...The Right Call...

Kids say the darndest things…

…and so do adults.  Back in the 1960’s, Art Linkletter had a variety show that included interviews with children.  When a child said something unexpected, Linkletter would say his then famous line – Kids say the darndest things.  We’re not sure if “darndest” was or is a word, but everybody understood.

One of our current projects is focused on helping the college be more productive with their student services.  Particularly, we’re to improve their contact center productivity with better processes and upgraded technology.

While listening to a phone conversation between a college advisor and a potential student, the caller asked if a driver’s license was necessary to take a course in limo driving.  Without hesitation, the advisor said “yes, you have to have a driver’s license to take the course”.  So, it’s not just kids who say the darndest things.

Great customer service includes brushing aside obvious errors in speech, understanding the context and moving forward in helping the customer.  We are like a great concierge service that helps tourists.  The tourist might get confused or be slow to understand directions, but the concierge is patient and makes sure the tourist gets the information correct.  Same is true for our customer service call centers, our college advisors, our mobility sales team and our visa service professionals, etc.

We must say the right thing, give the right instructions, but most importantly, make sure the customer understands the instructions.  If we get it right, everything is fine.  If we get it wrong, it might sound like the darndest thing.

Have a great week and thank you.

Here’s a Bill Cosby tribute to Art Linkletter, click here.

Management Candidate Program

122566911One of the main principles at GCS is to provide opportunities to those who want them. It is our goal for all associates to enjoy working at GCS and to find it makes their lives better.

That’s where our Management Candidate Program comes in. This program was started over twenty years ago and includes dozens of learning modules designed to develop and hone the skills necessary to become a manager in the contact center advisory services field.

Since the program’s beginning, hundreds of GCS employees have applied, been chosen, completed and received certification in this program.  The Management Candidate Program is well established in our contact centers and we are pleased to see the steady stream of internal promotions as a result.  Our clients are even involved in the approval of each candidate before the promotion to management can take effect. For the past 20 years, our track record of approvals has been excellent.

Applying for the Management Candidate Program is the first step toward reaching the goal of becoming a manager here at GCS and a great way to enjoy a long and prosperous career with us.  At GCS, we want to help make every team member’s life better by giving them the opportunities they need to succeed.

The Importance of the Past for On the Job Accuracy

480840625Every year, the Puerto Rican Day parade and celebration causes many streets and pathways leading to our GCS offices to close.  To avoid problems in today’s routine, it is important to look out for those past disturbances caused by an annual event.

Often in the first year of a contract, GCS has to rely on the results and schedules left by our predecessor. The challenges from working off someone else’s results are numerous.  Since we often have to rectify issues like high wait times and low staffing, the old data is not always helpful.  Often there are new employees, different schedules or simply the data was not completely accurate, on point or even recorded at all.

After assuming new business the data going forward is our own and often includes lower wait times, minimal queues and other customer service feats our team has proven they can accomplished. Our confidence in accurate schedules soars because we are relying on our own systems and procedures. The employees benefit from smoother schedules and the clients for lower costs.

A year’s worth of experience with dozens of special events lends itself to more confidence in a job well done.  And as far as the Puerto Rican celebration goes, nos podrá estar bailando en las calles a ese ritmo puertorriqueño.*

*We’ll be dancing in the streets to that Puerto Rican beat.

Communication in Emergency Situations

456063367In today’s society, safety and effective communication in emergency situations is proving to be more and more important. Intercede Services, a software company owned by a father of a GCS employee, has recently launched a new emergency incident reporting technology called iAlert. The product was launched in response to growing concerns regarding the safety of school children, teachers, hospital employees, construction workers and many more individuals who are exposed to dangerous situations and elements due to the nature or location of their work.

iAlert was designed to promote effective communication for 3 common types of safety incidents: crisis events, emergency events, and urgent events. iAlert allows users to instantly notify multiple responders of an emergency incident allowing for fast and efficient communication to mitigate critical situations and promote safety and compliance. Pre-determined responders are able to react immediately based on the unique geo-location technology used by iAlert.

This mobile app is a very cost effective and customizable safety tool. It is compatible with iPhone technology and available through a subscription package with Intercede Services.

For more information, please visit intercedeservices.com

Generational Communication

Guest Post by Eleanor Alcorn

Generational-CommunicationOur company, Global Contact Services (GCS), attended the SOCAP conference held here in North Carolina last month. The event featured many keynote speakers, workshops, discussions and presentations focused on customer care professionals. One of the guest speakers at the event, Garrison Wynn, a noted motivational speaker and humorist, had a very insightful presentation that struck many chords with me. His area of expertise was effective communication between generations. As a young intern at GCS and member of Generation Z, I often feel that my contributions in the workforce are not taken as seriously as someone with more seniority. I found many points from Mr. Wynn’s presentation that were especially meaningful to me.

The first and most important thing in cross generational communication is trust.  This includes the oft overlooked skill of listening. One can’t feel trusted by someone else if they are not listened to and understood.  Along the same lines, it is the responsibility of the communicator to be clear in delivering the message.  Ideas need to be outlined in a way that both parties can understand as to avoid blame. Mr. Wynn noted that the other party need not always agree with the points the communicator makes.  Disagreement is often a healthy challenge because it makes the communicator think critically about their views. In a disagreement, however, it is important not to put the other person down or attack them personally. Agreement is also a factor important to communication. Both parties need to be willing to compromise to come to a conclusion. Agreement is often conducive to brainstorming and coming up with even better ideas that you may not have been able to come to on your own. Taking a good idea and making it better often comes out of agreement that transcends cross generational communication.

The presentation at SOCAP also highlighted the importance of praise. People in younger generations, such as my own, are more apt to respond positively to feedback and praise from veterans in the industry. If you make others feel valuable, you will in turn seem more valuable to them.

In the world of constant communication we live in, it is difficult to focus and listen to what is being said.  We place a high value on ‘getting the point across’ in as few characters as possible.  When it comes to communicating across generations, I think it is important to go back to the basics to make sure your message is understood.

Three Reasons Omni-channel Outperforms Multi-channel

Omni-channel-contact-centerThe other day, I read an article that claimed “omni-channel” is just a buzzword word that means the same thing as “multi-channel.” I couldn’t disagree more. Omni-channel contact centers represent a major step in the evolution of customer service.

Look at the history of customer contact. The very first call centers were just that: call centers. They had one channel: the telephone. In other words, they were “uni-channel.” In the 90s, when email entered the picture, contact centers added that to their available ways of communicating with customers, and they became “dual-channel.” Unfortunately, the right hand often had no idea what the left hand was doing, and the customer sometimes felt as if he or she was communicating with two different companies. Once chat was added to the mix, the first true “multi-channel” customer service centers were born, but the customer experience was not necessarily any better.

Fast forward to the present, and you have people talking about the next step in this evolution: “omni-channel.” To understand the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel, it helps to look at the words themselves. “Multi” comes from the Latin word meaning “more than one, or many.” “Omni,” on the other hand, comes from the Latin word meaning “every, all or whole.”

Those three words – every, all and whole – provide a good outline of what an omni-channel contact center is designed to do:

  • Leverage every channel the customer is using.
  • Capture and integrate all customer touchpoints, regardless of channel, for a seamless customer experience, and
  • Present a 360-degree view of the whole customer.

1. Leverage every available channel

Omni-channel looks beyond the big three: voice, email and chat. SMS, social media and mobile apps are playing an increasing role in how customers want – and expect – to get service and support. Take social media, for example. According to Gleanster Research, 73% of the top performing companies said their number one reason for investing in social media is not marketing, but customer service. With 71% of online adults using Facebook and 18% using Twitter, it makes sense.

2. Capture and integrate all customer touch points, regardless of channel, for a seamless customer experience

Omni-channel is not just about offering the customer more of the channels they want to use. It’s also about creating an integrated, seamless customer experience. “Multi” means many. And the problem with the old paradigm of multi-channel is that customers were having many different experiences when they reached out to the same company because they were handled by different agents who could not see the entire customer interaction. The goal of omni-channel is to present one consistent, continuous conversation and to do that, the agent and the organization needs to know where, when and what has transpired with a given customer.

3. Present a 360 degree view of the whole customer

And what makes that conversation satisfying for the customer is that, regardless of the channel they use or the agent they reach, they feel recognized and remembered. Because the customer is able to use whatever channel they are comfortable using, and because the agent has access to every interaction, the customer receives unparalleled support with a personal touch.

With customers expecting to use a wide range of channels – and getting more and more accustomed to a seamless, integrated customer experience – can you afford to stay stuck in the world of multi-channel?

If you have been thinking about omni-channel but don’t know where to begin, then we should talk. Our experts at Global Contact Services (GCS) will be happy to discuss your situation and offer guidance.

 

If We Go, We Show

If we go, we showGlobal Contact Services (GCS) is staying very aggressive in putting themselves top of mind and seeking new opportunities in the contact center solutions marketplace.

Externally, the GCS sales and marketing team is spending a considerable amount of time introducing GCS to purchasers of contact center outsourced services and advisory services, which has driven our internal mantra of “If we go, we show.”

Over the last couple of years we have joined a few Trade Associations leading the way in BPO and Customer Service Management.

We also hosted a booth at the recently held SOCAP conference in Charlotte, NC. SOCAP is an association of customer service professionals mainly in consumer products and consumer services roles. GCS joined IBTTA, an association that includes electronic highway, bridge and tunnel tolling services, like EZ-Pass.

Additionally, we held a booth at the Government Procurement Conference that showcased many of departments of the US government in search of suitable private sector partnerships. GCS met with back office transaction services and consulting project buyers from departments in Energy, Medicare, the postal service and Social Security.

Our website continues to receive updates enhancing our positioning and messaging, providing resources for public and private organizations to reference as part of their contact center purchasing and improvement process.  Please visit the blog on our website for our latest content.

If we go, we show.  Often, contractors like us attend conferences and walk the aisles passing out business cards.  Whenever we attend a trade show we take our banners, brochures, give aways and secure a sizeable booth space to ensure attendees remember us.  If we go, we show.

GCS Discovers SOCAP 2014 Symposium

On April 27-30, Global Contact Services (GCS) attended the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) 2014 Symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event featured keynote speakers, best practices discussions and workshops geared towards customer care professionals in the Consumer Packaged Goods, Retail and Direct Sale, Healthcare, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism and Automotive industries.

As a first time exhibitor, GCS’ was able to meet and converse with many customer-driven organization made up of vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors of customer care and customer affairs professionals. Their mission is to develop successful business strategies in the customer care arena through the use of various educational tools and networking opportunities the organization offers.

GCS attendees of SOCAP’s 2014 Symposium benefited from an innovative new conference feature, Roundtable 3.0 in which participants interacted with each other around certain topics and then attended a keynote discussion.  Attendees discovered areas including key messaging to retain customers, industry trends and technology, the next evolution of customer experience, and many more.

George Simons, Vice President of Marketing for GCS Agents, represented the company with a booth at the event. “As you would expect at a customer service conference, I met a lot of friendly people. We had numerous open and helpful conversations around the customer care industry and ways to improve service delivery. It was fantastic to have so many like-minded individuals in one place. SOCAP is a wonderful organization and GCS is honored to be a part of it. We always learn as much as we share at most conferences and this Symposium was no different. It confirmed the continuing interest in improving multi-channel and omnichannel integration for the customer service agent and the need for better management team reporting. Those are two areas where our consulting team can help the center manager,” George said.

GCS is the premier service provider and advisory firm of professional business transaction processing services with a focus on the contact center environment.  Please contact us to find out how we can streamline internal processes, improve customer engagement, and increase retention.

Back to Work Time at GCS!

back to workStarting next month, GCS will be deploying resources (that’s a fancy word for people) to go to Chicago for a three month call center consulting engagement.  Our client awarded GCS the consulting project to assess their multiple call center locations to see if there are ways to improve their performance.

This project will require a detailed review of the clients current processes for helping customers  sign up for services, determine areas for improvement and then providing them a “playbook” for implementing an updated version of their process. This update could include consolidating their services offices into one center or just networking the locations together.  We won’t know the best recommendation until we complete the assessment.

The project also includes diversity partnerships.  This means certain duties needed for the project will be outsourced to minority and women-owned sub-contractors.  GCS is committed to diversity in all areas of our organization and are proud to be able to prove it with these partnerships.

Stay tuned for more news about GCS’ expansion.  We are a professional services company primarily supporting contact center and back-office processes.  We help with outsourcing, on-site management and consulting.

Right now it’s time to get to work and help our client.

 

How to Write a Contact Center RFP

contact center rfpSo, you’ve completed the process of determining you need a new contact center, and have the buy-in from upper management to proceed with the project. Now it is time to select a vendor to help you get there, but selecting the right one is an important decision not to be taken lightly since they are an extension of your brand. How do you find a capable partner who will keep your long-term goals in mind? After you do your initial vendor research, one of the first steps in the selection process is typically to issue a request for proposal or Contact Center RFP.

In a nutshell, the RFP is your chance to provide potential suitors with a common, structured overview of your company, what you are looking for, detailed requirements and selection criteria. Whether or not you’ve ever created an RFP for contact center services, we’ve put together some simple guidelines to help you with the process.

Before you write your RFP, take the necessary time to document the following:

  • Outline your current contact center situation including what you like and dislike about it.
  • Envision your future contact center. How would it differ from what you have now and what must you have to get where you need to be?
  • Define the scope of the RFP. How much will need to be covered?
  • Now prioritize and organize the output as a foundation for the rest of the process. Make sure to check if each item is within the scope of the project.

An RFP typically has two main parts, each with labeled sub-sections.

 

Part 1

The first part provides an overview and sets the stage for the potential future relationship. It is where you describe things like:

  • your company and industry
  • your management structure and competitive positioning
  • who and where your customers are
  • your customer contact history and philosophy
  • any contact center experience, including what is and isn’t working (see the exercise above)
  • the rationale for the RFP

This is also where you lay out the process, timeline and deadlines, selection criteria and clear instructions for formatting and submission.

 

Part 2

The second part of the RFP is where you detail your objectives and specific technical and performance requirements. Be direct and as clear as possible. Include as many questions as it takes to get an understanding of your future contact center vendor’s capabilities, experience, operations and service levels, but avoid irrelevant kitchen sink questions or you’ll create unnecessary work for you and your bidders.

Ask a mix of yes or no and open-ended questions to elicit the vendor’s approach to fulfilling specific requirements. You can tell a lot about their potential fit with your organization by their responses, including how creative they are in different situations.

Some other areas you may want to include:

  • approach to staffing, training and supporting personnel
  • management/supervision structure
  • agent recruitment and retention
  • monitoring and quality assurance
  • compliance to all laws, regulations and best practices
  • data flow, reporting and measurement
  • details about facilities or the use of at home agents
  • technology infrastructure (hardware, software, network, etc.)
  • disaster preparedness, security, data protection and redundancy
  • start-up and wind-down process
  • improvement process and benchmarks
  • telecommunications
  • business continuity

Ask specific questions about their experience relevant to the scope and complexity of your needs. Be sure to inquire about current contracts to understand their capacity to service your organization.

Detail the type and quantity of references you require, and don’t forget pointed questions about support and service levels.

Make sure you address financial matters including costs and billing, vendor performance measurement and potential terms for engagement.

Finally, ask for a clear executive summary for the benefit of others in the decision process that may not be as intimate with the details of the Contact Center RFP as you are.

Remember, these are meant as guidelines and not an exhaustive list. What you ask depends on whether you are outsourcing the management, the function or the entire business process of your contact center(s). Make sure you really need what you ask for so you don’t overpay for the services. But, if you use this as a starting point to build upon for your specific needs, it should help you uncover the vendor with the right mix of expertise, capacity, cost and quality to represent your company and brand.

If it is your first time through the outsourcing process, consider using a contact center consultant to help with the process. Or feel free to reach out to us, we’d be happy to help get your Contact Center RFP off the ground. A good consultant will make sure you don’t miss key items, can help assess the respondents and even set-up the proper process to managing the on-going new relationship.