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Executive Interview : Interview With Myra Kassim From Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company
Take a look at these in-depth answers from Myra Kassim of Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company. ContactCenterWorld.com interviewed her asking for ten great ideas for contact centers. we hope the breadth of her answers will provide you with some knowledgeable insight moving forward.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them?
The key is the reason/benefit of regular interaction with front line staff. 1) Let them know you care about who they are and what they do for the organization - if you ask how they are doing, be a little more specific by asking about an area they have been challenged in or are focusing on in development or how they are doing in their adjustment in a recent change. 2) This is an opportunity to further reinforce the role they play in achieving the vision of the department/organization as well as reinforcing the values of the department/organization by sharing with them how you see them progressing and the department progressing. 3) Opportunity to reinforce the performance metrics, key competencies, and how the two work together to achieve the best customer experience.
The frequency and method of meeting depends on the size of the staff. Best case scenario, such discussions should take place at least quarterly. However, the staff size many not allow for that frequency. Take advantage of random available moments to chat with a staff member for a quick 5-15 minutes. Use quarterly group meetings; use email to send some of these messages to individuals as you are reviewing results. If you use a scheduled meeting, consider flipping the script by asking the staff member to come in prepared to discuss specific aspects of their job and/or performance.
What can contact centers do to help manage social interactions better?
If you spend more time focusing on performance results, you will find it easier to disregard occasional idle chat within the team without assuming that they are not focused on achieving expected performance. Maybe they are just trying to keep the environment, where they spend most of their waking day, at a human level. If you manage to performance/results, you allow the employee to make the decision on what they need to do to improve their results. They know if their social interactions are preventing them from meeting their goals - many will make the adjustment without you trying to manage that aspect - unless you have received complaints from co-workers. Those who continue to achieve low performance results and socialize frequently will be at risk of being transitioned out of the department due to their performance, which is the key and easily defensible.
What is the best way to engage staff who work from home?
Emails, chats. Don't forget to conference them in when there is a meeting.
What should every contact center do when it comes to recognizing staff performance?
First, make sure that everyone is knowledgeable of the expected performance (quantitative and qualitative) and understand how it is measured. When you recognize an employee, it should make sense to them on why you are recognizing them and what you are recognizing. Reinforcing positive performance is equally as important as feedback when performance is off track. To get the best impact out of the feedback (positive or negative) timing is crucial. Don't delay. If you are trying to influence behavior, give the feedback close to the time the situation occured - including positive. When you give positive feedback, you help the employee set the bar for acceptable performance and they may not want to go backwards so the bar has been established. There are benefits in giving positive feedback both in privacy as well as public. Public recognition is a heightened level of recognition for the employee. It also serves as a method of further clarifying, for all employees, what good performance looks like. Private positive recognition may present an opportunity for you to give a discretionary award for their performance - make sure you ask them to keep it between the two of you. Discretionary awards may include leaving early or an additional day off to be used within a specific time-frame. Make sure you have the authority to give such discretionary awards. Negative feedback should always be given in a private setting. Good or bad feedback - document it. Seek advice from HR on techniques for giving feedback and proper documentation.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff/recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
Be strategic. Choose the deliverer based on the message you are trying to give. It doesn't have to come from you every time. You might empower a team leader by allowing them to give the recognition (depending on the level of recognition). Consider asking a member of senior management to deliver the award. This gives more weight to the award - make sure it is worthy of this level of recognition. Using a senior leader, also, gives your department exposure to senior management and further helps them to see the value of your organization.
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?
Service level agreements are the key here. All centers should have documented and communicated service level agreements. In a situation where costs have to be cut, review your service level agreements and staffing models to determine the impact. In responding to the board, you can request a renegotiation of the service level agreement by showing the impact of the cut on your ability to meet the expectations of the organization. If your service level agreement is linked into the performance of the organization, you may provide information valuable to the board in affirming or reconsidering the budget cut decision.
What is the best way to cut loose/let go an employee who is underperforming?
At the first sign of declining performance consult with your HR team for guidance on effectively managing the performance of this employee. Lead with the belief that you want this employee to be successful - put your energy into that direction, while documenting. If you properly follow due process, and the employee does not improve, in most cases an employee won't be surprised at the time of termination. They may even thank you for working with them. Regardless, you end up with a well thought out, analyzed, documented and defensible decision.
How often should an agents/front line professionals performance be measured from a quality standpoint and how should this be done?
Define the core competencies needed to achieve the performance metrics and link the appropriate competency to the metrics. The competencies define "how" they should perform when doing the "what" of the job. You must have a method of assessing the "how". One of the most effective methods for a call center to assess the "how" and the "what" from a knowledge based perspective is through regular reviews of call recordings - score cards. Make the call recordings available for staff to do self-evaluations as frequently as they want to help them see if they are on target and what they need to do to improve their performance. At least once a year, consider having the staff complete a score card on some of the same calls that are scored by your Q.A. team - it makes for a well informed discussion. Metric results that are tracked electronically should be shared monthly with staff.
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?
Make sure the product you are looking at is suitable for the size of your organization. Have a developed vision on how you would like to use technology to achieve your department goals - this will keep you from just purchasing a shiny new object with lots of bells and whistles you don't need.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line productivity?
It depends on the operation. There is no general response beyond my responses related to managing performance and recognition. Incorporate meaningful, attainable, development plans. Review performance plans yearly and reference them in all performance discussions. Keep them alive.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line Motivation?
It depends on the operation. Other than understanding what motivates your team and individuals on your team so that you make informed decisions when choosing recognition awards.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve customer satisfaction?
Understand the customer experience your company wants customers to have and understand your customer base. Create your customer service strategy with these two things in mind. Educate your staff on these two areas and how to integrate the information in the process of servicing customers. Apply scripting where effective.
Can you share a tip or two on how to set service levels for a contact center?
In collaboration with the operation that owns the customer relationship.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve reduce repeat calls in a contact center?
Often repeat calls occur when your customer confidence level is low. You must know the strength of your staff's ability to respond and educate customers. Incorporate a remedial training program that is readily available as needed. Consider creating a C.P.T. self-study remedial training program that employees can pull of the shelf and use at anytime. Assign coaches to staff in need of remedial training.
What are the 2 or 3 mistakes managers often make when they recruit staff and how can they avoid these mistakes?
Lack of pre-planning including starting with a clear picture of the "what's" and "how's" of the job. Properly designing a screening platform designed to assess a candidate's ability to do the job, too much focus on the "whats" and limited to no focus on the "hows". Failure to apply behavior interviewing techniques and failure to properly describe the role in a manner that would help the candidate decide if it is the right position for them.
Whats the best way to train staff on how to deal with a very very angry customer?
Whatever technique you teach your staff to use, allow them to analyze their behavior against the techniques by listening to the call before you give them feedback.
How can you educate your board on what the contact center does?
Understand the strategic plan of the company and performance metrics. Be able to explain what your organization does that directly impacts (include the possible adverse impact) the strategic plan, goals, and metrics.
You have a customer who complains on twitter and/or facebook - how do you deal with this?
Try to understand the concern and validity of it - consider using the analysis to improve the customer experience, if appropriate, or ignore it if not relevant. Never respond or react without proper direction from your organization.
Today's Tip of the Day - Set Customer Expectations
Published: Friday, December 19, 2014