Why Customer Care Success Starts With the C-Suite

As the leader of a call center, your job encompasses a wide variety of tasks, not the least of which is motivating and inspiring your Communicators. Effective managers seem to do the job effortlessly, when in reality they are purposefully employing a host of skills and techniques to support their staff, which in turn increases the quality of service.

 
Good leadership is really about people—communicating with them, giving them opportunities to grow, and inspiring them to do their very best. Doing it well is challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Here are a few tips for ensuring that your own performance brings out the best in your Communicators:

 
Lead by example. Define your own standard of excellence and abide by it. Modeling the expected behavior is the number-one way to influence your Communicators to do the same. You’re also giving people a reason to believe in you, and in your ability to do the job.

Show your employees that you care about them. Telling your employees that you care about them is a good start, but your words will be more meaningful if you put them into action. Look for ways to interact with team members and start building relationships (our annual summer barbeque gives me a chance to grill my newest employees!). Putting the team first makes you a more credible leader.

Take every opportunity to coach—and to recognize excellence. These behaviors go hand-in-hand. Outside of regular training sessions, there are times when guidance or advice offered on a more personal basis is appropriate. If you notice a Communicator struggling on a call, don’t let the opportunity to offer words of advice, explain a process, or give encouragement pass. Similarly, seize the moment when you see a Communicator going above and beyond, or observe him or her capably handling a customer interaction.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Improve the Customer Experience Through Positive Company Culture

Do your Communicators like coming to work? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! If not, it might be time to evaluate your company culture.

As a contact center manager who is tasked with improving the customer experience, you know that positivity in the workplace spills over into customer interactions. But culture is about more than good feelings; it’s about a company’s overarching vision and values. You can tell a lot about the state of your culture by taking time to observe your employees and by assessing their attitudes and feelings about the job. If your culture isn’t readily apparent, here are some things to consider going forward:

  1. Define your culture. This might seem obvious, but unless you’ve thought it through and written it down, it probably isn’t giving you what you need. Consider what you want people to say about your company after they leave. Then, how can you create that environment? A few words should suffice.
  2. Educate your management team about your culture. Your management program shouldn’t just focus on policies and procedures; it should also talk about how to treat people, how to interact with Communicators, and what it means to be a leader. Celebrate new managers’ “graduation” from the program and give them something to remember it by.
  3. Make hiring decisions based on attitude and personality. Known for its excellent customer service, Netflix is looking for brand ambassadors, not simply experienced agents. Its leaders believe that people who are smart, friendly, enthusiastic, helpful, and reliable will excel at connecting with customers, troubleshooting, and solving problems, and will be a good match with their vision for the company.
  4. Progress your Communicators. Not everyone wants to be a manager, but most people do appreciate the chance to get ahead. In a contact center, that might mean moving to higher-paying programs or leading a small team of associates. Progression is based on goal achievement, so discuss goals your Communicators have and help set them up for success.
  5. Focus on making your workplace one of simple procedures and simple work philosophies. Simplicity helps Communicators focus on the right things, like using good judgment, focusing on the tasks at hand, and spending time with customers.

There are many good models to follow for exceptional company cultures. Take time to think, keep it simple, and be genuine. Your Communicators will thank you for it.

 Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Three Ways to Celebrate Summer All Year Long In the Contact Center

Summertime brings to mind the sound of waves gently crashing on the beach, the smell of burgers on the grill and the feeling of excitement from lighting firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

You can capture such positive summer sensations in your contact center all yearlong—delighting and satisfying employees and customers—by employing a few strategic best practices, as follows:

Provide continuous professional development: What keeps employees satisfied and engaged at their jobs is the feeling of constant growth and the opportunity to learn. Providing professional development resources to employees of all levels will enable them to continuously work toward new goals, improve their skills and discover new strengths throughout the course of their careers. Not only will this make your employees happier, it will improve the quality of customer care that they deliver thereby retaining more customers.

Offer team building exercises: The best part of summertime is spending quality time with friends and family soaking up the sun. Transfer this feeling of togetherness to your contact center family by holding more team building events so that team members can strengthen their relationships. This is also a great way for upper managers to interact socially with employees with whom they may not otherwise get the chance to engage. Like professional development courses, team building exercises and events will give team members something positive to look forward to throughout the year.

Utilize intuitive technology: The only thing that could improve your Communicators’ top-notch customer care skills is intuitive technology. It’s true; you can enhance Communicator performance by integrating data analytics tools such as predictive analytics, skills-based routing and marketing segmentation to optimize their abilities. Integrating best-in-class technology into your customer care strategy is the cherry on top of your banana split.

Let your customer care shine this summer—and all year long for that matter—by employing these three effective strategies.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

InfoCision Named a Notable Member of the OHBLN

 

At InfoCision, our core business revolves around connecting with people—that is, helping businesses to forge meaningful connections with their customers. Long ago we realized we can do our job better by making similar connections in our community, a wonderful source of valuable and diverse employees. We—and our clients—have been reaping the benefits ever since.

InfoCision is proud to be among the first 100 companies to join the Ohio Business Leadership Network, an organization that leads by example in the employment of individuals with disabilities. More than 800,000 strong, this group of working-age Ohioans with disabilities represents a talented and relatively untapped workforce in our state.

OHBLN members, including Procter & Gamble, Aramark, Miami University, and Pitney Bowes, to name just a few, know that talented and dedicated people of all backgrounds, including those with communications challenges and medical disabilities, are vital to the success of any business. Qualified candidates with abilities and talents relevant to the job are always welcome, and very often, applicants with disabilities bring an extraordinary work ethic, positive outlook and original way of thinking to the table. Truly, a diverse workforce makes us stronger and better able to serve our customers.

InfoCision has also been named a notable OHBLN business member for its dedication to recruiting, training, and retaining individuals with disabilities. We believe that our employees are the link to developing lasting relationships between our clients and their donors or customers, so we look for talented Communicators first and foremost, and offer them opportunities to grow.

If you haven’t already explored diversity initiatives in your own community, I encourage you to do so. An inclusive culture, we think, is key to building meaningful relationships, and key to business success.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

What Will Your Contact Center Do This Summer?

Finally, summer is almost upon us. Most people feel more relaxed, move at a slower pace, and, typically, are focused on everything else besides work. These quiet days are a welcome change of pace for sure, but many managers see the distractions as obstacles to productivity.

Instead of battling against summer, why not embrace it as a chance to reflect on your business? It’s the perfect time to try out some new ideas for boosting engagement levels among your Communicators, and for enhancing business operations.

Some ideas to sample this summer might include:

  • Battle burnout among your Communicators. If your customer care agents are working to the best of their ability, it’s natural that they will occasionally feel the effects of burnout—particularly due to the stress inherent in their jobs. Attrition has been shown to be the top contact center challenge, so devote some attention this summer to reacquainting yourself with your Communicators. Customer care agents who find meaning in their work—solving problems and helping customers—are more likely to stay, so find ways to help them do this. Summer is a great time to conduct stay interviews, which can help you connect with your employees and how they’re feeling.
  • Offer professional development opportunities. All agents have had basic customer care training, but there are plenty of reasons to continue learning. Maybe your contact center has recently implemented new technology, or plans to in the near future, that Communicators would benefit from knowing more about. There are also agent development programs that not only educate but energize agents, teaching them how to deliver outstanding service and starting discussions about why it’s important. After training, work with your Communicators to set individual professional goals.
  • Try new technology. As you know, there’s no shortage of tools available to assist your agents in delivering superior care. It’s hard to commit to learning new technologies anytime, but summer might prove to be a wonderful opportunity to try something new. The change will help to engage employees and give them a chance to help and teach one another collaboratively. Whether it’s workforce management software, data analytics software, or any number of other tools, the business will benefit from technology updates.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

Disney Institute Shares Its Secret to Providing Superior Customer Care

The brand name “Disney” often brings to mind images of iconic animated characters and exciting amusement parks. There’s more to Disney than fairytale princesses and princes, however, as the company is also known for providing customer care fit for a king.

Recently, Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute, shared some great tips for providing superior customer care. And what he shared might be surprising to some customer care leaders.

According to Jones, exceptional service isn’t limited to frontline employees. In fact, delivering top-notch care starts with management. In order to run a successful and sustainable business, leaders must reinforce behaviors through their own actions.

Below are a few ways in which Jones says leaders can reinforce the right behaviors and support exceptional customer service:

  1. Be observant: Rather than sit in your office all day, make some time in your schedule to walk around the cubicles to see what Communicators are up to. Don’t just aimlessly walk around; rather intently observe and take notes to be later shared with employees. “Simply being present in the operation allows leaders to both model service behaviors and proactively engage with the people and processes at the heart of the organization,” says Jones.
  2. Get your hands dirty: One of the best ways to ensure that policies and procedures are successfully working is to walk in the shoes of your Communicators. Every once in a while, for example, throw a headset on and service calls during peak hours. Doing so will give you a better picture of the challenges your Communicators face on a daily basis.
  3. Participate in training: If you don’t already, start participating in the training of your Communicators. Not only will this ensure that your training is up to par, but it will also send a message to new employees that your organization values commitment to excellence.

You don’t have to wish upon a star to provide exceptional customer care. Rather, you can take matters into your hands by following these three important tips.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Three Ways to Stay Focused In A Hectic Workplace

There is no getting around the concert of loud voices, phone rings and clacking of keyboards that takes place in the contact center day-in and day-out. It’s enough to make even the calmest person go a bit crazy at times.

In fact, 2015 research commissioned by Plantronics found that office noise has a negative impact on office workers and the quality of their work. What’s more, employees agreed that the toughest task to deal with in a noisy workplace was handling telephone conversations, which is the central responsibility of a Communicator.

Finding ways to maintain focus in the midst of a chaotic and oftentimes stressful atmosphere is critical to a Communicator’s success. The last thing he or she wants to do is lose concentration and jeopardize a customer’s experience.

Luckily, there are several things Communicators can do to stay focused in a noisy and hectic workplace. Let’s explore some of these solutions things below:

  • Work from home: Have you noticed that certain days are noisier than others? On days that are especially hectic, ask your supervisor if you can work from home. Thanks to advances in technology, there are solutions available that will allow you to work remotely as if you were present in the office.
  • Create a “zen” workplace: Is your cubicle filled with messy papers, old Tupperware and stacked coffee cups? If your workplace is messy, it could be adding to your distractions. Create a tranquil workplace by minimizing visual distractions. Organize papers with folders and store snacks or clean Tupperware in bins underneath your desk.
  • Invest in noise cancelling headset: If you’re particularly bothered by outside noises, request a noise cancelling headset that is especially designed for contact center environments. Customers and Communicators will enjoy clear conversations no matter how noisy the contact center environment becomes.

Some people are lucky enough to be able to ignore outside noise and remain focused on the task at hand. However, most of us are not immune to noisy or hectic offices. If you have a tough time maintaining focus, try employing one of these strategies above.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Does Your Company Culture Support Your Customer Care Motto?

Any company can say they are dedicated to providing the best possible quality of customer care and create a catchy slogan saying so. However, putting action behind those words is an entirely different story.

For this reason, it’s important that companies ensure their company culture supports their outward facing appearance. After all, if employees aren’t happy at work there is no possible way that they can provide best-in- class customer care.

Take this recent article from the Chicago Tribune as an example:  A customer care representative took extra time to tend to a consumers’ need and even stated, “It’s what my company would want me to do.”

Would your employees say the same about your company?

To ensure that your company culture supports your customer care motto, here are a few things that you can do.

  • Be 100 percent clear: When you first bring on a new hire, make sure that him or her know and understand the core values of which your business was built. Be sure to communicate it clearly and often throughout his or her training.
  • Keep reiterating: During the hustle and bustle, it can be easy for employees to forget the businesses’ core values. Put reminders up on the walls around the office or reiterate them before or after company-wide meetings.
  • Hold employees accountable: Company values can lose their meaning if they aren’t enforced. If an employee isn’t living up to the company’s core values, then action should be taken. Whether that means additional training or further consequences, employees must be held accountable.

Actively maintaining your company’s core values is essential to sustaining a well-respected brand and what separates your business from the competition. Make sure that your company culture supports your customer care motto by following the tips and tricks above.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Why You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty

It’s likely that improving customer loyalty is a priority on most companies’ New Year’s resolutions list. After all, customer loyalty has proven to boost a company’s bottom line time and time again.

According to research from Bain and Company, the longer the relationship with an online retailer, the more customers spends. For example, the average repeat customer spent 67 percent more in months 31-36 of his or her shopping relationship than in months zero-to-six.

While customer loyalty is important, it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish.

You can implement all of the latest technology and even break the bank with marketing initiatives, but neither of these will gain you customer loyalty.

The key to establishing customer loyalty is offering superior customer care. Luckily for companies, great customer care doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars. Below are various ways in which you can build customer loyalty with greater customer care.

Invest in your employees: Your employees are on the front line, interacting directly with your customers and shaping their perception of your brand. Therefore, it’s important that your employees have all of the necessary tools and skills to deliver superior customer care. For example, consider implementing a new training program or sending agents to an educational seminar.

Surprise your customers: Give your customers a reason to talk about your company in a positive light. Don’t just provide average customer care; give them a delightfully positive experience that they will remember and share with others. After all, people don’t share average experiences with their friends.

Focus on the details: So many companies make the mistake of letting the small details fall through the cracks. Offering small gestures of kindness here and there can go a long way in establishing customer loyalty. For example, send personal email follow-ups to existing customers to thank them and see if they are enjoying past purchases.

Not even a winning Powerball ticket is enough to buy your customers’ loyalty. Rather, it’s kind gestures, excellent customer care and paying attention to the details that really keeps your customers coming back for more.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Our Top Advice for Achieving Fundraising Success

At InfoCision, we continually remind ourselves of our goal to become the best, not the biggest, name in the customer care industry by providing highly valuable services. Our diligent team of Communicators works tirelessly to ensure that we’re providing the utmost quality of customer care to each and every individual we serve, which is why it is so rewarding to have our hard work recognized. We’re incredibly honored, in fact, to have been recognized as a customer care MVP in “Customer Magazine” for the 22nd consecutive year.

As such, I’d like to shine a spotlight on—and dedicate this honor to—our exceptionally talented Communicators. It is their inherent traits, like empathy and quick wit, experience and commitment that enable InfoCision to achieve such high-quality results and keep our customers satisfied.

Most specifically, I’d like to lend some insight to our readers about the achievements our Communicators make in the nonprofit space. Communicating with potential contributors and recruiting donors can prove quite difficult for many contact center agents, as relaying the importance of a charity in an impactful fashion requires a sophisticated skill set that not all people possess.

Here are few pieces of advice derived from our outbound call strategy that may help you better understand the elements that drive our fundraising success:

  • Become part of the team: At InfoCision, we don’t think of ourselves as a third-party service for our nonprofit clients, but rather an extension of their team. By pledging to work as though we are a part of the cause, our Communicators become more dedicated and driven to produce the best possible results. This is an important mindset to maintain during fundraising campaigns as our Communicators strive to effectively articulate the charity’s worthiness and the value of each donation. By making the cause our own, our staff essentially becomes part of the nonprofit’s staff, with the same ability to understand and communicate the charity’s merit.
  • Create a lasting relationship: Another differentiator that sets our Communicators apart from the competition is their dedication to their line of work. Many of our employees are InfoCision veterans, having worked here for years, even decades in some cases. Because of our high employee retention rate, our Communicators are able to create long-lasting relationships with the nonprofit institutions with which we fundraise. The entire staff becomes elated at specific times of the year that signify that it’s time for an annual fundraising campaign. This excitement stems from years of experience in recruiting donors for nonprofits that they’ve become deeply entrenched with over time. Knowledge about and genuine care for these charities gives our Communicators more ammunition to deliver powerful and emotion-evoking messages each time they speak with potential donors.
  • Acknowledge success: Besides the relationships we build with our nonprofit partners, another element that contributes to our Communicators success is a positive team environment. Our managing staff understands that the Communicators have a difficult job and that they deserve acknowledgement from us that their work is valued. Accordingly, we take the time to congratulate their continuous excellence in donor care. In addition, we ensure that our employees’ voices are heard and encourage an open-forum atmosphere in our offices that stimulates team building. It’s important to focus on maintaining a positive work atmosphere, especially in a high-stress occupation, so that employees sidestep burnout or frustration.

You can’t create a dedicated team of Communicators overnight or achieve fundraising success without the right practices. But, you can heed our advice and start down the road to stellar donor care.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.