Thursday, May 26, 2011

Call Center Truth Stranger than Fiction

Originally posted by Tom Vander Well in Call Center Humor.

The following conversation was reported to (the customer is) Not Always Right from a telecommunications tech support agent who was setting up a work order on May 20th, one day before the predicted return of Jesus, the rapture of the saints, and the consequential end of the world:

Me: “Now, sir, I have appointments open for the 21st. Would that work at all?”

Caller: “Well, yes, we should be around, unless we get Raptured. In that case, we might want to cancel it. Or, if we don’t, we might not want to cancel it. Not sure which one is the bigger problem.”

Me: “Sir, I do assure you we are well prepared for either eventuality–return of Christ or not. Now, barring Rapture, I have a 1 – 3 pm and 3 – 5 pm. Which would you’d prefer?”

Caller: “1 – 3 pm. If we don’t get Raptured, we want time for looting.”


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How Does Your Call center Stack Up?- Want to Know?

Call center audits or assessments generally cost $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
Today the Taylor Reach Group has partnered with Customer Services Audit to deliver the first and only SaaS based audit services called Snapshotz. More than 500 companies across all verticals have deployed Snapshotz and now you can to. Snapshotz recently won a Kiwi High Tech Award- this is a good product and you should check it out.

Measure your call center across 8 sections; Corporate Objectives/Business Processes, Customer Relationship Management, Health & Safety and Staff Wellbeing, Contact Center Structure, Recruiting/Career Development/Remuneration, Training, Internal Communications and Operational Metrics.
The above 8 sections are broken down into 29 subsections and more than 600 datapoints in the form of questions like;

5.1.2 Is voice quality tested prior to employment for agents?

5.1.3 Is computer literacy tested prior to employment?

5.1.4 Are expected recruitment standards defined and documented?

5.1.6 Are recruitment process standards defined and documented?

5.1.5 Who conducts recruitment?

5.1.7 What is the average tenure in months within the center?

5.1.8 Is the average tenure considered the industry norm?

5.1.9 What is the turnover rate for new recruits in the last year?

5.1.10 Does the center conduct profiling of agents prior to recruitment?

5.1.11 Does the center conduct profiling of agents to understand what is the current and optimal profile?

5.1.12 If you answered ‘yes’ to 5.1.11, how often is this conducted?

5.2.1 Is there a coaching and mentoring system in place for new recruits?

5.2.2 Does an organisational career path exist for agents?

5.2.3 Are senior and frontline management staff given coaching and mentoring training?

5.2.4 Is the center promoted as a starting base for internal recruitment into other areas of the organization?

5.2.5 How often are performance appraisals conducted for frontline management staff?

5.2.6 How often are performance appraisals conducted for agents?

5.2.7 Are there specific key performance indicators (i.e. KPI’s) for agents?

5.2.8 Talk time – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.9 Wrap time – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.10 Adherence to schedule – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.11 Number of calls / contacts handled is this an Agent KPI

5.2.12 Attendance – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.13 Competence in use of systems – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.14 Sales achieved – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.15 Customer complaints against agents – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.16 Product knowledge – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.17 Initiative – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.18 Additional on the job skills acquired – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.19 Telephone skills – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.20 Teamwork – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.21 Attitude – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.22 Contribution to development of business processes and procedures – Is this an agent KPI?

5.2.23 List any other KPI measures that have not been listed in questions 5.2.8 – 5.2.22

5.2.24 Are there specific key performance indicators for team leaders?

5.2.25 Coaching skills – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.26 Mentoring skills – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.27 Reporting skills – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.28 Agent turnover – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.29 Sales targets – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.30 Customer complaint resolution – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.31 Service level maintenance / breaches – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.32 Number of training hours / programmes delivered for the company / new recruits – Is this a team leader KPI? (key performance indicator)

5.2.33 Product knowledge – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.34 Initiative – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.35 Ability to delegate – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.36 Contribution to development of business processes and procedures – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.37 Involve team in decision making – Is this a team leader KPI?

5.2.38 List any other KPI measures used that have not been listed above 5.2.25 – 5.2.37

5.2.39 Is there currently a need in the business to track employee satisfaction?

5.2.40 If employee satisfaction is being tracked who conducts this?

5.2.41 Is contractor satisfaction being tracked?

5.2.42 How is contractor satisfaction tracked?

5.3.1 What is the average wage (Use local currency) for an agent per annum?

5.3.2 What is the highest wage paid per annum to an agent without the incentive component?

5.3.3 What is the average incentive paid per annum to an agent

5.3.4 What is the full or ‘on board’ cost for an agent (e.g. wages, recruitment, training, accident compensation insurance and other benefits)?

5.3.5 Excluding statutory holidays how much time away (annual leave) from work is granted? Please state the number of days.

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If you have any questions just drop me a note or give me a call at 416-276-9068.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Servant Leadership in your Call center

Colin Taylor

In the world of call centers, contact centers and customer service centers we are all servants to our customers. We exist to serve their needs and requirements. It is sad that some many centers do poorly at this. The attitude of the call center existing to serve our customers is foreign to some. The point of view that in our call center we are servants to our customers tends to be even more foreign and uncomfortable.

Perhaps the problem is tied to our lack of familiarity with providing service without being subservient.

We too often see those that serve as being inferior to those who are served. This is certainly not the case, ands we know this intellectually, yet our organizations often support this hierarchical, command and control, top down perspective.

The solution, well in my humble opinion it is to embrace the opportunity to serve, and to be servant leaders in our call center.

To be a servant leader, one needs the following qualities: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, growth and building community. Acquiring these qualities tend to give a person authority versus power.

This is a concept that is certainly not new. The term Servant Leadership was coined in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf and has since been supported and developed by authors such as Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, and Peter Block. But the ideas underlying servant leadership are far older. in the 4th century BC Chanakya wrote:

“The king [leader] shall consider as good, not what pleases himself but what pleases his subjects [followers]” “the king [leader] is a paid servant and enjoys the resources of the state together with the people.”

Lao-Tzu, who wrote the Tao Te Ching lived in China sometime between 570 B.C. and 490 B.C.:

The best type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware of. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Last comes one whom they despise and defy. When you are lacking in faith, others will be unfaithful to you. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We have done it ourselves!’

Regardless of the antecedence the concept of Servant leadership is ideally suited to call and contact centers. I have espoused this approach for many years and have seen it succeed time and time again.

Servant leaders often share many of the following attributes: trustworthy, self-aware, humble, caring, visionary, empowering, relational, competent, good stewards, and community builders.

Think about your center, in some ways it could be characterized as a ship on a journey. You and your staff are moving through treacherous waters towards your goal. As we know there are many types of i and crafts that could make such a journey. But for the sake of this discussion I would like you to select from the following two choices:

A galley- this ship was popular with Romans, it utilized the power of the crew rowing in unison to the beat of a drum that established the pace.

A longship- this is a vessel of the type that were employed by Vikings as the explored and plundered throughout the North Sea and North Atlantic. This craft employed its crew to paddle or row.

In the case of the longship the crew were freemen they chose to be on the ship and to participate to the goal, their common goal. The crew of the galley on the other hand were chained into place and had no choice; input of option other than rowing to the goal that was established by others.

Now which is your center more like?

Servant leadership in a call center is much more aligned with the longship as those in charge are there to assist the crew in achieving and realizing the goal rather than beating them to try to attain it. Both vessels can get to their destination, but which on would you rather be on?

Call centers are a community of people with individual perspectives, points of view, goals, ambitions and levels of commitment. This hodgepodge lends itself very well to chaos and confusion. Many respond to the challenges of this environment by creating rules, policies and protocols simply to stifle and restrict the energies of this community. These rules can make the group more manageable, but the trade off is a loss of autonomy and independence, ideas and of original thought. Rather than harnessing the unique abilities of the community in this case we have repressed those abilities and forced those who don’t comply out. This leaves with a group malleable, manageable, but uninspired people. The analogy to sheep or zombies leaps to mind.

They are great at following, but do not lead. If this is an apt description of your call or contact centers then you only have one option for sea travel and that is the galley.

A servant leader in a call center on the other hand would see themselves as a servant to the group, whose role was to help the center get to its goal in the best way possible. This creates an environment much more akin to the longship as all members can have input, share their point of view. The role of the leader is to be a part of the crew, by steering the ship, not the master of the crew beating out the drum beat.

So again, I ask which better describes your call center: a galley or a longship?

Regardless of the answer today, you can change it in the future.

Regardless of which strategy you employ, we wish you luck and a bon voyage.