Back from a couple of days at Customer Contact Expo, the self proclaimed “UK’s premier event for Customer contact solutions, workshops and connections”, where thousands of industry professionals gathered to hear about trends, see the latest technology and gain a vision of what the contact centres of the future will look like.
As anticipated there were lots of solution providers and discussions around the usual Contact Centre hot topics of Omni-Channel, process improvement and Customer Engagement with “Cloud Based” appearing to be the buzz phrase at the event.
What was refreshing to hear was the increased focus on two areas that I believe are vital to contact centres and business success; employee engagement and the increasing sphere of influence of quality in organisations.
In a highly interesting talk by David Macleod from the Employee Engagement Taskforce, the understanding, backed up by compelling evidence, that positively engaging your team can have dramatic impact on all of your business metrics was persuasively delivered. I encourage you to look at the Engaging for Success website where there are specific publications showing the weight of evidence of how positively engaging employees impacts profitability and service outcomes.
From personal experience, I have always believed that the engagement and development of team members with the same level of rigor used in measuring and managing customer engagement and experience can deliver exceptional dividends.
We are all aware of the drive towards reducing customer effort, satisfying customers and in encouraging customers to promote our products and services, indeed most businesses have robust processes for measuring these areas; CES, CSAT, NPS. Can the same be said for our employee practices?
Do we spend an equal amount of time tracking and measuring our employee effort, how easy it is to work for us, our employee satisfaction and our employee promotion scores, given the impact our people can have on our business and customers?
From a customer perspective, we measure the customer journey; from promotion to acquisition, utilization, satisfaction and retention, with teams looking at understanding and enhancing all touch points for consistency, simplification, cost optimisation and enhanced experience. We undertake detailed root cause analysis, process improvement, quality measurement and invest heavily in technology to ensure we are meeting business and customer needs.
In my opinion, a compelling case can be made for undertaking the same detailed approach to the employee journey from values, culture, skills, competencies, advertising, recruitment, on-boarding, induction, personal development, communication; in short all employee touch points. By identifying what excellence looks like in each of these areas, there can then be a drive and culture within the organisation for continuous improvement and enhancement.
With technology increasingly providing solutions for less complex interactions, the ability of our teams to handle higher value, more complex interactions across multiple channels will grow. Having a highly skilled and engaged workforce will enable us to better meet the future challenges, and is going to be an increasingly important area of focus in the Customer Service and the Contact Centre industry in the years ahead.
The second area; the increasing sphere of influence of quality in organisations, I will cover in my next article.
Written by: Andrew Mutch, Chief Customer Officer, BPA Quality UK Research Center
- Define goal: Map your QA process to business goals
- Build a QA quality culture and behavior framework: framework centered around improving the customer experience by focusing on the effort the customer makes, minimizing conduct risk and providing the most positive customer outcomes
- Remove the perception of QA evaluation as being a punitive process
- Pay close attention to correlation between QA scores and customer survey scores – note: Only 20-25% of customer satisfaction with a call is determined by the content of their conversation with agents
- Progressive businesses are moving on from tick box, features and benefits format to customer engagement / active listening, matching and outcomes
- The QA team should be regarded as experts in driving the customer experience agenda across the organization and be regarded as an integral part of the company value chain
- Business Intelligence Team uses the data gathered through quality process for providing the business with performance insight & predictive analytics
- QA should inform product and product governance: Undertake product reviews / what do customers like, dislike
- The QA and compliance teams need to work hand-in-glove; ensuring compliant customer interactions for both new and existing customers: regulatory rules are now given
- Red flag process vigorously enforced
- Senior Executives need visibility: Customer experience, product / marketing / managing risk
- Build processes and systems to share information across the business: Share Voice of the Customer feedback with other departments
- Hold regular round tables with Product, Marketing, Sales: highlight trends, risks, feedback
- Influence the organization: don’t operate in a silo
- Include agents and team leads in the calibration process
- Calibrate based on expertise, not deviation from average or arbitrary targets
- Use Calibrations to refine QA forms and remove ambiguity
- Look to your teams to identify and share anecdotal feedback: sometimes it is OK to work in the grey
- Keep your QA forms fresh and relevant
- Deep-dive analysis of the data to identify trends, insight and areas that require greater focus
TRENDS FOR THE FUTURE OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT by Yvette Renda, Director of People Development
As a trainer at BPA Quality, I like to keep on top of current thinking in my area, and so it was with interest that I read a report recently released by the Brandon Hall Group – a think tank specializing in theories of workforce management practice*.
The report highlighted that – in today’s world – organizations that fail to adjust their learning management practices and solutions often struggle with organizational growth as well as productivity.
As a result, forward-thinking companies are abandoning traditional methods of learning in favor of more effective solutions that engage talent and improve performance. And although the report focuses on the use of new technology to improve training outcomes, I found that some of the non-technological aspects were also quite interesting. After all, not every organization can immediately re-purpose all aspects of training strategy, tactics and materials to take advantage of cutting edge technology.
In fact, the aspects of the report that I was most interested in highlighted key trends affecting the future of enterprise learning and recommendations for selecting the right provider.
A number of key findings of the report jumped out at me:
* One-third of companies are increasing their budget for learning and development
* 41 percent of companies describe their culture as “Controlling”
* 59 percent of companies are leveraging social learning activities
Source: Brandon Hall Group 2014 Learning and Development Benchmarking Study (n=569)
Prioritizing the Individual
It is true that finding and keeping talent is no longer an HR challenge but a strategic business priority. Yet, the authors of the report found that most companies were unable to build lasting relationships with their employees in an effort to overcome these challenges. Instead of giving employees the tools needed to succeed, many companies feel threatened by their workforce and fearful of change. In fact, when asked to define their company culture, 41 percent of employees described it as “controlling”.
I agree with the authors that, with the emergence of a younger generation and the rise of the independent worker, companies must rethink their approach to talent and begin to prioritize the “individual”. I’ve found in my own work at BPA Quality that provision of a ‘peer coach’ to help new trainees apply the skills they’ve acquired in the workplace setting allows for an individualized approach rather than a ‘one size fits all’ ‘controlling’ model.
However, in my own view, for many companies this updated learning and development process is long overdue. Indeed, research shows that more than 50 percent of companies have revisited their learning strategy less than two times over the last five years and learning has remained, for the most part, stagnant. But the good news is that one-third of companies are increasing their budget for learning and development over the next 12 months.
With nearly 50 percent of these companies currently spending $100 per learner per year, it makes sense to conclude that companies need to become more strategic about their training programs and the type of learning experience offered by training enablers.
Although training is one of the most mature areas of talent management, it is also one of the most innovative. Yet making a decision to improve a learning management program and invest in a learning management solution is often a daunting challenge.
Happily, the authors offer some considerations that can help with this which I would recommend from my own training experiences at BPA Quality:
* Considering Adaptive Learning. Adaptive learning is a methodology that allows employees to learn at their own pace. Employees can be monitored individually and in real time to determine what learning approach will best suit their needs.
At BPA Quality we utilize this approach as can be seen in the afore-mentioned example of the provision of a ‘peer coach’ for new trainees to try out their new skills in the actual work setting under the guidance of their personal ‘peer coach’.
Personally, I’ve found that the Adaptive Learning approach allows employees to build confidence and overall expertise at their own individualized pace – and that this has positive benefits for both efficiency and long-term employee engagement, increasing productivity (a key metric of the report).
* Aligning with Business Objectives. It goes without saying that any training program should drive retention, engagement, and performance aligned with the organization’s business objectives. The authors were able to demonstrate that for those companies that did align learning and business priorities (48 percent), more than 70 percent were able to improve company revenue.
I happen to strongly agree with this and apply it in my own work. When I’m conducting training at our client sites every BPA Quality workshop that I conduct is based around the input, and expertise of the participants – from agent to management level training – and therefore keeps my training relevant to the participants, client environment and business objectives.
* Measuring Effectiveness. To determine if the learning strategy in place is driving business outcomes, companies must find a way to consistently measure its effectiveness.
This makes good sense to me, and at BPA Quality all team members participate in regular quality calibrations to ensure accuracy and complete understanding of their objectives and how they align with clients’ business objectives.
MY KEY TAKEAWAYS
Put the individual first. I totally agree that companies must shift the way they view employees and consider focusing on the individual and his or her unique learning needs. For some companies, this strategy may include aspects of adaptive learning; for other companies, it could mean a different communication strategy.
At BPA Quality we have always based our training around an Adaptive Learning approach, and in terms of other communication strategies I always keep an open mind. The changing dynamics of our marketplace demand no less.
*[Brandon Hall Group is an independent HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights on Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, and Human Resources.]
Effective coaching is at the heart of what we do here at BPA, it is a key part of our daily life. It is a process that enables our Independent Quality Evaluators (IQEs) to learn and develop, to improve their performance, to simply achieve their full potential. Our unique coaching process also ensures that our Clients’ needs are not only met but also regularly exceeded.
So why is our coaching so effective?
Coaching at BPA is not regarded as a task to be completed but as a way to really enhance performance and development within the team, it really is in our DNA! It is performed on a regular basis, individually with each member of our project team and is regarded as the number one priority for our Team Managers. Under ‘coaching’ in this instance I don’t mean Corporate or Executive Coaching; I refer here to the coaching sessions that are part of our project monitoring and development.
This is the coaching process where the coaches are the direct Team Managers who therefore know very well their team members, their daily job routines and the project challenges they face. The Team Managers have an insight into their team members’ individual needs, strengths and weaknesses, and finally – or most importantly – into their unique personality.
This close relationship ensures that the exploration of team member’s needs, desires, skills and motivations takes a very detailed and personalised approach. We don’t deliver a general programme or group-tailored advice. We explore, on a one-to-one basis, the entire performance process. Through detailed and joint analysis of multiple calibration sessions and quality assurance checks, we identify and discuss the areas of strength, as well as scope for development. Yes, both – not only the aspects in need of further development.
We believe that identifying your strengths is a key part of the success – if you realise how you came to be successful in one area, you already have a great tool in hand to be used to achieve the same success elsewhere. It’s not about telling the team members where they are underachieving or pinpointing their weaknesses – this can only result in an opposite and unsolicited effect. It’s about making the team members aware of how good and successful they already are and encourage them to use the same technique in other areas that can be developed and soon become equally successful. It’s also about sharing this experience, ideas and insight with others. It’s about setting specific and measurable goals, for an agreed period of time. The goal is being closely monitored and revisited by the set up deadline. Upon successful completion another new goal is set up, if more work is required, the goal will be repeated.
The key is analysing, feedback, practice, repeat. To take a sporting context, the more you practise, the easier the activity becomes, you become more skilled, more experienced and you are able to recognise what you are doing that is having a positive and negative impact on your performance. The focus is on repeating the positives and using this experience to overcome the negatives. Success doesn’t occur instantly, it’s achieved through strenuous and systematic repetition and training, as you strive to achieve your goal. As the golfer Ben Hogan said, “The more I practise, the luckier I get”.
Our journey through the coaching process is not that distant from this picture and it is a journey that certainly pays off. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, it also gives our IQEs an overview of their individual ‘status-quo’, the much needed guidance and reassurance of how important and valued their daily jobs are.
To show how much our coaching sessions matter to our evaluators, our success in embedding a coaching culture and their hunger for feedback there is a mantra across the BPA teams:
“When is my next coaching session?”
By Ewa Murphy, June 2015
As in all team sports, players either all win or all lose. The same goes for any call center …
While watching the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup, USA and Australia were battling to edge ahead in the dreaded D group. Most people believe that having a superior offense wins championships in soccer. Although the USA team put goals on the board, there were countless saves by the defense, especially by goalie, Hope Solo.
How does this relate to a call center, you may ask? Well, in a call center there are many departments that handle every aspect of the customer experience. If the sales department did a fantastic job taking care of the customer, but then punts the customer to the mediocre service department, then the company may just lose the “game.”
Every touch a call center has on the customer reflects the overall customer experience. So, how can a contact center calibrate across all channels of service? Well, let’s talk a bit more about soccer, or as my team in the BPA Quality UK Research Center would refer to as FOOTBALL!
Field of Play
By understanding the entire process from first touch to goal, call center agents can provide the customer with a play-by-play report. The customer is never left wondering what happens next. If you know the game and the role you play within the team, then it will be effortless to win.
A team is only as good as the sum of its parts. Call center agents need great leaders that provide them with meaningful coaching and knowledge, so they can achieve the goal (providing memorable customer service). Also considering outside experts to evaluate agents with a customer-centric point-of-view can up the playing advantage.
In some circumstances, a customer may need a bit of “dribbling” or “hand holding,” and the call center must embrace that average handle time or other KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will be affected. Understanding of those changes in agents’ quality scores can be circumstantial and provide leadership with a “shot on goal” in grasping the customer journey, effort and/or experience.
The dreaded offside
Working in and around call centers for the past nine years, I have actually witnessed leadership stepping over the line of defense to try and make that “easy” goal. When that has happened, the customer, the agent and ultimately the company loses. Play fair with customers and they will return and recommend the company to their friends and with agents because they are the first and only touch to the customer. To win a customer does not mean they will be one for life, it could only be for the moment. Once they are lost, no telling how many more will be lost.
Shots on goal & GOAL!
Once the call center is working together to provide incredible customer service, then the “shots on goal” will increase and eventually the customer becomes not only loyal, but an advocate too. GOAL!
When evaluating the call center, make sure to step back or have a third party understand the “field of play” as the customer. For example, as a fan of the USA women’s soccer team, it is much simpler for me to recognize why Abby Wambach missed last night’s header into the goal. If she had my outside vantage point, she may have put a goal on the board. Luckily for the USA Team, she is a part of a capable, successful team to get the win for USA.
I’m willing to bet that #20 (Abby Wambach) and her team will review the recording of that missed header to evaluate how do to it better the next time.
As a call center team, are you ready for the customer experience “World Cup?” If not, the competition is …
Go #USWNT & #USA!
Encouraging Employee Engagement In Your Contact Centre.
The moment one of your team speaks, emails, tweets or web chats with a customer, your culture is present and displayed. Whatever the purpose or current situation in your contact centre without getting your culture right, you will never fully realise your potential regardless of your offering, technology or training.
Culture – everyone owns it!
Most organisations have aspirations around developing a high performance, high engagement culture across the business.
From a contact centre perspective it is vital that the overall business culture objective is clearly understood and that specific strategies are defined and delivered that ensure team member engagement, ownership and buy-in
In practice this means real involvement and engagement in the development process from the contact centre leaders and the wider team and critically an understanding that this is not just words but something that underpins the way of working across the…
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