Cost Centre or Profit Centre? When Quality Becomes an Agent for Change.

cost centre or profit centre bobba

Jun20More and more leaders in our industry are challenging their organisations to re-think their quality models and making Strategic Quality a foundation pillar within their growth plans.

Whilst the drivers vary across organisations, we are observing a tangible and growing interest in both understanding and leveraging end-to-end Quality.

When the focus changes from ‘box-ticking’ to ‘business intelligence,’ and the Quality Team’s insight and analysis is sought in order to form the basis of key decisions, which impact the whole business, the benefits are leveraged right across the board: from marketing to recruitment, compliance to customer advocacy, from employee engagement to process improvement, product design and more.

Of course, your Quality Team are eyewitnesses to your daily interactions with customers, but it’s how you harness and leverage this insight that provides opportunities for business transformation.

When you compare business endeavours to elite sports performance – marginal gains, outlier theories and so on – coupled with the vast amount of data now available, the difference between winning and losing is down to your ability to hand pick the correct nuggets of data in a timely manner and turn these into actionable goals and winning tactics.

In our experience working with Clients across the global spectrum, the consistent key success factors are:

  • Your Quality Team being – and being seen to be – truly independent and impartial
  • Highly calibrated outputs, credibility beyond question
  • An employee-centric model, built around engaging your people
  • Coaching that makes a real difference
  • The ability to deploy insight-gathering and report on it, in real time
  • A system which enables immediate action by the right people at the right time
  • All aspects of the programme being engineered towards your business strategic goals

Whether you have an established and mature Quality setup, or are pushing to move your business to the next level, engaging with the right specialist, independent and trusted Partner will provide you with game-changing bench strength.

Whilst most daily operational metrics give us visibility of how the business is running, how accurately can we measure our current cost of quality, and how clearly can we state what the ROI is on our spend?

Certainly in our experience, this is a tough question to answer for many. This can result from shared ownership, overlapping processes, specialisation and accountability challenges for outcomes as well as costs. All too often this can mean that Quality is perceived as a ‘sunk cost’ to be managed down, instead of a catalyst for business change.

Many of our conversations start from taking a fresh look and benchmarking with best-in-class models. Opportunities become apparent and whether they require a fundamental rethink or focused enhancements, the benefits are soon tangible.

At BPA Quality, we are privileged to be working with some of the world’s biggest brands and many long-term successes are founded on the use of Quality as a strategic driver to deliver higher returns.

BPA Quality is currently speaking to organisations across the UK, US and worldwide who are interested in exploring these themes. If you would like to take part, or share your views, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

By:  Alex Bobba, BPA Quality EMEA’s Managing Director

June 20, 2016

TRENDS FOR THE FUTURE OF LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

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.

My recommendations

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.]

“When is my next coaching session?”

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?”

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Ewa 3   By Ewa Murphy, June 2015

 

 

5 Ways to Keep and Win Customers

Untitled BannerHow is your call center treating your customers?

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. – McKinsey

According to the book, Leading on the Edge of Chaos, if companies reduced their customer defection rate by 5%, then profitability would increase by 25 – 125%.  Many companies believe that their current quality of service is best-in-class; however, only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their needs (Forbes).

Capturing the voice of the customer (VOC) can be tricky when companies listen to customer-agent interactions with their “corporate” headphones.  In this blog, I hope to leave you with 5 ways to capture the true VOC and consistently meet your customers’ needs.

  1. Have an unbiased HUMAN listen/read customer interactions with your customer service/sales/tech agents.  Best scenario is to utilize a 3rd party Quality company or, if that isn’t possible, have the Quality Assurance team  at a different location from the call center.
  2. Breakdown each piece on the scorecard into distinct measures.  Have a Quality ruler to ensure that all scoring is fair and done properly.
  3. Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate.  Having everyone on the same Quality page is crucial when it comes to your company’s brand and service.  If supervisors are not coaching to what the agent is being scored on, then what really is the point of your Quality program?
  4. Coach based on trends, not just individual calls.  Utilize reporting to demonstrate best-in-class service and share amongst all service groups, so that the entire company is winning and so are your customers.
  5. When listening to customer interactions, capture as much business intelligence as you can.  Don’t get stuck on just the measures on the scorecard.  Listen for additional ways to best service the customer and trends affecting your business.

When I was working in an outbound call center, I would listen to calls when I wasn’t putting out a fire on the floor.  At the time, I was Manager, Supervisor, Quality Assurance, Coach and Trainer.  Call centers are different now with the access to new tools and dynamics.  One thing that remains is that customers have even more choices with just a click of their mouse. Your call center doesn’t have to be stuck on auto-pilot of how it has always been done when it comes to quality interactions with customers.  Listen to your calls by using the services available to you today.  Use a third party that are quality experts to listen for the VOC because they are truly unbiased, transparent, objective and listening from the customers’ point of view.

Remember, if your customers are not being treated well by your agents, you better believe that your competitor will accept them with open arms.

 

Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Language in Call Centers

Grammar and language is changing and evolving due to the impact of social media.  Trying to fit thoughts into text messages and 140 characters on Twitter can be mind boggling.  As Quality experts, we are asked a lot about if agPunctuation-matters-tooents can utilize abbreviations and “text talk” in customer interactions via chat, email, social media, etc.

There is a very fine line in regard to what is acceptable and just plain negligent on a company’s part.  There are still many consumers that judge grammatical and spelling mistakes harshly.  As a rule of thumb, when it comes to the brand, all “t’s” should be crossed and all “i’s” should be dotted.  By doing so, agents are protecting the brand’s credibility and representing it appropriately.

Proper grammar and spelling should have been grasped in primary school and with the internet available to almost everyone, there should be no reason interactions with customers should not contain the correct usage of language.

According to 1,003 UK consumers, 42.5% hated poor spelling and grammar when it came to brands on Social Media.  That is a significant percentage and warrants attention when ensuring call center agents are representing their company.

Hate-about-your-brand

Mistakes can be forgiven; however, making them continually can be detrimental to the company and the brand.  Ultimately, encourage call center agents to use proper spelling, grammar and speech to demonstrate that the company cares about their credibility and image to the customer  … and that says a lot.

 

Sources:

http://shehemedia.com/2014/08/28/do-spelling-and-grammar-matter-in-social-media/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/07/15/is-bad-grammar-killing-your-brand/2/

 

14 Quality Quotes for Call Center Managers & Agents

shutterstock_155754371 1.  “Quality is the best business plan.” ~ Jahn Lasseter, PIXAR

2.  “Be a yardstick of Quality.” ~ Steve Jobs, Apple

3.  “Quality is not an act.  It is a habit.”  ~ Aristotle

4.  “When you’re out of Quality, you’re out of business.” ~ Anon

5.  “Our innovation makes us first, our Quality makes us last.” ~ Scott Adams, US Cartoonist

6.  “We have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ Epictetus

7.  “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” ~ Gucci Family Slogan

8.  “It is easier to do a job right, then to explain why you didn’t.” ~ Martin Van Buren

9.  “Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence — only in constant improvement and constant change.” ~ Tom Peters

10.  “If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that.  Word of mouth is very powerful.” ~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com

11.  “Customer satisfaction is worthless.  Customer loyalty is priceless.”  ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

12.  “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” ~ Jan Carlzon, ex-CEO SAP Group

13.  “In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” ~ Doug Warner

14.  “Why wait to be memorable?” ~ Tony Robbins

Meet Female Entrepreneur Lisa Renda!

Meet Female Entrepreneur Lisa Renda!.

Your Call Is Important to Us by ellen

It doesn’t always feel like customer helplines offer, well, help. Ellen talked about it with her audience.

via Your Call Is Important to Us.

‘Common Sense’ Quality

Common Sense QualityAs a Global Quality Monitoring Firm, BPA Quality views numerous Quality Forms.  It is amazing when companies are asked why they are measuring certain behaviors, and they are unable to explain how it helps their customers to experience a better interaction.  There are always frequent  ‘a-ha’ moments when our team begins working with a new client.

Quality measurements need to be in line with the call centers’ goals in achieving the ultimate in Customer Experience.  Unfortunately, the misconception of Quality Teams as spies on what agents are doing incorrectly is the furthest from the truth.  Quality Analysts (Quality Evaluators) are listening to provide missed opportunities to help agents manage a sales, support or tech call easily, and give the customer an incredible experience, which he/she will yell to the world.

By monitoring calls, trends appear that create opportunities for greatness, not only by agent and team, but by overall business acumen.  Just like physically working out, one becomes stronger and healthier.  Quality gives managers the tools and knowledge to help their teams to become strong agents, and provide them with tools the agents need to provide the ultimate in Customer Service.

Everyone deserves a great customer experience, and that is what BPA Quality strives for on a Global level.  By utilizing voice of the customer through Quality Monitoring, Call Center teams can build their brand and service in one easy, successful interaction.

Looking at Quality Monitoring in a different light, and understanding the pieces of the Quality puzzle can ensure managers and supervisors have the tools needed to capture the ‘common sense’ Quality Factor.  Measure and Listen to what is important to your customer and implement training and policy changes is truly the best way to provide the ultimate in Customer Experience.

If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It …

Remote call monitoringIf you were asked to draw a line exactly 17 cm long, could you do it?  You could probably give it a good guess, but unless you had a ruler in your back pocket you just can’t be sure.

Measuring the quality of a customer contact has progressed into a science that can ultimately uncover market intelligence, training needs, process improvements and usable feedback to the agents … but only if it’s objective, fair and quantifiable.  BPA Quality believes that in order for Quality to capture beneficial information, then it must be clear and well defined … you need a Quality Ruler.

Who is BPA Quality?  BPA Quality is the leading global provider of remote call monitoring, customer satisfaction surveys, mystery calling, social media monitoring, speech analytics and training services.  With over 25 years in the study and application of Quality Call Center Science, BPA helps its clients take data and turn it into actionable observations that allow managers, supervisors and agents to modify the behaviors of call center activities to build an awesome Quality Customer Experience.

The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes…Recently, while working with a large telecommunications company BPA developed a model to head off unnecessary in house service calls.  BPA was able to help reduce these service calls as much as 17% per month that translated into millions of dollars of potential savings.  BPA has also helped a car service company reduce customer complaints by 90% and improved a credit collections firm increase their collected accounts by 20% … all by using the science and application provided by BPA Quality.

These great results are a reflection of the BPA Quality mission statement … to be the global leader in the delivery and development of services that improve the customer experience for contact centers around the world.

This mission begins in the incredibly rich culture of the company.  “We provide services in over 45 different languages, and all of them are conducted in the native language of the analyst,” adds Craig Antonucci, VP of Client Awesomeness of BPA.  He adds, “We have analysts, managers and professionals from all over the world all with an incredible amount of experience.  The fact that we have this cultural diversity allows us to be the world leader in our market, and in the end, we help our clients deliver an awesome customer experience.” 

This rich culture started with the vision Lisa Renda, President and Founder of BPA Quality.  She noted in a recent interview, “We didn’t want BPA to just be known for excellent output, we wanted our clients to also enjoy working with the BPA staff and to feel that they were dealing with good, honest people who care.  We work hard at creating a team that is undoubtedly excellent in their field, but one which also shares common ideals and a sense of integrity.”  Even BPA Quality’s customers feel the same way about BPA:

I have worked with a number of suppliers offering similar services over the past 18 years.  None have offered the exceptional high standards, good value, passion and flexibility to a client’s needs as I experienced so far with the BPA staff.’  ~Contact Centre Manager / Samsung Electronics

Milena Maric’, Trainer and Performance Manager, said before joining the BPA team, she was a customer and that BPA became synonymous with high standards of customer service, practical ways of achieving sales and / or customer satisfaction, taking control of the call and also self reflection.  BPA taught her a lot of things, which resonated with how she wanted customer service to be.

Awesome people, rich in culture and consistently delivering results to it’s customers, BPA exemplifies that defining Call Center Quality goes beyond just a simple checklist.  Quality is a Science, a science delivered by smart experienced people.  So when you ask the question, “Without the correct ruler for measurement, how can you manage it?” the answer is BPA Quality.

bparuler