An Advice Column for Contact Center Managers
Now that more of us are coming out of quarantine clients are asking, “What can we do to ensure everyone’s successful re-entry once reps return to our contact center environment?” Ulysses Learning responded with a list of 10 tips, five of which Dina Vance, Ulysses Learning’s Senior Vice President, describes in this edition of Challenge Solved. For all 10 tips, connect with us on LinkedIn (@Ulysses Learning).
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Q: What can we do to ensure everyone’s successful re-entry once reps return to our contact center environment?
Our featured expert for this month’s question is:
Dina Vance, Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations
A: I have no doubt that you’ve been working very hard to lock down your plans to keep your team physically safe as more and more of your reps return to your contact center environment. What I’d like to offer you now are several ideas focused on strengthening your team’s emotional well-being. These tips help reps who will continue to work at home and those transitioning back. The main point is to get everyone involved in what can be an exciting and energizing time for your business.
Celebrate. Recognizing that you will still be practicing some form of social distancing, rather than bring everyone together in a large group, create a feeling of celebration with a more personal approach. Decorate your workspace, leave a small “welcome back” gift on each rep’s desk, greet your team at the front door when they arrive at work. These are all examples of small acts of kindness that feel celebratory, while respecting team member desires to minimize time spent in larger groups. One client had the foresight to order cloth facemasks for agents with the company logo on it. Another had their supervisors write and handout personalized thank you notes for their reps’ work during the difficult past weeks. Another idea for your consideration is to invite a senior executive from your company to stop by your contact center and take a moment to welcome everyone back. Again, the key takeaway is to find a way to mark the occasion with something small, thoughtful, and memorable.
Communicate goals and expectations. Your return-to-work plan may include some new policies or procedures. In addition, your team members’ may benefit from a refresher of your call center’s goals and expectations. With that said, for the first month back, consider a special and very intentional weekly communication in writing (posted on your team message board and/or in an email), along with a short video or group voicemail to help to ensure everyone stays well informed. And encourage your supervisors to reinforce these messages each day while interacting with their reps. You want to repeat these communications multiple times and in multiple ways.
Run an “Acknowledge the Emotion” campaign. Many of our clients, especially those leading health insurance, utility, and financial services contact centers, have more than their fair share of anxious customers still grappling with the reality and repercussions of COVID-19. As the number of emotionally charged customer calls continues to rise, engage your reps with an “Acknowledge the Emotion” campaign. Here’s how it works: During the month, when you hear agents properly acknowledge customers and their concerns and/or emotions on calls, provide them with a raffle ticket that says: “Thank you for listening and showing you care! You did a great job acknowledging your customer and their concerns and emotions.” Also include a line on the raffle ticket and write in the reps’ name before you give it to them. Place three jars in a prominent area. Have agents put the raffle tickets they earn into the jars containing the prize they want to win. (Feature a different prize with each jar.) Rather than dreading emotionally charged calls, many reps will look forward to the opportunity to handle the call effectively and strengthen customer bonds.
Schedule a few “Training-on-the-Run” sessions. Quick 5-minute training sessions will help your reps get back into the swing of things. Set up a meeting area near the cafeteria or break area, making it easy for reps to stop by for a few minutes. Concentrate on simple or small kernels of information such as a tip to enhance one of your customer service strategies. Hand out a visual reminder or job aid and encourage reps to use the strategy on their calls to achieve their targeted outcomes. (To our Ulysses’ clients, remember to check out your Client Zone for additional ideas).
Allow for skill “refresher” training. Make a point to allow (and schedule) 10-15 minutes for reps to practice their service skills online. If you don’t have online training, have one of your trainers video record a service-building exercise on their phones for reps to work on. Focus on tips to help reps express empathy and de-escalate emotionally-charged calls. (For Ulysses clients, use the simulated examples on your Ulysses Learning SkillBuilder website.) This is a simple, cost-effective way to refresh and ramp up critical customer service skills, especially as you prepare for the return to higher call volumes.
If you’re one of our frequent ChallengeSolved readers, you know how much we love to hear your experiences with these or any other tips you implement in your contact centers. So, please keep us posted! If this is your first time reading ChallengeSolved, let us know how you like it!
Lastly, on behalf of our Ulysses Learning team, we appreciate your kind comments regarding our solutions-focused recommendations and tips. It brings us joy to be of service to you during this difficult time…and always. Be well, Dina
More on this month’s featured expert…
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations
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.
Dina can be reached on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org; for more details on Ulysses Learning visit www.ulysseslearning.com.
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UlyssesLearning was 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 multi-year 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.