Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Being A Leader In ANY Position In The Contact Center [Part 1 of 3]

By: Amayea Maat

Yes! I said it! I am asserting that you can be a leader in ANY position in the contact center!!

To really get into this we will look at a few words specifically, as language has power.

Let’s first look at the definition of leader:

Noun: a person or thing that leads.

Most people have t
his tendency to look at “leaders” as those who have the title or the position and therefore the power. Try this on for size: leadership is a way of being, not a title or position. So, let’s look at that for a moment. If that is the case, what does it mean to “BE” a leader? What are some of the qualities that describe leaders? There are many courses, books, and studies on the subject, and in addition, different types of leaders. I am sure as you are reading this, you have people and descriptive words in mind, including those that you would say are NOT leaders. 

For the purpose of this article, let’s conclude there are a few qualities that could be included in the description of a leader.

  • Someone who brings others along with them (inclusive)
  • Someone who sees a need,  and fills it
  • Someone who goes into the unknown, even if they're uncertain of the outcome
  • Someone who makes things better than they were

There are other descriptions that can be used, but I wanted to keep things simple. The above bullet points are descriptions of someone who is being a leader. However, leadership changes based on context. Context is defined as:

The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

The best way to understand the power of context is to look at the picture below and answer the following three questions.

Notice, when the context changes, you see the image differently, and the answers change. The context drives how you see that picture.

Leader changes, evolves, and varies based on situations and needs. The  most common perception of a leader is one who is in charge of others. 
What happens when the context is changed? What would that open up for you? Take a look at those bullet points listed above describing leadership. Apply them to every area of your life, but specifically to every role in the contact center. You'll see leadership is more than title or position. It's a state of mind and way of being. Leadership is action!

In Part 2, we will look at how and what it looks like to lead from the most important position in a contact center – the front line!

As an expert in Technical Support, Client Services, Organizational and Leadership Development and Process Improvement, Amayea Maat has spent time in fortune 100 and 500 companies disrupting the status quo while being a stand for what is possible beyond expectations.

Amayea currently is the Director of Technical Support for MineSight, a software solutions product serving the mining industry. Where she ensures international Global Support and Services readiness, and at present, oversees support teams in eight global locations.

Her passion is to create and empower organizations where the experience of leadership inspires the human spirit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Is Customer Service Dead?

By: John Turner

Is customer service dead? 

You have a product you just bought, and it is not exactly what you expected. Now, you

dread picking up the phone to call customer service. Every time you call you get treated like you are a hassle even though you're a paying customer who has not got what you paid for. You don't want to get upset and speak to multiple reps and supervisors who just don't care one way or the other. What is good customer service? Where has it gone?

What is good customer service?

Excellent customer service is treating others how they want to be treated. This is one step beyond the golden rule which is to treat others how you would want to be treated. The challenge with the golden rule, while an excellent concept all of us do not like, enjoy, or want the same things. For example, you as a customer may like to hear specials and get to know the salesperson. But your brother like to get straight down to business and would be annoyed and not buy from an agent who dealt with him in that way. This understanding is not only the basis of customer service but, is the core secret to successful communication and relationships.

What should agents do after understanding this?

After learning this core secret, there are some key fundamentals of customer service.

  • Practice strong soft skills 
  • Listen for Understanding 
  • Have Empathy 
  • Handle the customers concern completely 

Practicing strong soft skills

Please, and Thank are magic words just like your mother told you. Even if there is nothing that you can do for a client, treating them with respect and kindness can get you a long way. Because some customer service reps don't take the time to speak courteously, this can put you a step above the rest.

Listening for Understanding

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason! We should be listening twice as much as we are speaking. However, just listening is not sufficient. We need to be sure that we understand what's going on completely. One of the best ways to do this is by asking probing questions and briefly summarizing what you have heard to ensure full comprehension.

Have Empathy 

Many people cannot make a distinction between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for another person but having empathy for another is putting yourself in their shoes. Having empathy ties into listening for understanding because how can you truly put yourself in someone else's shoes if you don't understand them in full?

Handle the customers concern completely

If you have ever called into customer service, you are probably like most people, and you HATE to be transferred around the world. You have to listen to annoying elevator music, and you'll explain problem over and over again like a broken record. This can be alleviated if the fundamentals discussed previously are done, it should be easy for the employee to handle the customers concerns completely. Avoid transferring calls or sending the customer to another department at all costs. Do all you can to assist the customer and handle everything that you can.

Customer service is alive!
It may seem as if "the luck of the draw" determines how you will be handled by customer service. I assure customer service is NOT dead! There are still organizations and people out there who have a nostalgic view of how customers should be treated.

John Turner wants to live in a world where work can be engaging and fun. He's a call center professional, gamification enthusiast, and entrepreneur, recognized for creating innovative solutions in call center settings and increasing engagement of employees.

When he’s not leading his team, learning, studying, or implementing gamification, you can find him reading books on a variety of different subjects. John enjoys watching movies as if he's a film critic (especially sci-fi), and spending time with his two beautiful daughters. 

His latest project is the Gamification Awareness Alliance, which will specialize in virtual 3D gamification events coming soon in the next few months. Learn how the power of games can be used to increase employee engagement, motivation, and morale at 

Friday, July 1, 2016

1 Simple Step to Improve Call Coaching

Recently I’ve been looking for a way to shake things up in regards to call coaching. I think listening to calls can be such a great way to learn and improve! Unfortunately, not everyone on my team has the same level of excitement about evaluating their calls for learning opportunities.  

I needed to find a way to better engage them in dialogue. I want to know their honest thoughts on a call rather than just having them agree with whatever I have to say about it. I want to generate ideas to use for future calls based on what went well and what could improve. As I pondered my situation an idea hit me!  

Here is the simple solution to improve Call Coaching Sessions:

Listen to a Leader’s customer calls during the coaching session

How many of your Agents dislike the sound of their voice on a recording or insist you’re only finding the “bad” calls?

Benefits of Listening to a Leader’s Calls
If you listen to a Leader’s (Team Lead/QA/Supervisor) calls with your Agents you will remove those distractions and gain these added benefits:
·         Lead by example
·         Build credibility, rapport, and trust  
·         Give the Agent a break from critique
·         Show vs. Tell 

Lead by Example
What a great opportunity to model the behavior you want to see from your team! As a Leader in your center I imagine you have great technical knowledge and outstanding soft skills. This is a great opportunity for them to hear firsthand the way you carry yourself and that you are willing to talk the talk.

The only catch – you’d better do the things you ask them to do. Whatever standards they are held to on a call you should be attempting to achieve as well. If there are requirements you are struggling to adhere to it may be time to reevaluate those items.

Build Credibility, Rapport, and Trust
This exercise shows the team that not only are you willing to roll up your sleeves and take calls alongside them but you are open to their feedback as well. You are putting yourself in their shoes and to some level showing that you understand the challenges of their job. Hopefully, having these open conversations about your calls will open them to feedback about their own.

Give the Agent a Break from Critique
As you know, working in a contact center can be difficult. The Agents are held to high standards on dozens of metrics and often feel like they only hear negative feedback. Give them a break from this pressure and let them provide you with feedback.

My guess is that they will get a kick out of reversing the roles! Several of my team members had mischievous looking smiles on their face as they pulled out their notepad to discuss my calls! But, it also gives you an opportunity to openly discuss a call without defensiveness, and in the end may give you an opportunity to tie the topics back to their own performance. Win-win!

Show vs. Tell
One of my team members struggles to empathize. It just doesn’t come naturally to them. As we listened to some of my calls this person made a point I hadn’t considered:

Wow, great point! If you find yourself telling someone the same thing over and over, you may need to show them an example of how they should do it. They can pick up some useful phrases to use rather than just hearing how not to do it on their own calls.

I’m excited to continue using my calls during coaching sessions to generate discussions. If you are already doing this or decide to try it I would love to hear from you!

Jeremy Hyde has over 10 years experience working in both inbound and outbound contact centers. He currently manages a 24/7 customer service and billing team for InstyMeds Corporation and serves on the Board of Directors for the Midwest Contact Center Association. Jeremy is passionately focused on employee development, team culture and customer experience.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter and LinkedIn