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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 [...]


Are you considering how to launch a quality program? 

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


Developing your direct reports or team members for success.

May 23 - As a manager, much of your time should be devoted to helping team members to be more successful and (for those interested) to prepare them for promotion or advancement. Setting their expectations against the actual workload helps them become better prepared for unexpected changes and gives them a good baseline for knowing when they’ve met or exceeded expectations. Here are some ideas to put your team members on the road to success: Understand what the team member really wants from their job. If you are the direct manager, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re the mentor, that means regular coaching and development sessions. If you’re a peer, direct manager or mentor, have regular informal conversations. The two keys here are regular meetings (formal or informal) and good communication. Don’t focus only on areas of improvement. People like to know when they’re doing well. Focus on [...]


Agent pushback – things to consider when addressing disputed assessments. 

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


Add adaptable training to your training sessions. 

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


Coaching for “talkative” callers.

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


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

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


The impact of power phrases in your feedback.

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


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

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


Take notes during coaching sessions!

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


How do you start training each day?

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


Applying the “Coachability” test to your quality standards.

March 28 - Hands down the most common complaint made of quality monitoring programs is that the call standards are too subjective. When the frontline staff perceive quality as subjective, they are inclined to use this as an excuse for not taking their quality evaluation results seriously, making it easier for them to reject feedback from their call coaching sessions. In addition, when performance expectations are open to interpretation, this results in inconsistent service to customers. One way to determine whether or not a standard is objective and behavior-based is to test its “coachability.”  In other words, can the quality standard be demonstrated?  Let’s say one of your quality standards is “responds compassionately.”  Some believe agents need to apologize to meet this end.  Others might interpret compassion as being something in the tone of the agent’s voice.  And still others might find it more comfortable to provide solutions to help callers [...]


How do you know if the training is working?

March 21 - It’s important to constantly assess the effectiveness of your call center training program. You’ll want to measure immediate reaction, successful transfer of learning to the job, ongoing behaviors and results in order to evaluate the success or failure of the program. At a minimum, make sure you utilize an evaluation form for each training program and pre-class and post-class assessments to measure before and after learning.  In addition, you should keep a formal or informal log of each new employee’s performance where you track observations of actual performance once the training program has been completed. There are five points at which the training program should be evaluated using formal assessments tools: Before training. Assessments used in advance of, or at the start of, a learning experience are sometimes called diagnostic assessments, pre-assessments, or placement exams. These assessments may include a self-assessment of knowledge, skills, learning style, and attitudes, [...]


Delegate tasks to free up time for coaching. 

March 14 - One of the keys to time management for call center supervisors is to identify what tasks can be delegated to others to free up more time for the supervisor's most important activity — one-on-one coaching. Here are a few things to consider when deciding what can be delegated to other members on the team. Time.Analyze how you spend your day. Are you doing some things over and over that someone else on your team could do just as easily and perhaps even enjoy the added variety and responsibility? Use delegation to free yourself up so you can concentrate your efforts on activities that take your team members forward. Business processes.You need to establish concrete procedures and processes as your team develops. When you find yourself directing every activity (or trying to and failing), it’s time to start documenting important practices so your workforce doesn’t have to depend on [...]


Use directive questions to focus your coaching conversations.

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


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

February 7 - One of the deadly sins of coaching is to try to change too many things at once. As coaches with experience and insight that far surpasses that of our coachees, we may tend to overwhelm the coachee with TOO MANY things to work on or think about. The fact is, as humans, we work best when we can focus our efforts. As a wise person once said, “To try many things at once is to do none well.” Only with focus will we be able to hope for meaningful change. Effective coaches focus their coachees on one or two areas for development. Effective coaches know that there will be time to address other areas for development once these priority areas are addressed. Effective coaches resist the tendency to “spray and pray” — to tell the employee EVERYTHING the coach thinks the coachee could change (spray) and hope (pray) [...]


Why does coaching work?

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


Investigate attrition by team.

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


Don’t forget to investigate attrition in your center.

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


Rethink training delivery methodology to keep agents engaged. 

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


Learn what’s sticking. 

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


SME may not equal trainer without some training. 

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


Model good listening behaviors.

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


Identify the “why” of performance problems.

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


Avoid “good…but” coaching.

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


Five things to change about how you lead. 

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


Looking at the cost of staff turnover.

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


Determining effective rewards for good performance.

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


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

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


Feedback is a gift. 

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


Plan and document coaching sessions. 

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


Quality Games: Handling each call with quality service. 

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

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