Tag Archives: Consulting

Coaching Employees in the Contact Center 101

In the virtual conference this week, Greg Alcorn touched on many topics relating to the how’s and why’s of coaching and communication in the contact center.

Quality coaching and active monitoring greatly improves our performance and helps us see where we can grow our skills. It is easy to take someone’s advice as criticism and not as a critique, but in this business, it’s nothing personal and has everything to do with simply making our company better.

Whether you’re coaching an associate or you’re the person being coached, there are a few things you should know.

  • No one is out to get you. The first time you are monitored or someone coaches you on your performance, you might anticipate nothing but negative feedback. Callcentrehelper.com states “Monitoring that is collaborative rather than prescriptive, inclusive rather than authoritarian, is likely to lead to more acceptance and co-operation.”
  • It’s all about the little things. A small mistake here, a wrong word there-those tiny little things can add up and become habitual problems. When coaching, make sure you pay attention to detail to insure the associate is on the right path.
  • Quality sessions are key. It does not do any good to passively offer vague and minimal suggestions for improvement. In order for someone to truly benefit from coaching, they must be given detailed, quality feedback.
  • Allow for self-assessment. The best way to truly understand what you’re doing wrong is to hear it yourself. GCS associates have the ability to listen to their own calls to find out what areas they can improve on.
  • Coaching should be frequent. Associates should receive some type of monitoring and/or feedback everyday.
  • Know what’s expected of you. If you’re an associate, you should know what is expected of you in your role at GCS. If you’re coaching, make sure the associate understands what you’re looking for and what the goals are.
  • Be eye-to-eye. Nothing is more intimidating than having someone hover over you while you work. Whether you’re coaching or being coached, make sure both of you are at eye level of each other.
  • Make use of the information you gather. When calls are monitored, you can uncover precious gems of information-best practices, phrases to avoid, scripting changes, tips and tricks, etc. Share this information with others so learning can also be facilitated beyond the monitoring session.

Always make coaching count!

Check out the GCS Coaching with Style Tip Sheet:

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Tips for Protecting Your Goldmine

via D'Arcy Norman on Flickr

Have you been considering an outreach program to your customers or prospects to tell them about your products or services but just aren’t sure about the customer experience? Good for you!

Your customer database is a goldmine when handled correctly.

In the wrong hands, that investment could disappear. What things should you consider before collaborating with an outsource contact center? What controls should they have in place to make you confident before you begin outsourcing your customer interactions with them?

Any contact service provider should make you feel secure that:

  • Your customers will enjoy the interaction ( leading to increased loyalty and profitability).
  • Your company will be represented professionally.
  • Your brand will be protected and enhanced.

In any industry, it only takes a few bad players to wreak havoc on public perception. Fortunately, many legitimate companies know the right way to do things and understand the long-term, inter-relationship impact, contact centers have for the client and the customer. We conduct each call with great respect for the customer experience, and we do it hundreds of thousands of times a day. In my role, I am responsible to our clients for delivering those services in a way that meets these same goals and objectives. I regularly discuss this very issue with prospective clients and here are a few tips I urge them to consider in the selection process.

  • It IS your call – Make sure you are in the “driver’s seat” when it comes to how your company is identified and represented. From the caller ID display to the final close, you should have access and input into the process so your brand and customer’s experience is a positive one. Make sure you are able to visit the facility and audit the customer interaction. Beware of practices that keep you out of the loop. 
  • Stay out of jail – Make sure the company has a legitimate compliance process and a clean track record. There are national and state compliance laws and regulations, as well as industry standards that should be followed. There are complex requirements that cover everything from the Do Not Call lists, to credit card security, to licensing and appointments of agents and representatives. Look for companies with a solid track record in your area of interest and for industry compliance certification like ATA-SRO and PCI-DSS. Ask about previous violations or fines and be wary of the few small operators who are here today and gone tomorrow (to open somewhere else).
  • Take a test drive – If you are unsure of the best approach and want to try different offers and messaging, make sure the company has a process to conduct a “trial” or “test” prior to full implementation. This lets you observe the customer experience and tweak the results to determine the most effective process before implementing on a full scale. An unwillingness to test, or to properly scale a program, may indicate a lack of confidence or inexperience with similar programs. Stick with a group having real experience to back up any ideas or adjustments your program might need to increase success.

This is just a start. If you want to hear more, contact us!

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5 Benefits to Outsourcing Your Contact Center

For businesses spanning all ranges of products and services, outsourcing works. A major area in which it works quite effectively is the two-way communication between your business and your customer contacts. Although there are other reasons for this type of outsourcing, here are five major reasons why contact center outsourcing works so effectively:

1. Cost Reduction

This is one of the primary reasons for any outsourcing. You are trusting another entity to provide exceptional communication. Although some fail, most are able to provide quick and effective services in a friendly manner and leave the client well satisfied. Their records are kept impeccably so that you have immediate access to information when you need it without high, on-site expense.

2. Volume Flexibility

Because of their single focus, contact centers are able to react more quickly with human staffing when your contact volume increases or falls. Through their technology and manpower, they can scale up or down as needed with virtual overnight flexibility.

3. Brand Loyalty

An effective contact center reacting quickly to satisfy customer needs removes obstacles to your brand loyalty. Quick, effective and pleasant resolutions increase confidence in your business.

4. Privacy Compliance

Outsourced calling companies realize the need for meeting regulatory compliance when it comes to your contact base. From background checks to internal security measures, they probably are more aware than your own internal staff of the critical need for keeping your and your customer’s information discreet and guarded.

5. Enhanced Revenue

By quickly resolving issues, a commitment to quick one-call resolution of issues or providing information, customer retention is increased. Cross-selling is another area where outsourced call centers are effectively utilized. Rapid resolution and cross or add-on sales are increasing the bottom line for many businesses using this type of outsourcing.

Business success depends on keeping clients, suppliers and your customer contacts satisfied with the information they seek and the service they expect. Outsource centers focus on this aspect of your business to keep your business. When they deliver, you deliver. Outsourcing then builds a bridge of trust linking you, the center and your customer contacts which increases your reputation of excellence in this critical aspect of your company’s function.

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Four Absolutes of Quality

In the 1980’s, Philip Crosby came up with the Four Absolutes of Quality. We have used the Four Absolutes as the foundation for planning sessions, key decision-making and process improvement. I’m not a big fan of how Dr. Crosby originally wrote his Absolutes, so I’ll paraphrase:

  • Conform to client’s expectations
  • Prevention, not appraisal
  • Zero defects
  • Know the price of non-conformance

These absolutes apply to our service offering as they do for a production assembly line. Here are some examples:

  • Our clients have expectations on how we represent them to their customers. They outline the dos and don’ts and we train, educate and manage to those standards. The key to a good customer experience is following ridged guidelines, but still sound like a human, not a robot.
  • My favorite is prevention, not appraisal. We say the most important person in our organization is the CMR, because they are the one that faces our clients’ customer. The most influential position in our company is their supervisor who spends the majority of their time managing our people and process to PREVENT any problems. The popular principle for this process is “do it right the first time.”
  • Zero defects can be a lofty goal for any organization, especially a service business like GCS. When you’re dealing with human behavior, perfection is not always realistic. We still want to expect perfection and be confident everyone knows what perfection looks and feels like.
  • The Price of non-conformance is a negative way of monetizing quality. I’d rather look at the Value of conformance. In our business, we are rewarded for results. We are penalized for quality breeches. The rewards come in the form of more business and new programs. The penalties come in the form of process changes, fines and ultimately lost business. Our clients essentially have a zero tolerance stance on quality breeches. If we miss-represent their products or show disrespect to their customers, the cost is disproportionally high. Yes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. One bad sale or conversational meltdown can lose an entire program. We’ve seen it happen to us and to our competitors.

These Absolutes are timeless. They have been around for thirty years and no doubt will be around for thirty more. GCS has been around for ten years and if we continue to be true to these Absolutes, we’ll be around for another thirty.

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A GCS Client Services Director calls the plays…

quarterback

Many people ask me what my role as a Client Service Director is responsible for and I liken it to being a quarter back on a football team, we set up the game, call the plays and control the field.   Client Service Directors here at GCS serve as the liaison between our Clients and our internal operations.  It is our responsibility to make sure that everything from the start up of a new program, to processing the invoice is taken care of flawlessly.  We have many tasks that include inventory management, performance management, program set up and much more.  Client satisfaction is our goal and what we strive for everyday.  Communication, Organization and Customer Service are really the key elements to our success in this role.