When we selected this month’s question from a reader who was looking for a quick way to raise contact center performance, we knew immediately which expert to tap for ideas – Ulysses Learning’s own, Dina Vance. Dina, is a well-known and respected thought leader on developing and leading contact center customer service, sales, and coaching staff, and a pioneer in optimizing contact center performance. We think you’ll find her response not only thought provoking but inspiring as well.
Q: Any recommendations for a creative and relatively quick way to improve our contact center team performance and our customers’ experience? We already have a customer service training program in place but are looking for a simple way to energize our representatives and get better training results.
Senior Vice President, Managing Director North America
A: Organizations invest in the training and development of their frontline teams with the hopes of improving overall performance. Training is one critical part of the puzzle. However, to ensure long term impact on call center performance, training must be coupled with ongoing reinforcement and focus. As we all know the difficulty with doing anything on an ongoing basis in a call center is limited time. This is why I was intrigued when I learned of call center executives challenging their frontline leaders to implement a 30-Day Challenge.
A 30-Day Challenge, is just that. Something you challenge yourself or your team to do for 30 days. There are plenty of examples of 30-Day Challenges all around us -- the 30-Day Diet Challenge from Mayo Clinic; the 30-Day Paleo Challenge; the 30 Clean; the 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge by health.com; and a long list of others.
While each of these diets has its own unique spin, they share several things in common—1) the challenge duration is relatively short and manageable (for most); 2) you set a specific goal or goals that are important to you; 3) the daily focus on your challenge helps you develop healthy habits to achieve your goals long term (doing something new for at least 20 days in a row has been proven to modify or create new habits); and, 4) at the end of the 30-day period, you can expect to see meaningful results. Not bad for a 30-day investment.
Now take this same “30-Day Challenge” approach and apply it to your contact center. If 30 days is just about the right amount of time to create a new habit, imagine what you could do!
One of my clients needed to raise the performance of her contact center, overall, with a special focus on improving First Call Resolution (FCR). To accomplish this goal, she devised her own 30-Day Challenge:
For 30 consecutive days, each call center supervisor coached the two lowest performers on her/his team, one time a day, for up to 10 minutes.
Here are some additional details.
1) The type of coaching interaction varied most days. For example, one day a supervisor facilitated a side-by-side coaching interaction and gave immediate feedback regarding the one pivotal or top behavior on which to improve. On another day, the supervisor facilitated a fly-by coaching interaction where he or she listened in on a part of the rep’s call. Again, the supervisor gave feedback on one thing the rep could improve upon.
2) The supervisors were given a list of the top behaviors to look for that had the greatest positive impact on FCR. To illustrate further, in this particular call center environment they found that reps who performed well did the following behaviors consistently: gave complete solutions; remembered to recap with the customer what was discussed or agreed upon; verified must-have regulatory information; and consistently used confident word choices throughout their calls.
3) The coaching interaction was done early in the day (or early in the rep’s shift). This allowed the rep to apply the feedback immediately for the balance of their day and receive positive reinforcement.
This particular team surpassed their FCR goal by the end of the 30-Day Challenge. When the low performers’ FCR improved, FCR for the whole operation improved as well.
You see the beautiful thing about any 30-Day Challenge is that if you want something badly enough you can do just about anything for 30 days. Then once you do it for that first 30 days it does become a habit that gets easier and easier to do. When we make small, sustainable changes (things that we and our supervisors can actually keep doing), those changes are more likely to stick.
I hope you’re inspired to put your own 30-Day Challenge into action at your company. And, if you do, please share your experience with our Challenge Solved readers. I know we’d all love to hear about it!
This month’s featured expert is…
Senior Vice President, Managing Director, North America
In her current capacity with Ulysses Learning, Dina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and also serves as the chief client relationship executive, working with Fortune 100 clients and other progressive organizations to redefine the way customers are cared for. Under her leadership, Ulysses has become well known for its work in transforming customer service, sales and coaching cultures through the development of emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently and expertly applied on every call. The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities and financial services industries.
Before joining Ulysses in 1999, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers which led to her accepting a role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization.
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UlyssesLearningwas founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s Learning Sciences department and continues to bring clients new, innovative enhancements to its industry-leading training. Contact centers achieve profound business results, ahead of schedule, with Ulysses Learnings’ artful blend of patented simulation-based e-learning, facilitated exercises, coaching and tools, that redefine the way customers are cared for and transform customer service, sales, and coaching cultures. Ulysses has the only training proven to build emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently, and expertly applied on every call.
Ulysses Learning is a recent recipient of the Gold Stevie© Award for best contact center customer service training.
Begin your contact center transformation now. Phone 800-662-4066 or visit www.ulysseslearning.com to get started.