Global Contact Services CEO Greg Alcorn recently had the chance to chat with Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and host of the Onward Nation podcast.
If you have 3 minutes, I’ll share 3 powerful communication skills from my recent podcast on Thrive Loud with Lou Diamond.
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At GCS, we evaluate each new program with an understanding of what problems you encounter with your current outsourced contact center or call center program. We often hear, “Oh yeah, I wish I had considered that before I signed the contract.” The best way to avoid making a mistake again is to think about these factors before it is time to renew.
It’s true, the right tools make any job easier. It’s also true our tools must evolve to keep pace with a changing world. That’s especially true in the contact center as channel requirements and customer expectations become more plentiful – and demanding.
Public companies live in dog years. Well, almost. Dogs age seven years per calendar year. Public companies live FOUR, sometimes painful, quarters per calendar year. Before starting GCS, I was a public company division President and vowed NEVER to live that life again. Every quarter was stressed with “making numbers”, “showing growth”, “getting wins”. Dog years!!
Today, soft skills, time management and problem-solving, are critical. Now, soft skills certification can be a difference-maker for many organizations.
Businesses are always looking for the competitive edge. Finding and working that edge involves staying current and top-of-mind with clients and potential customers. It’s also about pushing the businesses to the forefront of innovation and agility, in both product and service development. It really is all about innovation. Processes often are repetitive for good reasons.
Each of our clients is unique, so it makes sense that we would have our own set of “uniquenesses.” We often hear our approach to People, Process and Technology is different from other BPOs.
What makes soft skills so hard to master? For contact center managers and supervisors, teaching adults in the workplace to relate more effectively and consistently to their customers and colleagues can feel like herding cats. Of course, it just feels that way -- soft skills can be learned, reinforced, and continually refined. As customer service experts, the development of soft skills is central to our ability to consistently meet our client’s service levels. That is why soft skills training is emphasized at GCS. Today we’re going to look into why soft skills training can be so challenging, and offer some practical advice for managers on how to train your trainers and staff.
Each year, we at GCS speak with many companies in the United States (and beyond) looking to improve their outsourced contact center results by switching from their current call center partner. And because most procurement professionals want to make sure they are doing their due diligence in speaking with the best of the crowded field of outsource call centers, they often ask us who are some of the other contractors and competitors we have in this space.
People often confuse goals & objectives. But both are needed in business and personal endeavors in order to grow and be successful. With call center agents as the point of impact with your customers, it is important to set goals and objectives to help your team reach the call center KPIs you are tracking. In order to achieve these KPIs and help your team be successful, you must: understand the difference between goals & objectives the best ways to use them and how to start setting S.M.A.R.T. goals
We all occasionally practice these 9 traits of leaders. Engaging, successful leaders in call center management and most industries practice them frequently and on purpose.
Businesses are always looking for the competitive edge. After all, in order to keep your customer base it is important to keep your product or service updated. As rapidly as technology can change, it’s imperative to also stay on top of industry trends, pushing your business to the forefront.
One of the most effective ways to determine how your call center’s performance stacks up against other providers in your industry is to track call center KPIs. Many enterprises are satisfied when their call center meets goals that are set internally, and that works to a point. But, the picture can get less than rosy when goals achieved in a vacuum are compared to companies who benchmark against call center industry standards.
So, you’ve completed the process of determining you need a new contact center, and have the buy-in from upper management to proceed with the project. Now it is time to select a vendor to help you get there, but selecting the right one is an important decision not to be taken lightly since they are an extension of your brand. How do you find a capable partner who will keep your long-term goals in mind? After you do your initial vendor research, one of the first steps in the selection process is typically to issue a request for proposal or Contact Center RFP.
We've all had to deal with difficult people at some point. Difficult people can present a unique problem when they are your employees and it is your job to manage them.
The most important technology in your call center isn’t hardware or software. It’s your people. As the originators of technology, we human beings demonstrate thousands of years of development, invention and progress in uncountable ways every day. Despite the widespread belief that we humans despise change, we learn and adapt without really noticing it. We are constantly adjusting to new demands and circumstances as they emerge.
Have you ever said something at work you wish you hadn’t? Shocking isn't it. Sometimes the wrong words just blurt out to employees or with the client. The first step in repairing common communication blunders on the job is to know what those blunders are. Then you can say things the smart way and not the dumb way.
When it comes to contact centers, typically labor costs are your most significant expense. You have to get the number of agents right or suffer the consequences. You will erode your profit margins or overspend if you have too many agents scheduled. On the flip side, customer satisfaction could suffer if you don’t have enough people to answer the phones. That leads to lost customers and a dinged reputation. To provide a consistent level of service, many companies go through “right-sizing” to become appropriately staffed. (You may also need to look at which call center model is best for you)
Disasters happen. That’s why there are Disaster Recovery plans. At GCS, we have Disaster Recovery, but we first take the approach of Disaster Avoidance. By understanding why disasters happen, you can build process and systems to prevent them from ever having an impact on your center performance.
Setting up a call center or reconfiguring an existing call center can be as simple as installing phone systems and cubicles in whatever configuration fits in your space, but that won’t get your company the results it wants. The only way you can make your contact center successful is to set it up from a process AND design standpoint. The thing is, call centers are all about the people that work IN them. Ideally, you need a facility that is as functional as it is pleasant. A well-designed call center will inspire your agents to do their best work and help them get there with the right technology and functionality. It also needs to be a place where they feel safe. And it needs to be clean. Of course, all of that is easier said than done. In this article, we will highlight some of our best practices, so you can understand how GCS designs call center process and flow for success. Let’s get started.
We speak with a lot of people whose core business is NOT contact centers and they often struggle because they don’t quite know enough to understand what information they are lacking? Or, maybe they have an idea that something is wrong, a process could be better, their team could do more? In all cases they are ready to make a change, but they aren’t sure where to start.
Everyone says dumb things from time to time. They fail to listen to important details or respond to certain questions. They accidentally miss a particularly telling tone of voice. It happens to everyone. These little slip-ups may only make you cringe when you catch yourself committing a faux-pas like that with a friendly neighbor or the coffee barista. However, the consequences are a much bigger deal in the business world, especially in customer care situations.
Thinking about outsourcing your contact center? Here’s everything you need to consider before you start the process. At GCS, we help companies like yours set up call center outsourcing every day. Sometimes, these businesses are growing too fast for them to scale their customer service needs to meet the demand. Other times, they have had a contact center provider in place, but they worried that they were not getting their money’s worth or they were unhappy with the level of customer care. Sometimes they are looking to control or reduce cost with better management and technology. Whatever the case may be, your first priority in contact center outsourcing is to find a vendor that can meet your parameters. Let’s look at these considerations in turn.
When you think of what makes a great customer service agent, what are the first traits that come to mind? It probably isn’t efficiency – that’s just a function of the work. Evaluating your call center representatives on whether they can answer the phone would be like rating doctors on whether they can treat you. Of course, they can. That’s their job. Like doctors, the way contact center people differ is in the WAY they do their jobs. The good ones have soft skills.
Successful call center management involves more than overseeing the productivity of customer advocates and making sure that customers have their issues resolved – and that fact may be one of the best reasons for you to outsource your contact center activities to a vendor. The right company will partner with you to help you achieve your customer-centric goals, by putting the right attitudes on the phone. The right partner could abolish all of your human resources worries and facility issues while giving you the flexibility to meet changes in customer volume or demand. Let’s look at some common call center management models and explore some of the ways that contact center vendors fulfill those needs and help you ensure successful call center management.
Once you make a decision to outsource or contract out your call center activities, you have a choice to make. You will need to decide what type of agent you want working on behalf of your company. You can achieve your required service levels with any configuration. However, the type of call center outsourcing services you choose will shape the pricing of the service. It influences how calls are handled, the cost of extended customer support hours, and the level of service your agents can provide. The term “outsourcing” has become a scapegoat this political season. But beyond the political hype, it is important to understand the long term benefits of outsourcing. AND it doesn't have to mean sending jobs outside your community. There are three basic types of call center representatives. Some agents are dedicated to your project exclusively while others are blended or shared. In this article, we are going to review each one in turn and discuss how opting for one support model over another will impact your business.
Improving contingent workforce performance in your call center can be a challenge. These workers are not like your regular staff. They were hired on a temporary basis, usually by an outside staffing company or outsourcer, to complete a specific project. Contingent workers are often paid differently and receive less training than your full time workforce. They may even have different performance standards. All of these factors can make managing this personnel a contingent workforce difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. While comparing a contingent workers to regular staff is often like apples to oranges – there are things you can do to manage both groups efficiently. The following workforce management techniques will help you improve contingent workforce performance.
One of your biggest challenges in adding successful call center services to your operations is setting up the facility. There’s a lot of upfront time and capital investment in the set-up of the physical space for your facility. Even if you already have a contact center, it could be failing because you didn’t know how to set up a successful contact center in the first place. At GCS, some of the common problems we see are choosing the wrong location, building a facility that is too small, and picking the wrong combination of technology to balance the needs of your customers and your organization.
Call center workforce management is a helpful tool for scheduling and supervision. Thanks to the nature of the business and technology in general, call center managers have an unprecedented amount of information about their agents’ activities and the call volume they receive. This information can give them an opportunity to truly excel, but only if they are paying attention to the data.
What do you think of when you hear the word “outsourcing”? Many of our clients tell us that while they knew that other companies outsourced some of their services to outside vendors, to them, the practice always seemed impersonal – until they got to know GCS.
The reach of technology seemingly extends everywhere these days, and the customer service industry is no different. As communication evolves and adapts to new technologies, GCS Agents provides an unbeatable combination of timely customer contact, unparalleled customer support and technology that works. Our team’s commitment to ensuring that every client and business that we work with experiences optimal results has made us a force to be reckoned with in the business services world. We are pleased that our efforts have been confirmed by our recent inclusion in Clutch’s 2019 report on the top B2B firms in New York City. It is a credit to our people to be recognized as one of the best call center companies in the city.
Call coaching is one of the most powerful tools in your call center operations management toolkit. You can take all the performance measurements and analytics you want, but if you aren’t actively coaching your staff to be better, you can’t be surprised when they miss the mark. Your agents will be more engaged and more effective when you take the time to help them improve, instead of demanding results and not explaining how to get there.
Managing a call center requires a solid knowledge of business management concepts, but it also takes something more. Call centers are like nothing else. They are high-volume and customer facing, and they have their own unique set of challenges because of that. To be effective, you need management that knows how to produce at elevated volumes while providing effective customer service. We call this “sanity” - doing the same thing over and over and expecting the SAME result. For each call, a personalized result. One million calls, one person at a time.
Being a customer service agent can be hard work. While helping customers all day is not often a hard task, it does take a special person to do it well. While many customers your agents encounter in a given day are simply looking for information, others will have a problem or an issue that needs to be resolved. Your agents need to have the personality and training to be the customer advocate. They need to be able to remain calm in the face of conflict, empathetic in the face of anger, and friendly even when your customers aren’t making it easy. Choosing the right people to work on your behalf is essential – but it’s not the only challenge.
Building a successful business takes more than a good business idea. You need to have the right people to support your vision, execute your plans, and work with your customers. The problem arises when you know you need to fill specific roles, but you do not know enough about the job function to make a good hire. That disconnect can cost you, big.
Call center management can be complicated. We approach it as an upside-down organization chart. The Agent is the most important person because they have direct contact with the customer. They will do the most to impact your brand with the customer. Meanwhile, the Supervisor is the most influential person because they influence the performance of the Agent on a daily basis. Their style and approach provides a safe environment for the Agent to connect with the customer. Depending on the program, a supervisor manages between 7 and 15 agents under their care. They need to manage, support, coach, and supervise their team. They are responsible for achieving the performance that delivers the Service Levels required by the customer. Our process and procedures are there to provide the path for success and ensure we get a consistent result with each customer engagement.
The decision to outsource your contact center is not one that you as a company should ever take lightly. It is a major decision – after all, you are trusting a part of your business and its operations to another company. Your contact center is often the first line of communications your business has with first-time buyers and customers who have had an issue with your products or services. Choose the wrong call center outsourcing company and it could miss the opportunity to grow your relationship and reputation with your customers.
Outsourcing your call center could be the smartest decision you ever make, but only if you take the time to plan it out. While your call center outsourcing vendor will handle most of the legwork for you, there are certain variables that you as a company should decide upon first. It is important that you have a framework of a call center staffing plan that fits your business needs today while setting you up for success tomorrow. After all, it is your business on the line and only you know the objectives you want your customer service operations to have.
Deciding to outsource your call center activities is a smart way to keep your focus on what really matters – running your business! But, it only works if you choose the right vendor. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with more headaches than the outsourcing is worth. In this article, we will share the call center outsourcing best practices that lead to the most successful contact center projects. We will also go over a few red flags to look out for at the beginning of a project as well. Taken together, they can help keep your outsourcing project on the right path.
Once you have decided to outsource your company’s contact center activities to someone else, the research begins. You will find that there are many vendors out there, but that doesn’t mean that all, or even most of them, will be a good match for your organization. Aside from more subjective strengths and weaknesses, outsourcing call centers can differ on very objective measures like their choice of business models – and that can have a lasting impact on your company’s success.
Staffing a call center is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While outsourcing all or part of the staffing of your company’s contact center can be a turnkey operation, you need to decide the staffing model best suited for your needs.
Call center staffing is critical to the success of your contact center. Whether you are hiring for inbound customer service or outbound sales, people make the difference. They impact the customer experience; they also impact your company budget. By how much will depend on the way you chose to structure your call center operations.
First, a short language lesson - the word ‘monotone’ which means a continuous, droning, and unchanging tone comes from the Greek word monotonia – meaning "one tone". That word is also the root from which we get the word ‘monotonous’ - meaning dull and tedious. And that’s no coincidence.
The holidays are here! Effective communication shouldn’t disappear just because family is near. Turn to these tips to survive the days, when your loved ones may tweak you in so many ways:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of American families impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma over the last several weeks. We know that this is just the beginning of the recovery and restoration effort.
Everybody has experienced a conference call.
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Managing a customer call or service center is a lot about managing the numbers. Both the macro ones – how many calls, how many agents. And the micro ones - how many calls can one agent take on, how many calls can one agent take on happily.
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“You will never reach your destination if you throw stones at every dog that barks.”
"The easier it is to get fast, convenient customer service, the more consumers will engage with customer service. That higher level of engagement will remain essential to building the long-term loyalty that businesses depend on for stability and continued growth."
"A great outsourcer should deliver positive outcomes for your KPIs. But, our experience shows there’s much more to demonstrating proof of outcomes than simply meeting KPIs."
"We’ve picked 16 of the tougher questions and ROI-proven approaches that a worthy consultant should be able to tackle."
"When your vendor is interacting directly with your customers on behalf of your company, questions you ask before hiring them need to be deeper, more pointed and increasingly challenging."
This is the week when we honor the work of our favorite super heroes. We know them by many names: professional problem solvers; queens of the queue; princes of patience; masters of making things right; bearers of the brand; champions of connection. As they answer even the most roundabout, complicated questions (or the same simple question asked 35 times each day) their legends travel far and wide, blanketing every channel.
"A strong vendor management program can properly locate & manage the right vendor partner in a crowded and chaotic competitive field."
As call center professionals moving forward into the Digital Age, we are keenly aware of the impact of automation on our industry. One of the biggest concerns we’ve heard is the effect automation may have on the labor pool. With lightning fast development in robotics process automation and machine learning, will customer service reps (CSRs) eventually become obsolete?
"For good workers to be consistently productive, a sense of worth and organizational mobility is essential."
How GCS Turned an Ailing Paratransit Call Center into a Platform for P3 Best Practices
"The best workforce optimization goes beyond the numbers & cultivates an understanding about how the numbers impact workforce management."
"Measuring the Right KPIs can Get & Keep Your Call Center Operating at a High Efficiency"
Did you know that in the 1940s the American Auto Industry did not make any cars for almost three years? During World War II the auto makers turned their assembly lines into wartime producers of military equipment. Over 40,000 tanks, 100,000 planes and dozens of ships were created in the name of freedom. The auto makers turned their talents from cars in January of 1942 to producing military equipment in April of that year. It was a transformation that changed the world.
"9 Ways To Fix Your Call Center"
I will have the pleasure of attending the 2012 DMA (Direct Marketer’s Association) convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 15th and 16th. This is a huge event with over 10,000 marketers attending across all industries. The event also has hundreds of exhibitors as well spanning from ad agencies to email marketing agencies and fulfillment services.
A contact center serves as the front line for business during many interactions with the client base. An excellent call center will convey warm, caring, positive feelings, along with the information the consumer needs. An ineffective call center leads to customer dissatisfaction, cancelations, poor reviews, and lost revenues.
Hiring for Effective Customer Service in the Contact Center Good customer service begins with the people providing it. For many businesses, this means the call center employees tasked with handling daily call volumes. But recruiting and retaining the best contact center professionals can be difficult, especially with so many businesses and government agencies competing for the best workers. There are several things hiring managers are doing today that can be put to use to improve service in your organization.
Training and education are on-going needs in any industry employing customer service teams. As an outsource provider of contracted contact centers, Global Contact Services uses both Direct Delivery Training, and Train-the-Trainer programs to provide on-going development of skill and performance of our Customer Service teams. The key to helping your customer service agents grow is to determine which training method works best for your team. There are certain programs, like Direct Delivery Training and Train-the-Trainer, that cater to the right dynamic for your team. We discuss the pros and cons of each program to help you decide which method will work for you.
Sit too long and stress takes off The usual thinking is when under stress of a deadline the best choice is to just knuckle down and get it done. That could be the very thing to send your stress levels skyrocketing. Nathan Kleitman is a sleep researcher who discovered the 90 minute cycle all people need to move through the five stages of sleep. His study of brain cycles while awake let to his discovery of how there is a related 90 minute cycle for activity. After 90 minutes of concentrated focus, the human brain needs to recharge itself or it will rely on cortisol to begin to combat stress. Just getting up and moving for five minutes can reduce your stress levels, allow your brain to recover, and prepare you to be just as focused for the next 90 minutes of work.
Moreover, the world has become a very small and well-connected place with the rise of the internet, making it realistic that all size organizations will deal with people from around the globe. As a result, multilingual call centers are no longer a luxury for the best funded organizations, but a necessity for public and private sector groups of any size.
The simple way to understand the difference between the two approaches is to know begin with the prefixes, “multi” means many, and “omni” means all. Multi channel environments utilize many different communication devices and platforms to allow for customer interaction. For instance, a company allowing consumers to call, email, write and chat is taking a multi channel approach. The focus is on the many ways the customer can communicate with the company.
About Call Centers Having an effective call center is essential for any business, charity, or government organization. Unfortunately, many of these organizations are slow to embrace the changes of the last 20 years, and confront their customers with long hold times, confusing and frustrating automated scripts, and impersonal communications. Because your call center is the front line of communication with your customers, it is important y agents be as effective and personable as possible.
Why you need more than a phone number and email address While having a regular postal address, phone, fax and email has been the standard for multi channel communications for years – it isn't enough. Most customers don't have the time to phone, don't own a fax machine, want a faster response than a letter and don't want to wait for an email. Sites that are effectively engaging their consumers are providing them with multiple options for immediate contact that can be accessed on a range of devices. These options include live chat, SMS messaging, and social media.
Because businesses rely so heavily on their contact centers for key support, it’s imperative they maintain a constant awareness of how the call center and individual agents are performing. By giving customers the chance to voice their own satisfaction levels with each interaction, businesses can gain valuable insight into how their call centers are performing and where there agents need additional coaching and support. Here are some of the most common ways businesses measure customer satisfaction.
I often get calls from new, growing companies trying to figure out how to grow their agent pool. They typically have started with a handful of people on the phone and are seeing success, but trying to figure out how to go from 5 to 50 with the same success. Do they continue to hire fully commissioned agents, contract with a Pay-for-Performance center or find an hourly center to handle it all for them. The risk and the reward varies with each approach and the path to success for each option is different in many ways. One of our strengths is in scaling an existing program to reach or service a large target audience in a short period of time. It allows a company to stay ahead of the competition before their idea can be copied in the marketplace or allow them flexibility during peak times or promotions. Our scalability success requires a defined process that will work with a large group of agents, regardless of scale. A room of several independent agents can each have their own unique approach and be very successful, but they do not have the scale to cover a large target market or handle a surge of volume.
Sometimes you need help to develop the right plan or process for reaching the goals of your Contact Center. Consider working with a contact center consulting services that will develop result-oriented solutions for the various challenges you face. A consulting team will focus on finding the root cause of your frustration and present the information, ideas and resources necessary to improve results. Consultants are an investment in the future. They provide insight and process changes that will save your center time, money and frustration on an ongoing basis. Many will not just explain what to do, but can be used to help with various phases of the implementation and make sure the ideas are transferred to the call center management team.
It’s no secret that starting with good people makes a huge difference. Finding the best contact center staff for the job can be a big challenge. Mistakes here can really set back an operation. Defining the right skill sets to recruit will vary based on the needs of a center.
Fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream One needs just to look at the last 7 years in America to see a major fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. The election of Barack Obama, an African-American—a black man to the nation’s highest office, President of the United States, 40 years after Dr. King’s death. His words ring so prophetically from the speech the night before his assassination: “And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” In addition to the election of President Obama, Dr. King’s dream can be seen in all aspects of society. The hiring of qualified minorities and women as workers and CEO's in Fortune 500 companies, as coaches and managers of major American sports teams, as chancellors and superintendents in higher and lower education, as well as the election of qualified minorities as mayors and governors, and the appointments of qualified minorities in other high government and military positions as well as state and local government and law enforcement positions.
Emotion Plays a Key Role in the Customer Experience You know that moment in the movie where the unexpected emotional moment occurs and tears of joy flow in the audience. The scene tugs at your heart string. Why, because everything came together in the production. Acting, directing, writing…. Everything reaches that climactic point through lots of coordination and coaching. No, the director didn’t just tell the actors, “go out there and make ‘em cry. Same with customer satisfaction.
Here’s an update on our sales and marketing activities. Over three months, we are attending five major conferences that have connections with call center services. At these conferences we have a booth for attendees to drop by, we advertise in their programs and we even presented at one conference. Here are the conferences: Utility Call Center Conference, International Bridge, Tunnel and Toll Association, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Society of Customer Service Professionals and Association of State Highway Officials.
…and so do adults. Back in the 1960’s, Art Linkletter had a variety show that included interviews with children. When a child said something unexpected, Linkletter would say his then famous line – Kids say the darndest things. We’re not sure if “darndest” was or is a word, but everybody understood.
One of the main principles at GCS is to provide opportunities to those who want them. It is our goal for all associates to enjoy working at GCS and to find it makes their lives better. That’s where our Management Candidate Program comes in. This program was started over twenty years ago and includes dozens of learning modules designed to develop and hone the skills necessary to become a manager in the contact center advisory services field.
Every year, the Puerto Rican Day parade and celebration causes many streets and pathways leading to our GCS offices to close. To avoid problems in today’s routine, it is important to look out for those past disturbances caused by an annual event. Often in the first year of a contract, GCS has to rely on the results and schedules left by our predecessor. The challenges from working off someone else’s results are numerous. Since we often have to rectify issues like high wait times and low staffing, the old data is not always helpful. Often there are new employees, different schedules or simply the data was not completely accurate, on point or even recorded at all.
In today’s society, safety and effective communication in emergency situations is proving to be more and more important. Intercede Services, a software company owned by a father of a GCS employee, has recently launched a new emergency incident reporting technology called iAlert. The product was launched in response to growing concerns regarding the safety of school children, teachers, hospital employees, construction workers and many more individuals who are exposed to dangerous situations and elements due to the nature or location of their work. iAlert was designed to promote effective communication for 3 common types of safety incidents: crisis events, emergency events, and urgent events. iAlert allows users to instantly notify multiple responders of an emergency incident allowing for fast and efficient communication to mitigate critical situations and promote safety and compliance. Pre-determined responders are able to react immediately based on the unique geo-location technology used by iAlert.
The other day, I read an article that claimed “omni-channel” is just a buzzword word that means the same thing as “multi-channel.” I couldn’t disagree more. Omni-channel contact centers represent a major step in the evolution of customer service.
Global Contact Services (GCS) is staying very aggressive in putting themselves top of mind and seeking new opportunities in the contact center solutions marketplace.
On April 27-30, Global Contact Services (GCS) attended the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) 2014 Symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event featured keynote speakers, best practices discussions and workshops geared towards customer care professionals in the Consumer Packaged Goods, Retail and Direct Sale, Healthcare, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism and Automotive industries. As a first time exhibitor, GCS’ was able to meet and converse with many customer-driven organization made up of vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors of customer care and customer affairs professionals. Their mission is to develop successful business strategies in the customer care arena through the use of various educational tools and networking opportunities the organization offers.
Starting next month, GCS will be deploying resources (that’s a fancy word for people) to go to Chicago for a three month call center consulting engagement. Our client awarded GCS the consulting project to assess their multiple call center locations to see if there are ways to improve their performance.
We’ll be seeing the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 before we know it.
You’re not alone if your most recent audit shows that you are on the verge of not meeting your budget. Where do you start your analysis? Why are your costs over budget?
Because of our background in owning and managing centers, we often get a consulting contract to help a client improve or revamp their contact center process. We’ve engaged in consulting projects all over the world. Recently we submitted a proposal for a city college system in a major metro area to help them consolidate seven centers from multiple campuses into one center.
Expectations for social customer care are growing as more consumers are getting comfortable with online tools and technologies. It has been reported that number of social media customer service requests will increase by 37% this year.
When asked “Who was the most influential person in your life growing up?” the most common answers (after “my mom” or “my dad”) are usually a teacher or a coach. At GCS, we refer to the most influential people in our CMRs’ business lives as Supervisors but, aren’t they really teachers or coaches? They work daily with CMRs on presentation skills, right? At GCS, we are changing the titles for “the most influential people in our company.
As the old saying goes, “One thing that is always constant is change.” We all know that our industry is rapidly changing. From the technology we use to the clients we service, the needs of those in the business world continue to morph.
Our clients need a hug. That’s the feeling I got at the conference in Phoenix this week. The ABIA is the industry association for insurance carriers that market through banks. Over the last two years, marketing to bank customers has gone from sky high to ground zero with almost all marketing being suspended. So, with this suspension in marketing, the conference networking was around two main subjects: a disdain for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and where we go from here. A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the CFPB and their interest in reducing fraud and deceptive marketing to bank customers. We continue to get requests from our clients to verify sales and document our procedures. To date, we can celebrate our A+, top grade response from our clients and their clients.
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You cannot do it all. In almost every client presentation we are asked to provide a service that is NOT our core competency. GCS provides outsourced teleservices for customer sales, service and support (CSSS). Oftentimes there are fringe services that bolt on to CSSS and it makes sense to subcontract those activities through us. In these cases, we take on the role of Trusted Advisor.
The newest member of our sales team, Jason Sterns, recently attended the 2012 American Bankers and Insurance Association Annual Convention with President and CEO Greg Alcorn. Jason was kind enough to tell us his first impressions of GCS while attending this event and meeting some of our valued past and present clients.
Billie Jean Calvert is a shift manager in our Mt. Hope facility. She recently shared with us what the past several days have been like after West Virginia was pounded with snow earlier this week due to Hurricane Sandy. Some of it has been good, some has been less than ideal but in every situation, there is a silver lining.
We are excited to introduce you to Jason Sterns. As vice president of new business development, Jason will be instrumental in making valuable contacts for GCS, generating new clients and helping GCS to secure an ever larger presence in the marketplace.
We’re told by our clients that we communicate better and more than anyone else in the industry. That’s a nice compliment and hopefully it results in longer, more fruitful relationships. Our clients like the GCS Express and really like our documentation of process, results, action items and compliance. We try to stay current with our clients and offer value with every contact. The same approach applies internally at GCS. We strive to communicate and be as transparent as possible. There are no secrets at GCS, but there is confidentiality, so we can’t communicate everything all the time.
Halloween is the second-most popular holiday in America behind Christmas. This time of the year is fun and frightful but you don’t want it to turn into a real-life nightmare.
Minimize damage to your call center operations in the face of disaster With Hurricane Sandy on everyone's mind we would like to take a moment to provide some helpful information on disaster preparation from a contact center standpoint. Safety is everyone's first concern, both for employees and customers, and an abundance of resources exist to reference in the face of a natural disaster. See the CDC's Hurricane Readiness Tips
In his famous one-hit-wonder “Ice, Ice, Baby,” Vanilla Ice tells us to “Stop, collaborate and listen.” It’s catchy and there’s also some truth to what he’s saying. Collaboration is an important workplace practice. Whether you’re giving a supervisor your input on a new program or you’re building out a proposal for a potential new client, collaboration is key.
Sales is the oldest profession in the world. I guess that makes marketing the oldest process.
I heard a college professor say the three things you need to have coming out of college are:
We know customers.
The communication preferences of consumers continue to shift in America. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Americans are digitally connected now more than ever.
Photo of successful female standing by whiteboard and pointing at diagram on it at seminar
Afro-american businesswoman using headset in the office
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Building a Relationship to Spur Long-Term Success in Credit Card Sales Over the years, we have had the opportunity to service our clients and exceed their expectations, even beyond what they originally anticipated. One example comes from a large US bank, seeking assistance with credit card acquisition and fulfillment. Several years ago the client sought an outsource provider to help fulfill credit card acquisitions in a way both cost-effective and revenue-generating. The organization’s goal was to develop a substantial number of new client relationships using both inbound and outbound voice services.
I will have the pleasure of attending the 2012 DMA (Direct Marketer’s Association) convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 15th and 16th. This is a huge event with over 10,000 marketers attending across all industries. The event also has hundreds of exhibitors as well spanning from ad agencies to email marketing agencies and fulfillment services. Attendees include: American Express, Nissan, Coca Cola, DirecTV, Spring, Staples and HP.
We hear the words “willing” and “eager” a lot when it comes to work and other tasks needing to be accomplished.
I’ve been spending some time over the past few weeks looking at the call quality monitoring feedback our clients provide. Most of the GCS team is “intimately” familiar with the amount of call quality monitoring our clients do on a monthly basis. In some cases we monitor directly with our client, in others they have designated monitoring firms that will monitor with us. In addition to the “live” monitoring we do for most clients these days, we also provide recorded calls of sales and in many cases presentations too. The call quality monitoring can sometimes seem like it’s an awful lot for us, but it serves many purposes for our clients:
Some things in this business you can’t control, like a customer having a bad day or the weather causing a power outage. But there are many things we can control, or at least influence, including our clients’ evaluation of our performance.
I like August for 134 reasons. Not because it feels like 134 degrees in Yuma, but because we hired 134 associates in the first week of August. Business is growing again and we can help our clients and help our communities by being able to provide good, steady employment.
When you think of outsourcing, you probably conjure up images of corporations, contact centers and business people. But the truth is, everyone outsources tasks, every day.
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In our last employee survey we asked for ideas from our employees about how they increase our level of business performance in their daily routines. We got some great tips! Here they are:
If you search the term "right-sourcing" in Google, you get nearly 46 million results. Margaret Rouse from searchcio.com helps define right-sourcing as "a way to get the best results by using specialists to complete parts of a larger project." It reminds me of the Express. Our objective for this publication is to provide employees with useful and interesting content about our company, our people and our industry – along with a few fun things. Doing that requires content sourcing from many places.
The term “outsourcing” has become a scapegoat this political season. But beyond the political hype, it is important to understand the long term benefits of outsourcing. Just about every company outsources. From trash collection, to cleaning crews, to entire contact centers, no one does it all. In fact, outsourcing helps most companies remain competitive and in business. The U.S. is, for the most part, a service economy. We are a nation working for each other. So let’s understand what these “sourcing” terms mean:
To put it in simple terms, Campaign Director is a dialing platform. It is a technology solution that allows us to do what our business model sells, to make customer contacts and help our clients manage business relationships. Primarily we make outbound contact calls to customers for our clients and take inbound calls from customers for our clients. Different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are great at outbound predictive dialing while lacking robust inbound capabilities. Other platforms are great at receiving and handling inbound calls but lack good outbound predictive dialing capabilities.
Businesses wanting to outsource interaction center and BPO processes face a complex set of decisions as they design an approach to customer care and communication. Once a business has decided to outsource portions of their business, they must choose whether to use a domestic, near-shore or off-shore BPO provider. Each of these options has there own pros and cons and ultimately each business will require a unique solution suited to its industry, character, and clientele. Even political pressure and social opinions can influence the decision. While this choice may seem daunting, you can determine the optimal model for your business by working with outsource providers like GCS, who can provide guidance, options and expertise in finding the best solution for your situation.
It Pays to Be Compliant What can you do with $210 million? Yes, it is a lot of money and there are probably 210 million ways you imagine spending it. Are regulatory fees and shelling out refunds on that list? Probably not. But that’s exactly what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is making Capital One Banking do for its marketing practices. The CFPB alleges Capital One tricked its credit card customers into purchasing add-on services.
About two years ago our company had Dr. Gerald Bell come to speak on leadership and management strategies. I was unable to attend his event myself, but I am consistently reminded of some of his principles (which I find very useful!). This morning, our Vice President of Human Resources, Bucky Cline, saw fit to remind us, of some of the strategies that can help us be the best leaders and employees we can be. If you would like to learn more from Dr. Bell, check out one of his numerous books or sign up for a seminar!
When companies review their customer service levels, they typically rely on data from traditional telephone channels. However, as the Internet Generation reaches maturity and preceding generations adopt the technologies that the Internet Generation grew up using, consumers are expecting companies to offer methods of support other than standard contact center numbers. Competitive companies are adapting to these expanded expectations while maintaining their service level targets. Let’s review some of the alternative contact methods that companies are employing, and a few tips for using them successfully.
The word teamwork has been thrown around the business world for ages. But in the last 10 years, some (very successful) companies have been implementing a teamwork strategy with ______. I'm talking about utilizing a crossfunctional team.
That's the question everyone is asking.
Kids everywhere are rejoicing, moms are running around like crazy and the rest of us are just trying to figure out how to beat the heat. A lot goes on in the summer and you have to make sure you’re prepared and poised for a safe season.
Are you having trouble deciding what your company should outsource? Here's one really quick way to decide.
Information from Openforum.com, originally posted on June 13, 2012
I always look for a reason to pass along principles from Dr. Jerry Bell. In his book, The Achievers, he outlines the traits of being a good person. Not just a good leader, but a good person. One of his chapters talks about the Five Horsemen of Death. It’s a pretty morbid name for five categories of managing your life but it certainly sends the right message. Do them right and your chances of living longer are better. Do them wrong and your chances are reduced.
Water is better for hydration than sugary sweet tea.
In the virtual conference this week, Greg Alcorn touched on many topics relating to the how’s and why’s of coaching and communication in the contact center.
We certainly did not know exactly what to expect with the CMRxchange webinar. Holly Czuba, George Simons and I accepted the offer to present a live session on coaching, communication and collaboration to an online audience of contact center professionals.
Greg Alcorn, Coaching with Style Webinar during CRMXchange virtual conference.
The tension and excitement in the air are palpable this morning after the supreme court's decision to uphold what many call "Obamacare". President Obama's landmark health care reform bill has a number of stipulations. Among the most discussed:
As a kid, we had a dinner time ritual where my dad asked us what we learned in school that day. At the time I found answering that question the hardest part of my day....and the most irritating. [I could have taught a class in eye rolling.] As a kid it was hard for me to grasp that what I was learning in school was 'new & exciting' information (to anyone). I was just going through the motions, and paid little attention to the big picture. But I've always been very fascinated with the world around me and how it works. And becoming an adult, I have recognized the value of this dinner time ritual. I became aware of the different ways a person can learn something new about the world around them. It was one of those AHA moments when I realized that learning something new didn't have to be something I read in a book in a classroom.
Dr. Hale's recent video guides us through some of the components of voice control and tone. This is a short excerpt from a training video we use with our associates. Because the audio channels are such a large part of the quality of service we provide to our client and their customers, we have an on-going emphasis on all elements of the audio presentation and use many tools to coach and improve the customer experience. >>>
We've been changing our language here at GCS to better reflect our profession and skill sets. A while ago I was tasked with finding a video to sum up the advantages of changing our language. I came across a video done by Purple Feather (http://www.purplefeather.co.uk/), a UK company specializing in online content. The video itself will need no explanation. Please take a moment to watch!
Long held sales advice was, "Know the FEATURES, but sell the BENEFIT." The thought was while good selling skills require strong product knowledge of features, what people buy is the benefit the product or service brings to them. That is a good start, but don't forget the ADVANTAGE provided by the benefit. The advantage is the emotional edge provided by ownership of the item being sold.
I like classic things. There is something comfortable and predictable about a classic. You can settle back and enjoy the experience because you know what you are getting. No need for extra energy or focus, just observe and enjoy the experience. Classics are normal, functional and serve their purpose well. What better way to spend a rainy day than watching a classic movie, listening to a classic song or reading a favorite book - again.
A sentence bookend is a word or phrase at the beginning and/or end of a sentence often used to fill space, is often not necessary and is even distracting when used frequently. I once worked with a guy who seemed to end every sentence with the word "right." It quickly became annoying and pompous.