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Executive Interview : 10 Great Ideas For Contact Centers - Interview With Sheldon Dickson from Aegis South Africa
Reaching all corners of the world, ContactCenterWorld.com heads to South Africa for an interview with Sheldon Dickson of Aegis South Africa. He really elaborates on some great ideas that you too can use in your own Contact Center to improve morale and provides some other insightful and useful tips for you.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them?
Regular face to face meetings and team briefs are vital to sharing organizational visions and providing open forums for performance related challenges to be discussed. On a supervisory level, a weekly brief is ideal for streamlining process changes or sharing product updates. The benefits of creating synergised teams include the prevention of unwanted product knowledge and process related escalations. Senior managers are to control the content being discussed in the weekly briefs and openly encourage a feedback loop based on the situational challenges of the contact center. The successful implementation of the above suggested briefs, would require such investment time to be built into rosters and schedules with the help of a local resource management team. For Inbound contact centers, it would be wiser to create an intraday solution, rather than a monthly or weekly rotation.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff / recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
The obvious answer to this question may seem like the boss of the bosses must reward and recognize good staff performance. Management teams will benefit more from an environment where agents reward agents reward and recognize agents. Simple and regular "pats on the back" from colleagues are more gratuitous than a monthly 'hoo hah" from senior executives. Promoting this method within the contact center encourages healthy competition and builds rapport amongst the front-line population. As upper management, allocate a budget to an 'agent committee', devoted to rewarding positive behavior and achievements. Not only will this free up time from the management team, it will also create that much needed sense of purpose at agent level - for the agent it may mean having power to make decisions, and having the resources to contribute positively to the organization.
What is the best way to cut loose / let go an employee who is underperforming?
It is imperative to consult the labour practice of your region. Irregardless, the organization must be able to prove that ample and clearly defined support has been provided to the employee before the commencement of any performance management process. Rules of standard for performance must be duly communicated together with the consequences for failure to meet such rules of standard. Once the latter has been outlined, it becomes easier to identify outliers/defaulters and thus determining whether or not the employee has a skill or ability deficit. Having proof that the employee was able to comply to the rule of standard prior to the default will strengthen the case against non performance regarding any operational metric. There is always a risk that the employee may cite that non performance was caused by a lack of understanding of the role or task at hand. Take preventative measures and treat each case of non performance as isolated.
What is the best way to determine which are your best and worst customers and how should you change the way you service them?
Best or worst customers is a perception. Contact centers spend more time training product and soft skills and often neglect the psychology behind dealing with customers. A suggested read for trainers and management is "a constant error in psychological ratings" by EL Thorndike. Thorndike simply explains the horns and halo effect - empowering your staff with this skill through a brief training session will help to eliminate negative perceptions front line staff may have about customers. It's all about knowledge being power in this case, and can potentially increase conversion rates i.e turning complaints into compliments!
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line Motivation?
Communication is the key - yes this is an age old song that has been sung, but in my experience has always been the most effective. Leadership teams should be obligated to making use of every communication channel at their disposal.
Verbal communication - guide staff and supervisors in communicating through sincerity and appropriate humour. Invest time in coaching team leaders on how to deliver quality displays of public speaking an debating. Back to 'ye Ol' English classroom' - voice projection and even a slight degree of acting can inspire staff in ways never before imagined!
Written communication - in my experience, contact centers are guilty of hiring young and inexperienced staff. Spice up you're written communications with hash tags and appropriate memes. This gives you the ability to appeal to a larger audience!
Sounds and sight! - Video is a powerful medium - incorporate short and impactful presentations or videos into trainings and briefs. A great idea is to provide staff with the resources to create their own vine vids, which explain processes or products.
Today's Tip of the Day - Where Is The Problem?
About Aegis South Africa:
As a provider in customer care and acquisition for over three decades, Aegis has a track record of introducing process and technology innovations. Today, several Fortune 500 clients trust Aegis to manage their customer interaction, back office and other routine business processes. Aegis’s culture is unique in terms of recognizing its employees as the foundation of its success. We invest in our people because we recognize their importance in our partnerships with clients. In the virtual business environment, there is no difference between your team and ours; more importantly, there is no difference between your customer and ours.
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2016