Work at Home – Flexibility in the Contact Center Space

Providing flexibility for a workforce is paramount to the long-term satisfaction of many employees in today’s job market. At InfoCision, we have an entire program that offers our contact center staff the option to work from the convenience of their home in a virtual call center environment.

Our staff involved in this unique program receive their initial training in a web-based environment and learn to make the same calls as our traditional agents, just from the comfort of their own homes. This provides an opportunity for people who may not be able to work outside the home otherwise. It also delivers other benefits, like not wasting time commuting back and forth to work, not having a dress code to follow, and saving money on gas and vehicle maintenance. 

Having a work at home program not only encourages employee satisfaction, but also ensures that we have the flexibility and capacity to meet staffing requirements, enabling us to provide excellent customer service and unparalleled ROI. 

 

How to Prevent Your Communicators From Choking Under Pressure

When there is a lot at stake, many professionals, including athletes, singers, and politicians, may face the fear of choking under pressure. Whether it’s your Olympic career, your record deal or your candidacy on the line, it becomes difficult to perform at your highest potential when the stress is insurmountable.

In the same vein, Communicators in the contact center space regularly face this challenge, as they are continuously put in high stress situations. After all, often times consumers dial into your customer care hotline because they are experiencing an issue with a product or service and need quick answers to their questions. And because each customer care interaction is unique due to the caller’s dilemma, personality and urgency, Communicators must be prepared to respond in a calm, professional manner despite the current circumstances.

What’s more, when a Communicator is already feeling the pressure rising during a particularly difficult situation, holding his or her focus can become even more challenging when outside distractions are added to the mix. For instance, many contact centers employ advanced software that helps Communicators understand information about their caller’s transactional history, personal information and demographics. However, handling a complicated phone call and absorbing the information that’s being constantly updated on the computer screen can result in an overwhelming moment.

Contact center supervisors must ensure they are doing all that they can train their employees on how to deal with stressful situations on-the-fly. After all, the interaction is happening in real-time so the ability to think on your feet is paramount to a Communicators success.

Here are a few tips to help Communicators develop quicker reflexes and stronger in-the-moment problem solving skills:

  • Role play: Pair experienced Communicators or supervisors with colleagues who are struggling and conduct mock customer care interactions. Practice dealing with unusual situations, unpleasant callers as well as handling multiple tasks at once with the goal of remaining calm and present.
  • Provide stress management: Coach your Communicators how to manage anxiety when they are overwhelmed. Oftentimes, the best remedies for stress come from outside improvements—like attitude or health and wellness. Additionally, provide continuous support and guidance on how keep calm during an overwhelming situation. For instance, listen intently rather than speak over the customer in a frantic attempt to handle the problem.

When you can help your Communicators improve their quality of customer best practices, they can gain the confidence they need to deliver superior results, even in the most trying situations.

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.

What Makes Your Employees Engaged and Satisfied?

Over the past few weeks, Cleveland has been abuzz with talk about LeBron James and the future of the Cavaliers. James recently made headlines when he declined his player option and became a free agent before signing a new two-year deal that also contains an option for 2016.

Why was this announcement significant? James essentially told the Cavaliers that he’s happy to finish his career in Cleveland but that the organization needs to hold up its end of the bargain by giving him the resources he needs to win (like a strong supporting cast). It’s safe to say James will likely undergo the same process of re-evaluating his situation next year as well.

As the Cavaliers are learning, it’s not enough to simply attract top talent to your organization. You have to keep employees satisfied, too, if you want to avoid the high costs of employee turnover. Aside from monetary cost, high employee turnover is also terrible for morale and employees may share damaging reviews on social media or company review websites.

So, what’s the secret to making sure your employees stick around for the long haul? The answer, as evidenced in a recent benchmark report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on happiness and engagement in the workplace, ultimately boils down to respect and trust (above even benefits and compensation). According to the study, 72 percent of respondents indicated that respectful treatment of employees at all levels is the most important overarching factor for determining a happy work environment, with trust between employees and senior managers coming in second at 64 percent.

Other top factors, aside from those related to job security or finances, include the relationship with immediate supervisors (58 percent), opportunities to leverage skills and abilities in the workplace (58 percent) and having an immediate supervisor’s respect for your ideas (56 percent).

So ask yourself: What makes your employees satisfied and engaged? Are you providing all of the necessary ingredients to produce the best quality of customer care? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach to employee happiness.

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 Great Ideas for Team Building

A healthy company has numerous positive characteristics, all which help contribute to its overall success. One important concept that is sometimes overlooked, however, is the power and importance of a close-knit team of employees. When co-workers share a genuine connection, they are happier in the office and more motivated to support colleagues both inside and outside of the workplace. That closeness manifests itself by boosting your bottom line, helping with employee retention and even improving your quality of customer service, as happier workers are generally more patient and helpful.

At InfoCision, we strive to create an atmosphere where people enjoy coming to work every day. Building that kind of camaraderie takes work, but it absolutely possible if you are committed. Here are three great ways to get started:

1. Do Something Charitable

Working together to give back to the community or raise money for a good cause is a terrific way to bring people together and help them get to know each other better. For instance, recently hundreds of InfoCision employees gathered outside our corporate offices to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge and raise money for ALS research. InfoCision employees across Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania took part in the event, helping raise more than $10,000 for the ALS Association. Whether it is a clothing drive, helping out at a soup kitchen or running a 5k for a worthy cause, charity work is a wonderful bonding experience.

2. Engage in Friendly Competition

It is always fun to find out who is the table tennis, bowler or card player in the office. If you want to be truly ambitious, you could even take an afternoon off to go paintballing. Activities like these help employees spend time together outside the office in a natural setting. Of course, you never want to see anybody take these games too seriously, so just make sure everybody knows beforehand that you are playing just for fun.

3. Provide One-on-One Mentoring Opportunities

Every employee needs guidance from his or her boss and clear expectations from upper management to perform optimally. But within a department, one-on-one mentoring between colleagues can be valuable as well. This kind of relationship bonds these two workers and provides the new employee with someone he or she knows is reliable enough to be leaned on in the first few weeks, which can be stressful. Mentoring also gives the new hire a realistic look at what his or her day-to-day responsibilities will be (after all, no one is going to be able to explain the job better than somebody who has done it already).

The most successful organizations work hard to facilitate positive employee relationships that create an environment conducive to productivity and collaboration. But what team building activities your business chooses is not as important as making sure you do something. Planning these kinds of events also shows employees that upper management cares about its workers, which helps build trust and teamwork between those two groups.

Do you have any great ideas for team building? Please let us know in the comment section below!