Executive Interview : Interview With Thabisa Magxwalisa From Volkswagen Group South Africa
Finding new and great ideas to try and implement within your contact center is always fun and exciting. ContactCenterWorld.com asked Thabisa Magxwalisa from Volkswagen Group South Africa for some ideas that you might be able to use.
How often should a contact center leader be seen to visit with the front line professionals and sit/chat with them?
As often as possible. It is important for a leader to be visible and exhibit the characteristics that they want to see in their subordinates. I think the leader should set aside an hour a day to do a walkabout and interact with everyone on the floor. It is motivating to the agents to get an opportunity to speak to their leader, get a thumbs up for a job well done or even advice on a customer situation.
What can contact centers do to help manage social interactions better?
I think that every opportunity that the team gets together should be an opportunity to strengthen the team. There is very little time in our environment during work time to have social interactions so a team meeting or even a training session or workshop should have some room for this. Team buildings are the ultimate way to do this so these should happen at least twice a year if budget allows. In between small gatherings or getting the team to do charity work together will do the job.
What is the best way to engage staff who work from home?
You need to communicate with them as often as possible. Make sure that they are not left out in anything that is happening in the office. Involve them in programs that will need input or feedback from them daily. Try and vary their program for the day, this way they are not stuck to a rigid routine.
What should every contact center do when it comes to recognizing staff performance?
Recognizing staff performance does not always have to involve large sums of money. Sometimes it takes the simplest of things to get this right. A floating trophy for an individual that processes the most contacts, a lunch voucher, leaving the office an hour earlier, an e-mail from the big boss are some of the things that call centers can do. This can also be motivating to the rest of the team.
Who should be the person presenting internal awards to staff/recognizing achievements of the staff/center and why?
This should be done by Senior Management. It is validation for the staff member that their efforts have not gone unnoticed. In our company, this is reserved for the Marketing Director. A lot of hype is created around the awards ceremony which happens quarterly and the nominations and eventual winners are shared with the rest of the 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?
Get the team involved at all levels. You will be surprised how many good ideas will come from the floor. If everyone prints less, works smarter it might not even get to the point where the output is affected.
What is the best way to cut loose/let go an employee who is underperforming?
They need to understand the position that they are in and the consequence should the situation not improve. You can set up a performance improvement plan outlining the areas that need to improve and give targets and timelines. You can continue supporting them from a training point of view. Assuming that they have had all the support in the world, you need to make it clear to them that they now need to utilize the tools that they have been given and start producing good results.
How often should an agents/front line professionals performance be measured from a quality standpoint and how should this be done?
Daily, Weekly and Monthly. Customer interactions are happening every minute of the day in any contact center - measuring of performance and coaching go hand in hand and should happen almost as frequently as customer contacts/interactions. This way, the mentor or coach can identify issues, give feedback or coach to prevent the same mistake being repeated over and over or give the agent an opportunity to correct the issue and possible rescue their performance results ahead of the end of that performance month.
What is the best way to determine which are your best and worst customers and how should you change the way you service them?
There is no such thing as a worst customer. Every customer feedback or complaint is an opportunity to better your service offering. In fact, customers who do not give feedback usually simply change brands whenever they are unhappy, and are thus less loyal, whereas customers who do give feedback or complain give you an opportunity to restore their faith in your brand or organization. Be that as it may, it is important to pay attention to the customer, what they are saying, their choice of words and references during the conversation often give hints about who they know, how connected they are and what will happen if their issue is not resolved. These are called "warning signs". One customer might say something like: In my line of work, we often deal with legal issues and we would not let this.... You can immediately see that this customer is connected in some way or another in the legal field. You can almost predict their next step should things not go the way they are expecting. You can either change your approach or prepare for what is to come if there is nothing you can do to change the outcome.
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?
Usually, the Workforce Planner is responsible for this. There are various systems available in the industry that can aid this. If done manually, things such as volume forecast, service level targets etc. must be taken into consideration.
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?
It is best to always start with a pilot first before the final decision is made to change into a new system.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line productivity?
Setting Daily targets ensure that the staff is appraised about their perfomance. Visual all over the call center and little rewards along the way for those excelling.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve agent/front line Motivation?
Daily short buzz meetings where critical KPI's are discussed and daily targets shared. In this meeting you can also reward great performance.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve customer satisfaction?
Customers want more than anything, a customized experience. They want to feel less like a number and more like unique individuals that they are. They want to know that the agent is giving a well thought solution not just a standard rule.
Can you share a tip or two on how to set service levels for a contact center?
Service level targets depend on the organizational guideline or KPI. When setting departmental targets, consider that and try and set above it. It is important to consider volume and check how much capacity you need in order to achieve a desired service level. Critical factors such as shrinkage, peak periods, etc. will also play a role.
Can you share a tip or two on how to improve reduce repeat calls in a contact center?
When contacting support departments or third parties, instead of calling them for every single case, chase how many of your cases require their input and make one call.
What are the 2 or 3 mistakes managers often make when they recruit staff and how can they avoid these mistakes?
I think it is important to remember that the individual is being hired for their verbal communication, first and foremost. One has to look out for their tone, accent and language command. There are certain things that are very difficult to correct I.E. speech impediment etc. Subjecting a person with such a condition to an environment where their ability to converse, their personality, etc. are put under scrutiny might be too difficult for them to bear.
Whats the best way to train staff on how to deal with a very very angry customer?
They need to empathize - no one gets angry out of the blue. Something happened that led to that point. They have to realize that it is not personal, and make every effort to change the experience and situation for the customer. The customer has to know that at least you understand how they must feel about what has transpired. They also need not react emotionally or get defensive - this will make the situation worse.
How can you educate your board on what the contact center does?
The best way is to invite some board members to come and experience your environment. As they walk in, they will be able to immediately feel the energy and you can take them through each one of the real time report monitors and explain what each represents. This beats any boardroom presentation. If more information is required, you can later send them a short prospectus of what your contact centre is about. This way, they will get to read about something that they have already experienced.
You have a customer who complains on twitter and/or facebook - how do you deal with this?
Issues in social media can get viral very quickly. It is essential that such complaints are dealt with, with the highest urgency. The customer issue should be taken away from the public forum and resolved with the customer directly.
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More Editorial From Volkswagen Group South Africa
About Volkswagen Group South Africa:
Volkswagen Group South Africa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group AG and employs in excess of 5000 people. The Volkswagen Group comprises eleven brands: Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Scania, Ducati, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The Group operates 60 production plants around the world and nearly 370 000 employees produce about 28 000 vehicles or are involved in vehicle-related services each working day. The Volkswagen Group sells its vehicles in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Published: Monday, December 1, 2014