Executive Interview : Interview With Suresh A.V. From Eureka Forbes
In constant search for what contact centers are doing well and sharing their ideas, ContactCenterWorld.com asked Suresh A.V. From Eureka Forbes for ideas to implement within your own center. Our aim is to provide you with those golden nuggets which can be so valuable and sometimes hard to find.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them? Please explain your answer in some detail with your suggestion for frequency and what they should do etc.
The leader should meet every employee/front line professional at least once in a quarter on a one to one basis to interact and help understand professional and personal issues
What can contact centers do to help manage social interactions better?
Start a "whats app" group or have more people oriented conversation tracks
What is the best way to engage staff who work from home?
Make a call at least once a day and evaluate the work done the previous day and plan for the day. Make them feel they are doing something important.
What should every contact center do when it comes to recognizing staff performance?
Appreciate and recognize every small success and celebrate together. At the same time if you need staff to take risks and be innovative, recognize and applaud failures for trying out new ideas. Of course, there should be a balance between praise and penalty as due. Bad work should not get hidden.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff/recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
Recognition is always good from the top and make the occasion important and worthwhile. We always gather people together and recognize staff and make them feel important and wanted. It motivates others to try next time.
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 are always ways to optimize costs and not necessarily cut costs. I believe customer service is more of an attitude than science and needs commitment and passion and not just money.
What is the best way to cut loose/let go an employee who is underperforming?
Be honest in your feedback with facts and figures and no personal bias. It's always good to sit with the employee one to one on a performance review and development activity and set clear written targets and expectations for the next 3 months with a clear message that they will be asked to go if they do not achieve it. Be fair and transparent and not weak and hide behind position or power.
How often should an agents/front line professionals performance be measured from a quality standpoint and how should this be done?
It is always good to work with clear job specifications, role clarity and responsibility. Define the expectations/KRA's at the beginning of the year and review every quarter and record it mutually with areas of achievement and areas for improvement. Recognition and reward should be there for performance beyond the call of duty and KRA's. KRA's should not make the organization a rigid one.
What is the best way to determine which are your best and worst customers and how should you change the way you service them?
The lifetime value of a customer is to be measured and customer mapping needs to be done. This will help classify customers. There are customers who come from hell (who need to be handled sternly) and customers who go through hell (who need to be taken care of). "Every customer is a key customer" should be the philosophy.
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?
It should be flexible based on the nature of work and also the interests and ambitions of the staff and not be thrust on them.
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?
One needs to first define the need and then look for solutions. Typically we miss this first step. Then evaluate various vendors on value and not just costs.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line productivity?
Training, training and training. Constant motivation, encouragement, recognition, clearly defining expectations and constantly measuring performance as well as giving a feedback.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line Motivation?
Be fair and transparent and differentiate performers from non performers. Celebrate every small success and encourage people to feel they own the company and their job. Empower them to do their best. Be open to new ideas and suggestions and listen to them.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve customer satisfaction?
It is a matter of attitude and culture and it starts from the top. Empower people to take decisions at the front line to satisfy genuine customer needs and have policies which enable and not disable.
Can you share a tip or two on how to set service levels for a contact center?
The number of participants, regular visitors and number of people who add value.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve reduce repeat calls in a contact center?
Solve it the first time and do it right the first time.
What are the 2 or 3 mistakes managers often make when they recruit staff and how can they avoid these mistakes?
Recruit people who have the potential to grow. Recruit people who are better than you. Look at competency and skill sets required for the position and evaluate them on that.
What's the best way to train staff on how to deal with a very very angry customer?
Role play and show them real life experience. It's Important to teach them to win over an angry customer and make them a friend for life. Be honest in your reply and commitment and do not make false promises.
How can you educate your board on what the contact center does?
Share what you have learned from here and how was it applied on the job. What benefits did the organization get through this?
You have a customer who complains on twitter and/or facebook - how do you deal with this?
Reply on the same media on the actual issue and resolution and not make false claims or deny allegations if true. Need to handle with care and white gloves as it can go viral.
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Published: Wednesday, December 3, 2014