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Executive Interview : 10 Great Ideas For Contact Centers - An Interview With Vera Austin from Mass Mutual
Top Ranking Performers Regional Award Winner Vera Austin from Mass Mutual in the United States sat down with ContactCenterWorld.com in advance of the 2014 Top Ranking Performers World Awards in Las Vegas. Austin provided answers on an interview centered on ideas suited to better a contact center.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them?
VP level leaders should visit at least quarterly to see how the teams are doing and chat with them. Managers should do this on a weekly basis.
What can contact centers do to help manage social interactions better?
Providing networking or team building events outside of work in helpful in building/managing social interactions.
What is the best way to engage staff who work from home?
The best way to engage staff at home is to keep them in the loop. Daily conference calls, they don't have to be lengthy but consistent. Recognition is another important component for a work from home population.
What should every contact center do when it comes to recognizing staff performance?
Be consistent and transparent when recognizing performance. Let everyone know there are no favorites just those that put in the extra effort which is possible of everyone.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff / recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
The Contact Center Managers should present the awards because they handle the daily interactions/coaching and it gives them an opportunity to reinforce that hard work pays off. Our managers walk around and deliver bonuses with balloons and certificates monthly.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to a contact center leader who is under pressure from the board to cut costs when you know it will affect customer service?
My piece of advice would be to fight as hard as you can to keep your budget. It's fuel that keeps employee drive intact.
What is the best way to cut loose/let go an employee who is underperforming?
The best way is to be up front about the expectations of the job and the ramifications if those expectations are not met. This does not leave room for surprises when you have to let someone go.
How often should an agents / front line professionals performance be measured from a quality standpoint and how should this be done?
Quality should be measured weekly with a monthly roll-up average. Each agent should receive a weekly review accompanied by coaching and a monthly review with the manager should follow.
What is the best way to determine which are your best and worst customers and how should you change the way you service them?
This is not my area of expertise but I don't think you should categorize customers as best or worst. They are the population you serve and all deserve your best.
What in your opinion is the best way to schedule staff for a contact center? and how should you allow them to select shifts or should they be set by you?
We use the shift bid process on a quarterly basis which has proved to be successful.
What advice would you give to a contact center leader who is looking at new technology for the center and how best to evaluate its effectiveness and claims made by the seller of the technology?
Test it, Test it, and test it again.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line productivity?
Treat them as business owners and not rank and file employees.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line Motivation?
Do anything and everything you can to make it fun while stressing the importance of what they do.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve customer satisfaction?
Continue building on the customer experience by making customer service training such as MAGIC available to your teams.
Can you share a tip or two on how to set service levels for a contact center?
This is not my area of expertise, but forecasting seems to be an appropriate way to gauge service levels.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve reduce repeat calls in a contact center?
Train your staff to get it right the first time so that First Call Resolution is complete.
What are the 2 or 3 mistakes managers often make when they recruit staff and how can they avoid these mistakes?
One of the mistakes that I've been guilty of is focusing more on the resume than the person. Instead of following the behavioral interview scripting.
Whats the best way to train staff on how to deal with a very very angry customer?
I think role playing and mock calls are a good way to train staff.
How can you educate your board on what the contact center does?
I would explain that the contact center is normally the first face of the company to most customers and the service provided is the key to customer retention and new business.
You have a customer who complains on twitter and/or facebook - how do you deal with this?
Our compliance team responds to the complaint.
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More Editorial From MassMutual
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term. MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives.
Published: Tuesday, October 28, 2014