Dedication: The Differentiating Factor in Contact Center Success

World-class athletes don’t just make it to the Olympics over night. And no matter how well they train or how intrinsically talented they may be, the driving factor of their ultimate success is their unrelenting dedication to the sport.

And while there certainly aren’t any pole vaults or diving boards to be seen in your average contact center, there is a striking similarity between the demeanor of an athlete and a high-quality Communicator or supervisor. That is, the dedication that is put forth each and every day to improve and deliver only superior results.

If a supervisor is not dedicated to providing strong support for his or her Communicators then that particular contact center may not realize the degree of success they desire. And therein lies the issue; in order to act upon the desire for success contact center supervisors must be diligent in implementing an air-tight customer care strategy.

First off, supervisors must be dedicated to offering words of encouragement to their staff. For instance, they could make office-wide acknowledgements of Communicator achievements, showing employees that their supervisors possess compassion and recognize their hard work.

Additionally, supervisors must provide constructive criticism so that Communicators can continue to grow and improve in their roles, rather than reaching a plateau and simply providing satisfactory quality of customer care. Instead, every Communicator should be training to reach the level of expertise exuded by the most experienced team member. To that end, even the most talented Communicator must receive constructive criticism so they can become an outstanding employee and perhaps become a leader or mentor for other colleagues.

So it’s time to stop wishing for results, like higher contact center services ROI, and actively make the changes you want to achieve. Whether you’re an international track star or a contact center supervisor from Akron, Ohio—dedication is the name of the game.

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.

Are Your Agents on the Same Page?

Consumers turn to their favorite brands’ customer care hotlines for guidance, a quick solution and hopefully a pleasant, concise interaction. So, imagine the frustration they feel when prompted to speak with multiple different agents who all seem to provide conflicting answers.

If you’re shaking your head thinking that your contact center agents would never provide such poor service, it might be time for an audit, as recent research suggests this is a rather prevalent issue. In fact, a study conducted by CIO Insight revealed that the No. 1 pain point in customer care —according to 41 percent of 5,000 survey respondents—is different agents providing different answers.

This should be a major wake-up call for supervisors as this type of inconsistency can negatively impact your clients’ contact center services ROI, since frustrated consumers aren’t likely to return. While it’s true you can’t hold your agents’ hands or be there for every single customer care interaction that takes place, there are still major holes you can fill to prevent this issue.

So, how can you fix this problem and prevent it from happening in the future? Here are few ways:

  • Offer client-intensive training: Agents must know your brand like the backs of their hands. They must memorize even the most intricate details about product information and company background before they even think about getting on the phone with customers. In fact, your agents should become absolute experts before they officially represent your brand, as they will be on the front lines and the first point of contact for your company’s consumers.
  • Ensure consistency in ability: Agents must be trained to meet the performance of the strongest member on your team in terms of client knowledge, phone etiquette and problem solving techniques. When your agents can operate with a consistent level of proficiency your consumers won’t have to speak with multiple agents to receive an answer as all of your employees will be able to handle the inquiry on their own.
  • Ensure agents possess similar dispositions: It’s important to ensure that your agents exhibit maturity and dedication to their work. When hiring agents, supervisors must thoroughly vet their candidates to determine whether or not they will take the role seriously. Your agents must be diligent and enthusiastic across the board as one dispassionate agent can negatively impact your contact center services reputation.

It’s time to redirect your customers to agents with answers. Ensure your agents are knowledgeable and prepared to handle each call with self-assurance.

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.

Do Your Agents Pass the Stress Test?

Imagine for a moment you’re on the line with a taxing customer; at the same time you’re in the midst of searching for an answer for another caller all while your call queue is steadily building. There are so many tasks at hand you simply don’t know where to begin or how to prioritize. Sound stressful? This is a day in the life of the average contact center agent—it’s not exactly a piece of cake.

In fact, according to ICMI research 87 percent of contact center leaders acknowledge that their agents experience a moderate to high level of stress during the work day. As such, supervisors must make a priority of coaching their employees on how to handle daily stress. After all, when anyone is put under excessive pressure without escape they’re bound to fly off the handle. But, for contact center agents, bundling up their anxiety until they burst can result in serious repercussions and damage your organization’s quality of customer care.

For example, 65 percent of 1,000 consumers surveyed in a recent Parature report said they have cut ties with a business due to just one poor customer care interaction. So imagine the consequences that a strained and frustrated agent could produce for your contact center—increased customer churn, decreased ROI or detrimental reviews.

In order to sidestep stress straight from the beginning supervisors should train their agents how to manage a stressful phone call in the moment. Here are a few tips managers can pass on to their agents:

  • Make more connections: If you want to have a pleasant customer interaction, put forth a pleasant attitude. Express your understanding for the customer’s complaint or concern and then go the extra mile to initiate a real conversation, whether it’s about the weather or last night’s ball game. All too often, consumers forget the agent on the other end of the line is a human being—remind them of this and you may see a change in their attitude. And as a result, you can turn what started out as an anxiety-ridden phone call into an agreeable conversation, at the very least.
  • Do your homework: Ensure that you are extensively educated about the brands you’ll be representing on the phone. A difficult request will only become that much more impossible to handle if you aren’t well-informed on even the most niche facts about the business you’re handling. Simply put, a well prepared agent is a content agent.

Supervisors must ensure agents can pass the “stress test” before they go live on the phones, because even when stress levels mount it’s your quality of customer care will that will shine through and ultimately set your brand apart.

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.

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.

Must-Have Traits for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising

When it comes to fundraising for the nonprofit space, contact centers are often the muscle behind producing results. In other words, the success of fundraising campaigns truly rests upon the shoulders of contact center agents who represent the frontline for effectively communicating the urgency and worthiness of a cause.

For prospects to become donors, they must be induced to empathize with and understand a charity. As such, when agents reach out to potential contributors, they must be able to clearly articulate the nonprofit’s value to society.

When nonprofits leverage outbound contact center services to produce better fundraising results, they’re also putting their institution’s reputation in the hands of agents. Contact center supervisors must take this immense responsibility into consideration when selecting employees to handle donor solicitation for nonprofit organizations.

Therefore, you must ensure that your agents possess the following must-have traits to guarantee fundraising success:

  • Eloquence: Your prospects are most likely strapped for time—whether they’re rushing to work, caring for their children or tending to any number of tasks—so when they answer the phone, your agents must be able to efficiently deliver an articulate message and imbue it with a sense of urgency. A potential donor will quickly become disinterested if the agent’s story line is convoluted. Instead, agents must effectively convey the charity’s worthiness in a professional and compelling manner. It’s crucial for agents to relay a polite sense of immediacy to evoke emotion and empathy from donors.
  • Trustworthiness: Especially in fundraising, contact center agents must come across as trustworthy advocates for the causes they are promoting. Supervisors must ensure that their agents aren’t making a sales pitch when requesting donations, as this approach will only undermine their efforts. The best way to turn a potential donor into a recurring contributor is by gaining his or her trust. For instance, when conversing with new contacts, agents need to communicate the quantifiable difference a single donation will make to the charity.
  • Maturity: The agents who are chosen to handle outbound fundraising should be contact center veterans dedicated to their career and, therefore, most likely to communicate effectively. Mature, experienced employees will be more successful at commanding donors’ attention through their knowledge and professionalism.

Take a tender approach with your fundraising efforts and be sure that your staff has the right set of traits to produce significant contact center service ROI for nonprofit organizations.

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.

Are You Arming your Agents with Enough Information?

It’s no secret that consumers weigh their judgments on a company based on its success in providing optimal customer care. Today’s buyers are more impatient than those of the past; in fact, more than half of consumers hang up the phone after being on hold for less than one minute. As such, it’s imperative that agents step up to the plate to meet the demands of modern consumers. To do so, contact center supervisors must ensure their agents are sufficiently informed and trained; however, this best-practice is one that might be getting overlooked as of late.

In fact, a recent study revealed that the biggest pain point in the customer care industry is a lack of required knowledge among agents. The study showed that only 44 percent of firms have an agent-facing knowledge management solution, which helps them to better predict consumer behaviors and therefore handle them more efficiently. This is rather eye-opening, as contact center agents are at the crux of the success of customer care.

Serving up noteworthy customer care starts with strengthening your workforce. Here are the two areas that need TLC in order to improve your agents’ performance:

Recruitment: Take a good look at your candidate pool; you need to ensure you’re attracting the types of employees that will be loyal (that is, interested in long-term positions and growth opportunities), driven and dedicated to their role as an agent. Often, lending some improvement to your internal workplace culture can aid in reeling in the best-suited employees. For instance, offer more work-life balance and make maintaining positive team morale a priority. In doing so, you can hire more mature employees who are experienced and looking to make their role as an agent a career rather than just a stop along their occupational journey.

Training: It is vital to provide not only etiquette training but client specific training as well. Give your agents time to become experts before they get on the phones. While diving in headfirst might be a good idea for some jobs, the role of a contact center agent puts a company’s reputation on the line with each and every customer interaction. In this scenario, intensive training must take place to avoid unfavorable situations. Your agents should know everything about the companies they’re representing before they start dealing with real customer inquiries.

What more can you do to improve your quality of customer care? Keep reading our thoughts and advice, here.

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.

The Power of InfoCision’s ‘Family-oriented’ Atmosphere

At InfoCision, we take pride in our supportive, communicative workplace atmosphere. In fact, we often refer to our offices as having a rather ‘family-like’ feeling. However, these past few weeks proved that this familial environment is, actually, quite literal.

You know what they say; sometimes what you’re searching for is right under your nose. Well, that is just what happened at our Youngstown, Ohio contact center when two of our employees discovered that they were the people they’d been searching for all their lives.

Our dear employee La-Sonya Mitchell-Clark received the shock of her life when she recently found out that her birth mother, who she’d been hoping to contact for her whole life, was in fact Francine Simmons—another valued employee who has been working with us for nearly 11 years now. Imagine, Mitchell-Clark would walk into work and see Simmons, the receptionist, at the front desk; they’d offer a friendly “Hello” completely unaware that they were the missing link in each other’s lives for all this time.

What’s more, another of Simmons’ daughters Kamala Cummings works at this same location as well. She told a local news station, WYTV, “It’s just amazing that all this time we’re thinking about her and trying to find her and she was trying to find, us, too.”

Now, you might have already read this emotional, heartwarming story in Cosmo or People, but today I’d like to acknowledge this incredible event from our perspective here at InfoCision.

I’d like our readership to understand that these are very special people and the fact that they‘ve found one another is such a blessing. I was just as amazed as everyone else when I heard the news, and it’s been something special spending time with the ladies and realizing what this means for them. This experience is so touching and is surely something I’ll never forget.

What makes this story so moving for InfoCision is that our employees always comment on what a great place this is to work because of the people—specifically, the relationships they build and the special bonds they share after working together.

It’s quite incredible to now have had such an unbelievable story unfold, taking place under our very own roof. Right now, the team at InfoCision is focused on making sure we are being supportive and encouraging to the family as it has been, quite understandably, an overwhelming and emotional time.

At InfoCision, we’re very inspired by this touching story, which relays to us the power of human emotion and establishing person-to-person connections. Each day our contact center Communicators try their best to translate these fundamentals of the human experience into our quality of customer care best-practices. After all, you never know who is on the other end of the line. It could very well be possible that you could speak to someone—who you think is just a stranger—who could change your mind, your day or, perhaps, your life.

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.

Three Quick Ways to Boost Contact Center ROI

As a business leader who has  invested in an array of advanced contact center services, great importance weighs on seeing the ROI of these various tools. After all, how else can you measure profitable growth within your contact center?

The question remains, however, of how to actually measure this ROI within your facility. Enhancing contact center services ROI isn’t difficult so long as you have invested in a solution that is utilized by the right staff; boasts business intelligence; and ensures regulatory compliance.

To provide a more in depth explanation of these three points let’s deep dive into the functions of each:

  • Inbound and outbound call center technology: A best-in-class contact center will make use of advanced technology to ensure each inbound and outbound call is treated with the utmost care by the agent with the most refined skill-set. For instance, inbound call center tools such as skills-based routing make for the best customer experience as specific inquiries are automatically transferred to the agent with the most expertise in the subject matter. Therefore, a seamless interaction can occur and end on a positive note with a found solution.
  • Regulatory compliance: In addition to implementing the right technology, regulatory compliance is integral in providing contact center clients with the most reliable service possible. A leading contact center will assure its clients that they are 100 percent compliant with state and federal laws, so as to avoid unnecessary fines that legislative branches can incur on contact center services clients. This also means that your contact center services do not violate Do Not Call legislation—which in turn enhances the institution’s overall quality of services.
  • The right staff: Finally, the life-pulse of the contact center is of course the person who answers the phone and provides service to the customer. Without a mature, client-based trained and socially sensitive group of Communicators, a contact center’s quality of customer care can waver. Consumers value pleasant interactions, applied expertise and ability to solve problems quickly when speaking with contact center agents.

If you’re not impressed with your business’s contact center services ROI, it might be time to look for a call center that provides each of the above essential elements.

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.

It’s Not About How the Call Starts, But How it Finishes

It’s amazing how much technology the average Joe has available at his fingertips today. While it’s convenient that such advancements have mainstreamed through our society, many users are still unfamiliar with the functions of the products and services they implement each day (consider your grandfather with his new iPhone 6). For this reason, when something goes awry, a first step taken usually involves furiously dialing a customer service number.

So, how will your quality of customer service match up with an infuriated patron like this? Highly trained personnel and a comprehensive business strategy can help turn what started out as a customer service nightmare into a customer’s dream.

This is something that Forbes contributor Micah Solomon elaborated on by discussing the hiring strategies businesses should consider in order to provide superior customer service. It came down to trait-based hiring, he argued, which means selecting representatives who have the right personality characteristics necessary to deliver stellar customer service. This is a key component in contact center staffing.

We couldn’t agree more. As such, we place the utmost attention on training our Communicators, or our staff of representatives comprised of professionals who’ve made their role as a Communicator a career. Our employee retention speaks to our customer retention in that the quality of training our Communicators receive boasts for better customer service interactions. We assign our Communicators to clients based on strengths and expertise, and our staff is strategically trained in handling conflicts in a mature and professional manner.

Besides the value our Communicators add to the customer service experience, our business solutions prove that we are dedicated to serving best-in-class contact center services. For instance, take advantage of Quality Check to evaluate your company’s call center operations and provide data and strategic remedies to problems that may be occurring.

Perhaps grandpa will never understand how to FaceTime, but at least offer him unmatched quality of customer service. Click here to learn more about improving your customer service practices.

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 American Teleservices Association (ATA). 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 higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

 

Choosing a Contact Center Partner: Why Experience Counts

Understanding organizational limitations is a crucial requirement for a successful executive. If you’ve determined that your organization needs some outside assistance from a multichannel marketing partner to boost your contact center services ROI, you probably did so with the understanding that operating a call center is not among your core competencies.

You won’t have any shortage of options out there as you look for potential partner organizations: So how do you make a decision? As in any business relationship, vetting the vendor to determine how successful it’s been previously is always a good idea.

In the contact center space in particular, taking a close look at an organization’s history is crucial; the industry has and will continue to evolve quickly, so it’s important to know that a potential partner has been able to successfully adjust to new trends and technologies through the years.

In addition to adjusting to the industry as a whole, contact center services vendors with a history have had time to refine their hiring, training and quality assurance best practices. For instance, InfoCision provides exceptional Communicators—rather than merely call center representatives. These professionals are more than agents; they become true brand ambassadors for your business after receiving several months of training on your specific messaging. In other words, Communicators feel more like your own employees rather than outsourced workers.

Now you may be asking: “Does experience alone ensure a partner will meet my needs?” The answer is no, but an experienced partner with a proven track record of excellence and success guarantees a partner will do right by your organization. So be sure to do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.

If you’re interested in learning more about InfoCision’s history, click here.

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 American Teleservices Association (ATA). 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 higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.