Tech Plays a Key Role in Training Reinforcement

Train­ing is an invest­ment, a long-term behav­ioral change, and will not be suc­cess­ful with­out proper rein­force­ment;  follow-up sessions conducted by contact centre super­vi­sors and man­agers.

Thanks to new solutions provided by technology: video, email and social media, these reinforcement sessions become easy to conduct and are cost effective.

Every type of training is suited for technology based reinforcement, whether you’re reinforcing a strategic skill change or improving soft skills, technology will help. It proves to be a valuable “ally” during training as well as post-training activities as is after ensures the change in behaviour sticks.

These are the top techniques we at OpsTalent use:

 E-mail; bi-weekly emails with rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion which can be applied to daily tasks.

  1. A consistent and descriptive title is crucial, reference the training session the follow-up relates to so that the participants open the email ASAP.
  2. If the email contains video content make sure that the text part of the message is clear and to the point, don’t waste the contact centre agents time on reading, point them to the video straight away.
  3. Avoid graphics, emails containing these are often blocked by email client app’s, thus mistaken as spam and deleted straight away. Also, graphic content is not mobile friendly so keep that in mind.
  4. Plan no more than one training email per training hour, schedule these to be sent out over a course of 4 weeks. This is crucial since it will not overwhelm agents and at the same time will be more than enough to bring permanent change in behaviour.
  5. Send the e-mails to managers, don’t leave them out of the loop, the content can be easily reused during team meetings.

Video; create engaging videos that will aid employee knowledge retention.

  1. Create videos that last up to 3 minutes, that will keep agents engaged and interested until the very end.
  2. Be detailed regarding the most valued tip from the training session, expand on it and end the video with an easy to follow call-to-action.
  3. Follow-up videos don’t need to be made by professionals, but they need to look professional. Dress code, the tone of voice and a steady camera are vital when it comes to creating engaging content.
  4. Post videos in-house or on a private channel on YouTube or Vimeo. Streamed video is the safest and best option.

Other; pri­vate social media groups are ideal for sharing content and reinforcing training.

  1. Brainshark is great when resources are limited or creating video content is simply not an option. Creating PowerPoint presentations with audio is an amazing substitute for video content, but it has potential to be much more than just a substitute.
  2. Create private groups in LinkedIn where contact centre staff can share successes stories or ask relevant questions.

Technology can play a key role in reinforcing employee training and in long-term behav­ioral change, especially in crucial business areas such as;  intro­duc­ing new pro­ce­dures, improv­ing exist­ing skills sets, or engag­ing new employ­ees. It’s up to you to incorporate it!

Tech Support Training Tips

Most people think customer service and tech support are virtually the same role, well it might seem so at first glance, and with how customer centric the customer care industry has become we might see those two roles merged in the near future.

There are differences, most notably in the type of training and offered services

Soft skills are relevant in both roles, especially active listening, problem-solving, and the ability to de-escalate issues.

Never let your agents approach new roles untrained

If you’re facing staffing issues or your customer care centre is facing high communication volumes and you’re forced to ask your customer service teams to handle tech support issues, make sure that they receive proper training.

Not everyone is tech-savvy

Equip your teams with proper ‘tools of the trade’, they need them in order to help customers with their tech problems.

 

OpsTalent has prepared a list of five crucial tips that will turn your customer service experts into amped-up tech-geeks.

 

The Beginning 

The greeting phase is crucial, as it dictates the conversation’s flow. Your team needs to understand that this initials phase has to be short as well as professional.

Agents should start with providing their first name in order to make the call more personal, then they should immediately establish that the customer has reached tech support. The greeting itself shouldn’t be overly lengthy – short and to-the-point. Lastly, coach your team to sound friendly and happy to help, this might seem as a no-brainer for most managers in the customer care industry but it’s worth to mention.

 

Active listening

Ask what issue is the ‘user’ experiencing. In the active listening phase tech support agents need to carefully listen to the description of the problem while noting down vital information, such as software version used, model of the hardware in question, operating system, and any other technical aspects what will aid in successfully diagnosing and fixing the problem.

After the issue has been explained the agent should paraphrase the problem back. This reassures the customer that we value his input, furthermore by describing the problem back at the customer we confirm that the correct issue is noted.

 

Apologise, empathise, reassure

The customer needs to be reassured that his issue will be handled properly. Be sure to apologise only when it’s your company’s product or service at fault.

Next, comes empathy, use phrases such as “I know it’s frustrating for you, I’m sorry that the issue at hand is taking time out of your day, but we will resolve it ASAP.”

Lastly, reassure the customer that you’re going to personally oversee his case.

 

Problem-solving 101

The 4th step is where the magic happens. Look up the symptoms and take steps to solve the problem.

If more research is necessary then ensure that the customer is periodically reminded that “we’re still on the case” – there’s nothing worse than leaving the customer guessing as it creates more stress in an already volatile situation.

 

Mission Accomplished

The last step is the most crucial one, ensure that the problem was resolved.
Consultants need to ask a question along the lines of “Did we fix the problem you were experiencing?” Is there anything else I can do for you?”.

The agent needs to confirm that the issue was indeed resolved, which is why asking the final question is important. It also enables the customer to confirm he or she feels satisfied with the solution and has no further enquiries.

 

Instil Confidence

Training, coaching and proper guidance will provide your customer service agents with enough ‘know-how’ and confidence to handle tech support.

Proper ‘Tools of the trade’ are essential for your employees to provide exceptional customer care services.

 

 

How to Bridge The Gap in a Multilingual Environment

Confusion can be the cause for major friction in an multilingual environment of customer care centres.

What steps should supervisors undertake in order to maximise efficiency and which methodology should they adapt in order to bridge the multilingual gap.

Common language

Most multilingual contact centres have a “business language” – the one that is used in standard day-to-day communication amongst all employees. The problem with this approach is, that in order for it to function smoothly all employees need to speak the language at the same level.

You need to allow some “accommodation time” for the new employees, let them adapt and learn. Remember language skills we learnt at school don’t necessarily transfer to a work environment.

Leave no room for misinterpretation

This is the most important step when it comes down to managing and excelling in this kind of environment, leave no room for misinterpretation at all cost.

Be precise and to the point. In regards to new hires, keep it simple and try to not overburden them with irrelevant information.

Details matter

If you want to run an efficient multilingual contact centre, offer guidance and thorough explanation of each task.

Be patient and flexible, remember the language barrier is not the only hurdle you’ll encounter. Different nationalities can interpret information differently. Keep trying until your staff can clearly understand the task at hand. Cover each and every detail of a project if you have to.

Don’t be afraid to change your approach

If you notice that your message isn’t getting across don’t be afraid to change it. Repeating it over and over again won’t do any good. Notice what words you’re using – see if you could re-phrase the message.

Try explaining the task from a different point of view as being repetitive is frustrating for all parties involved.

Visual aids

When explaining a difficult and complex project to the team, use visual aids alongside regular explanation of what is expected. This will provide amazing results in the long run.

Use screen-shots, charts or infographics. Be creative, but try not to overwhelm them with the visualisations.

Confirm and explain

Always make sure that people understand you, confirm that by letting them explain things back at you. The best employee is the one that isn’t afraid to ask questions regarding the task or the project. Make sure that your team understands that. Be patient, you will be amazed how often the first explanation is often misunderstood.

Explain buzzwords and industry lingo

Always explain industry lingo and buzzwords when assigning people to new tasks or teams. Keep in mind that different nationalities will at times use different terms and abbreviations.

To avoid potential confusion, agree on one standard definition.

A simple thank you goes a long way

Try to learn some phrases in languages commonly used by your agents and supervisors, even if the business language is English. Showing your employees that you’re making effort and that you value their culture will go a long way. Sometimes, simple phrases like “thank you” or “good morning” will boost morale and will bond you with co-workers.

If you are thinking of undertaking a management position in a multilingual environment such as a contact centre, don’t be off put by the initial language barrier problems. The multicultural environment and diversity outweigh the initial minor frustrations by tenfold – be flexible, adapt and overcome.

Four Essential Qualities of a Customer Care Centre

The rise of the multi-channel approach shook the customer care landscape to its core and new channels demand a different approach – customer centricity.

Multilingual contact centres need to engage and retain every customer to be successful.

We at OpsTalent believe that these four traits are the keystones to establishing a customer centric contact centre:

Measure quality from both perspectives.

Like many of its customer oriented counterparts around the globe, OpsTalent has invested in quality monitoring tools that record and view customer experiences during each query, also post-contact surveying tools that can determine how the customer felt about each individual interaction.

This way the contact centre gathers essential information about its customer base, feedback that later can be used during coaching sessions or incorporated into each contact centre agents monitoring scores.

But that’s not all, data can be used to improve operation processes work-flows or even actual products and services.

Continuously enhance services, sales and loyalty.

Thanks to all the monitoring tools, today’s contact centres gather an overwhelming amount of data on a daily basis – this would imply that the contact centre is “The Ear” of the organisation, and while true this statement is somewhat wrong.

Customer centric contact centres are not just ear, but the brain of the organisation. They gather and process the information, and later on use it to from strategies and plans.

Thus continuously improving and enhancing the customer experience, by the means of CRM tools, dedicated analytics teams, and evaluation of post-contact surveys.

OpsTalent provides fast, personalised, proactive customer service and support.

Metrics focused on the customer, not just on efficiency.

The best customer centric contact centres, focus less on Average Handle Time, Calls per Hour and focus more on metrics such as Contact Quality, First Contact Resolution and Customer Satisfaction.

Productivity based metrics have its place, but most of the time contact centre managers over-emphasise the importance of AHT. Which only leads the agents to develop bad habits, such as rushing the customer through the call, which in the end only leads to increased number of call volumes, and a decrease in customer satisfaction.

When it comes to agent productivity, focus on things like schedule adherence, thus ensuring that agents are ready for and on time for any potential challenge.

Embrace social customer care.

Providing customer support though social media is no longer a nice bonus, it’s a necessity. Facebook and Twitter are the go-to channel for the Y-generation, and the general public also tries social customer support if they need a fast response to their request or comment.

This is why all leading contact centres have developed and implemented a comprehensive social customer care strategy, with trained agents and powerful monitoring tools they are more than ready to provide proactive customer service and engage the customers in brand new ways.

Keep in mind, that in order to be a customer centric contact centre you also need to be employee centric as well, happy staff + happy customers = exceptional customer experience!

Keep The Leadership Framework Simple

The concept of what constitutes as “high performance” isn’t new to customer care experts, unfortunately implementation methods are in need of tweaking.

Depending on the objectives set by the higher echelon of managers and the frame of reference used , the definition of high performance can vary and will have many different iterations and interpretations. Most of the time however, high performance correlates with staff engagement levels and returns on shareholder’s investments – contentment and satisfaction.

Leadership framework

We should ask ourselves if we are focusing our efforts on the tasks which provide maximum return value.

Simple and clear expectations

Make the team aware of what is expected – this is your number one priority as a leader. You don’t want your employees guessing what their goals are (and that’s the best case scenario).

Those expectations should be: clear, simple and actionable, but at the same time refined to fit each team or project separately.

Everyone needs to know exactly how they can help. Positive reinforcement is also a great morale booster – everyone’s contribution to the project is valued.

Leave no room for interpretation, this will remove confusion and will lead to greater understanding of the expectation – it will unify the team on a personal level. Working for the common goal.

Provide support

Our role isn’t complete after setting transparent expectations, we need to provide support for our staff; guide and help them gain the needed knowledge in order to complete the desired goal.

We can support our employees in multiple ways: feedback collection, coaching, training and development through courses. We need to equip our agents and managers with the best tools of the trade, to not only meet the required expectations, but to excel.

Relevant feedback provides great insight on performance, and coaching will reinforce positive behaviour.

Reinforce consequences

Positive reinforcement plays a key role in proper employee management. It might sound trivial, but it’s up you to determine what behaviour as well as corresponding consequences will be accepted or reprimanded – either directly or indirectly. If you want certain patterns replicated, you need to reward employees and the actions that led to them. At the same time manage those falling short of mark appropriately.

…and more

The points mentioned above are just a simple framework that can be used by leaders, supervisors and managers to define boundaries within which they operate.

Contact and call centres are a highly measurable environment, thanks to the metrics used to evaluate all aspects of its functions. High performance should be achievable if you: set expectations, provide support and utilise consequences to reinforce desired behaviour.

Your main role as a leader is to make the message clear.

Achieve Excellence Through Active Listening

Turn your representatives into virtual guides for your customers; provide tips and insights and capitalise on delivering customer experience excellence.

Often times we focus too much on the task, while completely ignoring the human aspect of it, and thus fail to actively listen to the customer.

Unfortunately, this is a surefire way to ruin customer experience as the act of not listening or even worse, not comprehending is perceived a cardinal sin in customer centric landscape the contact centre industry has become.

Become customer-centric

Contact centre managers and agents need to understand that in order to provide excellent customer service your business needs to become customer-centric. Giving customers your undivided attention is the first step in achieving this goal.

Customer service training should include visualisation methods which enforce eye contact and role play – as if customers were sitting just across from your staff. This will encourage them to actively listen to what is being said and agents will pay more attention to fine details such as: tone, vocabulary and voice volume.

Pinpoint key information

When it comes to delivering great customer care the ability to identify key information quickly is essential and active listening techniques are what your agents need to easily pinpoint customer needs, desires and problems, thus reducing the AHT (Average Handle Time) and bumping customer satisfaction up a notch.

The ability to pinpoint problems faster will lead to an increase in first-contact resolution as well as enable your agents to handle more customer queries per day.

Show empathy

Paying attention to customer feelings provides valuable information on how to handle each query, which leads to successful problem resolution and happy customers.

A customer who’s obviously in a hurry? Provide him with an approximate time to complete the task or order.

Another common example: if the customer is clearly upset, show empathy and use it as an edge during the communication process.

Personalised customer service is a small, but often well appreciated touch.

Paraphrase to clarify

The final step of successful active listening is clarification of understanding. In order pinpoint customer needs or to be able to diagnose what problems he experiences we need to reassure him by paraphrasing his own explanation back to him and ask for confirmation. This method will reassure the customer that they have been heard and their query will be taken care of.

Active listening teaches your representatives to focus on the customer by showing empathy, while simultaneously filtering and paraphrasing key information conveyed during the conversation in order to clarify their understanding of the topic, therefore reassuring them that everything is going to be alright.

Delivering customer care excellence has never been easier, and it’s all thanks to active listening.

How To Handle Customer Service Peaks

Brace yourselves, Summer is in full swing and with it arrive spikes in call volumes as well as problems with agent availability.

We at Opstalent, have prepared a guide to help you manage customer service peaks:

Seize the initiative

The best way to actually avoid “clogs” caused by demand spikes is to seize the initiative and reach out to the customers yourself. The multichannel approach is quite handy in this case.

Try to reach as many future “callers” through multiple channels, social media, email and even SMS. Each customer reached through other communication  methods is one less person held back in queue during peak time.

Prioritise

It’s a known fact that some queries are more important than others. Distinguishing which call is an emergency and which isn’t is a challenging, yet important task.

In order to pre-screen incoming calls you need to setup a solid IVR system. This solution will identify calls based of pre-set rules and will route the incoming traffic accordingly.

Highlighting and relegating calls will help your contact centre tremendously, especially during those “demand spikes” periods.

Outsource

When facing a sudden spike in demand, you should outsource. Just don’t pick the easy route that most companies choose – expensive term agency staff on a short-term basis.

Try to predict, when such spikes in demand will happen and choose a flexible outsourcing partner that will handle the spike traffic. This solution will leave your in-house staff focused on the core parts of projects.

In the long term, this will reduce training and staffing costs, just make sure that your outsourcing partner provides a scalable solution.

…and if all else fails, increase resources

In a case of extreme emergency, that “mother lode” of all demand spikes don’t be scared to relocate some of the admin staff to temporary contact centre duty.

The software is easy to use and highly customisable, it can simply be installed on all desktop computers around the office, this will enable an “on the fly” swap into contact centre agent mode if the situation is dire.

Just remember to take extreme caution, don’t train employees for tasks they might never need to perform, also it is highly counterproductive to force staff into roles they have no familiarity with.

However if done properly, such methods will make your staff and business as a whole even more customer centric.

The long term impact of such activities is highly valuable.