You can train your agents and your managers until you’re blue in the face, but like a parent sending a child off to college, you never know how capable your call center is until you unleash it upon the public. Unfortunately, your representatives don’t return after a few months with grades in hand – you have to seek out barometers for success yourself.
Gleaned from the very people you rely on for sustained business, customer feedback data can help you identify key areas for improving call center agent performance. The following are five areas where a careful study of your customers’ experience can help you discover issues that you might not have known existed, and identify areas ripe for improvement.
1. Customer Satisfaction First, and most obviously, you want the people who dial into your call center, for whatever reason, to have a positive experience (or as positive an experience as possible). Allowing for the rare person just looking for a stranger on whom to blow off some billing-related steam, most customers are trying to get a question asked or a problem fixed – and they’re usually more than willing to tell you if their needs were not met.
Looking at your customer feedback data in aggregate will identify drivers for customer satisfaction. Are a sizeable percentage of callers asking the same question, or lodging the same complaint? Not only can you relay this to the operations side of your business, you can prepare your agents with these details. Which leads us to…
2. Agent Coaching Along with salespeople, your customer care representatives are the first line of contact between your company and the general buying public. This fact is not lost upon the vast majority of managers, 77% of whom noted that hiring and training high-quality agents was the key to delivering a superior customer experience.
Remember that wistful talk of grades above? This is the closest you can come to finding out if your agents are making the Dean’s list or failing out. Diligent analysis of post-call surveys will help you identify areas for improvements in your coaching and training. You’ll also be able to determine who your most effective reps are, and whether you have some personnel changes on the horizon.
3. Call Deflection One surefire way – perhaps the best way – to increase the quality of your call center’s performance is to reduce the overall number of incoming calls that you’re receiving. If you understand what questions your customers are most likely to ask, you can answer it for them and eliminate the need to call.
Analyzing the sentiment of incoming calls, as well as specific areas where your customers are having issues, will give you a roadmap for preempting customer service issues. Is there general confusion about a product and it’s feature set? Prominently displayed product how-to’s, or an updated FAQ on your website, will reduce call volume and ensure that your agents expend their efforts on other topics.
4. First Call Resolution This is the home run, what your agents swing for each time they answer the phone with “Hello, thank you for calling…” There is no better way to ensure your customers hang up happy, and to improve your brand’s customer service reputation, than resolving an issue on the first call.
When studying the first call findings in your CX research, don’t concentrate solely on rates. In addition, look for issue descriptions that tip you off to the need for additional training and/or information from the product team. That way, you get a roadmap to solving your problem, instead of just a notification that a problem exists.
5. Handle Time Your customers want to have a quick and easy experience when they call you up – and they will tell you how to help them. You just need to listen: the answers are right there. Your online forums, call center agent notes, and call recordings themselves reveal the most common issues and concerns within your customer base. Analyze all of this data in aggregate to identify patterns and trends, and empower your agents to quickly address them.
Improving your center with these five strategies will elevate your function within the business. No longer will you be seen as a cost center with the primary goal of driving efficiency, but rather a business asset with a critical role in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Steve Roney is a social content strategist at Clarabridge, a high-growth customer experience and sentiment analytics software company.
What is delegation within the context of call center leadership? And what does delegation look like when efficiently executed within the call center environment? This brief discussion will lead you in the right direction. By definition, delegation within the context of call center leadership involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to an employee who has been empowered to make certain decisions. Normally the call center leader delegates these tasks and responsibilities to a subordinate. Call Center delegation has three primary purposes:
So where do we start? As a leader in the call center you have to first realize and accept that you will have to delegate in order to be effective. You start by developing a well-rounded relationship with all your team members. You will know you have achieved this level of relationship when you are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Strengths or natural affinity towards certain processes may vary within the group.
After you have assessed your team the next step is to be willing to take risks with your team members. They may not be “fully” competent in your eyes for certain tasks but that should not stop you from delegating to them. With this mindset you are now ready to start delegating.
Look at your individual daily responsibilities and see which ones can be routinely and consistently delegated. Care should be taken to ensure you are delegating as much as you can. However, the goal should never be to get rid of all your responsibilities, although a novel idea. Once you have identified the responsibilities you should be very transparent with why you are delegating. The explanation to your subordinates should include:
Finally, customize your delegation strategy for your environment. For example, you can rotate the agents by week or day who will be involved with delegated tasks.
Vice President, Customer Relations and Sales
Uniters North America
David Johnson is currently the Vice President of Customer Relations and Sales at Palladio US, LLC, which is a part of the international Uniters Group. He is also the current President of the SOCAP Florida Chapter. David has been working in the Customer Care industry for the last 15 years where he started out as an entry-level employee. David has a MBA Degree with a major in Finance and is an Adjunct Professor at Broward College teaching Accounting and Entrepreneurship courses.
Goods and services are no longer enough; what consumers want today are experiences — memorable events that engage each individual in an inherently personal way. To meet this demand, SOCAP members must develop experience innovations that turn mundane interactions into engaging encounters.
Understand that in today’s Experience Economy work IS theatre. It’s not a metaphor (work as theatre); it’s a model. That’s why Geek Squad agents in remote Geek Squad City — where they have no face-to-face interactions with customers — wear the same uniform as do Agents in Best Buy stores. Help your workers embrace theatre by understanding the difference between what and how — what is the functional requirements for their interactions with consumers, but how they go about those interactions can make them memorable.
Reach inside of your customers to create that personal experience within them, but do so with low costs, high volume, efficient operations. The secret to that is modularity, designing your processes like LEGO building bricks that can be put together in different ways for different customers. Progressive Insurance, for example, sends its customer service reps to the very site of member accidents, handling the claim and handing out a check on the spot over 90% of the time — while lowering its costs through its modular processes.
Recognize that consumers today don’t want to differentiate between off- and online interactions; they want to communicate with you whenever, wherever, whatever, and however they want. So innovate new ways of interacting, such as telecom provider 3 in Sweden, which created a “LiveShop” to connect consumers to its contact center. It’s like Skype on steroids, where its reps use a touch-screen interface to bring into view physically whatever phones and plans they want to talk about with the real, living, breathing customer in front of them virtually.
Follow these three imperatives and you will develop your own experience innovations that will shift you beyond goods and services and into today’s Experience Economy.
Author, Mass Customization
Co-founder, Strategic Horizons LLP
Customer Experience Focus Can Drive Culture Change
Technology has changed the way we do business. Customers can instantly find any information they want about a product or service via their smartphones. They can share their experience with it across social networks with hundreds, or even hundreds of thousands, of people. And they expect more personalized, convenient, and unique interactions with brands as companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google set the standards of their shopping, buying, and ownership experience. The world has changed and it’s given customers the power to make the rules. But can focusing on the importance of building a great customer experience push cultural change in an organization?
At GM we asked ourselves that question. From how we design our cars and trucks to how we market and advertise. From how we interact with each other, our suppliers and our dealer network to how we assess quality, safety, and reliability. We’ve used the customer experience as our rallying point for culture change, and here are some of the ways we’re enabling it.
First, we’ve become customer obsessed. Our decisions about products or policies or customer support start with customers in mind. A redesigned company vision was a starting point, but the real power came in how we shifted our resources. Customer care, data collection and analytics became high priority. We aligned our social listening and interaction tools to provide integrated customer support and conversation management. And we worked with our Dealer network to upgrade their facilities, training, and customer relationship management tools.
Second, we’ve increased our focus on making the customer experience a key measure of our success. To help manage how we execute those choices, a Customer Experience organization was established to coordinate across the company. Its mission is to strengthen customer service, improve customer listening posts, and maximize our investment in our dealer network. This team is closely integrated with product quality and brand marketing, and is now becoming integrated with our Connected Customer organization.
Third, we needed to make it known that customer-centric behavior was the right thing to for our team members to do. That’s meant leading by example and sharing stories of customer-centric decisions. It’s meant moving closer to the customer and having team members at all levels listen to customer calls. It’s meant making customer-centric stories central to meetings, events, trainings, and internal communications. And it’s also meant creating spaces and opportunities for collaboration and learning in the name of the customer. To do that we’ve created internal social media channels and forums dedicated to cross-functional teamwork in the name of improving our customer experience.
No one ever said that culture change was easy, but rallying around the customer experience has certainly energized us on our path to building the kind of culture we need to be successful. We’ve accomplished a lot in a short time, but we know work remains. We’ve become relentless in how we review every moment of a customer’s journey with us. We have no fear of doing what’s right for them. And we don’t shy away from talking about how important it is that we made the tough choice for the right reason. It’s excited us for the work we do today, tomorrow, and far into our future and made our purpose clear: everything we do starts and ends with earning customers for life.
Jim Moloney, is the Global Director for Customer Contact Centers for General Motors. In this position, Mr. Moloney is responsible for optimizing the site footprint and labor provider support models, and developing standardized processes, tools and scorecards for GM contact centers worldwide. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Moloney was the General Director of GM’s U.S. Contact Center team, where he led a transformational change to the customer experience business model. Under his leadership, GM has embraced the concept that purchase loyalty, service retention and the organization’s ability to conquest are all directly tied to the ownership experience, and are thus key drivers of the company’s long-term success plan.
Moloney is a member of the SOCAP Board of Directors and serves as Board Advisor to SOCAP’s Automotive Industry Community.
SOCAP is proud to recognize the 2014 chapter award winners through the CARE Award, Membership Achievement Award and STAR Award.
The CARE Award is the Chapter Award in Recognition of Excellence and evaluates chapters in the areas of chapter programs and events, membership, communications and operations. Congratulations to the 2014 CARE Award recipients:
The Membership Achievement award recognizes chapters that achieve net growth of membership for the year, meet new member and retention goals for the year. 2014 Membership Achievement Award recipients are below:
The STAR Award recognizes hardworking, dependable and dedicated individuals who support their local chapter. Winners are nominated by the chapter board. The 2014 STAR Award winners are:
SOCAP Chapters do a great job of providing networking opportunities, valuable events and programming and these efforts take a strong team of dedicated and talented individuals. Congratulations to all of the 2014 award winners!