If you are an IT professional, you are probably familiar with the term “single point of failure.” If you manage the customer retention side of the business can you identify your single point of failure?
Is it in the quality of the product, customer service, customer support, delivery or even the return process?
In a study conducted by the Gallup Group 68% of customers leave because of poor service. When nearly 70% of all customer interactions are handled by your contact center — is this your single point of failure?
Let’s break down the contact center experience even further. Take the full customer journey when they make contact. You should factor the following steps:
· Hold time
· Automated routing
· First call resolutions
· Knowledgeable staff
· Courteous reps
· Follow up steps
In a study presented by 31 West the following were the top reasons a customer becomes “enraged” during a call
60%—speaking with a rude customer service rep
52%—speaking with an incompetent service rep
40%—explaining their issue more than once
38%—being put on hold for too long
It doesn’t take much to surprise and delight customers from these human to human interactions. I see a cautionary trend in migrating live support to automated. It may save you money in the short-run but in the long-run may impact the customer relationship.
I’d love to hear how some of you have built a culture of serving your customers to increase loyalty and retention.
If your contact center is run by an external BPO, you will want to listen to this show. In this episode of Contact Center Insights, Nancy speaks to Christa Heibel of CHCG Consulting. Christa has been working with the C-Suite of contact centers for over two decades and has worked both sides of the table when it comes to working with BPOs. Listen to Christas’s great advice on the importance of communication and “putting it in writing” to ensure you have a smooth sailing relationship.
I had a blast interviewing Judy, she is truly one of a kind and has a great theory on how to train your contact center employees. In this episode, Judy explains her LAMA approach to talking to anyone on the phone, it’s all about making that person feel good and treating them with respect.
Podcasting has quickly become one of the most popular content types in the last couple of years. Earlier this month I gave a presentation at the Chicago eLearning Showcase on podcasting and gave me audience tips on 4 ways to record your audio content with FREE tools. Here they are:
- Audacity -probably the most common (other than Garage Band) it’s a free open source audio recording and editing platform. Just be sure to also download the LAMP software to ensure you can export MP3 files for formatting your the proper RSS feeds for your podcast
- Free Conference Call.com – Yes it is free and will record you or a group of people dialed into the conference line. They will allow you to download the MP3 file of the recorded call so you can edit and add to your RSS feeds.
- BlogTalk Radio – This is used primarily as a web radio tool but I use do record my podcast show so I can add other sound effects — like an audience applauding or a canned introduction to the show. You can have callers dial in as you record the show live and then BlogTalk will allow you to download the show. This service is free for shows under 30 minutes in length.
- Amazon Polly in WordPress – This was my latest find, if you have a WordPress blog or site you can embed Amazon’s Polly text to speech voices to “read” your blog post and it will automatically create the RSS feed for you to connect it directly into iTunes as well. You first need to go to AWS (Amazon cloud services) to set up an account to use Polly and there is a minimal cost for using Polly but you can also produce the audio file once inside AWS and then download the MP3 file to add to your post as well.
Please let me know if you know of other free tools for podcasting and I will be happy to share!
Why do pilots user flight simulators vs. real airplanes? We all know that hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn a new skill. But don’t take my word for it. In an article featured from Laurdal they state three reasons why simulations accelerate learning and retention:
- Simulations increase engagement – By placing students into an immersive environment, they are ACTIVELY vs. passively engaged in the learning
- Simulations maximize retention – One of my favorite reasons why simulations are important. How many times have you put people through a training program and the knowledge is lost within a short amount of time
- Simulations ensure that learning is transferred to the job – This should really matter to the executive suite, when employees can accelerate their level of applying their skills directly into their work and shorten their path to mastery, this goes directly to the bottom line.
Think of it in this way, if I gave you a manual to learn how to conduct a step by step process, this is an explicit approach to learning something. It’s easily repeated and more commoditized but not as effective. On the other hand, if I gave you access to the equipment and/or placed you into a simulation which immersed you in learning this process. This is an implicit experience but much more valuable in giving you first-hand experience in learning this new task.
Finally, in a study conducted by Roger S. Taylor and Micheline T. H. Chi at the University of Pittsburgh, they conducted a study comparing students who studied using a textbook and those who used a computer simulation. This was the summary of their findings:
The Simulation condition acquired a significant amount of implicit domain information from pretest to posttest, whereas participants in the Text condition did not. These results suggest that educational computer simulations have the potential to significantly enhance the learning of implicit domain knowledge.”
But keep in mind, the simulations need to be tailored to a specific skill or task directly related to the job. It should include some form of immediate feedback and places the learner into a contextual setting, similar to what they will experience in real life. Anders Ericcson was noted as coming out with the study of “deliberate practice” Here is a video where Anders explains this concept.
Every company wants employees to express empathy but why?
I work with a lot of call centers and many of them are building in performance metrics which include the agent’s ability to show empathy. But why?
Yes, I get that it demonstrates that you want the customer to feel you can relate to their dilemma or that you at least “fake” concern. But creating a culture that proactively promotes empathy matters to the bottom line too.
For example, I was speaking to a call center that provides technical support. I asked the manager which do you place more value on – soft-skills or technical knowledge. Their answer was soft skills. He stated “we hired a young college graduate who was not as skilled at troubleshooting but all of her CSAT scores were always very high. She was able to use empathy and her ability to communicate trust to ensure the customer to make them feel better. Therefore, even though she isn’t able to resolve their issue on the first call that she left the customer still feeling good about their experience and their company. I value that skill over the most technically skilled agent.”
In a YouTube video by Brene’ Brown, she states the four elements of Empathy
- Can see things from the perspective of the other person
- Staying out of judgment
- Recognizing emotion in other people
- Communicating that you recognize their position and emotions.
Companies invest a lot of resources into building their brand, building customer loyalty. So why risk losing this because you would rather build a culture of agents who solve problems fast but don’t really connect with your customers.
In a LinkedIn post from Troy Mills, President of Carrell and former VP of Customer Care Operations at Walgreens, stated “I can’t tell you how many discussions about doing something exceptional for a customer is met with shock from the ops team” meaning wow someone went out of the way and off-script to really help a customer out and the culture was such that this was a negative vs. a positive.
A good place to track how empathy has made a difference to the bottom line is to collect stories from situations where using empathy and caring made a difference. Sometimes the difference isn’t always tangible initially but trust me it will have a lasting impact on the bottom line for the long-term.
In our last show, I interview Thomas McCoy, who is a best-selling author, consultant, and President of the Employee Engagement Institute.
He has over 35 years experience developing high-involvement, high-performance cultures. He developed the Applied Employee Engagement System™ that has been used by over 200 companies in the U.S., Europe and South America. He has written 2 books on the topic and sold over 25,000 copies.
He developed and taught a two-day seminar on How To Develop a High Performance Culture at George Washington University.
He has been quoted in Newsweek, featured in the Wall Street Journal, and nominated for the Michael J. Losey award for his work in the field of Human Resources.
In 1996 he developed ESP, “Expanding Sales on the Phone,” one of the first training programs for agents that incorporated dynamic branching. He holds a Lean/Six Sigma certification from Villanova University, a coaching certification from the Johnston Institute and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.
He is a Marine Corps veteran and a board member for Support KC, a non-profit organization that helps other non-profits to achieve their mission.
He and his wife Cathy are the parents of two young men.
As I am getting ready to create a presentation I am giving on Podcasting imagine my delight when I ran across this article on how to add Amazon’s Polly text to speech software into a WordPress blog post. This is exactly what I have been trying to communicate to my clients, how to creatively use speech to text and speech recognition tools for extended uses in business.
Voice-enabled technology continues to get better and better. If you are not familiar with Polly, it’s an online tool that allows you to type text onto a page and then it will create a voice file which you can download and embed an MP3 file into another program. Originally I was using this to create voices of characters in some of our training simulations, but now with the WordPress plugin – you can embed this functionality to read your blog posts — very cool!
Here is a step by step guide on how to add Polly to your WP site
One final bonus, the settings for this plugin allow you to automatically push your audio podcast to iTunes.