The Future of Customer Care is Multilingual & Socially-enabled

The business world is not immune to the force of globalisation and new trends pave the way for new opportunities.

Technology made our lives easier and its seemingly endless capacity makes it possible for people and organisations to connect in ways never dreamed possible. New venues and communication channels are advantageous to business endeavours but also provide challenges, ones which continue to shape the customer care landscape.

Tech-enabled interactions enable people to collaborate over long distances, thus digitally but also tangibly shrunk the world.  Multilingual contact centres are at the forefront of new communication trends and are able to tap into this potential and enrich the customer experience.

The whole process has changed as it’s no longer as simple as it once was, simply providing a service or selling a product is not enough as demand for implementing a coherent, effective and personalised customer journey is impossible to ignore. Brands need to ensure that every customer interaction is pleasurable, convenient and as a result, leaves a lasting impression.  Thus, turning a customer into a loyal brand advocate.

Multilingual, social media enabled customer care centres are the driving force behind customer experience change as they serve as a company’s ticket to success in today’s fast-moving, digital world.

 

Customer diversity is a fact

If you had to describe “The Customer of Today” what qualities would he poses and which traits would be essential for you to tap in order to provide a positive customer experience?

Today’s customers are first and foremost, highly mobile, constantly on the move and connected. Second, due to the popularity of e-commerce sites as well as their international reach more people are using their services.

Last but not least, global purchasing power has always been highly decentralised but the free movement, as well as e-commerce solutions, amplify this phenomenon and as a result, you’re dealing with customers from all over the globe.

All of the above factors influence the convergent of multiple cultures, which is quite the conundrum for businesses as each customer relationship needs to be nurtured differently. If you want to remain relevant, not to mention competitive you need to embrace this diversity with all the challenges it brings. This includes accommodating all your potential customers, no matter the language or culture.

 

Language is personalisation

Providing customer care services in your customers’ native language is the ultimate form of convenience as you make them feel special and show your appreciation for their culture (and part of the market). Most importantly, it clearly and vividly shows that you genuinely care about them as your company adjusted to their preferences and needs.

Multilingual contact centres are actively pursuing new ways to build strong customer relations, which makes them the perfect business partner in achieving your customer experience goals and building a personalised customer journey – no matter the language or geo-location.

 

Eliminate any barriers

If your end-game is to establish a global legacy then you have to do away with cultural and language barriers. In order to build loyalty and nurture relationships, you need to understand your customers, which can only be done if you master the art of effective communication. Which can be quite the daunting task when attempting to do it on-site as not every company poses the operational capability of that magnitude.

Social media enabled contact centres to excel at establishing,  maintaining and facilitating high-quality relationships between brands and their target audience. Social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and microblogging platforms (Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat), due to their instantaneous nature allow for real-time communication 24/7 but also enable enterprises to build real relationships with their customers by showing what’s going on behind the scenes as well as tapping into the unlimited potential of viral marketing.

 

The key to customer satisfaction

Considering my vast experience in the customer care solutions field I will let you in on a secret (pro bono naturally) to company longevity – make your customers happy.

There’s no one more important than your customers, not even shareholders it’s them who are the catalyst to your success. You need to accommodate their needs, provide convenient solutions to their problems and meet them on the communication channels of their choice by taking the proactive approach.

Creating an unforgettable customer experience is just the first step on your path to building lasting relationships with your target market but if you succeed, customers will be coming back for more. They will simply realise that on top of providing a premium product you also provide them with a premium service throughout every step of the customer journey.  Thus, not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations in a way no other company has before you.

But what if you already realise how detrimental to your success, going multilingual is or if you already are tapping into the limitless potential social media enabled contact centres provide?

Then, you probably want to improve your processes or implement best practices which will ensure high-quality customer experience for each and every one of your customers.

I’ve had the pleasure to sit down with my customer care partner, who operates a multilingual centre in Poland and came up with these four basic principles which will strengthen any socially-enabled contact centre:

  • Quick and personal: Response times matter as they are the main selling point of providing customer service through social media networks, however, in your pursuit of the fastest response time you cannot allow yourself to lose sight of how essential personalization is. Drop the robotic, pre-scripted, near automaton sounding tone, even if it means slower resolution. Make your social media response quick, personal while maintaining company tone.
  • Lead by example: Only excellent leadership breeds excellence in service. Communication tone and style are only as good as the advice provided to your consultants by their managers. Remember, attitude is everything.
  • Tools of the trade: Multilingual customer care centres have adapted so well simply because they emphasised employee training more than their traditional counterparts. The ever-changing social media landscape demands that everyone, from agents, through team leaders, to managers be up-to-date with the latest social media trends as well as knowledge on how to apply it in customer service situations. The only way to achieve that goal is to embrace continues improvement and train your employees even more –don’t stop, ever.
  • Collect feedback: Proper methods of feedback collection are essential when maintaining a socially-enabled contact centre. The best approach (for both parties involved) to solicit feedback is short customer surveys, as they ensure you’ll get a response from a customer; ask quick, essential and most importantly, actionable questions, ones which will enable you to pinpoint key problem areas as well as highlight possible improvements in your overall processes. Just do not turn them into a tax return form and you’ll be fine.

However, what about the sceptics oblivious to the benefits socially-enabled contact centres provide?

Well, we think it’s only fair to provide them with basic benefits going multilingual and embracing social media as the customer care channel of the future provides and let them be the judge:

  • Monitor mentions: Build complete customer history by measuring your brand mention volumes; personalised to accommodate each and every customer. Thus, ensuring agents are seeing the full picture before responding.
  • Real-time response: Leverage the power of instantaneous response times social media platforms provide and enact upon the customer need for urgency. Depending on the value of the customer as well as the volume of mentions regarding a particular case you can dedicate an individual or an entire team to handle a certain case and respond to customer enquiries in real time on behalf of your brand.
  • Always be there for your customers: By harnessing the power of social media management you’re capable of answering customer enquiries 24/7, almost at the same time they ask them; overnight, on weekends and even during holidays. A dedicated socially enabled customer care team provides an always-on solution: from monitoring, through engagement and problem recognition, to a successful resolution.
  • Brand engagement: Pro-actively engage your customers by leveraging the capabilities social media monitoring tools provide. Keep in mind that not every success story started from a positive experience so do not be afraid to engage negative opinions. Embrace failures but don’t forget to learn from them and fix the underlying cause.
  • Build awareness: People trust their peers more than anyone else, which is why harnessing the power of online “word of mouth” is so highly sought after by enterprises of all shapes and sizes. Building and maintaining a reputation for timely response will turn your customers into brand evangelists; increasing your reach and further spreading your customer experience “gospel” to friends and family members.
  • Invest in customer lifetime value: Nurturing existing customer loyalty is more beneficial than new customer acquisition through targeted paid advertising. Keeping your current customers happy, will increase the likelihood of them staying with your brand, spending more money as a result but also providing free advertising on your behalf.
  • Free feedback is the best feedback: Social media networks provide you with free and actionable feedback in the form of likes, comments and shares. Previously collecting such vast amounts of insights would require costly surveys or focus groups but social media changed the rules of the game and as a result levelled the playing field for everyone. You instantly know if your campaign is a success or is it going viral, which makes tweaking easier than ever before.

Multilingual customer care companies empower global brands by widening their reach through omnichannel solutions and implementing cloud services.

Opting for a multilingual approach opens new possibilities for your company and amplifies your customer service efforts, while simultaneously allowing your brand to penetrate emerging and dynamic markets and disrupt stagnant sectors.

Hiring for Cultural Fit & Customer-Centricity

What is the most determining factor to your business’s success?

Depending on industry specifics you may respond with: government policy, market conditions, leadership or organisation structure. To be fair, all of the above responses are true, however, partially as all business sectors have a single, success determining factor – customers.

You may say it’s obvious and doesn’t need to be said as customers have always been important.

But did you account for all the recent technological advances and how they continue to change the way we communicate as well as what profound effect those aforementioned changes have on the customer/business relationship dynamic?

Account for change

We live in a digitally connected world, one in which ideas, products and services spread like wildfire with just a single tap of a button. Long gone are the days when the emphasis was solely on the product itself, it has since then shifted to how is it delivered and supported throughout its life-cycle. This constant need for innovation which seamlessly transpires every fibre of our daily lives requires an in-depth focus on customer insights, development of collaborative solutions and has turned your valued customers into an integral part of your business model.

Embrace, implement & adapt

Customer experience is essential to business success, it also requires adopting a customer-centric culture; it’s a long-term goal, one which can’t be achieved through cliche slogans nor repeating key phrases during conversations. Your entire company will have to embrace this new approach and nurture it – the process you’re about to undertake is not limited to customer-facing positions.

Every action, every decision (yes, higher echelon of management included) and each development has to be driven by your end goal – achieving customer centricity.

Company culture is the “soul” of your organisation, the values on which it was founded upon and to which you adhere to; it’s the way you communicate with co-workers and clients alike, how tasks get done, and in the long run it’s something that defines your entire company. It’s almost intangible at first but once it sets in the effects it has on your enterprise will be vivid.

Which is why it’s essential to align your recruitment as well as retention processes with this mindset and cultivate them; engage current employees and hire those who will enhance the new culture.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding floating around about what cultural fit means. Most importantly, hiring for cultural fit is not about hiring an army of clone-like drones, all of whom will march to the same drumbeat as it only leads to stagnation.

Rather, hiring for cultural fit is about bringing in people whose ideas and outlook not only align with your culture but also poses qualities which supplement it, thus enhancing it further.

Evolution, not a revolution

How will it impact your hiring process?

You get to keep your rule book and best practices but they will need to undergo a change of attitude and emphasis.Your goal is to start building a relationship with your potential candidates the moment you post your advert.

Your goal is to start building a relationship with your potential candidates the moment you post your advert.

Bellow, you’ll find tips when hiring for a customer-centric culture:

  • Revamp the job description; Start by reframing the job description. Move away from the standard, purely task oriented and qualification driven model. Focus on desired attitudes and expectations – create an experience.
  • Advertise your culture; Share information and details regarding your company culture when you advertise the position, put it in the spotlight. This will attract individuals who are bound to be a natural fit, ones who align with your organisational framework. Use every communication opportunity to showcase how culture truly is the soul of your company.
  • Focus on people, not qualifications; Do not base your screening efforts solely on qualifications and experience. Rephrase interview questions in order to draw out attitudes and personality traits. Even the most qualified person for the job, if they’re not a cultural fit, can become a bane and not a boon – dooming your customer-centric efforts and spoiling your hard work.
  • Soft skills are important; Your employees need to move away from the purely task-oriented days of olde as embracing customer-centricity requires communication, collaboration and interaction. Ensure that your interview process contains an open discussion element and observe the soft skills in action.
  • Onboard culture; Create an onboarding process which helps people to start engaging with your company culture from the moment they’re hired. Introduce the new hire to the organisation, give them time to get to know their work colleagues. Let them experience the culture by becoming an integral part of it. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the message across existing teams – embrace customer-centricity.

We’re not going to lie, this new hiring process will require more time and effort than the old, box-ticking method but the long-term impact it has on your entire enterprise is well worth.

Customer centricity can be achieved by nurturing a company culture in which people are put at the very core of the business, therefore recruiting the right people will enhance the process.

Boost Your Productivity With These 6 Actionable Steps

Being productive in the workplace is a problem many of us face, but what can be done to increase our productivity tenfold and not experience burn-out?

Let’s  start with these six simple tips:

You can’t afford to waste time

The first step you should take is to avoid wasting time, the amount of opportunities you have during the day to plan and think things through is astonishing.

All those ‘pre-requisites’ and mundane tasks you have a each day. Showering, commuting to work are just two examples of thinking opportunities we have each day, don’t pass on them.

Look around, and see how people waste their time on gossip and other meaningless things, that time is lost but you can spend that precious time on the latest challenge on your to-do list. Never let time slip by worthlessly, you can’t afford it.

The time of the day matters more than you think

Different strokes for different folks.

If there was a ‘Problem-Solving 101’ class its first semester would be devoted to in-depth analysis of how it’s better to tackle different tasks during different times of the day.

For example, fairly small but immediate problems are best to be dealt with first thing in the morning, proverbially ‘knocking them out of the park’ as the day begins providing with the necessary warm-up as well as ‘space’ to handle the more complex issues uninterrupted.

In order to find out what works for you, test a bit. Try tackling different types of challenges during different times of the day and see what works for you.

Re-think your approach before sleep

According to a plethora of studies on the impact of sleep on the brain, sleep is used to make sense of what’s going on in our lives, as well as natural cataloguing and prioritising system for thoughts and memories.

With the above in mind  it’s only natural to implement re-thinking before going to sleep, as an effective problem-solving tactic. But don’t fall into the trap of mulling over something just before ‘hitting the sack’ as it’ll only increase the doubt and will be the cause for many sleepless nights.

Simply, re-think your approach and get some well deserved sleep, you will wake up knowing which course of action to take.

Give yourself the necessary space

The hardest decision are the momentous ones.

The most important thing to do in these particular cases is to give yourself enough space (since time is of the essence and you can’t afford it) to consider all the available options and their respective outcomes.

Avoid interruptions at all cost and don’t let anyone rush you, with such an approach you’re bound to make the right choice.

Amp-up your work-space

Human beings are heavily dependent on their environment, this goes for their work environment as well. There’s no doubt that adding a personal touch to your surroundings can heavily impact your inspiration and creative thinking.

Your work-space may not inspire lateral thinking.

Sometimes if you need to analyse a problem thoroughly you might need to go out for a bit to stimulate your brain and help you think creatively and positively.

The ‘under-pressure’ conundrum

If faced with a difficult problem we need time and space to make a well educated choice.

The ‘time and space’ concept gets flipped over when you introduce pressure from peers into the equation.  We require the solitude the space provides and the luxury of time necessary for research, but what if we can’t simply afford neither of these?

The only proper course of action is to make the best out the worst case scenario, start by gathering information from the people you trust. Second step is to find  a quiet place and set a time-limit for yourself. All that’s left is to think things through and act.

Make Continuous Improvement Your Ultimate Goal

We all know turning customers away is fatal for business but we can also agree that there is always room for improvement when it comes to customer care.

Top notch customer service skills are a given if you want to provide an unforgettable customer experience. Unfortunately, not many enterprises will admit that their inner processes or quality of provided services are the leading cause of steadily declining customer satisfaction.

Real-time customer support is essential

Gaining new customers is harder than getting new business from an established customer base, but established and loyal customers provide great opportunities in the digital age, such as customer referrals and word-to-mouth.

The most overlooked part of customer experience is one-on-one customer support sessions – it often gets substituted with almost rage inducing automated technology.

The rise of the multi-channel era made B2C communications easier: blogs, websites and social media. However, for most of your customers, social media and websites might be not personal enough. Nothing can substitute the satisfaction which comes from solving a problem though more personal communication channels. Make sure to focus your customer support effort on these three solutions:

  • The “old-school” phone call, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon
  • Live web-chat, it’s the “go-to” choice for the Y generation
  • Follow-up emails or other communication methods, to reassure the customer

It all comes down to embracing and nurturing real-time interaction channels. Once you do, you’ll quickly notice renewal rates rise up and you’ll gain a few more loyal customers at the same time.

Scout ahead

In order to successfully up-sell or cross-sell you need to scout ahead, going in blind, without gathering data regarding customer purchase habits is a recipe for failure.

Understand the needs and desires of the customer base; differentiate customer types (new, loyal, etc.). Customers will notice if you don’t do your homework which will result in lost opportunities.

Gathering intelligence and providing the customer with suitable options doesn’t always guarantee a sale, but it will leave a positive impression which in the future can result in a positive referral or a new sale.

Be flexible

Every company has a set of guidelines in place, especially for marketing or servicing customers – what most contact centre managers forget is that these are just guidelines, not set in stone rules.

Make these procedures more flexible for established customers as return business is good business – make it easier for them to give you just that.

Be flexible when it comes to pitching products or services – that’s it!

Broken promises

The biggest and most common mistake is over-selling your brand. Never do that as it just leads to broken promises and lost sales – oh, and bad press.

Learn to under-sell and exceed expectations; customer satisfaction does wonders.

Unfortunately sometimes, due to poor judgement, communication problems or “insert random excuse here” promises do get broken, and you fail to deliver. This is the time to atone for the sins and repair your relationship with the customer.

Common recovery tactics include these steps:

  • Admitting your mistake
  • Offering a genuine solution to the problem caused by the broken promise
  • Offering a refund to the customer
  • Offering free or discounted serviced or products, even if the customer took a refund

Leave personal problems at home

It’s hard, but personal problems should never interfere with customer interaction. Despite all the hardships you might be facing, contact centre agents need to remain polite, professional and most importantly reliable.

We at Opstalent think exceptional customer service is the backbone of a successful business, it’s time make it your priority as well!

Nearshoring: The ‘go-to’ Solution

The last few years have been pretty rough for the outsourcing industry as it suffered at an international level: economic, social and security changes are responsible and if that wasn’t enough, nearshoring is on the rise.

Delivery Preferences

The biggest challenge in outsourcing governance has shifted towards downstream risk mitigation by choosing the best delivery location. The outsourcing world became fully aware of potential safety risks offshoring brought upon themselves.

The cost savings gap between India and other popular locations such as Central Europe and Latin America decreased to less than ten percent. Central and Easter Europe are also viewed as a safer location site to host your BPO and ITO services.

The close proximity to the main facilities made it possible for a shift in delivery preferences towards nearshore and sameshore options alike.

Having contact centres nearshore and sameshore is the current trend and there are no signs of any changes in the upcoming years.

The Growing Trend

The shift in delivery opens up new possibilities for all the countries gathered under the so-called nearshore umbrella. The number of nearshore sites themselves has grown significantly.

Managers need to be aware, everyone is gunning for that nearshore multi-billion dollar pie – you’re bound to encounter some really “exotic” places thanks to advertisement and marketing. Proven nearshoring locations include Canada, Latin America, Central Europe and Poland.

The Nearshore Zone

But what defines a nearshore location? There are two rules mostly used in the outsourcing industry. The first one is that you don’t need to cross the ocean to get your nearshore site. The second one is quite similar, up to 5 hours of flight.

We believe that nearshoring locations should be aligned along a spectrum of potential outsourcing sites. On one end of that spectrum are locations such as China and India, on the other Poland and other Central European countries that specialise in BPO and ITO services.

Geolocation should never be the determining factor when looking for a potential nearshore location. Linguistic and cultural ties are also a key factor, even education similarities and directness of communication can be a deal-breaker.

Take the above factors into consideration before you choose a nearshore location or a partner since they tend to play a far more important role than they are given credit for.

All Aboard The Metric-train!

Obsessing over metrics is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a dynamic and multi-lingual environment of a customer care centre.

However, if you use the wrong metrics, or use them in a wrong way, then the results will be skewed and not reflective of the truth.

 

Don’t be naive

Showing a lack of experience, understanding or at times idealism on the contact centre floor is the equivalent of prancing around with a “Kick Me!” sign.

As a manager or supervisor, you need to understand human nature. Don’t be naive.

Each time you implement a new metric, signal how important this is. Furthermore, attaching a target or an incentive to the metric will encourage the employees, and they will strive to improve their performance when it comes to that particular measure.

Just remember, in order to reap the benefits your contact centre agents will try to “bend the rules” in order to reap the benefits – the ends will justify the means. This has a tremendous impact on team morale.

It’s your job to pinpoint any problems these actions can cause and deal with them accordingly.

 

Can you measure greed?

It’s quite common for contact and customer care centre managers to implement more metrics then it’s actually needed. Going overboard with multiple measuring scales is what we at OpsTalent call Greed-metrics.

Why settle for a simple abandonment rate figure when you could also have:

  • the quality of service scale
  • average answer speed
  • and finally, the average time to abandon

And yes, you guessed it, each of these metrics comes with its own separate target.

This only shows the confusion among the management team, a complete lack of the ability to see the wood from the trees – one might say.

There always needs to be a clear reason for creating and using a specific metric. The agent team needs to know why metrics are implemented and how are they used to evaluate their work.

 

People will try to cheat

During the presidential election, we are bound to hear the common phrase “The polls were rigged”. The contact centre industry suffers from its own “outcome rigging” shenanigans.

In order to hit the desired targets and receive bonuses, contact centre agents and managers alike will provide falsified data.

Supervisors and managers will be more sophisticated about their “rigging” methods. Pay attention if one of the following occurs:

  • Altering the calculation methods used in order to show a “more accurate” result
  • Being particularly picky about “how” and “what” metrics are used
  • Simple stuff like removing outliers or changing graph scales in order to conceal upward or downward trends
  • Questioning the validity of the data

Rigging crucial metric data is an attempt to hide performance issues – keeping a “good score” should never take precedence over facts.

 

Measure, adjust and act

Contact centre performance isn’t something easily predictable. Sometimes your agent teams can perform as if the sky is their limit, and other times it will get much worse, even dreadful.

But it’s your duty as a manager to quickly catch on to those rapid changes in performance and distinguish if they are really important issues that should be deal with (through coaching, training sessions, knowledge base implementation etc.) or are they simply noise.

Do not, however, overreact as overreaction conjures up problems, ones which didn’t exist in the first place.

New Technology: Yay or Nay?

New tech changes how we perceive the world, it connects us in ways never imagined, however, is it a bane or a boon?

In order for new technology to be embraced by all user groups, it needs to meet these three essential criteria – secure, accessible & reliable.

 

Don’t get obsessed with efficiency

This is basically “New Technology 101”, do not impose the latest technology on customers. It’s the most rookie mistake companies of all shapes and sizes make.

Remember, service and customer experience come first. Implementing new solutions, that will fix efficiency problems within your organisation is a great idea, but at the same time take customer service into consideration. If it will complicate the process for the customer or make them “jump through hoops” it’s a “NO GO”.

Staff and customers alike will cherish technology that speeds up the process and makes it almost unnoticeable.

 

Provide security

Security is crucial, how many media outlets have reported security breaches, within the last year only? Especially when it comes down to the public sector.

Remember, if new technology is to be embraced it needs to be trusted by the customer and staff. Be aware of the fact, the more valuable and complex transaction or process is, the bigger the need for fast and successful resolution.

Fully automated systems can fail, just like humans.

 

Don’t expect a dramatic shift in customer preferences

Plan for the future, implement new technology in order to “catch the wave”, don’t expect an immediate change in customer behaviour patterns. Keep the customers notified of any updates and changes concerning your communication channels.

Simply let them know in a non-intrusive way that they do have additional options, but leave the choice to them – do not impose methods.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that some newer solutions have higher hardware and tech know-how requirements – keep that in mind, when considering abandoning some of the “outdated” systems.

Make the transition easy for the customer.

 

Gather feedback

During the planning process, take notes of what customers and staff want and expect from the CRM technology. Don’t just rely on the IT Department or managers, they might think they do know what’s needed, but in reality, they often don’t.

Equip agents with appropriate “tools of the trade” and create the ultimate customer experience.

Don’t implement new technologies just to reduce costs, you won’t notice a real gain in customer service. Make improvements an integral part of your CRM strategy, the long term goal is building a lasting relationship with customers.

The Importance of Training Reinforcement

It’s a known fact that a well-trained employee makes a difference it the customer careindustry.

How your consultants resolve customer issues, deal with potentially volatile situations, and up-sell or cross-sell your products and services, makes or breaks your business.

It shouldn’t come as a mystery that when you invest in employee training programs, your agents come out motivated and equipped with a more versatile toolkit to use on customers.

However, as with all things, the enthusiasm starts to fade and the recently acquired skills deteriorate, which leaves you with mostly the same issues you dealt with prior to training.

Follow the steps below to amp-up your training sessions and make them stick.

 

How to make it stick?

The first step is up to you, don’t get frustrated with your employees “training amnesia,” instead evaluate your training service’s reinforcement methodology.

Do you incorporate follow-up programs?

It’s been proven that over the course of six months, trainees will lose up to 75%  of knowledge gained through training if there are no reinforcement and follow-up solutions introduced. Similarly, less than a 50% of skills gained during training sessions will carry over to the job if there’s no failsafe in the form of training reinforcement implemented.

Customer care training is essential; empower your employees by providing them with the proper “tools of the trade” as well as incorporating a well functioning follow-up methodology.

 

Summarizing & handouts

Don’t count on your employees having a photographic memory, quite a lot of important information will slip by them over the course of training sessions.

Compile handouts (or create a handy PDF document) that will highlight key points raised during customer service training, use diagrams and images but keep it short – make sure that the handout is short as possible (no more than 2 pages) and lists only relevant critical information.

Encourage consultants to use these handouts as a miniature knowledge base.

 

The art of coaching

Good training sessions are a mix of theory, spliced with examples of a real-life application of our newly acquired skills and a dash of role-playing. Theory will most likely stick with your employees, it’s the real-life application part you need to reinforce:

  • observe
  • correct
  • demonstrate
  • reevaluate

Coaching sessions solidify newly acquired knowledge, especially if conducted right after customer service training. Demonstrating the correct approach is essential, reinforce their efforts through praise and feedback.

 

Debriefing

Tie-in reinforcement session during staff meetings, it’s a wonderful opportunity to review key concepts and training in general. Discuss how are they incorporating their new skill-set into their daily routine, how are they helping them and most importantly ask which skills seem to be the most problematic when applying to practical situations.  Periodical debriefing is a powerful reinforcement tool it allows your employees to work through any potential issues they might be having as they start “getting their hands dirty”.

 

Take it from the top

Leading by example has to be one of the best ways to reinforce training lessons, if you really think your employees don’t mimic your behaviour, think again. Monitor yourself, consistently apply training session knowledge in customer and coworker relations – bring those training lessons to life, prove that you “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”

 

It doesn’t end in the classroom

Customer service training doesn’t have to end the moment your employees get back to their workspace. Follow our tips and get the most out of your training investment, maximise gains by reinforcing and coaching your customer service agents.

You’re the deciding factor on what they retain from training sessions.

 

Myths surrounding cloud-based solutions

There’s a whole bunch of myths surrounding cloud-based communication solutions that are mostly used to dissuade enterprises from implementing them. Lack of control over company sensitive data and problems that may occur when integrating cloud-based solutions with other more traditional applications are the two most common concerns.

Companies Lose Control Over Key Data.

This is one of the most common arguments in the effort against cloud-based services. You have zero control over your data, you are at the mercy of your cloud provider when it comes to even the most minute matters like day-to-day changes in configuration or access control.

This argument could not be further from the truth since one of the key advantages is the modular user interfaces developed by providers – those turn into multifunctional tools in the hands of a manager. When it comes to contact centres, the managers can implement vast changes without any involvement from the IT department while even closely monitoring their agents since the tools they are using are fitted to them specifically.

As for the loss of control over key data, every cloud-based system allows storing sensitive information on the client’s premises.

Difficult Integration.

The difficulty with integration is yet another myth that shrouds Cloud solutions. Most customer care centres today operate on-premise based systems that require cost-heavy CTI integration. Cloud, on the other hand, uses latest web services technology. It is designed with the phrase “user-friendly” in mind – making it easier to actually implement into a premise-based system, not to mention other cloud applications.

The Aftermath.

Cloud-based solutions are easily integrated and you don’t loose control over any data. So is this solution right for your enterprise? That is for you to decide.

Keep in mind that consumer demands are on the rise, mobile customer support access, social media integration and much more. Cloud could unify the whole field.

It does not solve all the problems but can solve most of them or in the very least point us to the logical solution.

 

B2B Lead Generation: Quality, Quantity or Both?

Ah yes, the good ole marketing vs sales clash; quantity vs quality – where should we start to in order to solve this conundrum?

To be frank, sales reps need fewer leads, to be precise, fewer unfiltered, unrefined leads.

If a lead is properly and consistently nurtured and developed its chances of “flourishing” into a completed sale increase.

The main problem within companies is that the marketing teams are rewarded for quantity, and not lead quality. Technology also helps with generating those leads at an astounding pace at a relatively low cost. Also, the fact that more than a third of sales reps are missing the quota, doesn’t help either.

To simplify, the usual report from marketing looks like this “Great quarter in lead generation. We generated more than 1564 leads from all sources – that’s a 20% gain over last year. Despite higher PPC cost, we managed to keep our leads under the standard price.”

So when sales executives take a closer look at these not-so-awesome leads, their response is quite harsh:

  • No defined budget info? Begone!
  • Not a senior enough lead? Bye, bye!
  • Planned for next year? Toodles!

The whole mess goes back and forth, without a proper resolution. It’s quite insane, marketing teams think they are keeping their end of the bargain, and they are if you consider things from the volume only standpoint, while sales are dismissing leads, rightfully so, since they are not nurtured.

Companies are also to blame, gambling with leads is a common practice. Why pay twice the average price for a well nurtured, quality lead when you can, pay half of that and gamble a bit, while receiving double the amount of leads with a conversion rate ranging from 20% to 60%.

Lead vendors that dabble in such practices are equivalents of “sweat shops”, pumping out leads “en masse” without consideration for quality. In return, companies waste millions on low quality, poorly qualified leads. There’s also a metric to justify this sort of behaviour, ROMI (return on marketing investment) – sometimes, as little as 20% close rate is considered good. Although, the actual return is, in fact, close to zero.

Since quantity over quality, simply doesn’t cut it, what steps should companies undertake?

  • Measure the quality and cost per ACTUAL lead.
  • An “overseer” (c-level executive) that keeps sales and marketing in check, evaluating their work and making sure both departments have the companies best interest in mind, and not their own.
  • A special group whose focus is nurturing leads till they are sales ready if a particular lead can’t gain momentum this special team will “look under the hood” and diagnose.