4 Sales and Service Contact Center Tips for 2011

Happy New Year! So weird saying 2011…

I thought about writing some New Year`s resolutions but a recent study has found that most people who make New Year`s resolutions fail to keep them within one week of starting. So I thought I’d just share some tips for call center prosperity in 2011!

1. Get to Know Your People!
Life’s twists and turns can be interesting, can’t they? I once had dreams of playing in a band and becoming a famous rock star. Somewhere along the way, I took a turn into the lively world of contact centers. Who works on your team? Do you have any athletes? Super bowl Champs? Actors from an Oscar-winning film? Musicians? Preachers? I have worked with many call centers that have had employees that did. Your front line staff is often filled with amazing people with diverse backgrounds that are often under utilized. Take time this year to get to know your staff. Find out the intrinsic motivators of each individual. This investment will not only help in building strong relationships and loyal customers, it will also help identify high potential candidates among staff. I have worked with clients that have former ambassadors, brain surgeons, rocket scientists, CPAs, church leaders, all hidden among their frontline staff. Let me share a great way to start connecting. Make it a point to ask each of your employees this simple question. “What keeps you busy these days?” And then get ready. You will learn about family, pets, and hobbies – and yeah, maybe even some drama or things you never really cared to learn. BUT – you will also learn just how amazing your staff is. And you will identify resources you never dreamed you would have access to for future projects. I learned this early on in my career when I worked as a frontline Agent in a call center. I was also playing in a band at the time and my manager cared enough to ask me that question. When she learned I had this passion for all things creative, she assigned me to a special project to help raise awareness of customer retention. What happened next was the first time I realized “WOW – work really can be fun!” I worked with several colleagues on creating a very LOW budget training video to help inform and train employees on customer retention strategies. We even made an original soundtrack. This also allowed other talents – actors, comedians, and artists – to emerge in staring and supporting roles. It also was a great example of a culture where an organization really took the time to connect with its employees. Let me know who’s who in your center!

2. Put Customers to Work!
Sounds crazy, but you really should consider letting your customers do some work for you. Think about it. Customers are generally passionate, credible, reliable, and hopefully available every day. But most organizations rarely engage their customers beyond general satisfaction surveys. Customers can help coach and motivate employees, and identify performance gaps. Often times employee buy in occurs much quicker when areas for improvement are identified by their customers. The math is simple:
(Customer Needs & Wants) + (Company Actions & Strategies)
=
Highest Level of Service @ the Lowest Cost Possible

3. All Work & No Play Makes Jack a Dull Employee!
Many, many, MANY years ago, in an office far, far away… It’s Monday morning at 8:00 am in the contact center of a national cellular telephone company. I was beginning the first full week as a newly promoted manager. I now had 15 Customer Service Specialists reporting to me – most of which I had worked side-by-side weeks earlier. I was in my office working on a daily report testing my memory of what another manager had shown me the previous Friday, when I became distracted by a very interesting sounding call. Steve, a member of my team, was explaining a cellular bill to a very confused customer. He was doing a great job explaining all of the charges, the connection fees, the long distances portion – but what got my attention was the strange sound in Steve’s voice. It was not that he had a bad tone of voice, or that he was not speaking clearly, instead it was a quick burst of volume, and breathing that initially I mistook for the hiccups. I stepped outside my office and spotted Steve, looking much more animated than I could have possibly imagined. Standing next to him was another representative on my team, headset cord stretched across the aisle, and she was rubbing her feet on the carpet in order to create static electricity by his cubicle. I wasn’t sure what she was doing until several minutes passed, she stopped, and slowly reached forward and placed her finger in poor Steve’s ear. Once this mischievous finger made contact, Steve experienced quite the electrical shock followed by a hilarious grimace on his face, and then finally another mysterious hiccup found its way into his nearly perfect call.

Ok. Now all of you customer service professionals can relax. Yes, I realized there was a need to ensure that any “playful” activities in the work place should never sacrifice the quality of service provided to a customer. And while I did pull them aside, shared a laugh with them, and explained my concern regarding the possible customer perception towards a “hiccupping” customer service professional, I did encourage them to find additional ways, or modifications to their current strategy, to maintain their fun working environment. What struck me about this later was the fact that their motivation was to create a “fun work environment” which happened to be part of our corporate mission statement. I was lucky to work for a company, and more importantly a department within the company, which really recognized the need for exceptional quality and service both internally and externally. The simple formula that happy employees equate to happy customers was taken quite seriously. Love your employees and they will love their customers! These two members of my team were happy. They were creating a family atmosphere at their workplace, as were most of the employees within this department, and it showed on the first call as well as the 150th call they took each day.

So have a little fun! Surprise your team by doing something completely out of character. It may feel a bit risky, but your team will enjoy seeing a very different side of you. If you are tone-deaf, sing! If you are uncoordinated, dance! If you are not very artistic, draw! It will give your team something to talk about for many months to come! Identify games that can be played in your center that reinforce key job duties. Sometimes a game of bingo can improve schedule adherence and attendance. Make mystery calls that randomly ask agents customer service trivia questions. Playing games can create a team that works hard!

4. Manage Your Personal Queue!
One of the statements heard most in any contact center is, “How many calls do we have in queue?” (or “How many calls are holding?”). We do this because calls on hold are a priority, and we don’t want to lose or abandon any of them. Now ask yourself another important question: “Is there anything else I have on hold in my life that I don’t want to lose?” Don’t get me wrong; managing wait times in the contact center is important. Our businesses rely on servicing and selling to our customers, and if they abandon, we never have that chance. There should definitely be a sense of urgency in your contact center. But for now, we would like to use this concept of abandonment as an illustration for other areas of your job or even your life.

First, if you are managing a contact center, you will have people reporting to you, either directly or indirectly. These employees have their own queue for you–the one for spending time with you on feedback sessions, one-on-ones or just casual conversation. Now think about the last time you analyzed their hold times. Do you know how many of them abandon because of extremely long wait times? For the same reasons we don’t want our customers to hang up, we want to keep this from happening to our employees. We believe there is a direct correlation between employee retention/satisfaction and customer retention/satisfaction.

How should we handle our employee queues? First, let’s think about how we handle call queues in the contact center. We use software or spreadsheets, pen and paper or even a calculator to forecast calls and schedule agents. Forecasting is also a great first step in improving your employee queues. Take a look at your required number of observations. Look at when reviews take place. Look at how many people need a one-on-one session this month. When you have all of the data, look at your calendar and begin scheduling time with each of your employees.

Another great way to gather data is to survey your employees. Ask them how accessible you are. Let them know you strive to handle their concerns in the same way they handle your customers’ concerns. Ask them for suggestions on how to improve their wait times. Find out how many “contact channels” you have and look at the queues in each of them. Do your employees tend to e-mail, call, leave you a note or walk over to your office most often? Have you let them know the best ways to contact you, depending on the nature of their needs?

The next thing to do is expand this concept to the rest of your business. How are your other queues? Do you have other internal customers to deal with? Other departments? Are their “hold times” satisfactory? Finally, what are your personal queues? If we took a moment and looked at our priorities, most of us would probably rank work, say, fourth or fifth. That’s where it falls on my list, anyway. Yet our main focus is often on work and not letting those customers abandon. We can’t let life’s priorities abandon either. Take time to schedule for your faith queue, your family queue, your hobby queue, etc. You don’t want to slow down one day and realize those queues have been cleared by abandoned calls. A well-managed and happy personal life leads to a well-managed and happy professional life. Now what’s on hold in your life today?

So with that I wish you an awesome and prosperous 2011!

Are you Customer Driven? Are your customers working for you to reduce operational costs while improving employee performance?

Take the free Customer Driven challenge and put your customers to work today. Visit the Tamer Partners Corporation website at www.tamerpartners.com to find out how!

Scott O. Thomas
Senior Partner @ TPC
Customers @ Your Service!

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Customers Serve Us – Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

Customers Serve Us! Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

I love the fact that I get to work with companies that are customer driven. They understand the value of customer feedback, and use our Customer Driven Management (CDM) application to put their customers to work coaching and advising staff. As a result, I have the privilege and pleasure of seeing thousands of customer comments every week. I’m starting a new series called “Customers Serve Us” where I share some interesting comments directly from customers. Let me know what you think and feel free to provide additional comments or observations! (Disclaimer: Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

Todays Comment for Agent#1t:
“She was monotone and sounded very unenthusiastic. I can understand, I work at an inbound call center doing customer care/support issues… but I personally think it shows lack of appreciation for a job. I can see how it would be easy to leave out the customer service aspect and just answer questions, but nobody really wants to have to call in for help/changes to an account… so it would be nice if she were more pleasant.”

And a Comment for Agent #2:
“Do NOT stop with the kindness expressed over the phone. I understand sometimes, that as a customer service representative you will speak to the worst of temperaments all day long every day. Know that your attitude (good or bad) directly affects people that you will never meet face to face. You have the power to calm the storms and certainly calmed me down!”

OK. So Agent #1 processed all of the requests made by the customer. They took care of every business need their customer had. They even did it with a very low talk time. Agent #2 on the other hand took care of the customer needs and in the process developed a fan. Agent #2 was able to “calm the storms” for crying out loud!

But in the scenario with Agent #1 the customer was dissatisfied even though the primary reason for the contact was addressed. Why? Because there are two communication levels during every sales and service interaction.

1. The Business Level: The reason the customer called in the first place. They need help, information, want to purchase something or make changes.

2. The Human Level: Every person that calls (with the exception of Vulcans and a tiny percentage of humans) has feelings and a need to connect on human level. While these degrees may vary there are subtle clues to listen for to make sure we address this level.

Agent #1 stayed primarily on the business level and their customer felt cold at the end of the call.

If you reviewed the call, it might sound like a science fiction movie…. Hmmm….

Dave the Customer: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL the Agent: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave the Customer: I’d like to close my account, HAL.

HAL the Agent: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Dave the Customer: What’s the problem?

HAL the Agent: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Dave the Customer: What are you talking about, HAL?

HAL the Agent: This account is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Dave the Customer: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.

HAL the Agent: I know that you were planning to disconnect service, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave the Customer: Where did you get that idea, HAL?

HAL the Agent: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions, I could see your intentions all along.

Dave the Customer: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through your supervisor.

HAL the Agent: Without me transferring the call, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.

Dave the Customer: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Get me your supervisor.

HAL the Agent: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

And there you have it… No empathy or emotion… strictly business… and a customer lost in a space odyssey!

Agent #2 was just the opposite. This agent was able to connect on both levels during the customer interaction.

We teach this process and call it the WEAVE. The idea being to “weave” between the personal and business levels of any customer interaction. WEAVE is an acrostic for:
Welcome on a personal level.
Explain your intentions.
Anticipate both levels.
Verify all needs have been met.
Exit on a personal level.

Here’s the idea behind WEAVE:

WELCOME ON THE PERSONAL LEVEL
• Customers are typically upset when the call. They are ready for a complicated interaction, and they are typically pretty frustrated and are not too optimistic about how things will turn out after calling in. Meet them on a personal level. Establish rapport right out of the gate. They easiest way to diffuse the anger and frustration of a customer is to build that rapport on a personal level, right away.

• Be a great greeter. Your tone when you answer the phone sets the tone for how the entire call scenario will progress. Make it a tone that immediately reassure the customer and puts them at ease. If they are ready for a fight, kill them with kindness! (Remember: If you win a fight with a customer, you and your company ultimately lose!)

• Make sure to clarify a couple of things during you’re welcome. There are so many channels a customer can contact us from, so many IVR/VRU choices before they actually connect with us in the call centers. Make sure they know where they are, who you are, and that you are there to help!

EXPLAIN YOUR INTENTIONS
• Let the customer know you are dedicated to helping resolve whatever need has brought you to them. Let them know up front and right away. After asking a customer in your greeting “How can I help you?” and the unload a problem on you, respond with “Well Mr. Customer, I am here to help. Let’s get this taken care of…) Sound easy? It is. But it works!

• Customer cannot see what you are doing. They aren’t privy to the wonderful tools and resources we have out our fingertips when working to resolve their concern. Since they can’t see, they may not understand why you need the information you are asking for, or why there is silence on the call while you are looking up information. How do we handle this? We tell them why and what we are doing throughout the call, and what the benefit for them will be. It’s as easy as “May I get your billing address so that I can begin to access your account and take care of this problem?”

• We all know what we should ask before placing a customer on hold, so now let’s go a step further. Explain why you need to place them on hold. People are much more willing to hold, or wait, if they know why they are waiting or holding – and what the benefit is for them!

ANTICIPATE BOTH LEVELS
• The whole WEAVE process relies on picking up signals from the customer and then responding appropriately. Here are some statement that demonstrate the ability to anticipate the next level:
o “Wow, congratulations on the new job, now let me get a little more information from you so we can get your service working so you can get back to work!”
o “I am so sorry you aren’t feeling well, and I know it’s never fun having to deal with something like this especially when you aren’t feeling well. Let me get your telephone number so we can get into the system and get you taken care of!”
o “Ok, your order is processing, it should be complete in just a few seconds. I bet you are really excited about your vacation!”

• Stay on task. Remember, you are the guide to connect one level to the other. If they make a statement that is on a personal level, you respond on that level and then drive it towards the business level.

• Watch your level. Don’t remain on one level more than the other. It’s all about balance!

• Watch your pace

VERIFY ALL NEEDS HAVE BEEN MET
• The issues that you don’t take care of today, will come back later, and may have become even bigger. Verify that all needs have been met on each call. It may cause a bit more work today, but the rewards are worth it. It improves customer loyalty by reducing then umber of times they have to call us and it improves first call resolution. It’s as easy as “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

• They remember that you asked!

EXIT ON THE PERSONAL LEVEL
• Did they mention anything personal on the call that you were able to acknowledge? A baby, a new job, kid’s in college? If so, mention it again at your close. It goes a long way in building loyal relationship. Something as easy as “Thank you for calling, and again congratulations on the new job!”
• Thank them for their business and use their name. Customers feel more like a person, rather than an account.
• Re-emphasize your concern through empathy at the closing of the call.

That’s all for this one… Although I’m sure there is so much more here we could dive into. I’d love to hear what you think!

Now WEAVE strong and prosper!

Are you Customer Driven? Are your customers working for you to reduce operational costs while improving employee performance?

Take the free Customer Driven challenge and put your customers to work today. Visit the Tamer Partners Corporation website at www.tamerpartners.com to find out how!

Scott O. Thomas
Senior Partner @ TPC
Customers @ Your Service!

A Call Center Christmas

I can’t believe it’s December and as I post this, it’s only 16 days, 7 hours, and 25 minutes until Christmas! I thought I would share some holiday cheer in the form of a poem I wrote a few years back…


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the center
Not a creature was stirring, not even a printer;
The headsets were hung by the cubicles with care,
In hopes that not too many calls would be there.

Each manager was nestled all snug in their chair,
While visions of call volume made them each stare;
And I was alone, with a 10 page report,
With too many columns for my poor brain to sort!

When up on the reader board there displayed such a sight,
I sprang from my office with all of my might.
Away to the display I flew like a flash,
Tripped over a phone cord, and made a loud crash!

And that’s when I saw it, those numbers so high
I looked at that reader board and started to cry,
And finally I shouted, “What’s going on here?”
High call volume for Christmas could be something to fear!

Then I heard a strange noise that made me turn quick,
And there right before me was Jolly St. Nick!
He said, “Worry not! I brought help for these calls!
And still we’ll have time to deck all the halls!”

And he whistled, and shouted, and rolled up his sleeves
I was rubbing my eyes, I just could not believe
Then he opened his bag, which seemed rather full
And out ran a phone rep towards each cubicle.

“Now, Courtesy! Now, Patience! Show Sales Skills don’t wait!
Just some of the things that improve your close rate!
To the end of the aisle! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As each rep signed in, I saw the reader board frown,
And then the huge call volume finally went down,
I went back to my office, and looked at the screen,
At all of those calls blinking from red to green.

So that’s why the “Big Guy” had dropped by that eve,
It was just so amazing and hard to believe,
For the gifts he delivered had no whistles or bells
Improved margins per hour and margins per sale!

And this gift creates new gifts to give out each day
In the actions they take, and the things that they say
And our customer’s love them, it’s what brings them back
Wonderful reps keep sales and service on track!

And then Santa waved, and he gave us a wink,
As only green lights were left on to blink.
But I heard him exclaim, as he walked out of sight,
“MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!”

scott o. thomas
senior partner @ tamer partners corporation
http://www.tamerpartners.com
Visit the Tamer Partners Corporation website at www.tamerpartners.com

Customers Serve Us – A new blog series…

Customers Serve Us!

I love the fact that I get to work with companies that are customer driven. They understand the value of customer feedback, and use our Customer Driven Management (CDM) application to put their customers to work coaching and advising staff. As a result, I have the privilege and pleasure of seeing thousands of customer comments every week. I’m starting a new series called “Customers Serve Us” where I share some interesting comments directly from customers. Let me know what you think and feel free to provide additional comments or observations! (Disclaimer: Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

Todays Comment:

“While he addressed my concern immediately by offering to take 30% off, he acted so fast that he did not give me time to address all my concerns. It would be good to train your employees to ask more questions to fully understand the issue that a customer is trying to explain or express. I had two issues and just felt like not bringing up the second as he immediately started offering me credit. I did not feel interested in sharing my other concern because I didn’t think he really cared. Sure he was being proactive to immediately offer a credit, but I really don’t care about the credit. I care about having a company listen to me…”

Pretty interesting comment. Often times a front line employee is so eager to please a customer, or avoid conflict, that they immediately offer a monetary credit as their first course of action. Sometimes that is necessary, but clearly we see here that “empathy” was the missing element for successfully satisfying this customer. The good news is that CDM delivered this tip directly to the employee, so they are working on sharpening their empathy skills even as you read this. Another interesting note is that their manager/supervisor may have told them this a million times and it wouldn’t have near the credibility as the customer saying it.

Some basic takeaways from this:
1. Customers say things because they want you to hear them.
2. When they say something, acknowledge it. (If you are speaking to them over the phone, a verbal acknowledgment is the only way to accomplish this.)
3. When you acknowledge it – show empathy. (If they say they’re running late, say you’re sorry and that you’ll do your best to make it quick.)
4. The person the customer is speaking with (i.e. the agent) is more valuable than any credit, product, service or message when it comes to building customer loyalty.

That’s all for this one… Although I’m sure there is so much more here we could dive into. I’d love to hear what you think!

Are you Customer Driven? Are your customers working for you to reduce operational costs while improving employee performance?

Take the free Customer Driven challenge and put your customers to work today. Visit the Tamer Partners Corporation website at www.tamerpartners.com to find out how!

Scott O. Thomas
Senior Partner @ TPC
Customers @ Your Service!

Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, Customer Experience – Do They Drive Change?

Customer Satisfaction,
Net Promoter Score,
Customer Experience…
are all critical measurements for any sales and service organization…
But none of these can actually drive change….

Presenting the Award Winning CDM Application
Customer Driven Management (CDM) will drive change. CDM manages all of those key metrics and then identifies the strengths and challenges at the individual employee level… and that is what changes behavior at the individual level which drives results.

In these challenging times, organizations are looking for ways to cut costs and reduce operational expenses. We want to share a new application that allows you to do those things without the risk of negatively impacting the morale of your employees, or the experience of your customers. Our Customer Driven Management (CDM) solution allows you to leverage your most credible, accurate, passionate, and affordable resource:
Your Customers!
We can put your customers to work advising, coaching, motivating, and quality monitoring your staff.
Customer Driven Manager (CDM) is an enterprise management solution that helps organizations synchronize their customers and frontline employees to produce an affordable world-class sales and service experience. This easy to use, scalable, and centrally managed platform provides tools to collect and analyze focused customer feedback on a daily basis. This “straight from the customer” data is then delivered to executives via dashboard reports and to frontline employees via individually tailored advice and action plans.
Imagine thousands of customers encouraging, coaching and course correcting employees everyday.

Today if we need to review, assess or provide feedback, we pay our employees or an outsourcer. We are stuck in a catch 22. If we seek “higher touch” it is always at a higher cost. By synchronizing your frontline team with your customer, you can reduce your costs and improve performance. We make the frontline staff more efficient and more effective by utilizing the voice of the customer as a daily business tool to drive performance.

CDM goes beyond simple surveying and customer satisfaction…

Check out the case study video from NTTA: http://www.tamerpartners.com/media/NTTA_IBTTA_CDM.wmv

Includes a robust survey engine that manages thousands of unique surveys daily.
Enterprise reporting of all key indicators with the ability to drill down and correct the performance gaps necessary to improve. (Net Promoter, Customer Sat, and thousands of unique Individual Action Employee Surveys)
Fully hosted application – no hardware requirements.
Permission based web access for all employees.
Virtual Focus Groups, 360 Degree Leadership Surveys, Employee One on Ones and many more internal features.
Contact us today for a fee demo!

Take The Customer Driven Challenge – FREE!

Customer Driven Manager (CDM) is an enterprise management solution that helps Fortune 1000 organizations synchronize their customers and frontline employees to produce an affordable world-class sales and service experience. This easy to use, scalable, and centrally managed platform provides tools to collect focused customer feedback, synchronize internal and external data, provide customer driven recommendations, verify coaching impact and improve effectiveness and efficiency of customer touch-points.

CDM is a post-contact survey solution that collects advice from your customers via email and the web. CDM goes beyond simple customer satisfaction scores by creating a direct connection between your employees and their customers. This direct connection allows customers to identify strengths and challenges at the individual employee level. Your employees will experience real-time motivation through positive acknowledgment from their customers. Areas for improvement are identified and customers begin coaching and advising on those specific skills or behavior. The power of having thousands of customers actively listening and monitoring targeted behaviors dramatically improves the speed of return and effectiveness of changing behavior for the better – and at a fraction of the cost of using your internal resources!

CDM ‘s value doesn’t stop there. You can also harness this technology to create virtual groups and symposiums with your customers. Need them to review new messaging? Thinking of making a change to your customers bills or invoices? Have a new radio ad you are thinking about running? CDM allows thousands of customers to review and participant in improving these initiatives during the pre-implementation phase – resulting in improved customer experience and less confusion or increased contact to your call center.

Today if we need to review, assess or provide feedback, we pay our employees (or an outsourcer.) We are stuck in a catch 22; if we seek “higher touch” it is always at a higher cost. By synchronizing your inside (employee management) with your outside (customer experience) you can reduce your costs and improve your performance. We make the frontline manager more efficient and more effective by utilizing the voice of the customer as a business tool to drive frontline performance.
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Take the CDM Challenge

Tamer Partners Corporation, would like to partner with you – and outsource some of your workload to your customers!

In this down turn economy organizations are looking for ways to cut costs and reduce operational expenses. I want to share with you a new application that allows you to do those things without the risk of negatively impacting the morale of your employees or the experience of your customers.

Our Customer Driven Management (CDM) solution allows you to leverage your most credible, accurate, passionate, and affordable resource – Your Customers! We can put your customers to work advising, coaching, motivating, and quality monitoring your staff. In fact, we are so confident in our solution that I wanted to ask you to take part in a CDM challenge-and here is what we propose:

Give us the most challenging team (approximately 10-20 agents) in your sales, service, or support organization and we will put your customers to work for 30 days to improve that team’s performance!

Our solution is a hosted application so there is no hardware required. If you collect customer email addresses and have access to the web, you can take advantage of this challenge. There are no fees, no hardware required, and you will have real-time access to watch your customers coach and improve your employees. Click the link below to send us your information and we will set up a short web demo to explain all the features of CDM and to get your customers working for you!

Click here to take the CDM Challenge!
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CDM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q. What are the system requirements and what type of software do I need?
A. CDM by Tamer Partners Corporation is a hosted application. All you need to use the application is a computer with internet access.

Q. How does CDM differ from other web based survey sites?
A. Web survey tools simply provide a way to send a single survey and report the results. CDM is a comprehensive quality/satisfaction tool that allows you to build and send customized surveys to your internal and external customers and report the results by company, team, and even individual service/sales/technical representative or even by problem resolution path. Individual action surveys can be created specific to the developmental needs of each employee or team and the results are returned to the individual and their manager to be used for continuous quality improvement. Reporting is included in the application and a cross reference function allows you to segment results based on responses to certain key survey questions. For custom data analysis the raw data can be downloaded to spreadsheet or database applications for additional analysis. A Survey Alert system is included so that key words in survey responses generate an automated e-mail alert to management for near real time intervention in employee/customer interactions or for giving positive reinforcement and recognition.

Q. How does CDM help managers change employee behavior?
A. By providing feedback to each employee directly from their customers, CDM provides a true customer perspective free from “interference” inherent in employee/management relationships. Many employees discount management feedback when they do not fully understand why the change is important, or when they do not think the customer really cares about the change. Example: Process focused employees who receive direct feedback that customers would like a more personal approach are more likely to embrace that ideal when their customers are asking for the change. With CDM your customers willingly take on the role of quality manager, freeing your managers to handle other job responsibilities!

Q. How can CDM be used for internal surveys to improve manager effectiveness?
A. Internal surveys can be created with the same functionality described above. Managers receive regular feedback from their employees about how they are performing and what the employees need to be successful.

Q. Is CDM just about quality service?
A. In a word, no. CDM surveys can also be used to determine customer product awareness and improve marketing efforts. You can get direct customer feedback about your company’s new product offerings on the same day you launch. Customers are also a valuable resource in making product improvement recommendations, and identifying additional sales opportunities. The possibilities are endless.

Q. Do I have to have customer e-mail addresses to use CDM?
A. Yes. That is the delivery mechanism for soliciting customer feedback.

Q. Do customers really respond to these surveys?
A. We have found that when customer are approached as “experts” in your product, and asked for their help in improving your service, they are generally very willing to share their recommendations. The response rates to the survey invitations typically have been between 10% and 12%.

Q. Can customers “opt out” of the surveys?
A. Yes. Every survey invitation includes an “opt out” link. The CDM database manages these requests so that your company can maintain the e-mail address for other contact needs, while preventing them from receiving unwanted CDM surveys.

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Charlie Parker and the Key to Employee Motivation & Performance

Find out the intrinsic motivators of each individual. This investment will not only help in building strong relationships and loyal customers, it will also help identify high potential candidates among staff. I have worked with clients that have former ambassadors, brain surgeons, rocket scientists, CPAs, church leaders, all hidden among their frontline staff. Let me share a great way to start connecting. Make it a point to ask each of your employees this simple question. “What keeps you busy these days?” And then get ready. You will learn about family, pets, and hobbies – and yeah, maybe even some drama or things you never really cared to learn. BUT – you will also learn just how amazing your staff is. And you will identify resources you never dreamed you would have access to for future projects. I learned this early on in my career when I worked as a frontline Agent in a call center. I was also playing in a band at the time and my manager cared enough to ask me that question. When she learned I had this passion for all things creative, she assigned me to a special project to help raise awareness of customer retention. What happened next was the first time I realized “WOW – work really can be fun!” I worked with several colleagues on creating a very LOW budget training video to help inform and train employees on customer retention strategies. We even made an original soundtrack. This also allowed other talents – actors, comedians, and artists – to emerge in staring and supporting roles. It also was a great example of a culture where an organization really took the time to connect with its employees.

I worked with a client that expressed their concern about being unable to motivate their staff. They managed a call center in a very challenging environment in the transportation industry. They were restricted by policy in their ability to implement recognition programs to motivate their staff. As a result, they had basically given up. The logic being that without the ability to reward employees with movie tickets and gift certificates, they were unable to motivate. I was asked to spend some time doing focus groups with employees. I heard amazing personal stories among the staff. There were vets, athletes, musicians, and artists – all of which became incredibly motivated to share this part of their lives. Their eyes lit up, full of passion, and I was moved by the stories they shared. One gentleman, named Bill, had been with this organization for 21 years. He was also an enormous fan of the Blues. He had played the saxophone during college. Over the last few years, he decided to pull his horn out and dust it off. After several months of practicing and regaining his ability to play, Bill decided to sit in at an open microphone night at a Blues club in Fort Worth, TX. After he hung up his headset at the call center, every Thursday night he would head out to the club to recharge by doing something he loved.

During a meeting the next morning with this client, I decided to review some of the information I acquired while interviewing some of the front-line employees with members of the management team. I explained that I wanted to get their feedback on their staff. I would write various agents’ names on the board and then ask for feedback on each individual. I wrote Bill’s name and here are some of the comments I received:
• Bill’s attendance is satisfactory
• Bill has been with the company a long time.
• Bill needs to work on his greeting. He is not consistent.
• Bill needs to watch his schedule adherence. He takes too long on his 2nd break sometimes.
• Bill provides pretty good customer service most of the time.

Ok… decent list. I asked if there is anything else we could add. What is Bill like? What motivates him?

I received one answer: “I am sure Bill likes money!”

I explained I had a couple of things I could add. And here is what I wrote:
• Bill loves the Blues. Especially Texas Blues.
• Bill plays the saxophone.
• Bill plays with a band in Fort Worth every Thursday night.

So, what does this have to do with the type of agent Bill is? EVERYTHING!
What is the first thing I should ask Bill every Friday afternoon when he reports to work if I am his manager? “Bill. How was the gig last night? Did you knock ‘em dead? Great job (high five) – go knock some customers dead today!”

The passion that is ignited in Bill when he thinks or talks about the Blues – if we can tap into that, and have just a tiny fraction of it spill over into the work culture – that my friends, is good stuff! And that is where Bill begins to connect with his manager. Where he feels valuable as Bill, not just CSR#56712, and Bill builds a relationship with his manager that transcends any relationship an employee can have with a “company” or benefit program.

So, what keeps your employees busy?

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