e-Newsletters

Pipeline Online is our e-Newsletter where we discuss trends and best practices that address the unique challenges of our contact center environments.
            
45 Items Found
 

e-Newsletters     

Designing a Customer-Centric Culture

By Janet LeBlanc

Culture is one of the most difficult organizational attributes to shape, change and evolve. Leaders play a critical role in creating and driving the architecture of their organization's culture. Here are five dimensions leaders need to influence when building a strong customer-centric culture.

e-Newsletters     

Quick Tips to Leverage Technology for Training Efficiency

By Susan Hash

Fixing a business or performance problem is an effective way to demonstrate the value of training. But, in some cases, the process that needs to be fixed is the training itself. In her work with call centers, Rebecca Gibson, a contact center solutions consultant with Interactive Intelligence, sees a lot of inefficient training practices that contribute to wasted resources, time and budget.

e-Newsletters     

Linking Customer Experience Metrics to Compensation: How to Set Effective Targets

By Janet LeBlanc

Every employee in the organization should have a customer experience metric on their performance scorecard, specific to their area of responsibility. This approach ensures that employees understand that improving the customer experience is “everyone’sresponsibility.” Furthermore, setting an overall corporate goal, such as a customer loyalty score or index, reinforces the message that employees must all work together to ensure an improvement in the end-to-end customer experience.

e-Newsletters     

Three Compelling Trends in Home Working

By Michele Rowan

Contact center home working is predicted to grow 30% per annum, according to industry analysts. As more organizations implement home-working programs, some new and compelling trends are emerging.

e-Newsletters     

Basic Training for New Team Leaders

By Mike Aoki

"Congratulations! You have been promoted to acting supervisor." It was 1993 when my manager pulled me aside and gave me the good news. I was thrilled at the chance to lead a contact center group, but I was also nervous. I was a top-performing agent, but I had never managed staff until now. Unfortunately, there was no training program for new team leaders at this company. I had to learn everything by trial and error. It was frustrating and counterproductive. I felt like I had been set up to fail.

e-Newsletters     

Managing Onsite and Remote Staff: Tips for Building a Strong Team

By Susan Hash

Over time, all work groups develop norms, which are the rules and expectations (either formally or informally established) that guide the team members' behaviors. One area that is often overlooked when establishing the team's ground rules is how the individual members interact with and communicate with each other. Without agreed-upon standards for communication, unproductive norms may develop over time, such as team members not responding to a colleague's email, or thinking that it's OK to be a few minutes late to a virtual meeting.

e-Newsletters     

Three Guidelines to Enhance Performance Management

By Rebecca Gibson

In too many contact centers, performance management is a checklist activity that managers and agents don't spend much time thinking about, except when goals or evaluations are due. The pitfalls associated with performance management programs can be traced to not spending enough time on the process. Managers who follow these three guidelines will vastly improve the quality of their performance management process.

e-Newsletters     

How to Handle a Severe Staffing Shortfall

By Jay Minnucci

Understaffing is a fairly common occurrence in most contact centers, but there may be times when your center experiences a severe staffing shortage. We're not talking about the run-of-the-mill Monday with high call volume and an even higher number of call-ins. We are talking about a staffing situation where capacity is well below required numbers, and will remain that way for an extended number of weeks into the future.

e-Newsletters     

The Evolving Contact Center Leader

By Rebecca Gibson

Every contact center leader is—and should be—concerned with staying professionally viable, and predicting the skills and experience that organizations will value next month, next year or five years from now. In an industry with almost daily shifting demands, how can you best align your skills and experience with evolving requirements?

e-Newsletters     

Create a Branded Service Experience

By Susan Hash

Companies spend millions each year on marketing and advertising to distinguish their products from their competitors. Yet after spending their time and resources to create very specific perceptions and expectations about their brand's unique personality, most companies undercut their efforts by offering a generic service experience when customers call.

e-Newsletters     

5 Best Practices for Reducing Handle Time

By Greg Levin

In successful call centers today, metrics like first-call resolution, quality and customer satisfaction have replaced average handle time (AHT) as the key performance indicator.

e-Newsletters     

Getting Top-Level Support for the Contact Center

By Susan Hash

Over the years, I've had the chance to speak with many companies that are recognized as leading service providers within their industries. These companies stand out by putting their customers and frontline staff at the forefront of their processes and policies through demonstrated practices (think deeds, not words). One thing that all of these customer-centric companies have in common is top-level support for the contact center—that, and happy contact center leaders.

e-Newsletters     

Coaching the Coach

By Jay Minnucci

Our coaches occupy the most critical blocks on our organizational charts. Wedged between those who set the policies for handling customers and those who carry out those policies, it is our coaches—supervisors mostly, but also trainers, QA staff and others—who translate objectives to behaviors.

e-Newsletters     

How to Support a Fearless Work Environment

By Susan Hash

There is a great deal of fear in the workplace these days. The turbulent economy is affecting employee attitudes, creating fear and anxiety about budget cuts, layoffs and wage reductions.

e-Newsletters     

Connecting Onsite and Work-at-Home Agents

By Susan Hash

Home-based contact center staff often miss the social aspect of being in the workplace. And while the isolation of working at home can be a difficult transition, onsite staff also must adapt when a center launches a home-based program.

e-Newsletters     

Balancing Quality and Productivity

By Susan Hash

As customers increasingly choose self-service options for simple tasks and inquiries, agents are now handling more complicated calls that typically require problem-solving skills, a more consultative approach…and time. The industry's longtime reliance on handle time as a performance metric has created the perception among agents that speed trumps quality—and unfortunately, many employee scorecards and performance appraisals seem to support that view.

e-Newsletters     

Curing Absenteeism

By Susan Hash

If your contact center's absenteeism is out of control and you're looking for a quick fix that will get your agents to show up for their shifts, then you're out of luck. High absenteeism generally is an indicator of a much larger problem that stems from disengaged agents, low motivation and poor morale.

e-Newsletters     

Rethinking Contact Center Metrics: The Problem with Averages

By Susan Hash

While the contact center environment has evolved a great deal over the past decades, some metrics have not. Many centers focus on metrics that have been in place for years without considering whether they still make sense for the current business environment.

e-Newsletters     

Driving Process Excellence

By Susan Hash

Identifying the barriers that lead to a poor customer experience (and increased traffic to the call center) requires an enterprisewide review of customer touchpoints and call drivers. Here is a brief look at three contact centers that are successfully driving end–to–end process improvements to ensure the optimal customer experience.

e-Newsletters     

Agent Skills Development

By Susan Hash

Many contact centers have seen their training budgets slashed in recent years, crippling their efforts to expand the frontline's skills and deliver a consistently high-quality customer experience. While some organizations still don't realize the ROI that training provides, leading service providers understand the impact that knowledgeable contact center agents have on the customer experience.

e-Newsletters     

Surviving a PR Nightmare

By Jay Minnucci

Every contact center should have a comprehensive recovery plan for the "typical" disaster. Not every worst-case scenario, though, fits the definition of a "traditional" disaster. Many events can ... have a disastrous impact on performance results, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and/or revenue.

e-Newsletters     

Home-Agent Programs

By Susan Hash

While the advantages of home-agent programs can be very appealing, if your model is not well-defined, you'll likely find yourself running into a few stumbling blocks that can make deep cuts in your potential savings. Following are four common mistakes that contact centers make when rolling out a home-agent program, which can lower the ROI.

e-Newsletters     

Managing Gen Y

By Susan Hash

Are you a Generation X or Baby Boomer manager struggling to get through to your Gen Y agents? Gen Y employees (those 21 to 33 years old) have been described as the most high-maintenance workforce to date, but they can also be the most high-performing, if you learn what makes them tick.

e-Newsletters     

7 Tactics for Optimizing Your Quality Program

By Greg Levin

Like it or not, quality monitoring is an absolute necessity in contact centers—and when carried out well, a truly valuable one at that. Trouble is, many contact centers struggle to get the most out of their quality monitoring efforts, or worse, don’t bother to formally monitor at all.

e-Newsletters     

From Customer Service to Customer Experience

By Tim Montgomery

Contact centers play a critical role in the customer experience; however, it is important for organizations to understand that the center is just one piece of a much bigger pie. Progressive organizations are starting to take more of an outside-in approach to the way they are measuring service success.

e-Newsletters     

Making the Case for Lower Turnover

By Jay Minnucci

In most contact centers, the executive team recognizes agent attrition as a necessary evil. They know there is some expense associated with it, but the general opinion is that the cost of the cure is likely greater than the benefit. It is your challenge to change that line of thinking. Building a case stands on three credible arguments.

e-Newsletters     

Communicating Customer-Centric Change

By Susan Hash

Becoming a customer-centric organization typically requires a culture change that must be driven from the top. A collaborative approach that involves a close partnership with senior executives will ensure that customer-focused objectives have the type of high-level backing necessary to drive them throughout the organization.

e-Newsletters     

Supporting Agents through Change

By Rebecca Gibson

Today more than ever, an organization's survival is dependent upon its ability to respond to the near-constant changes that impact businesses from every direction. When it comes to making changes of any kind, from a simple policy adjustment to a complete strategy overhaul, your success rests on how well your agents understand and embrace change.

e-Newsletters     

Managing Seasonal Call Volume

By Susan Hash

It's every contact center's mission: Making sure that the right resources are in the right place at the right time. Things get a little trickier, though, when your center deals with seasonal surges in call volume. Whether your peak volume period lasts a few weeks or several months, there are several options to help you smooth out the workload. The following are a few strategies that have worked successfully for many contact centers.

e-Newsletters     

Executive Interaction on the Front Lines

By Jay Minnucci

Interaction with the staff is important in most any leadership position, but it is absolutely critical in a contact center. The agent's job success depends on interpersonal skills, and it is the supervisors, managers, directors and top executives who model the desired behavior.

e-Newsletters     

Staying Connected with a Distributed Workforce

By Susan Hash

The last few years have brought about a few considerable changes in the way contact centers manage their employees. One of the most significant is the growing proportion of distributed agents—whether they work from home, in other office locations or in satellite centers.

e-Newsletters     

Four Key Drivers of Agent Engagement

By Susan Hash

What is it that makes the agents in certain contact centers especially enthusiastic about their jobs and more committed to delivering a high-quality customer experience on call after call? Higher pay alone won’t produce passionate concern for the company’s well-being and dedication to helping it achieve its vision or goals. The following are 4 key drivers found in centers with high levels of engagement.

e-Newsletters     

Do you know who I am?

By Susan Hash

What your customers want you to know about IVR self-service. If you can make speech-based, automated phone self-service a success, everyone wins. Costs go down. Customer satisfaction goes up. Everyone gets what they want. But these systems—known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR)—often ignore the very basic tenets of customer service. Callers provide information, are made to wait, listen to irrelevant options, wait some more, only to be asked to repeat themselves. Who wouldn't be frustrated?

e-Newsletters      People management

4 Best Practices to Retain Top Performers

By Susan Hash

Many contact centers are not aware of the underlying reasons why their top performers choose to leave. Traditional exit interviews don't offer reliable feedback because they only scratch the surface of the causes of attrition.

e-Newsletters      People management

Recruiting, Engaging, Motivating and Retaining Generation Y

Are you a Gen X or Baby Boomer manager struggling to get through to your 20-something agents? Gen Yers have been characterized as high maintenance, but they can also be a high-performing workforce for those who know how to manage them.

e-Newsletters      Strategic management

Adding Sales to a Service Culture

By Susan Hash

Companies have gotten smarter about the technology they use to support sales in the contact center, but most have not managed to make a successful cultural transformation from service to sales. A look at where centers are going wrong, and advice for making a smooth transition to a service-and-sales environment.

e-Newsletters      Operations management

Executing Your Customer Experience Strategy

By Susan Hash

Most companies agree that ensuring a consistent, high-quality customer experience is essential for building loyalty and growing revenue.

e-Newsletters      Operations management

Getting Social with Customers

By Susan Hash

Organizations now recognize that they can't afford to ignore the impact social media is having on customers, brand reputation and revenue. Here is a brief look at some of the social media forerunners.

e-Newsletters      People management

Low Cost Agent Incentives

By Susan Hash

In tough economic times, what can you do to inspire your frontline staff and recognize them for their efforts? Fortunately, the most effective incentive programs don't have to cost a lot, and the return in higher morale and increased performance can be substantial.

e-Newsletters      People management

Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent

By Susan Hash

Is your current recruiting and hiring strategy the same one that's been in place for the past five or 10 years? If so, you've just uncovered a key reason for high turnover in your contact center.

e-Newsletters      Operations management

Create a winning Contact Center

Forget about all the cool technologies designed to "wow" your customers — delivering on the service basics time after time will earn their loyalty.

e-Newsletters      Strategic management

Your customers are talking about you

By Susan Hash

Social media provides a powerful platform for customer complaints. Anger and frustration fuel the desire to rant to an audience -- and one irate customer can do irreparable damage to a company’s image. Find out how leading companies are taking control of the online buzz about their products and services.

e-Newsletters     

Overcome Interdepartmental Barriers to Process Excellence

By Susan Hash

Identifying the barriers that lead to a poor customer experience (and increased traffic to the call center) requires an enterprisewide review of customer touchpoints and call drivers.

e-Newsletters      Operations management

Inside Fedex and Comcast Call Centers

By Susan Hash

Although the recession has taken a heavy toll on employee morale, the increasingly competitive environment has customers expecting an even higher standard of service. What can you do to motivate and enable your front line to strive for exceptional service on every interaction?

e-Newsletters     

Maximize the Value of Self-Service

By Susan Hash

Self-service channels can offer an effective alternative for conducting simple transactions and cutting support costs, but the inability to resolve issues on the first interaction remains a top challenge.