away from voice and toward the online channels that are easiest for them. Businesses are investing heavily in mobile apps, customer communities, and discussion forums while holding steady in online chat, knowledge bases, and social media. Businesses are shifting away from voice support to dedicate time to these emerging channels. So how can you decide which digital channels are best fit for integration into your contact center? Consider these three things to start. Where are your customers today? According to a 2020 Google/Forrester survey, consumers are moving to channels that provide the fastest response. Channel preferences can also tend to be generational, with Millennials and Gen Zers preferring chat, but only [...]


Have calibration session participants score calls in advance.

February 13 - Consider having everyone who is participating in a calibration session score the call in advance of the session and give them a deadline to have their forms turned in. Between that deadline and the session, have one of the QA analysts create a scoring summary. This summary will indicate which items the participants did not agree on 100%. And for those items, the summary will also indicate who scored what. Then before the calibration session, each participant is given a copy of the summary with their answers highlighted and are asked to review the call again to determine if they would change their score or decide to defend their score in the calibration session. This really cuts down on those items where one participant might have scored differently because they simply checked the wrong score. Those are quickly handled so more time can be spent on the items [...]


Review training material from the previous day each morning. 

February 6 - Take the opportunity each morning to review material covered the previous day. And review so the learners are the ones doing most of the talking. Ask open-ended questions that will spark discussion to get them started. Have them take turns telling you three things they learned the day before, each learner required to give you something different. Use a game to double as a mini assessment like a crossword puzzle or matching game. Check their answers by having them take turns sharing their answers with the rest of the group. Show images in a PowerPoint and have them explain what they represent. For example, we have a symbol that indicates a product is available for our automatic shipment program, church denomination symbols, icons that represent various features, etc. By using images, we speak to the visual learning style and mix up the way we review. Have each trainee [...]


Why you should always celebrate the assists. 

January 30 - One of my favorite things about hockey is that they track assists—not just for the last player to have touched the puck before the scorer, but the one before that too. Players can score an unassisted goal. They can even score with just one assist. But some 80 percent of goals were touched at least twice before the puck went into the net. In other words, there is rarely a goal without an assist.  So how does this apply in business? Often, we are good about celebrating the individual highlights. But often we aren’t as good at celebrating those who helped. We all need to get better at celebrating the support we get from others, those who do their jobs every day so we can do ours. Are we seeing and recognizing the people who make goals possible? Often these folks are in the back of the house. [...]


Playvox Launches New Workforce Engagement Solutions for Salesforce Contact Center

Customers can now access Playvox’s leading-edge workforce engagement solutions on Salesforce AppExchange SUNNYVALE, Calif. — January 5, 2023— Playvox, one of the leading providers of workforce engagement solutions for digital-first and CRM-centric contact centers, today announced the launch of a global collaboration with Salesforce (NYSE: CRM). Playvox solutions deliver a powerfully simple way to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center. The collaboration enables Salesforce Service Cloud customers to more efficiently manage forecasting, scheduling, adherence, capacity planning and long-term scheduling within Salesforce Contact Center along with the ability to easily make changes in real-time, based on Playvox’s AI insights. The new and enhanced workforce engagement solution for Salesforce Contact Center is available on the Salesforce AppExchange. With this launch, Playvox’s entire workforce engagement suite, which also includes quality management and coaching, is available to Salesforce customers. “We’re honored to collaborate with Salesforce to bring new levels of efficiency and innovation [...]


Support leaders who ensure they are heard do three key things.

January 23 - Over the last couple of years, the role of the support team has become more important than ever. Customer support has taken a front seat in the contactless contact center world, shifting the focus from customer growth to customer retention. With more recent economic events, customer experience leaders are being recognized for the critical role they play in customer retention as a business strategy and brought into leadership discussions to guide the organization. So, how can CX leaders ensure their organizations are hearing the voice of the customer and the voice of the support teams? Encourage senior leadership to think of customer support not as a cost but as a revenue-generating function. Customer support teams are hearing firsthand about customer issues. Amplify your team’s voice by translating the CS team’s feedback into the business vernacular used by senior management. This ensures senior management is listening and will understand [...]


Give care and attention to your QA team. 

January 16 - In our QA world so much of what we do is focused on supporting and recognizing the agents and front line supervisors and managers.  At times, that leaves our very own QA auditors and specialists team overlooked! Remember to give just as much care, attention, and thought to your QA team.   They care about their performance, too! Most take great pride in their work and care so much. They spend a considerable amount of time developing thoughtful feedback to assist agents in delivering a great experience for the customer. Recognize and celebrate their accomplishments!  Give them good PR and notoriety throughout the organization. Celebrate who is the most accurate; recognize whose feedback helped an agent improve the most, celebrate those that get their assignments complete and lean in to help others; identify those with superior knowledge as team SME's, etc.   Of course, give them feedback and coaching when necessary [...]


Use audible cues in training rooms.

January 9 - Use audible cues in your training rooms to help get the attention of your employees or direct them towards an activity. Consider having music playing out loud in the classroom at the start of class. Do this every day before they arrive. When you are ready to get started, turn the music off, let the silence sink in, and then dive into it. This will help you to quickly get the attention of your trainees so that you don't waste time waiting for them to pay attention. They will recognize the audible cue that when music is on, they can talk and socialize, but as soon as it is turned off - time to work! Similarly, put music on when you send your trainees on break and then turn it off again once the break is over and you are ready to get back to work. If you [...]


Building a QM program that works for all. 

January 2 - We all know one of the top reasons for losing a customer is poor service. With the plethora of social media outlets available today, consumers have more opportunities than ever to air their grievances in channels outside your control. Add to the complexity the reality that contact centers have more channels to monitor and manage: voice, email, chat, plus your organization’s owned social media accounts. Ideally, we want customers to have a positive and consistent experience across all channels. The key to success for an omnichannel QM program is leadership endorsement and a consistent, proactive approach. Quality management may feel disconnected from the other processes within your business. Quality managers focus on boosting agent performance and meeting evaluation requirements, while support managers aim to create exceptional experiences. Their core goal is the same, despite both having different responsibilities. You can bridge this gap to create a successful omnichannel [...]


How can you design your training program to combat “forgetting?”

December 26 - “Forgetting” is shown to happen at a rapid pace and was documented by Hermann Ebbinghaus back in 1885. Ebbinghaus represented “forgetting” as a curve – hence the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve was born. Since then, the “curve” has been confirmed in studies throughout the years since it was published. If “forgetting” is natural, how can we design our training programs with that in mind? Here are a few ideas to spark some ideas and don’t forget (ha ha) to be creative: Spaced Repetition – review bits of the topic throughout the training session. Note: the review does not need to be large, even quick reviews of a piece or two of the information help bring the topic back to awareness in the human mind! Being too complex can hinder the recall – keep it simple! Active Recall – simple flash cards, digital flash cards, and gamification of key information/ [...]


A customer service tip on reframing the “No.”

December 19 - Many times in working with our customers, we are unable to give them what they want, whether it be due to policy, legal, or through something they haven’t done (pay, submit forms, etc.).  We live in a world of “No” from many sides, but in order to maintain a good customer experience, and still have accountability from the customer, we can practice “reframing” our negative statements into more positive ones that focus on the present and future, rather than the past.  Negative statements tend to cause debates and place blame on the customer, resulting in extended handle times and poor customer experiences.  Our goal is to help the customer understand what “can” be done, versus what “can’t” be done. Try using statements like, “If this occurs, then this can be done” or “When this is done or submitted, then this can be done.”  “When payment is made after [...]


Feedback is a gift. 

December 12 -  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 [...]


It takes WILL as well as SKILL and KNOWLEDGE. 

December 5 - Critical success factors in selling are like a pyramid.  At the base of the pyramid is WILL. The characteristics of WILL are: persistence, resilience, positive attitude, being a team player, confidence, and the motivation behind what you are doing.  In a nutshell, how hard do I want to work on a particular project, task, job, or training? It is the level of determination I possess. The second part of the pyramid is KNOWLEDGE: the product or technical information we have, our customers, the market we serve, those we are in competition with, and the selling processes.  Over time all of this can be taught, learned, and even mastered. The other side of the pyramid is SKILL: our tone, rapport, presence, relating, questioning, listening, positioning, and checking. Having superior skills is not only necessary, but it is very obvious if a person does or does not possess them. Without [...]


A little free time could help. 

November 28 - When creating your training schedule, consider building in a little bit of free time each week. This will allow for those who are behind to catch up, and it will provide more options in case something in your schedule needs to be rearranged. If your training program involves presenters from other departments to come in, having some unscheduled time will make it easier if any of the presenters have to reschedule. On the other hand, you may have reps who are ahead of the class and certainly don’t need extra time to complete their work. In this instance, have additional activities or exercises that they can do, or consider moving them on to the observation phase of the training by putting them on the phone observing veteran reps. Note:  This week’s tip is provided by QATC Board Member Debbie Short.  She may be reached at shortfamily@comcast.net.    


Have you considered designating a “Coach’s Coach?”

November 21 -  Many Contact Centers have a “Coach’s Coach” role, but perhaps without the title. Time has come to formalize this position. Supervisors and other designated Coaches are often asked to take on Quality Assurance (QA) without the benefit of enough training. The consequences are that QA, a major time consumer, may not be improving staff performance or the Customer Experience. A well-crafted QA program must have ongoing developmental support for those charged with agent coaching for performance improvement. Conducting calibration exercises is necessary, but not enough to build real “quality” into the Quality program. I recommend two program activities that both the Coach and the “Coach’s Coach” should undertake. Coaching the Coaches Supervisors/Coaches receive training in the role of the Coach and in learner-based coaching techniques. Supervisors/Coaches are assigned a “Coach’s Coach” observer during the first 30 days of coaching. “Coach’s Coach” observes while the Supervisor/Coach conducts an agent [...]


Have you moved to the Cloud?

November 14 - As we near the end of 2022, contact centers continue to observe trends that have been amplified in the post-pandemic world. Notably, employees continue to demand greater job satisfaction while consumers have greater expectations – and a shorter fuse – across multiple channels. It has never been more critical to partner with a solution that streamlines your efforts to run an effective contact center. Perhaps the lynchpin to the new, flexible contact center, is cloud technology. The reliability and frequent enhancements inherent in cloud allow you to adapt to the demands of your contact center as they arise. Think of your experience during any impactful event to your contact center. Was there functionality you needed to quickly overcome these challenges and uncertainties, but didn’t because you were on premise? Thanks to cloud technology, a large international BPO quickly relocated all of their teammates to work from home during [...]


Tip for presenting data.

November 7 - Whether you are hosting an internal or external meeting, you are usually sharing data.  When you need to present your information, please consider this top 10 before going live: How you present your data counts:  it is just a fact that a pretty chart is always looked at quicker than words on a paper. Remember, numbers are scary to some people:  keep your number presentation easy - use 10K versus 10,000 (imagine how overwhelming it is if you are working with millions and billions!). Don't waste the Ink:  use your printer ink for displaying important information versus elaborate borders and other decorative add-ins. No special glasses required:  keep the data easy to view, leave the dimensional graph display for other presentations not data. No - Don't PIE it!! Honest, a pie chart is great for displaying parts that equal 100% (get it, pieces of a pie) but if you are [...]


Help agents understand the 3 C’s of schedule adherence.

October 31 - Helping agents understand how important being in the right place at the right time is critical to managing Service Level in real-time.   In working with many centers, I’ve found that one of the best ways to talk about the “Power of One” and what they can do to help adherence is by using the “3 C’s” of schedule adherence. Conscious– Be conscious of your schedule and activities that are included on it. Breaks, lunch times, meetings, coaching, etc. Conscientious– Be conscientious of those activities and try to stay as close to the timeframes as schedules.  Understanding that we get caught on calls or other activities that might carry us a little longer.  Which brings us to: Communicate:  If activities or needs arise that would take us out of our scheduled times, let WFM or Supervisors know what is going on so adjustments can be made to staffing [...]


Check out survey results on the State of Remote Work in the Contact Center.

October 24 - Playvox recently conducted a survey on the State of Remote Work in the Contact Center, and received some very interesting results.  In the survey of more than 370 contact center leaders and agents based in the U.S. and Canada, nearly 60% utilize a hybrid work model. Sixty-four percent (64%) of surveyed managers believe they have done a good job in supporting their remote workforces, noting that 70% of agents say their job satisfaction has increased due to the ability to work remotely. The contact center industry as a whole has done a good job transitioning to remote work. When asked what factors have led to success in managing a remote or hybrid workforce, contact center leaders cite the following: offering appropriate technology for agents to do their jobs scheduling regular communication team-building activities offering good benefits supporting job flexibility Interestingly, although many contact centers have embraced remote work, they [...]


“Fish for information” when considering purchase of new technology.

October 17 - If you’re considering the purchase of a new technology or just switching to another vendor for your current system, make sure you cast a large net as you fish for information. Invite all qualified vendors to present their products. Insist on a detailed demonstration and ask lots of questions about how the package would work in meeting your center’s specific mode of operation.  Remember you’re looking both for full range of functionality in addition to ease of use. You should plan to see and hear what each has to offer since features and functionality change rapidly.  And be sure to match up against your specific needs, taking care not to be overly impressed by features that you may not need now or in the future. Once you narrow your field to two or three vendors, plan to settle in and spend some quality time with them seeing a [...]


I called your company today – you should as well! 

October 10 - I called your company today. And if you haven't done it yourself, you should! Here's why. If you are an owner, CEO, team member, any sort of management, I have an assignment for you. Please stop sometime today and call your own company and ask for a service, a product, or even ask for yourself. You might be quite surprised to how the calls are answered. We need to call in and find out what is going on in our business. This is not rocket science it’s plain old common sense. Afraid they'll recognize your voice? I doubt it. I do it all the time. I call my office and simply ask, "Is Nancy there?" Trust me, nobody has ever said, "That you screwing around Nancy?" They may think it or suspect it, but they’ve never taken the chance. And if you do happen to have a very [...]


Include quality monitoring procedures in your new hire training program. 

October 3 - 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 [...]


How well do you know your people?

September 26 - Great leaders know their people. How well do you know yours? Do this little exercise: Write your name at the top center of a page. Then write the names of each of your team members/employees and underneath each, write: The name of their spouse or significant other. The names of their children. Their passion or hobby outside of work. Strengths as THEY see them. What motivates them at work. Now, if you know everything about that person, draw a solid line arrow from you to that person. If you know some of the things, but not everything, draw a dotted line arrow from you to that person. If you know little about that person, don’t draw any arrow. You can graphically see who you’re connected with personally and professionally and those relationships where you may want to spend a little more time building. Note:  This tip is from [...]


What kind of training do supervisors need?

September 19 - Most call center supervisors have “come up through the ranks” from a frontline position.  They may have been promoted to their current role because they performed exceptionally well as a frontline agent and possessed good customer service skills.  However, they may have grown into this position without the needed knowledge about what it takes to supervise and manage in a call center environment. Successful call centers have a formal management succession plan and career development program in place to make supervisory staff successful in their people management roles. Supervisor knowledge and skills typically fall into the broad category of people management.  People management encompasses all of the following competencies: Recruiting and hiring Motivational techniques Retention strategies Defining performance standards Diagnosing performance problems Coaching and counseling Human Resources issues Staffing and scheduling To ensure your supervisors are successful, you need to provide training for them in all these areas.  [...]


Use power phrases to improve your feedback. 

September 12 - Last week we shared a couple of techniques you can use to guide the feedback we provide others. This week, let’s look at the impact of the power phrases to improve your feedback. (Actually, many leaders say that the power phrases change the way the communicate with everyone — not just their colleagues). Power phrases sound like: “To make [the communication, the reports, the meetings, etc.]even better the next time, you may want to…” “Toincrease the effectiveness of your next [communication, report, meeting, etc.], you might want to try…” The reason these power phrases WORK is because they: Focus the feedback on the future. Too often feedback focuses on the past —the meeting you just conducted, the report you just turned in, the communication you just had with the customer — when, in fact, the person can’t do anything to change the past. Power phrases provide the guidance employees need to improve. Are [...]


What is effective feedback?

September 5 - Let's look at feedback as a tool for developing people. Effective feedback is: Solution-oriented– Use feedback to genuinely help the person, not bring the person down. “I know you want to be perceived as someone others can seek answers from; when you raise your voice….” Where appropriate, provide realistic suggestions for changing behavior. “When you feel that the conversation is going to escalate into an argument, call a time out…” Objective– Focus on the behavior or results, not on the person. Be descriptive (“I heard you raise your voice…”) and not evaluative (“You’re so bossy…”). Avoid general comments (“That’s bad…”) and provide specifics (“Raising your voice invites confrontation…”). Next week, we’ll look at more tips in giving feedback. In the meantime, consider your role as a leader in establishing an environment where giving and receiving feedback is expected and desirable. The best way to create that kind of [...]


Motivate by team as well as by individual.

August 29 - When people are happy in their job, they’re going to perform better.  One of the big factors in ensuring people are happy in their job is to create a work environment where they feel a part of a team and have a social network. One of the best ways to create this sense of belonging is to use a team structure in the call center. Unfortunately, there are many work environment realities in the call center that limit team-building activities.  The constant call demand prohibits everyone from stopping work at a certain time and joining in team activities or events. Team meetings are sometimes difficult to schedule on a planned basis, let alone on an impromptu basis as might be the case in other areas of the business. Look for ways to build team cohesiveness and camaraderie.  Dream up competitions between teams that are non-threatening and fun where [...]


Match rewards to employee values.

August 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 and tangible reinforcement.  Tangible reinforcement can take 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 be given to the “trophy value” of the [...]


Recognize good performance on a timely, consistent basis.

August 15 - One-on-one feedback is critical to reinforce desirable behaviors being demonstrated by your staff.  Employees need to know what to repeat and what not to do again and recognized behavior is repeated behavior.  Try to catch them doing something right and recognize it as soon as possible since the more time that passes between the behavior and the recognition, the less effective the feedback. If you’re waiting on perfect performance to recognize, you may be waiting a long time. Sometimes we need to recognize initiative as well as the final end result.  Recognizing improvements along the way will help reinforce behaviors that you want to see repeated and the employee will make continual progress toward the ultimate goal. Use different means to recognize. Always do one-on-one, but in addition provide the recognition in writing sometimes.  And while one-on-one is nice to build the relationship between agent and supervisory, it’s [...]


Remote work is broadening the talent pool and flexibility. 

August 8 - As the pandemic has drastically changed how and where we work, companies have been pushed outside of the long standing mindset of needing employees to be in the office to be successful and productive. That mindset limited a diverse untapped talent pool and different regional perspectives of ideal schedules.   A Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders revealed that three-quarters will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions, and nearly a quarter intend to move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.  Workforce management will benefit from agent diversity constrained previously by geography.  A great example is smaller and midsize companies competing with tech giants like Google and Amazon for talent in a tech hub like Seattle, WA.  If that locational barrier is eliminated, those companies can benefit from a much larger talent pool to compete for. Employees in [...]


Tips for driving Call Flow, Efficiency, and First Contact Resolution. 

August 1 - We talk about focusing on Call Flow, Efficiency and FCR (First Contact Resolution).  But how do you personally drive this?  Share this information with your agents to help them work on these goals. Here are a few tips to try today on your calls.  Discover what helps, then document what you experienced and how it helped you be successful. Listen at the start of the call and ask questions about what the caller’s intent or goal is. This helps in getting to the heart of the matter sooner and knowing what direction to go down or not go down. Use efficient tools and processes. Use the right tool for the job.  Often there are many resources to find your answer, but you should just pick the resource you find most efficient, effective, and accurate for you and use it!  In fact, it might be bogging you down and having [...]


Do your goals and metrics foster employee engagement?

July 25 - This has been a brutal few years for many contact centers. Supply chain problems and the Great Resignation have caused challenges on every aspect of customer care. The work we’re handling has surged and become more complex, while the employees we need to handle it have become harder to find and keep. What do organizations with the most engaged employees have in common? I’ve observed some principles that, without fail, are at work, like vision, values, communication, and collaboration. The key is to live those principles, not just give them lip service—in good times and bad. A key to ensuring that engagement is having the right goals and metrics. You can do a lot of things right, but if the goals and metrics being emphasized day to day are getting in the way—well, good luck. I remember a consulting assignment in which I was given a list of [...]


Use Quality Monitoring to evaluate across all channels. 

July 18 - The number of customer communication channels—especially digital channels— has grown substantially over the past three years. Has your organization adapted its quality management programs to accommodate for that digital explosion? The pandemic accelerated our dependency on digital technologies for both our professional and social communications. It’s predicted that by 2023, messaging will be the number one B2C communication channel, making up 61% of total interactions with a brand.1 And 49% of consumers, on average, use three to five different communication channels to contact customer service.2 Does your quality program include capturing, monitoring, and evaluating the quality of the interactions across messaging—and across all your voice and digital channels? If not, then there are likely significant gaps in your quality monitoring. Gaps that could put your business at risk—from non-compliance fines and penalties and decreased customer satisfaction to loss of business and a negative impact on your brand overall. Take the time [...]


Coaching and the Power of Self-Assessment. 

July 11 -  Coaching resonates with most leaders because it is so easy and so powerful. Coaching is, after all, just three questions: Opening Performance Probe:I know that you’ve been working on XYZ skill; how’s that been going? Did Well Questions:What have you done [regarding XYZ skill] that’s gone well? What ELSE have you done [regarding XYZ skill] that went well? Do Differently Questions:[Regarding XYZ skill], what might have you done differently to make it even better? What ELSE might you have done differently to make it even better? Additionally, it is important that you use the questions to focus on the COACHEE’S actions as illustrated in the following dialogue: Manager Coach: I know that you’ve been working on getting more engagement at meetings over the past week. How’s that been going? Employee: Overall it’s been going well! Manager Coach: What’s been going well? Employee: I think the meeting attendees are really coming to the [...]


Preparing for a job interview (part 2). 

July 4 - Last week’s tip gave some information about getting ready for a job interview, including some research that will help.  This week’s tip is focusing on specifics about how to prepare for the actual interview. Your leaders want you to be successful, and seeing you grow professionally and reaching your goals is one of our main responsibilities. As such, here are a few tips to help you prepare - whether that is for an internal promotion or your dream job: Prepare Google "top 10-20 interview questions,” print them out, and then spend time writing down answers to each of the questions. For each of the answers think about how you could connect the question to what you have learned during the research phase. If the interview asks "Talk to me about one of your strengths" think of a strength that would be valuable in the position or help the [...]


Preparing for a job interview. 

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


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

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


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

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


Use Mindfulness to work through stress. 

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


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

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

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