3 Must-Have Essentials in the War for Top Talent

Are you struggling in the war for tech talent?

According to the Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO survey 2019, technology skills shortages are at an all-time high with 67% of companies struggling to attract and find the right talent. Great talent is scarce, even more so when competing with companies such as Apple of Apple, Facebook and Google or any other top-tier tech company in your neighbourhood.

A McKinsey Global Institute study suggests that employers in Europe and North America will require 16 million to 18 million more college-educated workers in 2020 than are going to be available. Companies may not be able to fill one in ten roles they need, much less fill them with top talent.

It is much more cost-effective to retain employees due to the high cost of knowledge lost, money and time (HR, Management and Sourcing team time) spent to replace them. Thankfully, my experience with OpsTalent allowed me to gain insight into the key areas you should focus on to attract and retain talent, these being Culture, People and Wellbeing.


1. Culture

Company culture is the “soul” of your organisation, the glue which binds the people together. It encompasses and intertwines the very fabric of your organisation; the values on which it was founded upon and to which you adhere to.

Culture affects the way you communicate with co-workers and clients alike, how tasks get done, and how you conduct your business endeavours. It’s what defines your entire company and is its most precious asset. It’s almost intangible at first but once it sets in the effects it has on your enterprise will be vivid. Visitors to your office should feel the culture and energy as they interact with the people in your organisation.

Culture should be your company’s competitive advantage. Hence why culture should be unique to your company. Do not try to be Google or Salesforce, you must create your own unique culture. Without a positive company culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.

Therefore, 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 possesses qualities, which supplement it, thus enhancing it further.

Ask yourself, do you have a strong culture? Are you living your company values every day from top management down? Do your employee’s feel there is a positive culture? Do you continue to build and enhance your culture?

You need to act if you are answering no to any of those questions. There are lots of great sources on the internet to help address this but here are some examples we use at OpsTalent to create a positive culture:

  • Community – supporting local charities such as “Make a Wish” and host events and meet-ups to support the tech community.
  • Employee wellness – healthy employee means happy positive employees. Examples include gym membership, healthcare, healthy free food every day & yoga classes.
  • Engagement – encourage honest feedback and address it. Take people’s ideas and try them out.
  • Quality time – encourage social interaction via fun events such as excursions and parties. This gives people at all level’s quality time together.
  • Recognition – could be via email or public award ceremonies, which set the example for others to strive for.


2. People

“I’ve always believed that by taking care of people in my companies, the rest will take care of itself,” explains Richard Branson. The Virgin group is a great example of how to look after your people. You need to become a people-focused employer. When you look after your employees, they’ll care for one another, your customers and the community. Go beyond great perks. Create a workplace that thrives on trust and respect for all individuals and protect that culture every day.

Your people will talk, and word will get out. They’ll refer like-minded, talented people who believe in your culture and your mission. When hiring, focus on people, not qualifications; Even the most qualified person for the job, if they’re not a cultural fit, can lead to a bad hire and destroy your company culture.

Finding great developers, project managers and other technical roles is a big challenge and keeping these top performers is even more difficult.

People want to work in an environment where they have a voice, not a company which treats motivated, result-driven people the same as the people who do the bare minimum. You must value people’s hard work and opinions and make them feel they are driving their direction and not just following orders. Great people are in hot demand and can easily leave if they are not happy.

Some examples in my experience to value people:

  • Calibrate & Involve – great people want to contribute and be part of something special. When we built our new office, we crowdsourced the design with the employees in the company. The excitement was amazing when people saw their idea’s come to life 😊. They felt so appreciated and valued.
  • Communication – keep people up to date on company news, mission, results, strategy and vision. Great people value been kept informed and up to date on company news.
  • Opportunity – give people opportunities to develop. This could be additional training or promotion to a new role. We have had outstanding people develop from customer service and tech support into HR and IT roles.
  • Positive mindset – turn failure into a positive by fostering a culture of ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’. When people are confident to try new ideas and know they won’t be punished, you will be amazed by how your company can transform in terms of customer offering & innovation.
  • Respect – treat people well, listen to their feedback and take action.
  • Trust – Lead and do not micromanage. Give people direction but give them the autonomy to make their own decisions.


3. Wellbeing

Focusing on wellbeing of your employees is a wonderful way to make people feel valued. It builds goodwill inside and outside your organisation. Employers play a huge part in their employees’ overall health and wellbeing; and ultimately, they’ll feel the impact if something is wrong or goes wrong.

If you want to focus their energy on contributing to the companies’ culture, reputation and bottom line, then physical, financial and emotional health must be addressed:

  • Financial – employees must feel good about their financial situation and have the control to make it better. Hence there must be a clear career path to develop into bigger and better roles.
  • Flexibility – You could allow your people to run minor, personal errands during work hours, work from home or have an easy and casual dress code. Move away from the traditional office environment; let people move and work around the office.
  • Education – Linkedin says 23% of people leave their jobs due to lack of development and training opportunities. Tailoring learning initiatives to career exploration and growth can make employees feel personally valued, increasing their loyalty if other firms come calling.
  • Location – central location of the office, needs to be easy to access, close to facilities and parks etc.
  • Health and wellness amenities – open space and comfy places to unwind, healthy food & health insurance perks.
  • Time management – there are moments when you must work overtime but do not make it a standard. Your people can suffer from burnout. Trust your people to manage this themselves and they will go above and beyond.

According to McKenzie’s book “Leading Organizations”, superior talent is up to 8 times more productive than average workers. Act today on culture, people and wellness so you can attract and retain incredible talent

To further boost company morale why not apply for awards, which recognise excellence in culture, people and wellbeing. Finally, get the word out there, get your people moving on social media. Let them be themselves and build content around this. Host events, publish articles and let everyone know what an exceptional place your company is to work in.

 

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.

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.

 

The #1 Job: Coaching

Once you embrace positive coaching, then employee morale will hit an all time high and you will be able to feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

contact centre agents are more engaged and show more enthusiasm and are more likely to succeed in their day to day tasks. Work becomes a great experience for your staff, you can literally feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

But if coaching sessions are negative or virtually non-existent, team morale will plummet.

Agents will become disconnected, absent minded and bored. This will result in lower quality of service as well as higher attrition rates.

 

Coach­ing is essential

High productivity and decent bottom-line results are not impossible in an environment where morale is low, but it is highly unlikely. As a coach, you need to remember that if you provide a better working experience for your contact centre agents, they will become more engaged and enthusiastic, and thus the customer experience will reflect that.

As a manager, you are responsible for your employees, you need to care for them – trust us, it’s the right thing to do. But if you believe that altruism has no place in the business world maybe those couple points will show you why coaching is so essential:

Positive coaching will lead to high morale among your contact centre agents, thus providing these long-term benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher pro­duc­tiv­ity
  • Lower attrition rates
  • Higher cus­tomer satisfaction
  • Increased cus­tomer loyalty

 

Don’t fall into a trap

Don’t ever make the assumption that the correct path to high morale is providing contact centre agents with what they vocal majority of them want. Take a look back at your own career path and think back, what did you want as a “grunt” employee? Better pay, more “spare” time for non-work-related shenanigans and less work relates tasks – that sounds like the fastest path to minimalism.

If you want your employees to thrive, create a dynamic and positive environment, provide opportunities for self-development. Continuous learning will lead to constant improvements on multiple levels – knowledge is power, especially in the dynamic world of multi-lingual contact centres.

 

Make it happen

First and foremost, as the manager, you need to embrace the idea that coaching is the #1 job you are responsible for. Then, cultivate and spread the idea of positive coaching among your staff – all of them, no exception. Open communication and active participation should be encouraged, make agents aware that despite not being decision makers their input is highly valued and everyone can make a difference. Make them a part of “The Grand Plan”.

Creating this kind of positive environment is no easy task, but it goes a long way.

 

…don’t get discouraged

Every company has some “just get by” people and nothing will change that, no matter what you as the manager do to inspire and motivate them. Morale of the whole contact centre can be in danger, so when the time to act comes be firm. Issue out warnings to those contact centre agents with attitude problems and if that doesn’t help it’s best to terminate “get by-ers” on the spot.

Put The Right People in The Right Job

Recruiting right people for the right job has never been more important.

Providing great customer experience is the quintessential for contact centres and the biggest hurdle in achieving this goal is employee attrition. But how should managers and supervisors filter out applicants?

Want to know if your future employee has what it takes to make it in the multilingual environment of a multichannel contact centre?

Use these pointers:

 

Watch out for these essential skills

  • Call control and the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Communicating clearly and confidently, also grammar and spelling
  • Ability to follow through from the initial call to any follow-up correspondence
  • Ability to handle delicate situations and attention to detail

 

Ability to remain calm under pressure

It’s one of the key attributes you should look out for when recruiting contact centre agents. Clear communications skills, remaining calm under pressure, confidence and expert knowledge are essential.

 

Competence-based interview

Be sure to test skills and competencies of an agent with live role play action. Make the scenario as close to the actual contact centre environment as possible, it will contribute to the recruitment process tremendously and also make it as interactive as possible. Also, request for real-life examples when the candidate is speaking about previous experience, this will serve as great insight as to what should you look out for during the role play stage.

 

Recruit in numbers

Try to always recruit groups of five to eight future contact centre agents, and possibly avoid recruiting one agent at a time. Small groups will allow your future employees to learn from one another during the training process. This will also strengthen their self-esteem, especially in newbies that are entering the industry for the first time since they are not alone. Make sure that agents are aware that “there are no silly questions” during the training process, make them feel comfortable while asking even the most obvious ones.

 

Clear expectations

Be clear on what is expected of a particular project or a team. Be precise when explaining about company culture and policies. Honesty during the interview really helps, if an agent finds something uncomfortable after becoming an employee he’ll be more likely to quit, or won’t be as efficient as you expected him to be from the information gathered during the recruitment process. Be honest – it’s that simple.

 

Training

With attrition rates for contact and call centres, especially in the multilingual environment are on an all time high – the average turnover rates are higher than any other industry. You can tone those rates down easily, invest in training and coaching. Prepare your new agents, show them what to expect and playback some difficult calls that ended in a successful resolution. Five to three days of training is money well spent.

 

Be on the lookout for candidates that can work under pressure, can communicate clearly and at the same time can deal with a plethora of new and exciting situations. At the same time provide great training and self-development opportunities, those will ensure company loyalty.

In the long run, these basic pointers will be your “secret weapon” in the war on staff attrition.

Using LinkedIn For Business Development

LinkedIn is a useful career tool and mingling with the right crowd has never been easier, but over the last few years it evolved past its networking purpose and has become a vital business development tool.

Bellow, you’ll find 10 LinkedIn business development best practices:

 

Optimise Your Profile

Make sure that your profile is fully complete, that’s the first step. The second step is a bit harder as you need to revise your profile and use as many keyword-rich descriptions as possible.

These steps will improve your visibility when someone is searching LinkedIn for people with your expertise.

Just don’t ‘go full keyword’ OK?

 

Get Your Custom URL

I don’t know about you, but personally, I love customization, and custom URLs are no exception. Go ahead and claim your custom URL, just make sure it includes your name (e.g. https://linkedin.com/in/yourname).

This rather simple step is especially valuable for people who have a lot of contact with potential clients (even more valuable for those of us in the B2B sector) mainly because we have become so accustomed to ‘googling’ – we just search for people we haven’t met yet in order to learn more about them and at times, to gain the upper hand.

 

Network.

Constantly keep on building and maintain your LinkedIn network. Whenever you meet someone, follow up with a LinkedIn request. Being connected to a wide plethora of professionals improves your chances of finding that one person who’s connected to someone with whom you’d like to be introduced.

Simply keep on networking, and when in doubt network some more.

 

Advanced Search

Thanks to LinkedIn the endless search for prospective clients and decision makers has never been easier. The ability to find the appropriate person to contact for your business is at your fingertips, and it’s called ‘Advanced Search’. Use a combination of industry keywords, job titles and company or brand names and you’re all set.

When you do find your ‘point of contact’ look at their profile, perhaps they’re connected to anyone in your networking circle who you might ask for an introduction.

If not, don’t worry there are other, more natural relationship building methods. See what LinkedIn groups they participate in, or maybe they have a Twitter account or a blog you could follow and build a relationship based on common interests.

 

Get Your Company ‘Out There’

Highlight your company by building a company page. Use keyword-rich descriptions for your offers and/or services and bring your company to life by using high-quality images and videos.

 

Form Opinions and Share Knowledge

Status updates are a great way to share valuable information to prospective clients, your employees and anyone who’s following your company page.

Your ‘personal brand’ helps in building trust in you and by extension in your company, use it to your advantage and showcase your strong points. Use status updates on your personal profile to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.

 

Publish Content

It’s ‘Publish or Perish’ on LinkedIn. Write articles that demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise and use the publishing feature to get your content ‘out there’.

Including a crafty ‘Call to Action’ is a surefire way to encourage further engagement, in the form of commenting on your article or contacting you for help.

 

Study LinkedIn’s Pulse

The most popular articles get featured on LinkedIn’s Pulse. In order to find out what content is popular (and gets promoted as a result), you need study ‘Pulse’.

Look for common denominators, latest trends and types of content – don’t forget to ‘keep an eye out’ for emerging trends.

 

Community Building

Don’t be a ‘square’ and participate in industry groups. Finding groups appropriate to your industry is not an easy task as there’s a lot of ‘noise’ to filter, however, you’ll be able to find active, quality groups with a thriving community – it just takes time.

What’s next? Be a part of the community, start participating by answering questions, joining conversations and sharing interesting third-party articles.

Keep on doing these activities and you’ll become a trusted community member. Having established your credibility and visibility within the group, you’ll be able to share your own content with ease.

 

Tell, Don’t Sell

Remember, you’re among professionals, there are no ‘sheep’ on LinkedIn, only ‘wolves’, this is why it’s crucial to focus on building trust and not on selling. A sales pitch will just turn everyone away, and you won’t get a second chance.

Build trust by engaging your audience on multiple levels. Think about what’s important to them, what problems they have, what challenges they face and pinpoint their aspirations and goals.

You need to become their ‘go-to’ source for problem-solving, someone they want to become, one that always has helpful information and insight, and when they use the information you provided to fix their issues or solve a problem they will think of you.

Become your audiences guru, that’s all there is to it.

 

I would love to hear back from you and learn how do you use LinkedIn for business development?

Management Change in 3 Steps

Middle managers are responsible for key operations at the core of your business.

They possess the knowledge of what works best for your company versus areas which need improvement.

Thanks to their deep understanding of operational requirements it’s crucial to include them in the decision-making process when considering outsourcing the part of the business they are responsible for.

 

Engage and reassure

Engaging middle managers in all the details of the outsourcing process will be beneficial in the long run. Remember, they are “the middle-man”, and communicate with agents and other front-line employees, so it’s crucial to keep them up to speed at all times. Such actions will reassure them of how much you value their work as well as build trust.

Let’s not forget about the vast operational knowledge middle management has, it’s about time to use it.

 

Trust the management team

Capable managers realise that thanks to the operational knowledge they possess and experience in the field they are irreplaceable and will take steps to protect their position in the company if they feel their job may be at risk.

When planning for outsourcing include as many levels of mid-tier management as you would normally include in strategic planning sessions.

 

Achieving success

To achieve lasting change, you need to understand the specific “political” situation of each and every business team and department. Managers with access to corporate intelligence will be hard to replace.

Ranging from department heads and senior managers to program leads on major projects, they will contribute to the management change effort in a constructive and positive way – all you have to do is keep them in the loop.

How to Align Employee Training with Customer Expectations

Email is the most popular communication method for customer care delivery and with more contact centres embracing the multi-channel approach, proper monitoring is essential in achieving high productivity.

Bellow, you’ll find tips on how to get the most out of email communication channel and deliver exceptional customer experience.

 

Conduct grammar and spelling checks

Emails to customers have to be professional, just being readable won’t cut it. Your contact centre agents can easily undermine your companies image with poor spelling and bad grammar. This step while being fairly easy to conduct will pay off tremendously in the long run and will save precious time while avoiding confusion.

 

Pick the right tone

When monitoring emails, set a central set of rules and guidelines, or even a template. Just don’t be too restrictive, let the agents choose the appropriate tone – one that suits the specific customer query.

An overly formal email might be too hard to understand for most customers, a chatty one, on the other hand, has the potential to alienate the customer.  Also, you wouldn’t address a senior in the same manner as you would a typical college “bro”, now would you?

Simply, let the agents adjust the tone to suit different situations.

 

Coach and review independently across all platforms

When conducting quality checks, use a larger sample pool than just a couple of interactions. This applies to single agent evaluation and team evaluation process as well.

If agents work on multiple communications channels score each one independently and coach accordingly. Good coaching will improve performance, but sometimes agents aren’t meant for some particular channel.

Pay attention to their skill sets, and assign them to projects that will utilise those to their full potential. This will drive productivity even higher.

 

The mystery shopper

Email is no different than a traditional call or even retail when it comes to mystery shoppers. This is a quite simple, yet often overlooked assessment technique that provides valuable data.

Having an external entity grading your staff is a smart move.

 

Answer the question – don’t “copy & paste”

The number times this simple step is overlooked makes us at OpsTalent cringe. Has the contact centre agent actually answered the customer’s query, or did he just send a prescripted response that has nothing to do with the question and provides no resolution what so ever?

Measuring success and first contact resolution will help you identify potential problems, and when these metrics improve it will be a clear sign that you are on a clear path to exceptional customer experience.

Make sure that any potential answers are consistent across all communication channels are consistent and relevant.

Also, personalise the email, it’s a small yet often welcome touch that embraces the vision of brand loyalty.

 

Don’t obsess over response time

Yes, response times do matter, and contact centres, as well as customers, rightfully care about them. Keep in mind tough, that customers understand that email isn’t used as the go-to “real time” channel, that’s what web chat is for or even the conventional phone call, or in some cases remote access.

Just make sure that customers know their request is being processed and that the response will be accurate and delivered in timely fashion.

Set up automated acknowledgements that set realistic response time for each query, this will help in managing customer expectations and your enterprise will avoid possible “clogs” caused by additional mail enquiries – this is especially vital during the festive season or during a new product/campaign launch.

Measuring email quality is easier than you might think,  just make sure that your training and quality expectations are fully aligned – that’s the recipe for exceptional customer service.

Core Traits of Customer-Centric Employees

If you ignore customers, they’ll ignore you back.

If you respond to customer support tickets well past their average response time you’ll send a clear message – you ignore users issues and product queries. You can observe a similar phenomenon in retail, a customer left standing without anyone coming to assist them will simply get up and leave as they’ll figure it’s a standard practice.

You need to remember that “How can I help you?” is the most crucial sentence in terms of customer engagement.

It’s really easy to turn away potential customers.

All it takes is one bad experience with your product or a slip up from your staff, and they’ll be leaving through the nearest exit. Unfortunately, it’s the polar opposite when it comes down to winning over new clients, which makes losing potential sales due to lack of employee engagement, plainly wrong.

You need to map out your customer journey and focus each and every aspect of it on the customer, be it social media, cell phone or help desk. The rules of the game changed, providing a great product or service is simply not enough, you need to create lasting and positive experiences.

Customers can be annoyed in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to costly fumbles such as your help desk not being all that helpful, or your sales team just dropping a pre-scripted pitch while the customer is asking actual questions about the product and is expecting factual answers.

Tools of the Trade

Your employees need to possess the customer skills listed bellow and leverage them to your business’s advantage:

Empathy

Showing a lack of empathy or understanding for a customer complaint or query is the fastest way to losing them as it vividly shows them that you’re not interested and simply don’t care. Usage of negative words and phrases needs to be kept to the bare minimum as it can be perceived as a sign of disinterest on your part. And let’s not forget about the tone of your voice.

Every customer deserves your full attention and empathy and it doesn’t matter what type of customers (we know some can be a handful)were you dealing with previously

A customer’s journey starts with the very first interaction with your staff and it’s irrelevant if their query is major or minor as you should care about creating positive experiences and not triage tickets.

Product Knowledge

Customers get in touch with your brand to ask questions and receive factual, intimate answers regarding the product or service you provide. Any hesitation or uncertainty will leave them with a sour taste in their mouth. Ensure you leave a positive impression be letting your passion and knowledge shine through – you’re the expert.

Furthermore, your employees are your greatest asset and potentially can become your brand’s ambassadors; if you provide a SaaS product they have to use it, and tell their peers how great of an asset it is.

Because, what message do you send to potential buyers when or if your own employees do not believe in their own product?

Ask the right questions

Problem facing customers can often be unable to clearly articulate what their issue is. That’s where experienced support agents come in as they will instantly decipher what the customer means and will respond accordingly. Which is even truer when dealing with customer support tickets, as the sheer amount of tickets agents go through makes them accurate to common issues, thus enabling them to pinpoint the cause on the spot.

However, every once in a while you’ll come across a customer who’s overwhelmed by the number of options your product or service provides – they’ll be unsure which one is best suited to their needs.

They might not even need the most expensive one, which is why it’s key to provide them with the solution they need. They may come back, solely because you were honest – it’s that simple.

Patience is a virtue

Yes, being patient is key. We’re not going to sugarcoat it, customers can be a handfull to deal with, especially when they wind themselves up, are vague in their descriptions of their issues or plainly dismissive of your support prowess. However, please keep in mind, that despite all of the above they are the ones in need, they’re the ones contacting you with their issue and their demeanour is a non-issue.

Your goal is to provide them with a positive experience, even when facing impossible odds.

An absence of patience betrays your disinterest, take a deep breath and do the following:

  • Keep your focus
  • Stay calm
  • Maintain control

Remain Calm

On a rare occasion, a customer will adopt an aggressive tone. Yes, such customers do exist. However, think before you respond and put yourself in their position. How would you react if you weren’t able to find a product feature you paid premium for or were unable to figure out a problem for an extended period of time?

Listen carefully and most importantly, be polite. You can’t allow yourself to be provoked not antagonised. Keep it cool and remind yourself that you’re dealing with a customer on behalf of your company.

Use clear language

There’s no room for vagueness nor ambiguity, be precise and tone done the industry lingo and buzzwords to the bare minimum – especially if you feel the customer is not tech-savvy or up-to-speed on the latest trends.

Confusing customers with your responses will get your nowhere as they will walk away from the time spent with you with either an unclear message or a flat our wrong one.

If you’re unsure what the customer means, then ask them to specify or probe for an answer by asking careful questions – use common sense. Be tactful, always.

Empathetic employees, who possess deep product knowledge are capable of remaining calm and coherent in each customer facing scenario in the book, and are a big asset to your enterprise.

They are a stepping stone on your path to customer centricity by providing your customers with positive experiences which last.