Executive Interview : Interview With Anthea Noonan From CEAD FM On Contact Center Tips For 2014
ContactCenterWorld.com reached out to some of its members for helpful hints and tips that can be used in order to improve. We asked for suggestions in a number of key areas that are considered hot topics right now. Anthea Noonan provided some real insight that you may want to consider.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them?
In some of the best practice sites we work with, we see the leader of the business working the floor on a monthly basis. This would be for larger centers of say 150+ seats. In smaller sites this frequency can be as often as every 2 weeks. Forums that encourage the team members to have their say during the month and then meet face to face gives employees a sense of contribution and involvement which can then be reflected in employee satisfaction surveys around questions such as " I feel I contribute", "I feel I can influence how and when things are done." Contact center leaders who prioritize getting belly to belly with front-line frequently are rewarded with greater productivity outcomes and ultimately greater advocacy for their brand and business.
What can contact centers do to help manage social interactions better?
It depends on what you mean by social interactions. Social Media? Face interactions. If you are referring to the latter, allowing employees to contribute to the structure of their social clubs and organized events is essential. Having a rotating committee that is voted on annually by the staff and then new committee leads each year is essential to ensure ideas remain fresh and engaging to the audience.
What is the best way to engage staff who work from home?
There are many great opportunities on this today with cloud based collaboration tools. In particular the ability to use platforms such as Google Hangouts enable home based team members to get 'face to face' with their team members on demand. The ability with technology today to create independent channels of content to home based employees can keep them up to date in real time with the same important content they would see in their work-space at the office.
What should every contact center do when it comes to recognizing staff performance?
Where possible, individualize the rewards an offer to appeal to peoples individual motives and values. There is a great book "The Language of Appreciation in the Workplace" which digs into why many R&R programs simply miss the mark. When you consider your teams, who is motivated by 'acts of service', by 'gifts', by 'words of affirmation', by 'physical touch', by 'quality time'. Rewarding someone with a movie ticket who's language of appreciations is 'words of affirmation' is a missed opportunity.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff/recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
It depends on the program itself. Many of the centrrs we work with have a basic level of recognition, 'Thankyou' and 'Job Well Done' instant gratification programs whereby a team member can nominate another team member instantly. Where awards are based on weekly or monthly outcomes, again depending on the quality of the award, a team leader can utilize the R&R program to get close to their team member and to provide that personal word of thanks and recognition of a job well done. Once you move into less frequent, higher achiever awards, such as quarterly or bi-annually then there is a great opportunity to add to the value of the accolade by having this presented at the Contact Center Head level. In my view, annual awards need to be presented by a company president or CEO to demonstrate the value front line members have to the overall success of the business and its brand with both internal and external customers.
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?
There is value in maintaining a strong network of professionals you can call upon when faced with such tasks. The ability to reach out to a mentor, or a peer who has been faced with a similar challenge and delivered the right result can provide valuable guidance and remove some of the guess work. During any cost cutting - lean initiatives - increase the level of face to face, belly to belly contact with your front line team by all senior leaders and managers. Stay close to the floor and where possible encourage 'natural born influencers' in those front facing teams to spread positive news about the outcomes of changes at the ground floor level.
What is the best way to cut loose / let go an employee who is underperforming?
My approach has always been to position the requirement for change positively to the employee. Recognizing their areas of strength and affirming that as a leader, my role is to help them recognize those strengths and how and where to apply them - and at the end of the day to acknowledge that they may be best placed in a different role or organization. Delivering then the required statement - which obviously has come after initial performance counseling so the employee should know what is coming - and then ending positively in offering help and advice on how best to evaluate their next position so they can continue to grow.
How often should an agents / front line professionals performance be measured from a quality standpoint and how should this be done?
I think it depends on the role and the business. In areas heavily regulated this needs to be done on a call by call basis through a rigid quality assurance program and or NPS program.
What is the best way to determine which are your best and worst customers and how should you change the way you service them?
In my mind there is no such thing as a bad customer. There may be high value verses low value ones but I would not define as best and or worst. We frequently see high value customers receive a higher level of personalized service with lower value customers transitioned to self service options. In our business we apply a high level of face to face interaction and touch point activity to our high value customers with lesser value customers we may tend to utilize other opportunities such as GO TO meetings or Google Hangouts to maintain a face to face feel to the relationship.
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?
I would reach out to my professional network and look to leverage the experience of others.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line productivity?
Make people feel valued. Listen and act on their feedback and feedback to them that you are doing so. Don't assume they join the dots.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve reduce repeat calls in a contact center?
Ending every call with 'is there anything else I can do to help you today?' or 'have I answered all your queries today?'
What are the 2 or 3 mistakes managers often make when they recruit staff and how can they avoid these mistakes?
Rushing the process, not checking references, recruiting people they like rather than those that have the right skill set for the set tasks.
Whats the best way to train staff on how to deal with a very very angry customer?
the HEAT principal works well and is simple to remember. Hear them out (don't int erupt) Empathetic (I understand how you feel ) Apologize (I am sorry you have had that experience) Take Action (tell them what you CAN DO)
How can you educate your board on what the contact center does?
I think entering into industry awards is a great way to attract attention to your centre and get the attention of the board.
You have a customer who complains on twitter and/or facebook - how do you deal with this?
Act immediately. Communicate back in the right language, not in a formal tone. It is important to use the language expected of that social platform.
Today's Tip of the Day - Begin With The End
Since 1999 CEAD has been delivering employee communications through the CEAD FM platform. Today CEAD is a diversified group of Companies, that incorporates a number of different brands and offerings to a variety of markets and industries all centred around a vision to create effective communication solutions that speak to the visions, culture, brand and personalities of those organisations we work with.
Published: Thursday, October 2, 2014