Queues Aren't Just for Call Centers…

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Recently, I was visiting with an inContact customer who was setting up a new queue for their receptionists.  This was challenging during the first day because the reception desk wasn’t accustomed to answering calls from a queue.  However, once the first half hour pased and they were starting to get the hang of it…they LOVED IT.  They loved the fact that they could see how many people were trying to call them and the performance of how they were doing in routing their calls.
 
They wanted to get a monitor to see their queue, their SLA, and the longest hold time in the queue for them.  They loved the information, the reporting.  The fact that they were able to account for the calls that were directed to them, how they performed when handling the calls was priceless to them.  They were thrilled to have that level of information available to them.  They had never had this before.
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Plan B is Plan A…

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Plan B is Plan A…
 
When it comes to disasters the wrong thing to do is to have a “recovery”.  What you really want is a plan for sidestepping the unexpected disaster and moving on to Plan B without even breaking a sweat.  Good planning and thinking through the potential problems before there is a problem goes a long way. Always make sure that plan B is part of the day-to-day operations or Plan A.
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Is There Such a Thing as an Average Customer?

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I found these pictures by Face Research to be very interesting.  I hope you do too.  I was thinking that if we can take pictures of people and average them together, then I wonder if there is value in taking customers and averaging them together too.  Is there such a thing as an average customer? Of the hundreds or thousands of unique phone calls that we take in our contact centers each day, can they really be averaged and paint a good picture of an average "contact" or "interaction"?  I think so.  
 
Measuring the average customer is what we are doing every day when we calculate average handle time, or abandon rates.  We are essentially making a judgement about what the average call or caller looks like when we take each individual contact into consideration.  In fact, we even see similar variations across industries, just like we see variation yet similarity in the faces of different countries. So it is also that the average handle time in support industries are different than in direct response industries but similar within the same industry.  So, benchmarking yourself with another contact center is good…as long as their "average customer" is like your "average customer".
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The Human Brain is Amazing… Are Your Agents Using Theirs?

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The human brain is an amazing piece of work.  Ars Technica published a fascinating article on the comparison of the human brain and the world's computing resources.  It got me thinking that we employ agents in our call centers who are each equipped with their own personal human brain with all of this capability.  That means that there is a lot of human potential in your contact center.  If your contact center has so much to offer in terms of human potential, the question is, "Are we leveraging this potential or have we created systems and processes that actually limit the ability of our agents to provide the service that could be provided to our customers?"
 
I don't profess to have the answer to that question, but as I have observed the operations, processes, tools, and protocols in contact centers, I have seen that we limit the human potential quite a bit as opposed to opening it up and taking the risk that a well directed human brain on the phone will do amazing things in terms of service.  
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You Can't Improve What You Don't Measure…

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There was a great infographic put together for Zendesk on the true cost of bad service.  I know we have all experienced bad service before, and we always think of the cost in terms of customer loss.  However, I don't see many places actually measuring the cost of poor customer service. I was really glad to see this and I hope that more measures on poor customer service see the light of day.  Why?  Because when we can have honest conversations about the true cost of customer service, then we can actually start to improve it.

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Skills are Important, but Attitude is Critical

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The title of a blog entry at Harvard Business Review caught my eye, "Hiring for Attitude, Train for Skill" the other day. It is a terrific article that I would recommend to all of you. The article highlights three different examples of where companies are hiring people for their attitude and not for their skills…and getting great results.
 
One of my favorite quotes in this article is, "…you can't create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you build something special, distinctive, and compelling in the workplace."  I completely agree.  The people that have impressed me the most at the workplaces in my career are those with a terrific attitude.  Think about it a positive experience working with someone in your past.  Are they memorable because of their skills, or are they memorable because of their attitude?  It may even be both…but generally speaking, attitude tops all.  
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Are Your Agents Acting as Concierge?

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Barb Roberts is concierge at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah and was recently accepted to as a member of the Les Clef d'Or (pronounced lay-clay-door) International Concierge Society. This honor places her among the best concierges in the world.
 
As concierge it is her job to serve the guests by finding items needed, make reservations, give ideas to guests, or basically find a solution to unusual problems and requests that guests may have. Her customer service orientation is second to none. She loves the challenges presented and is very, very good at her job.
 
As call centers we employ customer service agents to basically act as concierge for our customers. But do we instill in our agents the same mission and desire to accept whatever challenge may come next and work hard at solving that problem for the customer?
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Did I Really Dress Like That in 1994?

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I still look back at pictures of my childhood and think, "Those clothes were in fashion then?, Did I really wear my hair like that?"  Admit it, you have reminisced too and thought the same thing.  Then I saw this video and I just couldn't believe it.  Oh, we have come a long way haven't we?  This is a hilarious video that speaks volumes about how much the world has changed since 1994 when it comes to our collective transition into a digital lifestyle and cloud computing.  I guess we had to start somewhere.  I am so glad to be part of this industry and continuously pushing the envelope with what is possible.  Watch the video…you'll understand.  Enjoy!

 

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SaaS Market Expected to Grow to $10.7 Billion in 2011

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$10.7 Billion.  According to CIO Insight that is the number that Gartner estimates will be the total spending worldwide in Software-as-a-Service this year.  That is huge.  But is it really huge?
 
What is it about big numbers?  Everyone likes to see a big number.  But sometimes they are just simply too big to really understand and appreciate.  How can we put $10.7 Billion into perspective?
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