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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.

Global eConnect

You cannot do it all. In almost every client presentation we are asked to provide a service that is NOT our core competency. GCS provides outsourced teleservices for customer sales, service and support (CSSS). Oftentimes there are fringe services that bolt on to CSSS and it makes sense to subcontract those activities through us. In these cases, we take on the role of Trusted Advisor.

When GCS started in 2001, it got a kick start from Global eConnect (GeC). GeC is an international brokering and consulting company for outsourced teleservices and BPO. Since 1998, GeC has helped clients select and manage outsourcing relationships worldwide. In 2001, GeC convinced several clients to outsource programs to GCS, a then tiny start up operated by seasoned veterans and lots of insurance agents.

Over the years we’ve had clients with various degrees of management latitude. On one end, we have clients who only allow us to access their database by a private network, enter data and then close the network. We have no other responsibilities. That’s fine with us.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have clients who ask us to do everything. Obtain the database, cleanse the data, begin the marketing, handle multiple channels (chat, inbound sales, e-mail, text, postal), analyze results and report. In these cases, GCS may use other partners for functions we can’t or don’t want to do. In this case, our clients trust us to manage the extended services for compliance and performance.

We don’t want to be all things to all people. Clients and prospects of GCS know we specialize in CSSS. That comes in the form of voice and non-voice activities done at a workstation. That’s our core business, what we do better than anyone else and what we want to do a lot. You can’t do it all.

Tips for Collaborating in the Workplace

In his famous one-hit-wonder “Ice, Ice, Baby,” Vanilla Ice tells us to “Stop, collaborate and listen.” It’s catchy and there’s also some truth to what he’s saying.

Collaboration is an important workplace practice. Whether you’re giving a supervisor your input on a new program or you’re building out a proposal for a potential new client, collaboration is key.

Why?

When you collaborate you go from working with just one set of talents and capabilities to gaining access to many, and you can turn good effort into great effort.

According to Gwyn Teatro, author of the blog “You’re Not the Boss of Me” those who collaborate, and do it well, usually:

  • Engage and enjoy conversation
  • Find ways to draw out creativity in themselves and others
  • Seek to learn
  • Invite others to contribute and don’t judge what is offered
  • Focus on others’ recognition before their own
  • Can handle disagreement with professionalism

Collaboration is not easy. The main goal of any collaborative effort is to understand how the success of the project goes beyond the success of ourselves. Instead of finding satisfaction in the individual work, it means we have to find success in the overall effort of the group or team.

This might be easier for extroverts who tend to be more outgoing and forward with their ideas. Those individuals who tend to be shy are more likely to have trouble adjusting to group collaboration. But like public speaking, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

Here are some ways to insure collaboration can be successful on anything you do at GCS:

  • Be sure to have both open and private space available to discuss projects. If a project is being performed by a large group, then an open space is more suitable for discussion and idea-generation. If it’s a smaller project where contributors must voice their opinions, a more private area might be appropriate and more comfortable for team members.
  • Let collaboration develop naturally. It doesn’t always have to be in a formal meeting. It can be through an email chain, on a lunch break or general conversation.
  • Be sure those involved have time to develop ideas. Individuals need time to develop their work. Ideas need time to grow.
  • Don’t underestimate the quiet members of the group. Just because they might not speak up a lot doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable ideas. After all, the work starts with the individual.

The next time you’re faced with a project at work, school, church or for some other venture, say “Yo! I’ll solve it” and try collaborating with others to get it off the ground. The generating of ideas and creative approach to the problem-solving process will be mutually beneficial and the outcome will be a win for all.

Tips from Genevieve DeGuzman

How Are Customer Communication Habits Changing? Or Not Changing?

The communication preferences of consumers continue to shift in America. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Americans are digitally connected now more than ever.

“As of September 2012, 85% of American adults have a cell phone, and 45% have a smartphone. As of early 2012, 58% have a desktop computer, 61% have a laptop, 18% own an e-book reader, and 18% have a tablet computer.”

Since 2006, many technologies have steadily increased in popularity with American consumers.

  • Cell phone use has increased over 15%.
  • Laptop computer usage has grown from 30% to 57% since 2006.
  • Tablet computers were first introduced in 2010, when only 3% of the population used them. Now, two years later, almost 20% of the population has adopted this technology.
  • In just one year, smartphone usage has increased over 10% among American consumers, from 35% to 45%.

One means of communication many Americans aren‘t using these days is the desktop computer. Since 2006, the usage of desktop computers has dropped dramatically from 68% to 55%.

Texting continues to grow…

The project also states that gadget ownership and adoption is usually correlated with a person’s age, education and household income. The use of those gadgets also varies widely amongst American consumers. While some Americans still have landline phones in their households, many Americans are adopting to use just a wireless phone provider to send and receive calls.

  • 53% of Americans prefer to receive calls instead of texting.
  • 31% prefer to receive a text message over a voice call.
  • 14% of Americans feel it depends on the situation.

The communication behaviors of many Americans also correlate with age.

Texting is continuing to grow in popularity. Young adults are the most avid texters in America by a rather large margin, specifically in the 18-29 years old range. Most American adults over the age of 50 still prefer voice calls and those consumers over the age of 65 seldom use texting (4.7%). They make and/or receive about 5 voice calls per day. Women text slightly more than men. It’s also surprising to note that those consumers with an annual household income of less than $30,000 text more than any other demographic (which is probably indicative of the younger audience). The project found that the texting and calling trends have leveled off- for now.

According to the project, voice calls and texting are also highly correlated. Cell phone owners who text often also make and receive a lot of voice calls.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project states:

  • Cell owners who send or receive 0-10 texts on a normal day, make or receive an average of 8.2 voice calls
  • Cell owners who send or receive 11-20 texts on a normal day, make or receive an average of 13.6 voice calls
  • Cell owners who send or receive 21-50 texts on a normal day, make or receive an average of 18.6 voice calls
  • Cell owners who send or receive more than 50 texts on a normal day, make or receive an average of 30.2 voice calls

The high correlation could be due to the specific behaviors of the demographic. If a consumer sends a higher number of texts, it is more likely that they also make and take a higher number of calls.

The communication trends of American consumers are interesting to study and learn. It gives great insight into how customers prefer to be contacted and also, the best ways to make sure each contact is successful and mutually beneficial.
At GCS, we talk a lot about the benefits of a blended environment and multi-channel communication. Given today’s diverse technological landscape, it’s imperative for any company’s marketing plan to invest the time and effort to learn the trends of its consumers. There are still the corners of society that prefer traditional means of outreach and communication but a company cannot afford to ignore the diverse and changing trends of its customer base.

If you are interested in expanding your program to target more consumers through multiple channels, give us a call and let us help you craft a program to reach out to every customer in their preferred channel.

Get in Touch with GCS

The Power of Partnership

At GCS we have built our business on, and are firm believers in, sustainable long-term partnership with our client. At the core of our business is a strong commitment to meeting your needs because we understand that objective is directly related to our success as a business.

Many terms are used to describe companies providing similar outsourced services, such as: vendor, supplier, “phone shop” and “phone room.” But we definitely prefer the term partner.

Partnership connotes a very different meaning and approach to the type of relationship one wishes to build with anyone involved in a close relationship. The dictionary definition of partnership is “a relationship between groups or individuals characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility as for the achievement of a specified goal.” What a great definition!

First, partnership means a relationship. Our primary function is contacting customers on behalf of our clients, so it’s very important to have a strong relationship. We represent, foster and deliver our clients brand on a minute by minute basis every day. In many cases, the contact we have with our clients‟ customers is the most frequent direct contact a customer will have. With this immense responsibility, building a relationship with our clients is critical to understand your business, and then fostering elements of your culture within our own. How can our clients help?

First, consider us an extension of your organization, and help us with building our education and processes to ensure we interact in a way that represents your commitment to customers. One of our clients shares with us customer interaction feedback from independent surveys done after our calls. Many of the questions in the survey surround, not only the interaction we have with the customer, but how we represent our client’s brand. The feedback provides invaluable information we can use to adjust our process.

Secondly, partnership means mutual cooperation and responsibility. This is the essence of being a true partner with your organization. Our success hinges on mutual cooperation to deliver the services to your customers as you wish, and the responsibility (an awesome one at times) to deliver your products and services within the guidelines we receive. With so many guidelines, rules, regulations and standards, we rely on your cooperation to inspect our services and to work with us to deliver them in a way that exhibits the responsibility we share. What often may seem a simple process can be complex to implement, while ensuring compliance with the other standards. Your partnership to make sure we mutually agree with, and implement, every aspect of the service we provide is paramount to our success.

Last, partnership ends with achievement of a specified goal. Most of our clients do give us “goals” relating to sales objectives, service levels, contact rates, etc., but just as important (if not more so) is to understand the high level objectives you have so we can mutually drive our strategies to achieve those goals. Important with any goal is alignment with all the parties involved so we “march to the same drummer.” Equally important in achieving goals is building the trust needed to work jointly to achieve them. Several of our clients share with us their company goals and their individual goals, so we can understand all drivers for success. Knowing the full picture enables us to drive the key metrics needed for success.

In summary, partnership means many different things, but most importantly, mutual trust, respect and cooperation with each other to achieve a JOINT goal. We value your partnership with GCS and hope you see that we strive each day to build an even stronger partnership with you!

How to Decide What to Outsource. If anything.

Are you having trouble deciding what your company should outsource?  Here’s one really quick way to decide.

Decide What Functions Your Company Should Outsource

10 minutes will help you decide what business functions to outsource.

  1.  Make a list of your business functions.
  2. Reorder your list of business functions in order of “Most Critical“.  (i.e. Item number 1 is most critical to your company’s success, item number 10 or 20 is least critical to your success).
  3. Now make a second list, again reordering your business functions, but order them from Most Complex to Least Complex.  (How complex is it to complete this business function? More complex functions might not be suitable for outsourcing.)
  4. Now you can, theoretically, draw a line through your lists where the most Critical and most Complex items end.  Any business functions below those lines are good candidates for outsourcing.
Here’s a VERY simple example.
My business’s most critical core functions

  1. Client Account Management
  2. Customer Service
  3. Accounting
  4. Payroll
  5. Business Development
  6. Human Resources
  7. Staffing
My business’s most complex core functions

  1. Client Account Management
  2. Business Development
  3. Accounting
  4. Customer Service
  5. Payroll
  6. Human Resource
  7. Staffing

 Now I’ll draw line between the third and fourth items on each list.  Anything above that line is something I want to keep in house, while the items below that line (especially if they are below the line on both lists) may be functions more suited to outsourcing.
My business’s most critical core functions

  1. Client Account Management
  2. Customer Service
  3. Accounting
  4. Payroll
  5. Business Development
  6. Human Resources
  7. Staffing
My business’s most complex core functions

  1. Client Account Management
  2. Business Development
  3. Accounting
  4. Customer Service
  5. Payroll
  6. Human Resource
  7. Staffing

From these lists I might decide Payroll, HR and Staffing are business functions my company should try outsourcing.

If you’re still hazy on which core business functions to outsource, give GCS a call and we can help you figure out what function(s) might improve your bottom line.

Ge a Courtesy Consultation

 

 

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For or Against “Obamacare”, We Can Help You Motivate Your Base Constituents

The tension and excitement in the air are palpable this morning after the supreme court’s decision to uphold what many call “Obamacare”.  President Obama’s landmark health care reform bill has a number of stipulations.

Among the most discussed:

  • Everyone must buy health insurance
  • Insurance companies may not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions
  • Children up to age 26 may stay on their parent’s health care plan
  • Companies with more than 50 employees must offer health coverage

Whether or not you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law, Healthcare is bound to be an important issue in the November presidential election.

 

Michael Bitzer

Catawba College professor and  Party Line columnist, Michael Bitzer notes that in most elections, independents and moderates hold the key votes.  This may not be the case this time around. ” It’s going to be a battle between two bases,” Bitzer says. Candidates will need to energize their base supporters and keep momentum going into November.

If you are responsible for motivating a base or supports for a  candidate or cause, here are a few ideas for to try with your constituents:

  • Utilize a full service Contact Center so that you can reach constituents in the channel of their choice.
  • Be Social.  You can’t ignore social media! Make sure you have at least one person dedicated to managing your ‘online persona’.
  • You’ve got mail.   Send emails and direct mail pieces.
GCS has some other great ideas on how you can reach out to your constituents.  Download our tip sheet!
GCS has years of experience assisting campaigns and causes with outreach support and fulfillment. Ron Rowan has worked closely with campaign managers and consultants to guide their programs for success. With both IVR and live agent resources, we can help you motivate, survey and finance your campaign. Consult with Ron on your next campaign move.

 

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Mind Mapping is a Great Way to Brainstorm

Ian Gowdie did this great (!) and creative mind map.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been afraid of the concept of brainstorming.  So long, in fact, that I had forgotten that brainstorming exercises in elementary terrified me.

Now I list brainstorming as one of my strongest abilities. So, when a co-worker pointed out that the practice in question can be intimidating to people it was something of an ‘Aha’ moment for me.

Brainstorming implies that you need to have a genius moment,  a light bulb turning on over your head. Certainly, I can understand why this strikes fear into some of our hearts.

A parallel, but less intimidating process is Mind Mapping.

Mind mapping is a graphical method for taking notes.  Generally it starts with an idea, thought, task, etc. in the center and sub-ideas will branch off of that central idea. The map can be as ornate or as simple as you’d like it.

The main goal is for you to organize your thoughts, words, ideas, tasks, etc in a way that makes sense to you.

 

Mind Mapping can be less intimidating as a process for brainstorming as the need for a ‘genius’ moment has been neutralized. The connotation is different. Mind Mapping can and will create genius moments based on the knowledge already in your head.  It will provide a graphical representation of your ideas to easily move around and manipulate.  You’ll be surprised what comes out of your mind mapping session. Give it a try!

Mind Mapping can be used for:

  • problem solving
  • framework design
  • outlining
  • collaboration
  • structure representations
  • team building
  • studying
  • data visualization
  • planning
  • memorization
  • inspiring creativity
  • gaining insight
  • research
  • note taking
  • presentation

 How to make a Mind Map

  1. start with an idea, problem or task in the center (draw it or write it down)
  2. draw branches in a radial or heirarchical pattern out from your central idea
  3. at the end of each ‘branch’ put another idea, problem or task that relates in some way to your central idea
  4. rinse and repeat for the ideas you placed at the ends of your initial branches

Mind Mapping is a process created by Tony Buzan : http://www.thinkbuzan.com/us/.  Tony advocates the usage of images and color when creating a mind map, but for those without access to pens and markers, or those who are not interested in drawing, written words and lines will suffice!

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The Importance of Collaboration Between Departments

I’m worried about the next generation of managers. Of course, that’s what my parents said thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, leadership programs and management principles were centered around case studies and round table discussions. Today, we Google it.

Our contact centers are hours, time zones and oceans apart from one another. Yet, we expect to have consistent processes, policies and leadership in all sites and on all shifts.

It’s great to have audio and video conference calls to discuss and share management techniques, but face-to-face conversations are by far the best way to exchange ideas and build a consistent process.

We try to travel to our centers on a consistent basis. Our centers love to have visitors and do a great job hosting prospective clients, existing clients and other associates. We learn so much from these visits and I believe we can do more.

My favorite site visits are those including people from several departments. For example, when I got a chance to follow Ken Perkins and Jack Whitt as they watched our associates interact with customers and do their data entry, they discovered several improvements to increase speed and reduce errors. Just recently, Frank Camp and Roger Akers and I’m sure several others, greatly reduced the preparation time for monitoring sessions. These improvements were initiated by collaboration during a site visit.

Sammy Davis, Jr. said 90% of success is just showing up. If we spend the time to visit each other and work face-to-face on our business model, we can greatly improve our chances of long term success. I know that’s true. I Googled it.

9 Creative Ways to Use the Phone to Deliver Your Political Message

The Blues Brothers. Dodge Monaco Bluesmobile.

I always enjoyed the scene in the 1980’s classic movie, The Blues Brothers, where Elwood and Jake strap a stolen speaker to the top of their 1974 Dodge Monaco cruiser and comb Chicago announcing their big event “…One night only, at the fabulous Palace Hotel Ballroom…” If only getting your political message out was as easy, and fun, as driving around town, repeating the same message.

Elwood and Jake got the message repetition part right. The old adage, tell what you’re gonna’ tell ‘em; tell ‘em; and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em, still holds true. But outside of a Hollywood story, you also need a multi-channel approach in order to tell your message to the greatest number of influential voters and supporters.

In today’s higher tech society, a phone call might seem as old fashioned as a handshake outside the factory gate at shift change. But we know personal appeals do work and making that one-with-one connection can bring a laser focus to your message, unlike mass messages on radio and TV.

Even though there is a swarm of new technology out there, most people still answer their phones. In addition, new technologies allow you to use the phone in unique ways to support both voice and non-voice channels.

So here are 9 suggestions for amping up your campaign and getting your message heard.

Download All the Tips Now

1. Personal Appeal

Use live agents to personally contact your voter base to survey, explain and present your message. The big benefit of live agents is their ability to provide a response appropriate to the constituents level of engagement. Whether volunteers or hired professionals, a real live person has the ability to:

  1. Listen for and correct misconceptions
  2. Provide supporting statements to offset dissension
  3. Direct callers to websites or invite to local functions
  4. Take additional actions, such as fund raising, volunteer enlistment and patch through of the call to the appropriate elected official.

2. Mobile is HOT, so Text

This simple and effective method reaches younger audiences and is (to them) less intrusive. This is a cost-saving, effective way to tell others about your candidates. Provide website addresses and a toll free number for them to engage in your campaign further.

You don’t have to just tell them to vote for your candidate, either. Ideas include:

  1. Encourage them vote early while they are out running errands
  2. Contests such as essay submissions and testimonials for the website – give prizes!
  3. Send SMS alerts and campaign updates
  4. Ask a daily poll question or campaign slogan challenge
  5. Text them games or other offers with a political or candidate inspired theme

3. QR Codes

You see them everywhere these days. Those little grocery-store-bar-code-looking boxes can help unlock tons of information with the quick scan of a smartphone. And since more and more people are using smartphones these days, why not tap into that market by offering a QR code so voters can get to know your campaign?

Use QR codes on your direct mail pieces, yard signs and flyers (but avoid these uses). People who see them can scan them instantly to learn more about your campaign. Once they visit, offer a toll-free number or ask them if they wish to sign up for text alerts to stay  abreast of all campaign news and highlights.

4. Provide a Toll-Free Number

In your campaign materials, provide a toll-free number for voters to call and learn more about the campaign. This not only gives you the option to talk to them but it lets you know where they are getting information, so you can track it. Make sure the number is staffed appropriately.

Download the other 5 tips!

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