An Advice Column for Contact Center Managers
After a summer filled with family vacations and celebrations, it can be challenging to get our contact center reps back on track and focused on optimizing performance. Enjoy this timely Challenge Solved by Dina Vance, Ulysses’ Senior Vice President and Managing Director, North American Operations, as she answers our reader’s question and shares some of her favorite tips.
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Q: Now that the facemask mandate has lifted, it seems like our agents are taking full advantage of their time off this summer…which we encourage! After the dust settles and we enter “back to school” season, I want to do something to help our team finish the year strong. Any recommendations?
Our featured expert for this month’s question is:
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations at Ulysses Learning
A: Super question! I love it that you’re helping your agents transition from a “laidback summer vacation fun” to a “let’s push to crush our annual goals” mindset. Some of your agents will welcome the cooler temps and uptick in contact center activity, while others will pine for the beach! Either way, here are a few ideas to help them make the transition and kick-up their productivity with positive energy and ease.
Celebrate. Pick a fun theme and celebrate the change of season by creating a special time together. Whether it's a “back to school” or “football season kickoff” theme, 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 with a gift certificate for a free coffee or beverage. These are all examples of small acts of kindness that feel celebratory. 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 get everyone excited about finishing your year strong. Again, the key takeaway is to find a way to mark the occasion with something small, thoughtful, and memorable.
Communicate goals and expectations. Over the summer your contact center may have launched some new policies or procedures. Your team members’ may benefit from a refresher of your call center’s goals and expectations. With that said, 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 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. Have a trainer or supervisor 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 their service or call strategies. Hand out a visual reminder or job aid and encourage reps to use the strategy on their calls to achieve their targeted outcomes (If you’re a Ulysses client, check out your Client Zone for additional ideas). And, on the topic of job aids…
Make up new job aids highlighting must-have skills you know your reps need to help you achieve year-end outcomes. For example, if customer satisfaction and experience top your priority list, we encourage our clients to make sure each rep has their own “Empathy Job Aid” close at hand. This powerful tool helps reps express empathy based on the customer’s emotion or concern. The Empathy Job Aid is packed with responses and conversation strategies so your reps can more easily and confidently put themselves in the customer’s shoes, de-escalate negative emotions, and stay calm and focused.
Please let me know if you launch any (or all) of these tips. I’d love to hear your experiences or any other performance improvement tips you implement in your contact centers to help finish the year strong!
Learn more. Contact us or reach out to your consultant today!
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,” enabling reps to confidently, consistently and expertly handle 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 email@example.com; for more details on Ulysses Learning visit www.ulysseslearning.com.
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Managers looking for answers to their toughest contact center challenges are encouraged to Email their challenges to: ChallengeSolved@ulysseslearning.com
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Challenge Solved! is sponsored by:
Ulysses Learning was founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s world renown Learning Sciences department. Since then, Ulysses continued focus on research and development brings clients new, innovative enhancements to its industry-leading training and performance improvement solutions. 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 one of the only training systems proven to build EQ@Work, enabling reps to develop skills to empathize with others, build stronger customer bonds, and improve team dynamics with confidence, consistency, and excellence.
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.