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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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.
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.
Photo of successful female standing by whiteboard and pointing at diagram on it at seminar
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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.
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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:
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.
One might think that the world of sports has little to nothing in common with the contact center industry but that is not true.
Oftentimes we’re told to avoid clichés: in speeches, in letters and especially when speaking to clients/customers. But why?
When I was in college, I worked for a local radio station. As a 20 year old kid, it was exciting but probably the most stressful job I’ll ever have. The thought of having possibly thousands of people listen to my voice was daunting. I had no idea how I sounded. I wasn’t even sure if I was loud enough over the air for people to hear me because I was so nervous. Lucky me, my roommate recorded me one night and wow! I was shocked. I couldn’t believe how Southern I sounded and moreso than that, how unenthusiastic I came across. Instead of reporting baseball scores it sounded like I was reading out obituaries. Hearing the inflection, the volume and tone of my voice gave me a wake up call. That’s why audio coaching definitely has its place in contact center training. Without hearing what they sound like, associates and agents have no idea what the customer is hearing on the other end.
A Suggestion Box is a Great Way to Get Ideas from Employees
Micromanaging has a negative connotation associated with it. And rightly so. No one likes to have their boss breathing down their neck, making decisions for them. All employees appreciate a certain amount of autonomy in their work. It allows for ownership of their work. It allows for a more engaged employee. Don't agree? Check out the video in this post.
Planning is an important aspect of being successful in business!
At the end of July, GCS is going to be celebrating it's 10 year anniversary. In honor of such an accomplishment, especially in an environment that is seeing many businesses fail, we're going to be providing some historical perspectives on our growth and changes in the industry over the next several weeks. Two years ago, Greg Alcorn talked to Smallbiz America about GCS. Listen to the brief interview here. Related articles Marketing & Communication Tips for Your Agency (gcsagents.com)
Twice a year we formally block out two days to evaluate how closely our daily activities are aligned with our strategic objectives and then make any adjustments to stay on course. In many ways it is a matter of concluding we need more of the same, just better.
A good case for the necessity of employee engagement. via Gallup.
One of our chapters in our Presentation Consistency Initiative is Product Conviction. Here is an article by Zig Ziglar about the importance of Product Conviction.
It seems as if you can’t turn on the TV, surf the internet or pick up the newspaper these days without seeing an article or story about the benefits of exercise and diet to a healthier and more productive you. It seems that Americans are becoming an obese society, costing us huge sums of money in healthcare and lost productivity. And worse, for many of us, that also means ending our lives sooner than we should have. It seems we all work longer hours and are caught like a hamster on a revolving wheel just trying to keep up with the demands of the workplace. We complete a task and move quickly to the next item on our to do list. All the while the inbox keeps filling up. Well, I’ve “discovered”, at least for me, a great way to
I recently had the opportunity to spend the week in our Odessa, TX center. Not only was it a nice excuse to escape from colder climates, it was also a great opportunity to visit with the team and check out some of the great things that are taking place. During the week I witnessed the self-coaching process, firsthand. The management team and associates have done an outstanding job incorporating this initiative into their daily routine. While walking the floor with the managers as the process was taking place, one idea kept coming to mind – how great it was to see the relationships and rapport that was growing each day between supervisors and agents. I found an article that talks about rapport and how it relates to the coaching process. Although it deals with coaching in a law firm, many of the principles certainly apply to our industry as well. Find out what it takes to develop a “mutual absence of vulnerability.”
Let’s face it, conference calls are even more of a necessity in many industries today. When managed properly, they are an effective means of communication and a valuable business tool because they decrease travel costs and increase the speed of decisions. Below are some of the key tips I have found effective to use when leading a call. Prepare an agenda. Always have your agenda prepared prior to the call and never attempt to ‘wing it’. As the meeting organizer, it’s your responsibility to take the lead, make sure the proper people/departments are invited, and create an outline that’s easy to follow. Be sure to include talking points under each bullet to keep the call moving along. Send out the agenda prior to the call so people can see the review the items and prepare their own notes.
Mark Twain once said “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
If you want to start a lively discussion within our industry, ask if a good customer service person can also sell. (Likewise ask if a sales person can handle customer service.) This question often comes up when helping clients who want to turn a customer care/service center into a profit maker, or at least off-set some of the cost, by selling more products or services through that channel. Fortunately, there are options that work regardless of your situation. If you choose to sell in-house, here are a few things to consider.
Have you noticed the trend? In America today, we are more connected to our phones than ever before, our mobile phones. In fact, for a growing number of people, it is the only phone they have. In 2000, 1 out of 10 people in the United States owned a mobile phone, by 2009, it was 6 in 10. Now, 90% of households in the United States have a mobile phone. For many companies, calling a client’s mobile phone was simply NOT something to do. To meet regulations, mobile phone dialing requires a different approach than landlines and until recently, there was usually a landline to call instead. Now, as more and more landlines disappear, companies are looking for the best way to reach out to customers. E-mail and texting can work, but so can a call to the mobile phone - when it is done correctly. GCS recently partnered with one of our customers to explore this communication channel. The results point to a real opportunity for businesses who recognize the trends and want to connect with, and monetize their mobile customer base. But to keep the customer happy, you need to consider three important things:
In the contact center environment, being optimistic is a significant benefit. Because of the many people our agents come in contact with, having a predisposition to believe you can solve each customer's concern or provide a relevant product or solution is important. We use various methods to identify potential agents with this aptitude. I found this article on recent studies on optimism by Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D to be an interesting opinion on the value of being optimistic in one’s outlook. As Dr. Sharma points out, optimism spills over into many areas of one's life.
You’ve heard the old adage of “practice makes perfect”, maybe when you were playing a musical instrument or learning to write or participating in sports.
Coach Chip Hester
Many people ask me what my role as a Client Service Director is responsible for and I liken it to being a quarter back on a football team, we set up the game, call the plays and control the field. Client Service Directors here at GCS serve as the liaison between our Clients and our internal operations. It is our responsibility to make sure that everything from the start up of a new program, to processing the invoice is taken care of flawlessly. We have many tasks that include inventory management, performance management, program set up and much more. Client satisfaction is our goal and what we strive for everyday. Communication, Organization and Customer Service are really the key elements to our success in this role.
Why Open-Ended Questions Aren't Very Useful | BNET.
I was doing some research on presentation styles the other day and ran across something that reminded me of this maxim:
...or the Art of the Elevator Pitch... How many times have you been in a situation where you'd like to inform a stranger about the great things your company could do for them but found yourself stumbling or them uninterested?
A study published in the Economist on August 12, suggests that workers would be more productive if they could bring their dogs to work. See the whole article here: Animal and human behaviour: Manager's best friend | The Economist.
The famous motivational speaker and writer, Zig Zigler, teaches the importance of attitude with an exercise called “G.A.S.” He’ll ask you to visualize your favorite teacher or manager and to write down ten or fifteen attributes of that person. For example, one of my favorite teachers was smart, encouraging, fair, energetic, listened carefully, was challenging and wore glasses.
Almost nothing is more helpful in dealing with people than a sense of humor. Now, a sense of humor doesn't necessarily mean a knack for telling jokes. Rather, it means the ability to take some setbacks and still see that the world has not come to an end.
Recently, we made some organizational changes at GCS. We moved some senior managers around and realigned some reporting structures to help streamline our business model. These moves are designed to provide a fresh set of eyes toward old processes to hopefully make them better.
Frank Camp, VP of Client Services tells us how GCS approaches client relations.
Negativity in a group setting can have an adverse effect team morale, it can erode teamwork and diminish the value of group objectives. As a team leader or supervisor this is a challenge you face on top of the rigors of your daily responsibilities. Below are some suggestions of how to approach Negative Nellies/Neds.
Guest Blogger, Laura Czuba, a Process Improvement Specialist studying Ergonomics in home health care gives us a few tips on staying loose at the office: After a long workday at the office, is your back sometimes sore? Are your eyes tired? Are your shoulders, arms, and legs stiff? If so, some ergonomic tips relevant to computer usage may help you ward off your end of workday agony.
Making mistakes? I could write a book about it!! My favorite principles about making mistakes come from Tom Peters and his books “In Search of Excellence” and “A Passion for Excellence”. These are 1980’s books with timeless value. One principle was “Fail Forward Fast”. If you can test changes in your process, take calculated risk, measure the impact and be willing to implement the change OR return to status quo, you can get better faster. Another favorite from Peters is “Ready, Fire, Aim”. It may not be originally from Peters but it’s the same principle of being open to trying new approaches in the spirit of continuous improvement.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked an important question during our 8:10 call. What motivates workers? My answers come from a study done at MIT. Dan Pink's lecture : The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (the video of his lecture is posted below) does a GREAT job of laying out the study. Here's a quick synopsis:
Customer Think | Technology Isn't a Substitute for Great Service.
Debbie Call is a top performer in Saltville. Here is her advice:
A newspaper reporter asked the prolific bank robber, Willie Sutton, why he robbed banks. He responded with “because that's where the money is.” A similar, albeit legal, response can be used to answer the question about why we adjust our work schedules throughout the month, week and day - “because that's when the customers are available.”
Sure, machines have their place and IVR's are getting more sophisticated. Still, who isn't a little bit tired of talking to a machine? Not every situation can be boiled down to a "Press 4 for current balance" or "Press 5 to hear our exciting offer." There are times when your experience with a company is better because you are able to reach a human being and explain your situation or find a solution to keep you satisfied with the company in question. Well, for those times when you just can't reach something with a pulse, try GetHuman.com. Get Human is a great little site giving you tips, tricks and IVR paths for reaching that elusive human being located somewhere behind the IVR of many popular companies.
Well, we're not in school any more, so we won't be asking professors about grades, BUT perhaps we should still keep in mind that there are no dumb questions?