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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.

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.

First Impressions

The newest member of our sales team, Jason Sterns, recently attended the 2012 American Bankers and Insurance Association Annual Convention with President and CEO Greg Alcorn. Jason was kind enough to tell us his first impressions of GCS while attending this event and meeting some of our valued past and present clients.

I had the pleasure of attending the ABIA annual conference this past week in Phoenix, Arizona. The ABIA is the only national conference dedicated to bank-insurance and included many of the current and past clients of GCS.

The conference was a great opportunity for me to learn more about GCS, its value proposition as well as an industry that has formed the majority of GCS business. I joined our CEO Greg Alcorn and had my first opportunity to work side by side and learn more about what makes GCS great.

I was fully impressed by the sheer number of clients that stopped by to say hello to Greg or to introduce themselves to me personally. I was even more impressed by what our clients, past and present, were saying about the quality and high performance of the programs it has run. I have always believed some of the strongest selling tools are client references and it sounds like GCS has a full quiver of them!

The conference itself was interesting as the industry undergoes transition. There was a lot of interest in compliance and the future of outreach marketing of insurance products to banking customers. Once again, I was impressed by the quality of compliance GCS is able to perform. There was even interesting insight into the upcoming elections and how that will affect the industry and economy heading into 2013.

Overall, it was a great start for me with GCS; I was able to make several strong new connections with the industry. On the flight home to Denver I worked on multiple email scripts positioning GCS’ value additions of adherence to compliance, flexibility, culture and performance as I continue to work hard in positioning GCS for additional industry and BPO channel diversification.

GCS Goes To DC

GCS is branching out – by applying for work in the Executive branch and other areas of federal, state and local government.

“When GCS first started, we spent a lot of time responding to government proposals.” recalls Greg Alcorn. “As business grew in other areas we focused less attention into that area. Beginning last year, we began reintroducing GCS to the public sector.”

Getting started with public sector work can take some time. To help with the process, GCS attended the OSDBU Procurement Conference last week in Washington, DC. It was hosted by the Department of the Interior, but attended by many Federal agencies and major government contractors looking for new partners. GCS set up a booth showcasing our contact center and back office services. Greg Alcorn and George Simons, vice-president of marketing, represented GCS.

“When you think about it, every one of us, each citizen and visitor to the United States, is a customer of our government. Like any business, our public service organizations need to communicate with their customers” explained Simons, “In addition, many of the organizations need internal support for their employees, so the opportunity to provide contact center and Help Desk support is great. Our employees would enjoy helping bridge the communication gap between the public sector and its citizens.” GCS met with several companies already contracting with the government, and spoke with several agencies having upcoming requirements. Although it will take months for many of these projects to be finalized and granted, we are moving
ahead in this area.

Prior to the event, GCS had already reviewed dozens of RFPs (Requests for Proposal) and responded to several of them. With the new contacts we have made, we hope to increase our chance to participate even more.

Of course, the objective is to win contracts. Alcorn is optimistic, “We do a great job delivering a pleasing customer experience and we manage our business closely, so we are very competitive. I believe our success and experience in the corporate sector will
demonstrate our ability to serve the public sector just as well.”

9 Tips for Choosing a Winning Event (Get the Most out of your Marketing Dollar by Attending the Right Conferences!)

Lawn in front of the White House, Washington, DC.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s never too early to get psyched for the upcoming political season, even in a non Presidential election year. June 16-18 I attended the Campaigns and Elections “Art of the Political Campaigning” conference in Washington, DC. This three day session had a good cross section of Political Strategists, Candidates, Campaign Managers and Support Organizations from the U.S. and other countries. It was a good event for us.

We consider a multitude of conferences, meetings and events each year. It can be hard deciding the best ones to attend in order to earn the ROI from our sales and marketing dollar. Over the years we have developed a few simple qualifiers to help us get it right the majority of the time. For us to go, the event needs to survive the majority of the hints below as they relate to our business selling strategy.

via http://money.howstuffworks.com/trade-show.htm

Tips to picking the right tradeshows to attend!

  1. Define Your Goals First – Why do you want to go, and what do you need to get from it to call a success. Be specific. You need “X” new clients or “Y” dollars in new business, etc. Define it ahead of time and break it down. If it normally takes 10 contacts to land a client, then you better meet 10 people or more at the cocktail hour tonight.
  2. Recommendations from Trusted Contacts – Once you know what you need, you can begin asking current clients, prospects and industry contacts where they go and what they do. Besides my own experiences, this is my most trusted filter. You still have to probe on some of the other questions because some people go to industry events that are very chummy with golf and entertainment, making it hard to bend more than an ear or two…but, of course, it only takes one!
  3. The Right Organizations are Attending – That is, big users of our services. It is usually pretty easy to get a list of current or prior attending companies. But don’t stop there. See tip #4.
  4. The Right People will be there – You need to talk to people who are decision makers or heavy influencers for your service. Referrals from the expo booth jockey are OK, but you are investing for real face time. Here’s a tip. Don’t trust the website list. Call a few of the targets to confirm they really are attending. While you have them on the phone, schedule your face time!
  5. Networking Opportunities are attended – A real key. Talk to several people who attended last year. Did the conference do a good job of getting attendees to the functions. There is nothing worse than a room full of sales guys trading stories while the target attendees are elsewhere (like having dinner with your competitor.)
  6. Check Your Prospects LinkedIn Account!

    Industry Experts are on the Panels – Good presenters draw top targets. Check out their LinkedIn profile and on-line presence. Are the presenters industry influences others seem to be following? Avoid the shopping mall expos, where the presenters are the same guys selling their services.

  7. Topics are Relevant – Sure it’s buzz, but movers want to be clued in. Google a few key buzzwords and see if anyone other than the conference website it talking about it.
  8. Put Your Toe in the Water First – If you are considering whether to display or sponsor an event, go as an attendee the first year. The investment is a lot less and you get to experience it from your target’s viewpoint. Plus, you have a lot more free time to mingle, mingle, mingle.
  9. Show, Go or No – OK, you are all set. Goal defined. Big Users of your services identified. List of Conferences and Expos in front of you. Now make your decision. Except for those instances where I need a booth and deciding early helps, I tend to make quarterly decisions on whether to go, or not. That way I can make adjustments based on current activity and budget considerations. If things are a little slow, I may add a few more events this quarter. If my pipeline is bulging and I need to focus on the bird in the hand, then I cut back – or send the other sales person.

Once selected it is up to those of us attending to make the most of it. It’s a great time to hone your elevator pitch and explain what your organization has to offer. You are freed up from most of your day-to-day obligations to learn more about your industry, your competitors, your prospects and your clients. If done correctly you should leave the conference physically exhausted, but mentally reinvigorated with new energy and enthusiasm to take back and inject into your organization.

When you look at a conference to spend your time and marketing dollars on this year make sure it passes YOUR test and then make the most of it. I hope to see you at a conference in the near future. Good Luck!

Tips for Selling Anything!

We did a webinar with the ABIA yesterday.  We covered some marketing and communication tips and best practices for your agency.  Here are some of the tips that were covered.

1. Feet on the Street still work

  • Keep yourself visible at all times. Promote your agency both internally and externally. Everyone you know should know what you do and how he or she can benefit from a relationship.

2. Be Unique and Memorable

  • Find something you do well that sets you apart and promote yourself with it. Provide something of value to each stakeholder.

3. Use the Noah’s Ark method

  • Customer needs change. Stay in front of your customer at least four times a year. Remember the 2 by 2 method – Mail twice and Call twice each year. Set up a process and let it work for you.

4. Collect relevant data continuously

  • Every touch point should create a dialog that teaches you something about your customer. Have a method of saving that information and use it for continuing the relationship.

If you would like to read the rest of the tips, download them here.

Recap of the Call Center Optimization Forum in Charlotte

Greg Alcorn, Keynote Speaker at the Call Center Optimization Forum in Charlotte, NC hosted by CCNG

If a genius and a moron had a conversation, which one would learn the most?

There is an old proverb that starts by asking “if a genius and a moron had a conversation, which one would learn the most?” The answer – “the genius” because the genius is naturally and constantly curious, while the moron is passive toward learning.

In our industry, sometimes we do not know what we do not know. We work hard with the programs and processes we have and our people are the best you can find. We can only go as far as our own tools and ideas can take us. The tools and processes of the past do not always work in the future, that’s why we have to keep learning.

A couple years ago we joined the Contact Center Network Group (CCNG). Just as the name implies, the members are from no particular industry, they just have one thing in common. Each member has interest in contact center activities.

Recently we participated in a CCNG roundtable session in Charlotte. About 70 people attended and the sessions were very valuable. We learned about new recruiting methods, different types of software for quality assurances, personality testing programs and more. We also met some prospective clients!!

Call Center Optimization Forum in Charlotte, NC hosted by CCNG

When we came away from the session, we had “take home” value. We had learned about new processes, different ideas and exciting opportunities. Those benefits would have been impossible to obtain by staying in the office. The networking helped us know what trends are occurring, what other contact center professionals are focusing on and where we might grow. We were there, asking questions and trying to learn.

I won’t compare us to a genius, except that we can continue being successful as long as we are naturally and constantly curious. Learning can be rewarding when it is applied to making life better. If we can continue to learn from our friends in the industry and apply overall best practices, we will have better jobs, more meaningful careers and a more rewarding life. Be a genius!

The American Teleservices Association (ATA) Helps our Industry Grow through Advocacy, Education & Networking

I was fortunate enough to attend the American Teleservices Association (ATA) National Convention in Phoenix last week. The allure of early March in Phoenix was apparently just the prescription for many of us from the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest. And, while the weather didn’t disappoint, neither did the real reasons for attending the ATA National Convention.

Advocacy—For nearly 30 years, the ATA has spoken on behalf of those in our industry. Conversations with regulators and legislators at both the federal and local levels serve to inform those individuals about marketing practices, technology and other advancements inside our industry. A great example is the recent and on-going dialogue the ATA has with the FTC regarding the ATA’s Self-Regulating Organization (SRO) process. By communicating the successes to-date with the ATA’s own stringent regulatory and compliance certification, the ATA is demonstrating to the FTC that we, as an industry, take compliance and consumer protection seriously! See more at www.atasroconnect.org

Education—Regulatory guidelines, technological advancements and customer relationship management (CRM) processes change at a blistering pace. The ATA provides extensive learning opportunities via its educational sessions at the National Convention, its annual compliance Summit and through regional Chapter meetings. The ATA provides a number of other educational resources as well including those associated with the newly announced Customer Engagement Professional (CEP) designation. See more at www.atacep.org

Networking—The ATA provides opportunities to network with clients, prospects, vendors and friendly competitors. The sense of community that comes from shared goals and objectives is ever-present at ATA events. And, that sense of common purpose fosters a trust that leads to idea exchange and often to revenue-generation. As the ATA likes to say, “Members buy from Members.” And, the ATA fosters the notion by providing numerous networking, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities.

I can honestly say that I’ve never been more proud to be associated with the ATA. Having met the ATA staff, national board members, regional chapter leadership and many individuals on various sub-committees, I’m confident that we are being represented in a professional, proactive manner. In doing so, the ATA helps us all!

Pictures from the Convention can be seen here.  Picture credits go to Connections Magazine.

GCS at the ABiA

GCS was at the ABIA last week!

and here’s our round-up!

GCS at the ABiA

GCS at the ABiA

GCS specializes in insurance services for large financial companies.  So it is no surprise to find we are members of the American Bankers Insurance Association or ABiA.  Each year the ABiA holds a conference to let their bank members learn about new rules and regulations, see innovative ideas and meet companies like GCS who can help them carry out their marketing and sales plans.

GCS has attended this event for several years and always comes away with new contacts from companies who are ideal client candidates for GCS.

“This event lest us touch base with many of our current clients as well as meet new ones,” states Mark Lambert, Vice President of Sales for GCS.  “Certainly we want to attract new clients, but it is also a good place to discuss new ideas and programs with current clients.”

This year was no exception as the GCS contingent came away with several new opportunities to pursue over the next few months.  Also attending with Mark, were Greg Alcorn, President & CEO, Crystel Prugh, Team Leader, Client Services; and Rich Johnson and Henry Leszczynski, Vice Presidents of Business Development.

Having Henry, our newest sales person, join our group at the last minute was a real benefit.  His tenure in our industry has allowed him to meet numerous individuals and he was able to introduce GCS to many of his business contacts.

The GCS team was kept busy attending learning sessions, answering questions in the exhibit hall and holding meetings with many individuals to see if GCS fit the plans of the prospects’ organization.  The buzz around this year’s event centered on using contact centers to manage and influence the social media channel and innovative ways to increase contacts.

Now the real work begins as our sales and marketing team follows-up with the many contacts from the show.  Look for new things to come from this event!