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Bryan Crouch - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

The Culture Here Stinks(or maybe its a little funky). Now What?

Ok, so we have given a thorough appraisal of our contact center’s culture, and it stinks. Or, maybe it doesn’t stink yet…it just has the faint, slightly acrid aroma of mediocrity. Wherever our department lands on the cultural stench scale, there is always room for improvement. As I mentioned in my last post, the great part about this aspect of our business is that we, as leadership, have 100% control over the culture of our department.

We control culture because our staff look up to us. In other words, they watch us. Sure, there can be the company mission statement written on the back wall, and company values printed all over the mousepads, but what are we doing to further these ideals within our daily interactions? For instance, do we crack jokes about a customer who is being difficult? While it may garner some immediate laughs, it gives not only the impression, but the outright proof that we don’t care about about all of our customers. How about accountability? Does the expression, “Crud rolls downhill”, apply at your contact center? If so, you need to find another career. If leadership takes accountability for actions- good and bad, the organization is freed from the chains of fear. When we spend all day covering our rear-ends, we don’t have time to focus on what needs to be done! The best bosses I have ever had were not afraid to admit they screwed up. The fact is, we work harder for people we respect. Another theater for us to consider culturally, here in the 21st century, is social media. Are we “friends” with our fellow employees on social media? If so, how do we talk about our jobs in posts? Also, do we engage in the fiery, divisive rhetoric, politically speaking, that so many others do on social media these days? Do not be deceived…our employees see this and it helps inform their opinion of us and our organization.

If we are to be true culture warriors, we must live it 100% of the time. We cannot fake it. The truth is, if we do not love what we do and who we are doing it for, we cannot hide it. Conversely, if we DO love what we do and who we are doing it for, we cannot hide that either! So lets, not fake the funk! When we care, everyone can see and the stench of a bad contact center is replaced with the sweet smell of success!

Publish Date: February 20, 2018 11:32 PM


Have You Gone Nose-Blind To Your Culture?

How often do we discuss culture in regards to our contact centers? Probably too often. Its funny, because in our efforts to focus on this most foundational aspect of our operations, we can lose the real heart of the matter in all the noise. We all want to be culture warriors, and I am sure most of us would describe ourselves as such, but why are so many contact centers black holes of enthusiasm and joy??

Culture is kind of like an aroma. We are all "nose-blind" when it comes to the smell of our own homes, because its where we live. No one thinks their home smells bad, but when we have entered other people's homes, we can sure smell what they don't! The same is true of contact centers...we have all likely walked onto the floor of some contact centers and immediately felt an oppressive, almost depressing aura surround us. If you asked the leadership of these dens of sorrow, they would likely say their culture is terrific.

This begs one question- have we gone "nose-blind" to our own contact center's cultural aroma? We don't know unless we ask. Ask some reps and supervisors how they feel about your organization's culture. Or better yet, ask someone in an entirely different department for their take on your department's culture. Their answer may surprise you. If the answer is not what you're hoping to hear, do not despair! The great part apart culture is, it is something that leadership can control 100%. In future entries, we will explore ways in which we can right the cultural ship. In the meantime, lets all look around and give our contact centers the good, old fashioned, sniff test.

Publish Date: December 29, 2017 12:47 PM


The Script is Dead! Long Live the Script!

               I have heard a lot of contact center experts declaring that the age of the outbound sales script has come and gone. Their position is that today’s consumer wants to be connected with on a more personal level and therefore each consumer contacted should be engaged in a unique conversation. I feel that their reasoning is a little shaky. My position is now, more than ever, the best way to acquire new customers is with a structured sales script.         

                Like many of us in the contact center industry, I started on the phones as a rep. My field was cold calling business to consumer. After years of cold calling I developed a few traits: mild facial tick, remarkable sense of humor, short memory, thick skin, and a profound reverence for a well structured script. Today’s consumers are savvier than ever. They know when they are being sold something. They know how to hang up the phone. They know how to throw in a few choice expletives while doing so. Why would we as a business try to fool them with the notion that we are simply trying to engage them conversationally? It is insulting to the average consumer’s intelligence.     

                The faster we can get to the pitch the better, and frankly, not enough reps given the freedom to improvise on each call can do so quickly enough to effectively engage a customer before he/she hangs up.  Consumer’s interest is piqued not by a rep’s remarkable conversational skills, but rather by a spectacular offer for a good or service. If our reps can get to the point succinctly, we will see their close rates climb. When the message of savings and or ease is conveyed simply and early in the script, the likelihood of the customer hanging up is lessened. We know that our offers are great, 99% of the problem is that the customer doesn't understand the offer by the time they hang up the phone.

                If a script is well put together, it can be informative and pleasant. Nobody wants to be contacted by someone yelling in their ear about disounted amalgamated aluminum awnings. However, everyone is looking to save money and live an easier life. 

                We all need structure. It is human nature to seek it out. Let’s provide our reps with a good structure for their pitch and enable them to be all that they can be. If we can improve our sales and see an overall decrease in facial ticks, we all will be better off!

Publish Date: February 27, 2015 10:21 PM


IVR - "Set it and Forget it"?

Oh, how i miss Ron Popeil. He was the godfather of the infomercial, and I can still vividly remember the products he would promote from food dehydrators to hair in a can. Perhaps his most famous tag line was used to sell his Ronco Rotisserie Oven to untold thousands of consumers- "Set it...and forget it!". A brilliant marketing ploy, indeed. It summed up the ease of use for a seemingly complex kitchen implement. What does this have to do with contact centers? First, a couple of rotisserie chickens would certainly help with the atmosphere in the breakroom. Second, as our technology within the contact center gets more sophisticated, have we adopted a "set it and forget it" mentality? While the line is great for selling kitchen products, it can be a real thorn in the side of contact center operations. Nearly all contact centers utilize an IVR these days, and they have grown increasingly more complex over the years. By simply setting them and forgetting them, we can be losing out on revenue from a number of different angles. Who analyzes the IVR path to determine if customers are able to easily navigate the system? Are the prompts easy to understand? Is there a pound out option? What is the least complex tree that can be created? Does my hold music foster a sense of well-being and calm within a customer? There are so many questions to be considered. It seems like a simple ground level piece of technology, and in a lot of ways it still is. However, since it is often the first impression a customer gets of our contact center, how often are we checking to make sure it is running smoothly and efficiently? A little "food" for thought....

Publish Date: December 11, 2014 10:11 PM

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Bringing the Multi-Channel Approach to Employee Engagement

Multi-Channel. This buzzword has been swirling around the contact center industry for a couple of years now. Its buzzworthiness is not unfounded, as the ways which customers interact with businesses has grown from phone and snail mail to phone, snail mail, email, web chat, twitter, facebook, SMS, mobile apps, and on and on. Each passing month seems to bring about another channel of communication!

            We spend so much time focusing on how to meet the customer’s needs via these burgeoning avenues of interaction, we may have overlooked another crucial aspect of our multi-channel existence-communicating with our own employees. Today’s contact center employees are more tech-savvy than ever, and are getting younger and younger all the time. We know these millenials are a terrific asset to have because they understand and utilize these channels in their personal lives, so naturally they can best interact with customers on these channels as well.

            Why not leverage their use of these channels in their lives as a means to gain greater employee engagement? According to a recent survey, 88% of millenials have a facebook account and 59% of millenials have a twitter account. My question is this-what percentage of companies are actively engaging their employees via facebook and twitter? Not many.

            The fact is, employees stay with a company because of relationships. For those of the millennial generation, relationships are best cultivated via social media. By setting up a company facebook and twitter account that is employee centric, you can develop a means of meeting your employees on their level. Pictures of new hires, employee of the month, company potlucks, birthday shoutouts, etc. This is a free and powerful means to build a meaningful rapport between your company and your employees.

            This multi-channel interaction can extend beyond just social media as well. Why not a happy birthday text message? Why not an email to their personal email account congratulating them on achieving their monthly sales goal? There are so many creative and exciting ways to engage our employees these days. We all would be wise to use them as a means of gaining greater employee retention and engagement.

Publish Date: November 21, 2014 9:58 PM

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