Friday, March 31, 2017

Metrics that Belong on Every Dashboard

This post originally appeared on ICMI

The contact center is a dynamic environment. From one day to the next, the challenges may vary. With so many external factors impacting how our day will go, knowing what other departments are doing to impact the customer experience is of vital importance. Additionally, it is crucial to have policies, procedures, metrics and KPIs in place for operational effectiveness.

One of my favorite quotes is, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Though it’s often
attributed to Peter Drucker, no one is quite certain who first penned the words. However, regardless of who said it, I get the point. To measure and access contact center performance, a variety of KPIs are used. We all have our favorites, and we debate the validity of some with a passion. In my opinion, what you measure should be unique to your organization requirements, combined with your customer needs, satisfaction level, and expectations. The challenge is ensuring this information is effectively communicated throughout the department.

One such way, as it relates to KPIs and metrics, is the use of dashboards. Dashboards provide real-time information that is immediately visible to all. It helps agents, and those who support the front line staff, deliver better service.

Managing a contact center requires analytical, strategic, tactical skills and awareness. I believe these metrics should be on every dashboard, as they offer a perspective not only on agent level performance, but also aid in making real-time tactical decisions, to ensure you meet your strategic objectives. In my opinion, the ideal dashboard should display the following:

  • Average abandonment rate: The percentage of callers who hang up before reaching an agent.
  • Average handle time: The average amount of time an agent spends speaking with the caller.
  • Customer satisfaction: Measurement (in percent) of customers who are satisfied with the service offered.
  • First contact resolution – The percentage of contacts resolved during the first interaction with the customer.
  • Service level – The percentage of calls answered within a specified time frame.

With visibility throughout the contact center, everyone, regardless of their role, will be aware of the day’s performance. For those in management roles, the dashboard can serve as an alert to necessary performance management steps in real-time. Finally, it can foster healthy competition on the team and agent level.

While this list doesn’t include all KPIs and metrics that I am very much concerned about, in the context of real time monitoring and evaluation, it gives me exactly what I require.

Which metrics do you include on your agent dashboards? Share your comments below.

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.

#CustServ #QOTD

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Celebrate Often!

How does your team celebrate great performances on an ongoing basis?  I am surprised that many aren't doing so with regularity.  With the many challenges and demands placed on agents, every great performance is worthy of celebration.

Celebrating creates a culture of excellence, and gives your team a sense of value and belonging.  If any department in the company needs that, it's customer service! 

At my company, we utilize The Golden Thumb to highlight outstanding performance.  Voted
by peers, this is an engaging way for everyone to observe the accomplishments of the team, and ultimately the individual performers. 

Having spent many years in contact centers, I've discovered many budget friendly, yet meaningful ways to reward and highlight great performances.  It doesn't take much to show your staff that you care about them and value their efforts.  In fact, sincere, authentic acknowledgment is the first step. From there, the options are limitless.

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.

#CustServ #QOTD

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to the floor

By: Sharon Clapp

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

As a Manager myself, I would never expect my staff to do anything I would not do myself.

Sometimes Managers, Directors, CEO's etc. sit in their ivory towers and wait for information about what's going on in the coal face to filter through.

What's wrong with 'going back to the floor' and mucking in yourself? Companies and executives that adopt this attitude will have a much closer relationship with their customers, staff and a much clearer focus on the customer experience itself.

  • Don't let the staff know you are coming – that way they won't prepare and you will get a true picture of what's going on.
  • Roll your sleeves up and muck in – answer the phone; talk to your customers; talk to your staff; make the coffee…whatever is needed.
What will you get out of it?

  • Service delivery – A chance to see how things are working first-hand. Your staff may see an issue or a fix to a problem, or even an improvement that you may not have thought about or even are aware of and have previously not felt empowered enough to suggest.
  • Customer Experience – It will give you direct feedback on what clients (and staff) are actually saying on a daily basis and show up possible areas of improvement.
  • Staff engagement – Will make the team feel part of a family and empower them.
  • Recognition – Being on hand to hand out praise and thank your staff, and for you to step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the staff and company you have.
What have you got to lose?

Customer Experience should be at the heart of your business. Working with us at Investor in Customers will give you an independent and external verification of the service you deliver. Contact us to find out more.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#CustServ #QOTD

Employees will treat customers in the manner they are treated. Customer experience therefore, will mimic the internal experience.

The best way to produce great customer service is to display it with your staff. Lead the way by exhibiting good service. After all, they are your customer! Be available to your team and listen intently to their feedback. At the same time, display empathy and sympathy.

Lastly, thank them for a job well done. Employees desire the same respect, consideration, and appreciation as the customers they serve. Failure to do so will certainly break the customer experience.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Top 5 Mistakes People Make With Social Media Marketing

By: Chris Sciulli
Originally posted on Smokehouse SEO

So you’re a business owner who has been hearing for years about how you should be out there Booking Faces, Tweeting your InstaPins and everything else the millennials are doing these days.
At first, you resisted. You thought, “You know, that might be great for some people, but I don’t really need that.”
Then you saw the returns, brand loyalty and customer engagement your competitors that invested in social media were getting. You did your homework and saw how social media can complement great brick-and-mortarSEO and paid search programs and turn your company into a regular multichannel marketing behemoth.
That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
So you go and sign up for all the things: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest. You’re armed and ready to get marketing!
You post what you think will be the most incredible piece of content to hit your industry in the last 20 years, wait a few days and then…
No one liked or followed your post or pages. So what happened?!
We’re going to visit the top five mistakes brands that are new to social media (and some that aren’t so new) make and discuss what they can do to fix them. While these might not be the most brand-crushing mistakes you can make, these are the most common ones that I’ve seen in my years working in the industry:
5. Did You Fill Out Your Profiles?
You’d think something so basic wouldn’t be as overlooked as it is, but it happens. Often. A lot of new brands fill in the bare minimum and call it a day. Don’t do that.
Social media profiles usually get ranked in search engines, so your company’s search visibility is one reason to make sure your profiles are complete. Also, your branding is important. Don’t you want your potential customers to know that this is your official site and not some unauthorized page? Your profiles are your chance to show off more about your company and display your expertise — so don’t waste it!
Here’s a tip: think of each profile page as another landing page for your brand. That way, you’ll be less likely to overlook this step in the future.
4. Accept the Fact: It’s Pay to Play
Social media isn’t what it used to be. There was a time where a brand could post an update and it would be all over people’s timelines, in their newsfeeds and everywhere else — for free. Those days are so far gone, you might as well pretend they never existed. Those days went the way of your MC Hammer pants.
If you want most people — including your followers — to see what you’re posting, you’ll need to spend some money. On all platforms. You could write the best post, have the best sales, or anything else in between but the fact remains: if you’re a brand and you didn’t pay to promote your post, very few people saw it.
There’s no getting around it. Especially with Facebook. A paid social media marketing strategy doesn’t have to be expensive, and if it’s done right, it’ll be worth the investment. That’s why people do it. If you need some help knowing what to create or what to promote, there’s a ton of agencies and online resources out there for advice.
3. Why Are You Everywhere?
Did you do any market research first to see where your audience (or an audience for your products) actually is before signing up for every social media account you could find?
Why are you selling baseball caps on LinkedIn? Why do you have a WeChat account if you don’t ship to China? Is there a market on Pinterest for industrial rivets?
Yes, everyone should be on the “big four” (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) but realize that each platform will serve your business in different ways. Instead of trying to sell your catcher’s mitts on LinkedIn, realize that your clean and professional business profile can help you build relationships with other businesses — just don’t expect a lot of direct, small scale B2C conversions. Can it happen? Apparently. Have I ever personally seen it happen? No.
Target your efforts to platforms where your audience actually is. Choose your focus carefully instead of trying to do everything at once.
2. Do You Know What Your KPIs Are?
This could easily be number one. The problem I run into constantly when people start out with social media marketing is that they care about one thing and one thing only: Conversions.
No. Stop it. Stop it now.
I get it. You’re running a business, after all. But not all social media campaigns are only to get conversions. I’ll say it again — conversions are not the only KPIs worth caring about.
Picture this scenario:
You’re a new or small e-commerce site that sells posters. Well, everybody sells posters and you can’t compete with the big guys on price or brand recognition. You have a new Facebook and Twitter account and a small budget of $100 for a few weeks of advertising. What do you do?
Your first goal is to get people to notice you. If you want to convert, you have to let people know you exist. In this case, your goal would be audience growth.
Next, we need people that find you to realize that you’re a company worth talking to. In that case, your goal would be social engagement.
One thing always holds true: people like free stuff. How about running a ‘Like, Comment & Share’ contest on Facebook and/or Twitter to win a poster of a popular musician to coincide with their new album release to generate buzz around your brand? For maximum visibility, take it one step further by promoting your contest posts with sponsored posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Now you have an audience that you can market to in the future that has both a positive impression of your brand and has engaged with you before.
All of this can help you get those magical conversions you were so keen on when we started this journey. Did you know that an average of six to nine brand touchpoints have to happen on Facebook before someone actually makes a purchase? So yes, you need awareness first!
Which leads me to number one.
No one is going to share your ‘buy my stuff’ ads. No one is going to share your ad that’s disguised as an article. No one is going to share your ad that’s dressed up as a product comparison. They will not share it here or there. They will not share it anywhere.
In this age of ad-blocker browser add-ons, DVRs that let you skip commercials and paid subscriptions on YouTube that let you skip 30 second ads, do you really think people are going to share out self-serving ads framed as “content?”
Unless you do what Arby’s is doing and start absolutely crushing it, it’s not going to happen. Product ads definitely have their place in your social media marketing strategy, but if that’s all you’re putting out, don’t expect to hit the engagement jackpot.
Instead of just sending out ‘buy my stuff’ posts, figure out what people are actually sharing. Look at where the trends are going (hint: it’s live and video) and see how you can get involved. Find your brand voice and area of expertise. Showcase your products and services but make sure it’s in a way relevant to what your audience wants, which may not always be what you want.
You know that one guy in your office that only talks about himself and how great he is? Don’t be the internet version that guy.
Social media marketing isn’t wizardry, its audience research, good content and planning. You will have failures as you learn but really, anything worth doing usually involves a lot of trial and error until you get it right. Know your brand, your KPIs, who and where your audience is, what people are sharing and what they find helpful.
Chris Sciulli is a Demand Generation Specialist for a Health Care Data Analytics Company and specializes in Content Marketing, Social Media and both Organic and Local SEO. He started his career in local SEO focused on the Real Estate & Apartment Rental industries, and has since gone on to create SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing strategies for a variety of businesses including eCommerce clients, SABs, SMBs and International Corporations in multiple industries. In his spare time he enjoys gaming, traveling and annoying both his wife and his dog.

Smokehouse SEO is the personal SEO blog for Chris Sciulli. 

#CustServ #QOTD

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Leading by Serving

By: Rachelle Morgan

During my time as an Assistant Call Center Manager and Call Center Supervisor, I have
come to understand how important leadership is. It is not enough to simply obtain a title because of the knowledge you may possess about a product or process. It is not enough to obtain a title and micromanage your team until you receive optimal results. It is not enough to befriend your team and deal with them as beloved friends instead of team mates. You cannot get so far ahead of them, that they cannot see, or understand what you are doing as their leader. 

So what is enough? I'm so glad you'd ask. Serving is enough! 

My favorite definition of serve, is to be of use in achieving or satisfying.

In the Call Center it is the entire philosophy of our operation. Once one leaves the cubicle and headset behind to lead in the Call Center, this definition should not be forgotten. In fact it should be amplified, which is to say more marked or intense.

When we step into leadership roles, our level of service must increase intensely! It is important to serve our teams at every level possible.

During our busiest time of the year, our call center takes almost 50,000 calls a month. Now I know that may not be a large number for all organizations, but it is for ours. During our busy season, the management team makes sure to serve drinks, ice cream, and whatever else is on the menu. We take care to ensure people's schedule fit their lives so that work-life balance is maintained. 

This has a dual purpose. When work life balance is achieved, employees are more likely to arrive to work revived and prepared to serve our customers. This is one of the most important ways we serve our team.

Are you still unclear where you can serve? Let me help. You can serve your team by:

  • Being kind
  • Being humble
  • Sharing your knowledge
  • Actively listening to your team
  • Being visible on the floor
  • Being available
  • Accepting suggestions and feedback
  • Allowing your team to flex their leadership skills
  • Creating a fun and engaging workplace

Most importantly, serving is listening. Meeting with your team to hear from them is
paramount to your organization's success. Our agents’ familiarity with customer concerns is a valuable asset that the call center possesses. It would be in our worst interest to overlook them as a source of information. Meetings and surveys allow them the opportunity to share that expertise. 

When an agent gets to provide feedback, they feel valued and recognized as an essential part of our team. Sharing important company milestones and plans, allows them to the feel involved, equipped, and valued.

Serving your team is necessary for success. Do not underestimate the value of servant leadership.

Rachelle Morgan has more than 15 years of customer service experience from a variety of industries including Insurance, Technical Services, Telecommunications, and the Restaurant Industry.  Rachelle currently works for Camis USA Inc. a subsidiary of Camis Inc, a software company that provides solutions to municipal and government park agencies across the globe.

As Assistant Call Center Manager for Camis USA, Rachelle is responsible for creating Call Center policy, delivering technical communication, and translating client needs pertaining to policy and software changes.  In addition to coaching & leading a team of Customer Support Analysts, Performance Coaches and Reservation Agents, Rachelle also provides internal and external customers excellent customer service when solving software/policy/procedural/personnel related issues.

During Rachelle's free time, she enjoys going on adventures with her 7 year old son, participating in the local community and being a part of the local economy.  Rachelle is a lifetime learner and enjoys trips to the library and seminars ranging from leadership to web application development.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

For A Better Customer Experience, Skip The Script!

By: Leslie O'Flahavan & Sean Hawkins

I get it! Scripted responses and dialog have their place. For one, they save a lot of time. Also, they show you are prepared to meet the needs of your customers in a timely manner. I have used them quite a bit over the years. However, what I am not a fan of is script that is read verbatim, as part of the service experience.

I recently attempted to pay my credit card online and was held hostage to the never ending series of required script which, was of no value to me as a customer. All I wanted to do was pay my bill. I will take full responsibility for waiting until the last possible minute, and for calling. However, the mobile app was not working at the time.

Because I work in the contact center, I am extremely patient when I am speaking to a customer service representative. I am aware they do not make the policies or procedures. However, in this instance, I was in a hurry, and began losing my patience. I demanded that we “Skip the script”, and move forward with my payment. The agent responded, “Mr. Hawkins, I am required to read this before we can move forward. I do apologize.” 

At that moment, I lost every ounce of cool. My chill had abandoned me. I snapped and shouted, "This script has nothing to do with why I called! It's a forced survey!" She apologized repeatedly until I became embarrassed. At myself, for losing my temper, and for her. I imagine this was not the first time someone responded to her in the same manner. Needless to say, this has to take a toll being on the receiving end.

This ordeal is not uncommon. Too often, scripts get in the way of providing a swift resolution, resulting in customer frustration. In my frustration, I decided to reach out to a my friend Leslie O'Flahavan. In part, to get her perspective, but also to calm myself down after an emotionally draining experience. Leslie has provided writing courses and training for every level of contact center staff. In my opinion, she's the expert! Leslie was kind enough to provide some excellent advise on the matter:

  • Customer service agents who are forced to adhere to scripts—on the phone, via email or live chat, or in social media— are prisoners, not customer service professionals! Managers should supply agents with scripts or templates, but they should allow and require agents to customize their responses. 
  • Scripts or canned responses are essential to efficiency in the contact center, but these pre-written responses should always be used and the basis for the response, not the entire response itself. They should always be customized. 
  • For phone agents, the best scripts are talking-points style scripts, not fully-written-out-read-verbatim scripts. Talking points scripts offer agents 3 – 5 points to cover when they speak with a customer, but agents should always use an on-brand, natural, personal speaking style. 
  • If agents are required to cover a set number of topics, for safety reasons or legal reasons, they should be allowed to cover the topics in the order that works best during the call and in the amount of detail that the customer requires. 
  • When agents use canned responses in written customer service (email, chat, social, or SMS), they should always blend free text writing with templates writing. When they do this well, customers can't even tell which part of the response is the template. The problem doesn't lie with the template itself; it lies with how the template is used.

So, what should contact center leaders do? For starters, review your script. Be certain it doesn't take away the human factor. Also, empower agents to make real time decision. Who better to know how to steer a conversation, than the one engaged in the conversation. Finally, any scripts that impede excellent service, should be taken out of service. Do this for the the sake of your customers, and your agents.

I am an author, an online writing expert, and a sought-after speaker. I help customer service organizations improve the quality of the email, chat, and social media messages their frontline staff write to customers.

I develop and teach hands-on, practical, high-energy writing courses that help people do their jobs: write useful, readable web content; publish e-newsletters; repurpose content for multichannel publishing; and write plain language documents readers can use. I can help the most stubborn, inexperienced, or word-phobic employees in your organization improve their writing skills, so they can do their jobs better.

LinkedIn | Twitter | Website

Currently the Manager of Support and Product 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.

LinkedIn | Twitter