All entries tagged with “contact center”

Press Release: Fall HR/Training/Contact Center Recap- Austin, TX

By Ericka Howard | Product Manager, Digital Media and Events

We had a great time in Austin, Texas at our HR & Employee Benefits Summit, Training & Development Summit, and Contact Center & Customer Service Summit! These joint events were held at the Hyatt Regency Austin on November 11 to 13, 2018, and while the weather outside was slightly chilly, inside things were heating up with great connections between our delegates and solution providers.

Sunday night kicked off with a pre-event cocktail reception, where those who were either local or had arrived earlier that day could mingle and network with fellow event attendees and get excited for the next two days. The following morning, Pete Smith, author of Dare to Matter: Choosing an Untuck and Unapologetic Life of Significance, kicked off the day with his keynote on the six key ways to incorporate significance into both our personal and professional lives.

The day continued with the true heart of these Forum events- the one-on-one meetings between company executives and solution providers. We had 26 solution providers present, and 59 company executives from such companies as Hulu, Texas Roadhouse, New York Life, Southwest Airlines, Honeywell, The Salvation Army, Quest, and Performance Foodservice, just to name a few.

 HR & Employee Benefits conference

Throughout the event, there were also 13 various HR, Training, and Contact Center workshops in addition to the one-on-one meetings. These provided the opportunity for delegate executives to learn more about a given topic within that niche, learn best practices and tips, and get answers to some of their burning questions.

Some of the workshop sessions included:

-          Building Senior Leadership Teams, which targeted the three leadership competencies organizations need to cultivate to be ready for a fast-moving future.

-          You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know, Until You Know focused the difficulties HR personnel face staying up to date on HR compliance issues.

-          How to Attract, Manage, and Engage the Millennial Workforce, which targeted how to manage and retain a generation of employees that are often characterized as impatient and entitled.

-          What if Everything You Know About Personality Styles Training is Wrong, a discussion on DISC training, and how to refocus it from awareness to results

-          KPI: Strength or Weakness, provided information on how to know if you’re measuring the right KPI, how to determine whether the goals appropriate, and how the future will shape how these are measured.

-          Authentication and Security at the Speed of Conversation, focused on how to build a voice identify platform that not only authenticates customers and protects from fraud, but also allows the building of an all new customer experience.

-          Resolving the Retention Riddle, focused on the most common strategies for attrition, what key things those strategies are missing, and how to take a holistic approach to get a better handle on controlling attrition.

HR & Employee Benefits conference                HR & Employee Benefits conference

Aside from the all-important meetings and educational workshops, there was also lots of general networking and fun to be had! On the night of day 1 at the Forum Events is the staple Casino Night, which included a cocktail reception, full catered dinner (and dessert!) followed by casino games.

 HR & Employee Benefits conference

Day 2 closed the event with additional meetings and workshops and a prize drawing for all participants.

 

According to our post-event survey, we had extremely positive feedback from our attendees:

“This summit exceeded our expectations. The vendors were informative without being push, and the seminars were event appropriate and covered many different facets.”

“The summit was a refreshing take on finding solutions & vendors who could be a partner.”

“Great opportunity to visit with selected vendors and get information. Enjoyed the seminars!”

“Fantastically organized, packed with excellent workshops, and targeted meetings with sponsors. Excellent networking opportunities in a great location.”

 

Sad you missed out? No worries, our next Forum Events in the HR, Training, and Contact Center markets are just around the corner! Our next ones will be held on April 15-16th, 2019, in Washington, DC- come join us! If you are a manager, director, or executive with decision-making power and are seeking service or product solutions, these events are a perfect opportunity to meet with solution providers and network with peers to share best practices. We hope to see you there!

Interested in attending? Contact Gina Vicino at 800-727-5257 x2273 or gvicino@forumevents.com

 


[Event Recap]: Contact Center & Customer Service Summit | Dallas, TX | April 25-26, 2016

The Contact Center & Customer Service Summit hosted approximately 341 one-on-one meetings at the Sheraton Dallas on April 25th and 26th,2016. Executives from companies including AAA, Delta Dental, Fifth Manhattan, Epsilon, Grainger, Home Care Advantage, Rent A Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ULine connected for informative meetings with solution providers, seminars and networking opportunities.

Face-to-face meetings kicked off promptly on Monday morning and ran throughout the next day and a half, separated by meals and seminars. Speakers Lisa Rueth and Tom Dickson led discussions on multi-channel service, agent and management leadership, and real-time customer data. “Lisa Rueth was awesome,” expressed the Director of Client Services Operations from BerylHealth.

Prime networking continued into the evening with a gala dinner and casino games overlooking the stunning Dallas skyline. “I had no idea what to expect, this being my first summit, but I found it to be fast paced, energetic, and full of opportunities to have helpful conversations with solution providers without high-pressure sales tactics,” explained one attendee from Arkansas Federal Credit Union of the networking throughout the event.

After a fun evening, attendees reconnected on Tuesday morning for more face-to-face meetings and additional seminars, ending with a closing lunch.

For more information, or to attend future events, contact Shane Doherty, VP of Business Development, here.


Contact Center & Customer Service Summit Announces Potential Seminar Topics

Lisa Rueth.jpg

Meet Confirmed Speaker Lisa Rueth at the Contact Center & Customer Service Summit...
April 25 & 26, 2016 in Dallas, TX 

Lisa Rueth is CEO of Cultivate Leadership, a consulting firm dedicated to supporting leaders through Organizational Development, Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. With over 20 years of experience, Lisa left her role as an Executive in Contact Centers 13 years ago to dedicate her career to helping organizations with the mechanics of human performance and systems of collaboration, with the intention of helping leaders make a deeper impact . Cultivate Leadership specializes in helping leadership teams through accurate diagnosis, culture engineering, leadership development, team building, change management, executive coaching and strategic planning. Lisa studied Applied Leadership and Organizational Psychology at the Ken Blanchard School of Business and did graduate work in Authentic Leadership at Naropa University and holds many professional certifications.

Potential Topics: 

Customer Centered Culture: 5 things that prevent it

Organizational Design and Leadership Consultant Lisa Rueth highlights the top 5 underlying problems she finds when clients want a Customer Centered Culture, but can't make it happen. Culture is complicated, with elements of people management, leadership tone, training, process, technology and structure... it can seem impossible to sustain an engaged, customer focused team. This session explores 5 very specific reasons why your best plans unravel and what to do instead.

Organizing around real-time customer data, not past reports of poor performance

Far too much has been spent on customer satisfaction, engagement scores, loyalty programs and win-back initiatives, only to confirm what you know about your operations, without increasing retention. It's time to engage customers in a new way, with real-time input that is actionable. Organizational Design and Leadership consultant Lisa Rueth shares some innovative and simple ways her clients are getting in front of customer needs, instead of reporting on their dissatisfaction.

The secret-sauce behind Managers that create raving fans

With over 20 years of experience fixing low performing teams all over the world, Organizational Design and Leadership Consultant Lisa Rueth shares what she's learned about managers who create employees and customers who become raving fans. If you aren't happy with your engagement data, retention or repeat business, this talk explores the role of the Manager in turning that around, what training they might need and what to look for in rising stars.

Making the triple bottom line a reality: Why Customers, Employees and Funders love you

Serving a three headed monster can sometimes feel like an endless moving target; once one group is happy, the other is demanding more. This complicated formula of finding the sweet spot where employees, customers and funders are happy at once has elements of culture, reporting, innovation and learning wrapped together like a ball of yarn. Organizational Development and Leadership Consultant Lisa Rueth simplifies the triple bottom line and points to some underlying forces that could be derailing your juggling act, leaving you with a laser focused, no-nonsense strategic approach.

Organizational Design: How your structure and strategy could be blocking or enabling culture & collaboration

With constant change, organizations must become dynamic. But systems of collaboration and culture are consistently sabotaged no matter how perfect the strategy & engagement initiatives are because of invisible forces in structure and strategic focus. Lisa Rueth explores the Star model for design thinking that enables strategic and cultural goals and explores case studies of organizations who remain stuck and those that design for innovation!

Motivating Agents on a shrinking budget

How can we motivate and reward when the only thing left in the budget is another reduction? Explore successful methods for non-monetary motivation and fostering cultures of healthy competition & collaboration and hear stories of contact centers with creative rewards programs developed on a shoestring.


Major Metropolitan City Selects inContact Cloud Solution to Support More than Three Million Residents

inContact’s flexible and scalable cloud platform will help local government meet the demands of population growth expected to exceed 30 percent over the next decade
 
SALT LAKE CITY – June 9, 2015 – inContact (NASDAQ: SAAS), the leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, today announces a major city municipality is rolling out the inContact solution to a new division with over 500 agents. The city will leverage the flexibility of inContact’s cloud platform to easily expand operations and customize their contact center system across multiple divisions.
 
“Providing high quality customer service is more important than ever in the public sector,” said Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. “With the demand for government transparency growing, and a sincere desire by public entities to meet this demand, government contact centers are looking for flexible solutions that can be quickly scaled up or down to meet their evolving needs.”
 
As part of the city’s transition from its aging premise system, inContact will provide a customizable and agile cloud system. The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) are the core building blocks of the inContact cloud platform with skills-based multichannel routing to ensure citizens’ needs are addressed by the ideal agent in the most efficient manner. Government agencies are moving to the cloud to transition from expensive cap-ex investments to a more flexible, pay-as-you-go op-ex billing model with built-in flexibility to quickly activate on-call and at-home agents as needed.
 
Additional Information
  • Read about a large state government agency now leveraging the cloud
  • Learn more about available cloud solutions from inContact
  • Follow @inContact on Twitter
  • Become a fan of inContact on Facebook

About inContact

inContact (NASDAQ: SAAS) is the cloud contact center software leader, helping organizations around the globe create customer and contact center employee experiences that are more personalized, more empowering and more engaging today, tomorrow and in the future. inContact continuously innovates in the cloud and is the only provider to offer core contact center infrastructure, workforce optimization plus an enterprise-class telecommunications network for the most complete customer journey management. Winner of the 2014 CRM Magazine Rising Star Award, inContact has deployed over 2,200 cloud contact center instances. To learn more, visit www.incontact.com.

inContact to Attend Contact Center Summit

inContact is a confirmed vendor at the Contact Center Summit taking place in November in Chicago, IL. Attendees interested in cloud contact center software will be able to meet privately with an inContact representative at the event. To register for the Contact Center Summit, click here.


Featured Speaker: Rants & Raves

Are You Sure ... Your Contact Center is Valued Across the Enterprise? 
By Guest Speaker, Kathleen Peterson of PowerHouse Consulting

There was a time when the Call Center was considered a backroom operation, a cost center that dealt with Customer Service issues. However, today's Contact Center has become the focus of many enterprise initiatives. The Contact Center's cost, the volume of contacts, the potential for revenue, the importance of customer relationships, the Customer Experience, and the changing marketplace all have played a role in altering the enterprise view of the Contact Center. Management must be prepared to respond to these changes and build value-based relationships with others across the enterprise.

The Contact Center is not a stand-alone unit. Every organization has a Customer Contact Continuum. Whether acknowledged or not, it exists. The Contact Center is really part of that continuum, impacted by many activities that reach well beyond the Center.
  
Consider this assignment. Conduct a brown bag - assemble managers, supervisors, and staff. Wrap the room in paper, get your markers out, and start asking questions. Where do our contacts come from? What is the cause of the call? (This exercise works for all channels.) Where does the work we do go from here? How do we impact others? What revenue generating opportunities and cost considerations exist in our relationships?
  
This exercise will yield a visual of the Customer Contact Continuum. Once the visual is created, take a step back and assess your current relationships and your visibility. How do others within the enterprise view the Contact Center - as a valuable asset or as a backroom and factory-like operation? Do we get what we need? What improvements would happen if our relationships improved? How would cost and revenue be impacted? What do we have to offer to others? How can we help ourselves and others improve?
  
The point is that Contact Centers must manage their visibility to influence their value.  

Today's Contact Centers have some genuine currency with which to barter for their visibility - information. Information is currency in this digital age and Contact Centers are a pure source of it. The number of contact hours often amounts to years of exposure to customers annually! What we learn from this and how we mine for information has the potential to assist every part of the enterprise in improving performance. The Center must begin to view data collection as part of its value proposition to others. Data about the customer, about product performance, policies, procedures, and every other conceivable aspect of the contact must be as important a focus as service level and abandon rates. Let's face it. Contact Center-specific metrics are barely understood within the Contact Center - let alone outside of it.  

If it is important to work together across the Customer Contact Continuum, it is important to understand the value and benefit of forming strong relationships. The Contact Center possesses great knowledge regarding many aspects of the enterprise. Formalizing the sharing of this intelligence is the basis of the Contact Center's value proposition. The more value we are perceived to possess, the more potent our visibility.  

As an example, I have heard many Contact Center staff complain about how Marketing doesn't provide needed information, etc. You've heard the stories and have possibly told the stories. There is an almost victim-like acceptance of these behaviors. But we must step back and think. Is this really a Marketing issue? Do they have real benefit in ruining us? Are they plotting the demise of the Contact Center this very minute? I doubt it. The reality is that other departments don't even think about the Contact Center - it is not even on the radar screen. Marketing may simply see the Contact Center as a factory floor, a place where production takes place. And we fuel that view by proudly reporting pure production numbers.  

The shift in relationship must be driven by a shift in visibility. Continuing with our Marketing example ... the Contact Center has daily customer contacts that when properly analyzed help to identify effective (and non-effective) offers, campaigns, or promotions. Compiling information to deliver to other departments around product performance, a service, a price, or a procedure helps make all departments improve performance within the enterprise. This also satisfies the quid pro quo. When we want to receive information, offering valuable information provides something valuable in return.

The change must come (in part) via the data we collect - what we find important and what will add value. Acknowledging the continuum is one step. Identifying specific contact information in a manner that makes information sharing easy is another. If you have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) functionally, your task may be easier (assuming your reporting package is friendly).  

Not all Contact Centers are so equipped. But if you have people, you have experience. Begin using any means necessary to capture important transaction type information to begin building your value proposition. As an example, many Contact Centers lacking sophisticated CRM and CTI applications have very good Call Recording and Call Monitoring systems. These systems are still grossly underutilized as data-gathering tools. Create call type and customer corner fields on your form; invest in getting your forms in a database if your system doesn't already offer that and begin to gather information on customer responses to products and services. Believe me, shipping a couple of sound bytes to Marketing on the success or failure of an activity in your Customer's Own Words is a true winner. While the sample size may be small, it is very compelling evidence and a great way to demonstrate the value the Contact Center can bring to partners along the Customer Contact Continuum. 

Think about how the Contact Center can add value to other departments - Fulfillment, Operations, Manufacturing, Research and Development, Human Resources, Technology, Training, Finance, Legal, and Executives - any group identified within your continuum. It is likely there are improvement opportunities that can reduce cost, enhance the Customer Experience, improve revenue opportunities, reduce exposure to possible legal issues, etc. The list goes on and on, but the mining of information must be an activity of primary importance. It is the currency with which to barter for the Contact Center's visibility and its value.

Take time to review the Customer Contact Continuum, your relationships, your data, and your visibility. Plan a course of action and begin taking steps to systematically improve the value of your Contact Center across the enterprise. It is time for a value upgrade, a method to influence how others see you and how they see their role within the continuum.

"The value of achievement lies in achieving". Albert Einstein

My Best,                                                                                                 

Kathleen

Kathleen Peterson will host a seminar on Backstage at the Customer Experience at the upcoming Contact Center Summit at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota on November 17-18, 2014. Kathleen is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer of PowerHouse Consulting.


Rants & Raves: Are You Running on Empty?

By Kathleen Peterson of Powerhouse Consulting
Guest Speaker at the Contact Center Summit 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota in Florida. 

"Running on, running into the sun ... but I'm running behind" Jackson Browne

If your auto is running on empty, the gasoline gauge has passed that red line used to show that you're almost out of gas. The term "running on empty" is used when you have drawn on all your resources and are barely struggling through, or when you have used all your energy and are exhausted.

We all know that when our gas gauge is heading towards E, we had best get to the station to refuel or we will be stranded ... unable to carry on. Despite this clear indicator there are times when we do run out of gas and face the consequences of the distraction that led to it! Too bad that as humans we have no such gauge to indicate we are running on empty.

There are many references to this phrase, including Jackson Browne's hit song "Running on Empty" where he croons:

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Clearly this song was not written about the tank of gas in our car. It speaks to the demands we all place on ourselves; we wind up simply running blind and running behind. We are more doing than being; we are more busy than productive. There is a kind of bravado existing in the workplace - the bravado of "doing" - donning the "busy" badge as if is a testimonial to our own importance or commitment. I am here to say that I think it is time to check your life's fuel gauge!

As professionals we are challenged to maintain a full tank - that level of energy sufficient to tackle all the activities associated with our collective "deliverables." Lately I have seen far too many folks seeming beaten down, exhaling as if they simply have nothing left. There is no fight and no energy left for innovation. What remains is just unadulterated aggravation. If you see yourself in this scenario it is time to stand up, shake off the blues, and refuel!!

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, Loehr and Schwartz write, "We're wired up but we're melting down." They write about how we "fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol ... we become short tempered and easily distracted." So are we more productive?
  
As a leader you might be tempted to measure an individual by how many extra "hours" they put in. If you come in early and leave late, are you setting an example? Let's rethink these productivity indicators. The best leaders are balanced; they are able to recognize the value of rest and renewal and set that example. Of course, when we work on a special project or major initiative there will be times of great demand. We will work the extra time required to fulfill the objectives. However, if your new norm is "overwork," you are on a very slippery slope.

We have equipped ourselves with devices whose initial offer was to keep us in touch, up to date, and more productive. In reality, we spend all kinds of valuable fuel just trying to locate them! A friend recently had a near breakdown when she couldn't find her phone. In fact, she refused to leave the premise until it was located. As it turns out, the phone was found and a great relief washed over my friend as she brought herself up to snuff on all the nothingness that had occurred in the relatively short time the device was "missing." She even experienced resentment toward her own attachment and beat herself up for the time and effort involved in the search. What a waste of time and energy! Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.

What kind of energy do you really have to invest in your profession and in yourself? If you are involved in your company's Customer Experience effort, running on empty is a hazardous condition. And this condition puts the objective at risk. Leaders that are out of gas often don't even know it. Unlike our vehicles that simply come to a complete stop when out of fuel, our bodies and minds do not! We will continue to spend fuel we don't have until we blow out some part of us that might just stop us in our tracks!

Here are a few tips to monitor "refueling" and the management of your most precious resource ... your energy! Think about clever ways to build breaks into your day.
  
(1) Take breaks at least every 90 minutes. According to Loehr and Schwartz, this is one spectacular way to re-energize. You might take a brief walk, have a complete workout, or simply go to lunch. Renewal is the objective of intermissions every 90 minutes.

(2) Take your vacation and make it restful. We have all embarked on vacations that are more work than work. In some cases, these adventures are also designed to demonstrate to others how "cool" or "crazy" you are. If your vacation plans will not yield a renewed you, RETHINK the plans!

(3)  Eat right (and consistently). Avoid the trap of crap foods we draw from when we are running. Grab an apple, eat some fresh summer veggies. Reducing junk by any measure and replacing it with energizing foods is a deliberate step! And that is the true key ... being deliberate

I could go on, but let's leave it at this. Take the time to inventory your fuel and your fuel sources to assure that you are not running on empty. To be a great leader and fulfill your organization's Customer Experience objectives, you must have the energy it takes to facilitate organizational energy and action. For now, just take care of yourself, maintain your good nature, and gain peace of mind.


Kathleen Peterson will host a seminar on Backstage at the Customer Experience at the upcoming Contact Center Summit at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota on November 17-18, 2014. Kathleen is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer of PowerHouse Consulting.

Rants & Raves: Summertime & The Living Is Easy... Or Is It?

Featured Speaker Kathleen Peterson of Powerhouse Consulting speaks out on her summertime sadness when organizing her annual vacation.

The Call Center has historically been linked to "production" environments in which the dynamic is to process as many calls as possible in as short a time-scale as possible. The focus on how many calls came in and how many calls each person handled has historically caused a perceived conflict in quality. The agents on the phone are often torn between the call they are on and the
calls in queue. This is further amplified in some centers with reader boards alarming, lights
flashing and managers running around like lunatics. No wonder there is a resistance among Customer Service departments to acknowledge that they are, in many cases, Call Centers, or atleast use a Call Center as a key delivery channel.

These conditions certainly do not have to be true. Just for the record, in a well-run Call Center,
the agent is responsible for the call and the management is responsible for the queue. So what to
do to create a high performance service culture within a Call Center environment? Here are four
key areas to evaluate in your quest for Call Center mastery.

1. Make sure that the Call Center is part of the big picture.
To take on the responsibility of the queue, management must view the operation as a total process, one that is connected to the enterprise. This connection must be made in terms of the organization’s values, vision and mission. Is it clear what role the Call Center plays in the overall objectives of the company? This clarity will allow for inclusion and recognition instead of being thought of as a back-room operation. Call Centers do not generally generate their own activity (queues); these are typically a result of marketing promotions, product enhancements, billing issues, service additions, changes in policies or procedures, and so on. This being true it would follow that the parts of the organization responsible for these functions should partner in the planning and audit process. This involves acknowledging that the Call Center is part of a total process, not simply a random series of phone calls coming in and being handled by our staff.

2. Evaluate your planning process.
Queue management begins with an effective "forecast" of demand. Strive for accuracy within plus
or minus 5%. An effective forecast is tied to the other objectives we have for our center. These
include customer retention and satisfaction, sales, employee satisfaction and shareholder return.
In order to evaluate the planning process, we must determine if we have allocated the proper
resources to the task. The forecasting tasks include storing and analyzing historical data, creating
and adjusting schedules, managing the intra-day queue, reallocating staff and managing the
scheduling software system, if you use one.

The forecast person is sometimes known as the "capacity manager." This person should also be responsible for formalizing the flow of information between other departments and the Call Center. The position of capacity manager should not be shared; to be effective there needs to be a dedicated source. This person may need the support of the Call Center manager (and occasionally even more senior management) to be certain that other departments provide theinformation necessary to achieve a high level of accuracy. Historical data is only the starting point for an effective Call Center forecast.

Call Center managers must radiate credibility to their counterparts. They have to be kept "in the loop." In order for that to happen, their peers must respect them and feel confident in sharing vital information with them - information such as two million sales brochures going out in Tuesday’s mail or listing the Call Center’s toll free number as a response mechanism, for example. The Call Center manager, as well as the "capacity manager," needs to be aware of this information in order to know how many people to schedule for what is likely to be an increase in the number of calls. Sometimes, those information handoffs are never made. The result: lost revenue and frustrated customers. All the staff-forecasting software in the world cannot overcome a problem like that. To make matters worse, Call Center morale can take a nosedive when reps are faced with angry customers who know more about a sale or product launch than they do. A strong liaison with other department managers and a calendar prepared by the capacity manager or forecasting team can solve the problem.

Conversely, the Call Center can and should provide vital management information to other
departments. Inbound Call Centers are staffed, to a large extent, on the basis of the number of
inquiries and/or complaints they receive on a given number of issues. If, for example, an
automobile manufacturer’s top consumer complaint last year was that customers’ keys broke off
in the door, it is incumbent upon the Call Center to share that data with the engineering
department. Fixing that problem will mean happier customers and fewer calls to the Call Center.
Fewer calls will mean a need for fewer reps on the phones and will cut overall costs of the center.

3. Focus on quality.
Do you tell agents on the phone to act differently during busy periods? I have repeatedly asked
this question of Call Center managers and often get an emphatic "well, yes, of course". "Exactly
what do you tell them to do?" I ask. Some say, "We just tell them to hurry up!" Others say, "We
tell them not to cross sell." So, we sacrifice revenue opportunities in favor of calls in queue. Ask
yourself, "Does the answer to this question - what to change when it is busy - initiate a quality
conflict for the people taking the calls?" If so you are making a mistake.

We must understand that it will always take longer to do it over than it will to do it right. If we ask
front-line staff to compromise quality because we have a queue issue, we will be setting the stage
for the oft-found belief of Call Center staff that management cares more about quantity than
quality. This is not to say that our front-line staff may not be able to reorganize the workload or
make some adjustments in their behavior during peak periods, just not at the risk of quality.

4. Commit to training.
Training is the single most important investment in the Customer Service Call Center. In most
Call Centers, initial training is often lengthy and ineffective; ongoing training is often canceled and
monitor programs leave much to be desired. Training also acts as a morale booster. One of the
major contributors to turnover is when staff feels as if their growth doesn’t matter to the
organization. To improve quality, improve training.

Call Centers must also be creative about training because we simply cannot take staff off the
phone for instructor led programs, as you can with other departments. The use of the
Internet/intranets, video tapes, CD-ROM and computer-based training all lend themselves to
dynamic scheduling and self-paced learning.

When preparing your budget, plan for a minimum of ten hours per year per person for training.(This is a minimum – not a recommendation; I believe it should be much higher). Then measure
whether the training took place.

Study the error rates and types of errors in your center to adjust the training curriculum. Have
your training people do an analysis of the types of calls handled and the skills required, so they
can maintain a skills matrix and prepare individual training plans.

Finally, make your monitor program an absolute training vehicle and not necessarily a strict
performance measurement tool. The monitor program is like providing your front-line staff with a
"personal trainer". This is a very expensive program when you figure in all the supervisor hours
and in many cases, the technology investments. We must demand a performance return on this
investment. Hold your monitor scores up against other measurements. If the program is effective
(assuming your turnover rate is not in the double digits), you should see improvements in handle
time, service level and occupancy.

Naturally, the right kind of training is essential - product knowledge training, Customer Service
training and training in how to use the phones, computers and software needed to run a Call
Center enterprise. However, when training lasts eight, ten, twelve weeks, there’s a risk your
people will be overwhelmed with information. On-the-job training can go a long way toward
teaching reps the practical skills of applying product knowledge to a factual situation or learning
how to diffuse an angry customer.

The configuration of your people should also drive the type of training provided. For example,
while all staff may be trained in answering basic product inquiries and complaints, several reps
might be assigned to specialized teams which deal with technical issues, high ticket items, high
volume customers or customers with special needs. Those special needs must be addressed in
the training curriculum. Be aware, however, that productivity is a potential tradeoff though in an
environment with many small teams. Larger generalized groups of representatives can take more
calls than a consortium of smaller ones.

Many Call Centers receive training from a designated corporate training department, somewhat
disconnected from the Call Center. It is important in a Call Center for the trainers to report to the
Call Center director and to have continuous exposure to the Call Center environment.
Within that framework, trainers can take on a mentoring role during the first 90 days a trainee
spends on the floor. It is key for trainees not to feel they have been cast adrift the moment the
initial training period is over.

Kathleen Peterson is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer of PowerHouse Consulting. Kathleen Peterson is an acclaimed Contact Center consultant and industry visionary. Kathleen has emerged as one of the most sought-after experts in the field of Customer Experience and works with the world's top customer-focused companies. She is widely published in prestigious journals in the US and abroad. Kathleen is a featured speaker at conferences and Fortune 500 companies. She has shared her humour, philosophy and experience in keynotes in the US, London, Paris, Turkey, Dubai, and Hong Kong. 

Kathleen will be speaking at the Contact Center Summit in Sarasota-FL this November, covering the topic of "Backstage at the Customer Experience."


The Pulse of Social Media

Change is coming for the customer service world. A recent study found 50 percent of consumers prefer using social media to reach their service provider than calling a contact center. Long gone are the social media skeptics as large, growing companies turn to these outlets for customer engagement, lead generation and brand development.

Amdocs found using social media as a platform for customer service is beneficial for multiple reasons: one, it cuts down on call center costs, and two, it improves the customer experience by boosting engagement. Emerging software connects customers’ social media identities to their profiles stored in the customer relationship management (CRM) system. Using and managing the data from social media outreach, companies are able to analyze trends and media shouts, identifying and resolving problems in just moments.

Contact Center software like Five9 is constantly introducing new technology that includes social media integration and social engagement tools. To prove that social media is here to stay – Five9’s Summer Release 2014 raised $73 million.

In a study by BI Intelligence, they found that social activity is the top internet activity. This means that Americans spend more time on social media than any other major internet activity – including email. Of that time, 60% of social media is accessed on smartphones and tablets, not desktop computers. Of the social media networks, Facebook attracts roughly seven times the engagement that Twitter does, meaning that user interaction on Facebook is more influential.

Here are some key facts regarding social media in the customer service world and correlating tips to improve the consumer experience:

  • Speedy Response: 52 % of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes of their social media contact, but only 24 % of service providers say they respond within that timeframe.
  • Invest in a CRM system with innovative social media software: 64 % of customers say they would be willing to share their social identity with their service provider, in return for better service and 48 % would like to receive relevant, personalized offers from their service provider via social media.
  • Link customers to their virtual identity: There’s still plenty of room for improvement in the social media world – 93 % of service providers say they cannot identify customers from their social media profiles and 64 % of service providers do not store social media interactions in their CRM database.

“When people take to Twitter or Facebook to ask questions, or worse yet, complain about their service provider, that’s an opportunity the service provider can take to proactively resolve that customer’s issue – if they know that customer’s real identity.”
- Rebecca Prudhomme, VP Product and Solution Marketing at Amdocs

For more information on customer service via social networks, check out the infographic below.

 

Click to Enlarge Image

The Industries With the Most Customer Complaints — Brought To You By Desk.com
 
 

When (Corporate) Social Media Goes Horribly Wrong


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