Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Food Tips That Increase Productivity at Work

By Robin Thomas




Cutting Corners Doesn’t Help Productivity 
Like many others, I used to think that I would increase my productivity at work by either skipping meals or eating food purchased from the hallway vending machine. I never took the time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch.  
My work-day diet used to be “whatever is quick and easy” so I could get on with my work. I typically ate a crème-filled donut for breakfast, drank bottomless cups of coffee throughout the day for energy, and visited the vending machine for lunch.  Peanut butter crackers and an orange juice was my “go-to” lunch. 
Eating processed food might taste good at first, but the empty calories and high carbs (sugar) leave us feeling weak and irritable within an hour.  Caffeine gives us a boost, but it also leaves us either shaky or craving another cup.  High fat foods such as cheeseburgers require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy. 
Eat Breakfast for Sustained Energy
A breakfast that includes both protein and fruit sustains us longer and keeps us more productive than a donut or a bowl of cereal. 
Try these suggestions for a quick and healthy breakfast:
  • Yogurt- I like the higher protein Greek yogurt- mixed with fresh berries and low-fat granola with some nuts added
  • Steel-cut or old-fashioned rolled oats mixed with dried berries and nuts Oatmeal can easily be prepared overnight for a quick breakfast in the morning.
  • 100% stone-ground, whole-wheat toast topped with no-sugar, natural peanut butter and sliced banana
  • A protein rich meal-replacement shake with fruit added
Pack a Lunch
A high-fat, fast food meal offers empty calories and can cause your blood sugar to skyrocket and crash. You’re more likely to experience an afternoon slump on days you get fast food versus days you pack your own nutritious lunch.


·       Planning ahead is a must. Pick 2-3 easy prep meals, such as a turkey wrap, or fresh cut vegetables, whole grain crackers and hummus.


·       Make at least 2 salads on Sunday evening. Check out Salads in a Jar for ideas.


·       Get the right balance. Your lunch should include


o   A protein source such as meat, eggs, cheese or beans


o   A whole grain


o   Fruits


o   Vegetables 
Keep Healthy Snacks Available at Your Desk
Eating healthy snacks is not only better for your waistline, it’s just as important for nourishing the brain. Foods rich in folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C and vitamin E are particularly good for brain health and overall productivity.  These nutrients decrease inflammation, improve memory, and increases dopamine. Current research shows that the more fruits and vegetables eaten throughout the day increases feelings of well-being, curiosity, and creativity in young adults.  Having healthy snacks easily available also prevents spikes and drops in blood sugar. 
Some easy snacks to bring to the office:
  • A high protein nutrition bar
  • A small handful of mixed nuts or almonds
  • Celery, an apple, or a banana topped with natural peanut butter
  • Fresh cut vegetables with hummus
  • A hard-boiled egg
Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to how you feel after each meal or snack. Have you increased your energy level and are you thinking more clearly?  Or do you have “brain fog” and really want to take a nap? Think about it- do you get more work done when hungry and groggy, or when your mind is clear and you have plenty of energy? You will learn through experience the best foods to increase your own productivity, and through example encourage your co-workers to do the same. 
Live Well,
Robin Thomas
For more healthy tips, check out the following articles

Robin is the founder of Living Well Connections, a community of supportive people who are passionate about improving their health and the health of their families.

Her background in medical research on inflammation and 13 years with USANA Health Sciences has given her a unique insight on helping individuals find the best solutions to support their own health needs. 

You can learn more about  Living Well Connections at http://livingwellconnections.info  


#CustServ #QOTD


Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Budget Friendly Ways to Reward Great Customer Service

By: Sean Hawkins


When agents in your center provide great service, how do you reward them?  Below are a few methods I've relied on that go over extremely well.  If your department is working with a limited budget, these are great ways to reward top performers with minimal impact to your bottom line.


The Quality Assurance Award - If you measure agent quality, you're going have a top performer.  Reward this agent! I have allowed them the opportunity to coach other agents for improvement.  This is a great way to capitalize on their expertise, while also developing their leadership skills!



The Interaction of the Week Award  - Whenever an agent has an interaction that went exceptionally well, have them submit it to you.  After proper vetting, determine if it's deserving of the Interaction of the Week Award.  At the end of the week, announce the winner.  Although everyone may not win the award, they'll greatly appreciate their work was noticed! 



The CSAT Award - If you track customer satisfaction (gosh I hope so), reward your all-stars.  If someone is getting exceptional CSAT results, they are leading your team to success!  Not only are they doing a great job with each customer interaction, their good habits will likely spread throughout the rest of the team.  As with the Quality Assurance Award, allow them time to coach their peers.


In addition to giving a certificate for each award, include a gift.  An extended break, early dismissal, or a gift card are cost effective options.  To really engage the team and build enthusiasm, ask the agents for gift ideas!


Hopefully, as a result of these awards, you'll see an improvement in the overall performance of your contact center. However, the main objective is acknowledging and awarding outstanding performance.






Currently the Director of Contact Center and Customer Service, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on
 LinkedIn and
 Twitter.

#CustServ #QOTD


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Power (and Importance) of Agent Recognition

By Celia Thomas



It is extremely important to give recognition to front line employees, as they are the lifeblood of the contact center. It shows we value our agents, and at the same time, it increases morale and loyalty.


Public recognition is how I reward my agents who give excellent customer service. First of all, they deserve it. Secondly, it allows them to shine bright in the spotlight of success. This type of recognition will go a long way in building trust and comradery. It's also great that it costs the company little to nothing!


Here are few ideas you can bring to your contact center:

· Public shout out - During daily huddles, I publicly acknowledge agents for their accomplishments. I find this to be an effective motivator. 


· Certificate of Appreciation - post one at the agent's station and another on the center's Achievement Wall.


· PowerPoint slide - Create a slide detailing agent achievement. This can be posted to call center monitors and/or communication boards.

As you can see, these are easy to implement and they're easy to on your budget.


There's nothing more satisfying than being recognized for a great job. Accolades are a great motivator and they'll aid in making your agents happy. As we know, happy agents mean happy customers and less turnover!





Celia Thomas has 22 years of experience in the contact center, including 9 years in call center management. She has extensive knowledge in overseeing day to day operations, and is well versed in managing both Inbound and Outbound projects. During her career she has managed and grown many B2B and B2C client programs.


Follow Celia on  LinkedIn and Twitter! 

Friday Funny


#CustServ #QOTD


Friday, June 9, 2017

Address the Stress in Your Contact Center

By: Sean Hawkins




Let's face it, customers rarely call in to praise your service or product. Most likely they need help, or there was a service and/or product failure. Add in ineffective processes and bad policies, and the issue is compounded.

Do this daily for a period of time, and the stress level increases. This results in low energy, scattered thinking, loss of your sense of humor, increased negativity and ultimately high turnover. Obviously, none of these make a world class contact center. Even worse, it's damaging to the individual!

Workplace stress, and particularly call center stress, is a serious issue. A part of successful customer service includes suppressing one's natural emotions. Over time, this lack of an emotional outlet can have damage results. Have you wondered why your agents aren't their normal selves?

While this sensitive issue ultimately requires executive leadership, there are some ways to immediately address this in the contact center apart from a larger corporate program. 

Have Fun
  • Toys
  • Games
  • Off-site events
  • Team building activities
  • Stress balls

Channel Change 
  • Time off phone & other live channels
  • Impromptu training
  • Special projects

Comfort
  • Ergonomic equipment 
  • Relaxed dress code
  • Massage day

Schedule
  • Work from home 
  • Flexible schedule

Efficiency
  • Time in motion study
  • Reduce technology stack
  • Provide the right tools
  • Automate and streamline processes
  • Adjust metrics (AHT, TSF, ASF, Utilization)

Advocate
  • Be a leader
  • Champion the work, accomplishments and contributions
  • Work with HR to provide counseling program
  • Reduce workloads and demands
  • Ensure adequate staffing 
  • Train and develop
  • Competitive pay






Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on
 LinkedIn and
 Twitter.


#CustServ #QOTD


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Reasons Why You Are Your Own Attrition Problem


By: Julie Fredrickson
It is easy to point fingers at plausible reasons for your attrition problem, but have you set your organization in front of the mirror and held yourself accountable?  Take a hard look at yourself first before trying to fix your team



1.  Leadership devalues employees

Leadership views contact center agents as inferior and replaceable. They speak of them as dispensable assets. This creates a negative environment which leads to low morale, low performance and poor culture.  Overall success comes from leaders who hold themselves accountable to and for their team. The team's performance is a direct result of its leadership. The best leaders speak of their team’s shortcomings as their own, and seek ways to unify and strengthen the team.



2.  “If they don’t want to work, then…”

Your leadership assumes poor attendance is the fault/choice of the employee. A 2014 survey of 1,000 respondents by BambooHR showed you are losing one-sixth of your new employees “each month for the first three months.” Of those who quit “within the first six months, 23 percent said receiving clear guidelines to what my responsibilities were” would have helped them stay on the job. Nine percent said they wanted more attention from the “manager and co-workers.”  Low workplace morale, and leadership's communication errors, make it much easier to miss work.



3.  “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Your leadership assumes poor performance is the fault/choice of the employee.  Much like attendance, workplace factors are often the cause for performance issues.  Is your leadership setting an example of expected performance? Or, are you telling employees they must answer to leaders who do not set a good example themselves?  If expectations are not clear or change too often, a disconnect is also a likely cause for poor performance.  Set the example, and watch people follow. 



4.  “We don’t have the time/money/resources.”

You are failing to actively pursue employee engagement.  You may have tied some money to some goals, be it bonuses or the like, but you haven’t created an environment or a culture for your company.  Your employees spend most of their lives with you.  Unless you are in the business of saving lives or changing the world, it is in your hands to provide more value for employees to work for you than just the paycheck.  I could write a whole article about all the creative ways you can engage your employees, a book, a series even.  For the sake of your time today, Google “Employee Engagement Ideas” to go down this path.



5.  Communication

There’s a reason there is so much talk about communication (pun intentional).  It is the most important aspect of all relationships, including employer and employee relationships, but it is much easier to screw it up than to be successful at it. If communication is your problem, it’s likely one of three mistakes (or a mixture of a few or all 3). 



·   Too much communication

You are suffocating your team daily with an abundance of communication on all the things they need to be doing, the numbers they need to hit, the ways they are missing the mark, and the things they need to remember. There is so much communication it’s all one big blur.  Be strategic in your communication.  Stop talking at your employees and start setting examples.

·    Too little communication

Employees are unaware of expectations, where they stand, and what to do. When you talk about needs for improvement they seem surprised. You receive follow-up communications throughout the week regarding a prior email, text or chat that has not been answered. This is due to a lack of communication. Organize your communication and put it on the calendar or set reminders. If you schedule it, it is more likely to happen. Often, a lack of communication is due to poor time management. Make yourself accountable.

·   Ineffective communication

Have you ever given instructions only to discover they weren't followed?  It is your responsibility as a leader to offer clear and concise communications. Everyone absorbs, perceives, and applies information differently,  so remember the Platinum Rule. Treat others the way THEY wish to be treated. Ask your team how they would prefer information and follow up on understanding. Transparency is vital, but confusion is detrimental.  

Are you taking steps to solve your attrition problem? Be honest. Be genuine. Be consistent. But most of all, be nice.


Julie Fredrickson is a Remote Workforce and Employee Engagement Specialist with a diverse background in Customer Service working at such companies as Walgreens, Mayo Clinic Health System, and All-Calls Call Center Outsourcing. 

A Minnesota Native and Rasmussen College graduate, she can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter 

#CustServ #QOTD


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Customer Service Agents Need to Get A LIFE!

By: Sean Hawkins




The Customer Service Agent should provide exceptional service on a consistent basis. How is that done? In 5 simple steps.

Ask
Ask questions for clarity. Utilize probing questions as part of your troubleshooting process to get to the root of the problem.

Listen
Listen to what your customer is saying. Do so without interruption. Listen intently in order to understand rather than to reply. The goal is comprehend and restate the issue to the customer so they understand you have a grasp of the problem.

Interest
Show interest in your customer. Ask for feedback on recent a purchase, or acknowledge their birthday or anniversary with your organization. This information is easily accessible in their account and provides a personal touch to the interaction. 

Follow Up
As needed, provide feedback. This lets the customer know their issue is not forgotten and the resolution is important to the company. In addition, it takes the burden of owning the resolution away from the customer, and reduces the need for them to follow up.

Empathy
Place yourself in the customer's shoes. Empathy is to identify and share the experience of others. An empathetic outlook leads to an authentic, personal interaction. From start to finish, empathy will show customers that you truly care about their success.





Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service at Framework Homeownership, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on
 LinkedIn and
 Twitter.

#CustServ #QOTD


Friday, May 26, 2017

The Benefits of Employee Engagement

By: Celia Thomas





As leaders, it is necessary to build relationships that are genuine and personal. It creates a collaborative environment by giving some autonomy, which leads to growth and development. That alone can make employees feel valuable to the team and company.


Empowering staff will impact retention in a positive way. Agents will stay where they're happy. If we allow them to have a voice, it suggests we care. We are able to empathetically understand their experiences, and gain insights on how we can improve.

"None of us is as smart as all of us." True engagement allows you to share ideas, improve and/or create new processes, as well as provide valuable feedback. That helps lead to deeper, more meaningful discussions.

My staff assists me in implementing policy, participate in group and team feedback sessions, and create action plans based on these discussions. This builds a tight, unified team in the contact center because everyone participates. As the leader of the contact center, I'm constantly being evaluated by my director, other managers, and agents. They are studying closely how I lead. If it is not inclusive, empowering and engaging, they will not buy in. Thus, engagement is a catalyst for success!

The end result is that we meet and exceed expectations daily! As a result of creating personal relationships, I get buy in from my staff. Nothing could be more satisfying than that!

Celia Thomas has 22 years of experience in the contact center, including 9 years in call center management. She has extensive knowledge in overseeing day to day operations, and is well versed in managing both Inbound and Outbound projects. During her career she has managed and grown many B2B and B2C client programs.
Follow Celia on LinkedIn!




#CustServ Friday Funny


Thursday, May 11, 2017

4 Tips to Maximize Agent Training


Training is not a singular event. Therefore, it must be viewed as a process. To effectively train your staff, they should be trained while on-boarding as new employees, on new products and services, and on new processes or procedures. Furthermore, continual education and training must also be provided to ensure your staff is meeting and exceeding customer expectations. For a more efficient and effective training session, consider these 4 steps:

Assess Needs
This begins by understanding your training needs. Assess business needs with an understanding of what success looks likes after training is complete. Understanding those needs will in turn help you decide what skill sets, knowledge and buy-in are needed to ensure improvements are met.


Deliver

Once needs are defined, it is important to know the audience. Be certain training is designed to meet the learner's style.


Reinforcement
Follow-up after training. Seek agent feedback in the form of a exit survey. Also, leadership should be evangelists during this phase. Engage the team on the material presented, develop incentives or rewards to garner buy-in from staff.


Evaluate
What doesn't gets measured doesn't gets done! Put measures in place to determine the success of training. In the contact center, this could be viewing CSAT and QA, or other KPI's.




Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service at Framework Homeownership, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries and environments including sales, BPO, and SaaS to name a few. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on
 LinkedIn and Twitter.