Author: MichaelCCS

We help businesses grow customers and drive repeat revenue each month. In addition, we offer Worldwide Contact Center consulting and management providing assessment, planning, and implementation services to optimize mission-critical resources – people, process, and technology. Artificial Intelligence expertise helping with planning, selection and implementation to drive greater efficiency.  Strategic and tactical goal development and implementation for Direct to Consumer, Marketing and Sales.  Hiring, Training and key employee reviews to ensure teams are staffed with high performing individuals.  Hands on management of BPO/ In-House/Near Shore and Off Shore Call Center Operations including Call Center vendor selection and management. Assistance with site location, market analysis, contract negotiations, RFP preparation, and C-level presentations.  Consultant for global professional services firms including AlphaSights, Gersen Lehrman Group, and Guide Point Advisors consulting for international firms such as McKinsey and Company and Boston Consulting Group plus Venture Capital and Private Equity firms covering Contact Center Technology, Compliance and Data Security to drive improved Business Performance and decision making.

How to really know your Customer’s Experience

Know your customers

I had an issue with one of my home service providers and I called their Customer Service line for help. This is a National company with a central call center. I waited 49 minutes on hold before hanging up. No messaging on hold. Just music. No options for a callback, leave a message, or any other option that might have made me feel less frustrated.

I called the corporate office number that I found on Google, since it was not listed on the company Web site (why are they hiding?) and followed the IVR instruction to press “0” for the Operator to get some direction. Each time I pressed “0” the system hung up on me. I tried 3 times. As a consultant who works to fix broken Customer Service systems and processes like this, I was as intrigued as I was frustrated.

Need help? Chat NOW

Chat is offered on the Web site when logging into your account so I gave that a try. It took almost 2 minutes for the Chat session to boot up and actually have a representative say “hello.” This was after I completed a 5 question Chat Start Box. Once online, I quickly asked my question and, you might have guessed, I was told to call Customer Service. Even after explaining the long hold, my simple need for help, the only option offered by the Chat agent was to call CS. Goodbye CSAT and NPS!

Next stop was going into Private Detective mode and looking up corporate executives online, including the President of the Division, then calling back the corporate number, getting to the corporate phone directory and using names to connect to their voice mail and leaving a messages for two of them. I received a call back by a Regional Director a little over an hour after leaving a message for the President.

I’m sure most of you reading this have gone through similar experiences. It is simply unacceptable and a sure indicator of management issues, lack of planning, improper use of technology, and a host of other issues that come from a weak effort to manage customers, the lifeblood of every company.

Unfortunately, these types of issues are very common no matter how successful or large a company may be.  Customer retention is art and science. For such flagrant breakdowns to be happening in 2019 with all we know about how to serve customers, all the technology tools we have at our disposal, and all the talk of Customer Experience, is surprising to say the least.

How can company leaders can find issues like these before customers have to suffer through them? Use the company’s Customer Contact channels every day.

Call your Customer Service line and use your Chat/Text/Email and even snail mail functions regularly. Look at everything from a Customer’s point of view. Watch for speed of response; length of hold-time; is the IVR helpful? How knowledgeable are the representatives who answer; how hard it is to use each function? Is your Web site helpful or complicated? Can customers easily reach you if they aren’t ultimately satisfied?  So many Sr. Leaders operate as if the last thing they want to do is hear from an unhappy customer. When that should be first on your list every day.

Well, you say, “Mike, I pay my Management team well to do all of this work. What’s the point of having a staff if I have to do it?” I understand your point, but I would ask you how much better would your management team do if they knew you might be calling, texting, chatting and contacting their departments each day?

Unless you are the only company in the world that provides your product or service and you don’t have to worry about losing paying customers, you must get involved on a micro-level. And, you should be preaching and advocating for this level of involvement and ownership to your entire staff. Trust your management team, but verify firsthand that your Customer Service is absolutely the best it can be every day.

At your service,

Mike

 

 

Advertisements

Huddle the Team for better performance

Low angle view looking up at a team huddle

I urge every business which operates with inside sales and service teams, especially in Contact Center settings, to make sure that whoever is leading those teams daily, supervisors, managers, or team leads, is having a daily Team Huddle at the start of each shift.

Companies that support, encourage and hold Team Huddles correctly, end up with better team performance over time. But, invariably, team huddles can turn into mundane, “Leadership said we have to do this every day,” uninspired wastes of precious time, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish with a start of shift Team Huddle.

To those who run daily team huddles, I have this advice:

Ask yourself the important question, “Who is talking more at my Team Huddle? ME or my Team members?

Your Team members should be doing most of the talking and most people should be encouraged to participate. Any participation is good. Short and to the point works well.

Huddles are not a great time for a speech, but, if you are going to give a speech, make it a motivational talk. The idea of a daily, start of shift huddle is to motivate, encourage and energize. This is not the format for long discussions about any topic. Save housekeeping and too much detail about numbers for longer Team meetings.

You can talk about KPI goals for the day but getting into a detailed discussion of KPIs is not what Huddles are for.

What is the best use of the daily huddle? The huddle is your pre-game opportunity to get people fired up for the day’s performance in about 5 minutes! A chance to rally your team to work individually and as one cohesive unit to meet today’s team objectives.

Talk about things like getting to the top of the department’s Team Leader Board; Point out your top performers and challenge others to match or beat them today; Ask your top performers to share some brief success tips and challenge them to do better.

Get the team talking about what they are going to accomplish today individually and as a group!

If today falls on the last week of the month or quarter, will the team set records or miss goals?

Where will your team end up as a business within the business? The numbers are a result of preparation and execution. If your team is trained and prepared properly to do the job, then you should focus on inspiring their execution of the work they’ve been trained to do.  Rather than focusing on the numbers so much, focus on motivation, energy and effort.

If folks don’t leave your huddle ready to jump on the phone or into the project and make a difference, it’s not been worth the effort.  If their first thought is, “glad that is over, time to get a coffee,” your huddle has failed.

Use this opportunity to engage your team member’s competitive and winning spirit!

Make a difference today!!

Targeting robocalls

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

In rare, bipartisan agreement in Washington, DC, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would toughen penalties for telephone scammers, mandate call authentication technology and address delays in criminal prosecution of robocallers.

read more in the Atlanta Business Chronicle

In spite of numerous and aggressive efforts to block and punish abusive robocallers, the FTC reports that consumers are getting more and more unsolicited robocalls.

Why? Technology is the answer. Companies are using autodialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute for an incredibly low cost. The companies that use this technology don’t bother to screen for numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry. If a company doesn’t care about obeying the law, you can be sure they’re trying to scam you.

What should you do if you get a robocall?

  • Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
  • Report your experience to the FTC online at or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

A new window into the very soul of your Customers and Business

man with steel artificial arm sitting in front of white table

I’ve previously written about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to improve the quality and accuracy of customer interactions within companies of all sizes. Read more here.

As AI and machine learning gain more widespread understanding, development advances, and use, through a range of business applications, I’m particularly intrigued and interested in the use of Speech and Text analytics applications to deliver previously unknown insights into the daily interactions between customers and sales and service representatives. This new technology will provide companies that care a much more granular, 3-D view into the behaviors of their customers, their workers, and their business model.

We’ve enjoyed call audio recording for a long time but, listening to the calls has been limited by the cost of hiring enough people to listen to enough calls to provide meaningful data. So, only a portion of calls were ever reviewed and scored by human Quality Analysts. In my experience, this feedback has always been very useful and valuable in correcting performance and gaining new insights into both our customers and agents. We just couldn’t get enough of it fast enough. For the most part, we were reviewing historical data. AI offers real time data and alerts to aid in managing performance while it is happening rather than trying to go back and fix things that happened already.

With AI based applications, used properly, businesses can analyze EVERY call and text-based interaction from channels like Chat, email and Social media. Call audio is transcribed and analyzed along with other text-based interactions and the results area a treasure trove of manageable data and information being delivered in actionable formats in real time and near real time.

This will transform the way we manage businesses because we will have first-hand knowledge of what customers and representatives are really saying, and, in what context they are saying these things.

Even after direct interactions with your company channels, AI can track customer actions which will give business leaders unprecedented intelligence. For example, if a customer ends a call with your representative and immediately takes to Twitter and  mentions your company, AI tools will allow leaders to be alerted on their smartphone, so they can act more quickly to counteract negative comments or promote positive comments.

Over the years, so many business leaders have expressed their desire to me to know more about their company’s overall performance. Reading daily tallies of call reason and result codes never really delivered a full view. But, AI combined with Speech analytics and Machine Learning will now give business leaders real “eyes and ears” in virtually every place your customer lives.

Workers who interact with customers will have more information about the customer at their fingertips, but will also be under increasing scrutiny because every contact will be recorded, transcribed, reviewed and reported upon.

How much of these new data insights will  be put to good use by businesses will remain to be seen. We have the tools to gather these data and smart business leaders should be researching and reviewing options with vigor.  Using this new technology successfully is another topic.

Want to know more about the options for Speech and Text Analytics? Contact me to schedule a call. You will be amazed at what you can learn.

Mike

Job Seekers – Beware spam viruses

person sunglasses dark hat

Job seekers across the world who utilize any online services for posting resumes and contact information are at great risk for being targets of computer viruses delivered via email.

When a person is aggressively looking for work, any email that comes in which has the appearance of a job opportunity and/or interest from a potential employer or recruiter, is usually opened immediately with great anticipation.

Files titled as Job descriptions, Job application instructions or Link to our Human Resources department, either linked or attached to the email, can easily contain malicious viruses that could quickly put you out of the job search business by putting your computer out of service.

Scammers and spammers who have malicious intent are very good at preying on job hunters and they writing engaging emails that push you to open attached files right away. I’ve found however, that, these emails usually include some tell-tale signs that show they are not legitimate and are fairly easy to spot.

Start with, who is the email from? Most companies use an email address that uses the company name or some form of a real company name. Emailers who use @gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, generally indicate it might be a fake, or, at least not from a legitimate company representative.

Who is the person sending the email? Does the sender’s name match the name in the email address? If the email is signed by Joe but the “from” email address is katy123@AOL, you might be looking at a fake email.

Does the sender use a professional format for the email or does it seem very generic? If the subject line says something like, “you’d be a perfect fit for this job,” but the email asks you to send a resume, it means they haven’t seen your resume, they have no idea if you are qualified at all, and this is likely a spam email which might contain a virus.

Misspelled words and grammatical errors are common mistakes made by these spammers since many cyber criminals are located outside of the U.S.

With your personal information out on the Web, you are at extra risk, so use extra precaution when opening email and opening files contained in them.

Below is an actual sample of a real spam email. Notice the spelling and grammatical errors -signs of a fake email. But, if you read it quickly and click on the link, you could miss these mistakes and open a virus.


Good day, Michael Schiano.

 

We came across your resume on one of the job search resources. As if right now, we have a few open positions to offer. If you have an interest, we have provided all the detailed information needed with the file attached.

 

Should you be interested this position, please reply to the our HR. 

Best Regards!


 

Be safe…do good work!

Mike

FCC hands down $120 million fine against serial robocaller

The fine represents the largest forfeiture ever handed down by the agency

The FCC has handed down a record $120 million fine against Adrian Abramovich for conducting a massive robocall operation that sought to sell timeshares and travel packages.

Over a three-month period, the FCC says that Abramovich made nearly 100 million spoofed robocalls. The agency stated that the calls were in direct violation of the Caller ID Act, which prohibits the falsification of ID information when it is intended to defraud or harm call recipients.

Read the entire story 

MikeaboutMoney.com Daily

More to Sell a House

We know it costs more to buy a house these days, but it also costs more to sell one. An analysis by Zillow.com and Thumbtack.com puts the average cost at just over 18 thousand dollars (depending on the selling price). Those costs including paying a selling agent, filing fees, and assorted repairs and improvements.

Better Mondays = Better Performance!

When I start working with Contact Center owners, I always tell them I’ll be at the site 

better call center performance

bright and early on Monday morning. I usually get responses like, “…well, Monday’s aren’t the best day to visit because everyone is just getting back from the weekend and things are a little slow. ”Why don’t you start on Tuesday?”

Yikes! no wonder they are calling me for help to boost their call center’s performance. Top Call Center Operators that I’ve worked with make it a point to hit the ground running on Monday mornings. There is not warm up or ramp up time in the Customer Experience industry where your company and brand (or your client’s company and brand if you are a BPO), are as good as your last call.

As a Call Center leader, do you allow your team to leisurely wander into the office, grab some coffee, talk about the games this past weekend, and, eventually get around to thinking about planning for their day? Monday or any other day of the week?

A word to front line leadership. If you want to be a successful Call Center Leader, grow in your career, break records and develop a loyal and high performing team while and separating yourself from the pack, one simple change can propel you way ahead. Be ready to go on Monday Morning. You should be rehearsing the plan you’ve created on Sunday night in your mind as you drive into the office. In fact, some top operators are holding conference calls with their team on the way in.

If you are a front line Supervisor, Manager or Director, if you get to work wondering what you are going to do on Monday morning, you’ve missed it completely. And, holding a staff meeting on Monday morning without an agenda and no goals does not count. Staff meetings on Mondays often are used to plan the week. By Noon the plan is getting rolled out to the floor. Too late to have a positive impact on Monday’s performance, and possibly, the week’s performance.

If you need a planning meeting, have it on Friday afternoon (another very valuable time period that is often wasted – more on that in a future post). Plan for next week so everyone comes in Monday morning with a game plan and ready to go. 

Some of you may be thinking, “Wait Mike, I don’t get paid for Sunday night work.” I say, “oh yes you do! You get paid to bring value to the company and to your team. And that means you plan your work in advance so you have a plan and a direction the minute you are in the building.”

If you want to be paid only for the time you spend clocked in, I’m sure your company has some agent seats they need to fill with good people like you. However, once you accepted a leadership position, you chose a different path. You have a direct stake in the success of the company. You are now a role model. You set the tone, the pace and the energy level for your responsible area. Whether it’s a team of 12 agents or a department of 100, you are in control of the performance and success levels which are directly impacted by the preparation you bring to the job each day.

Those around you, direct reports, Sr. Leaders and Colleagues will see the energy and seriousness you bring to the job. This is not a make it up as you go industry and when others see your approach they will know what you expect and will follow your lead. If not, you’ll have a place to start as a mentor and leader.

Let’s all plan to bring our A-game to Monday Mornings and watch the performance needle move.

100k and a powerful ad channel can change the world

Accordi1464221_6i5oC4RTzMskcVW2HmfX3nfZ5KLMNO.smallng to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Russian agents spent $100,000 to buy ads on Facebook which likely played a major part in changing the future of the United States and of the World.

While I do not agree in any way with allowing foreign powers to play a hand in manipulating our elections, as a business leader, I am very interested in the results that were achieved with this campaign. One hundred thousand dollars is a relatively small ad spend considering the goal of the campaign was to sway a large number of American voters in multiple states. But, the results give insight into the power of digital advertising and the exponential effect of using social media to effect change in consumer behavior.

Most businesses have only dipped a toe into social media as a marketing channel. While not easy to do well, those businesses who continue to improve their understanding and use of  digital marketing and advertising are seeing positive results and are growing their businesses.

Unlike traditional media, digital is still a regularly changing medium and what works today may not work next month. Digital media requires an investment of more than ad dollars. It takes a commitment to learning and testing to find success. But it is definitely worth the effort.

When your business is ready to change the world with digital marketing and advertising, call MICHAEL CCS.

 

 

 

 

Full Service Contact Center Services available from MICHAEL CCS

MICHAEL Customer Contact Service has 50 seats available staffed with well trained, customer service, sales followup and customer retention agents. We’ve located these FTE’s in an excellent Midwest location with fully redundant service in a state of the art facility offering complete Omni-channel services.

Should you need to implement a program on a short timetable and need fast turnaround with high quality agents, call me and let’s discuss your project.

We survived Hurricane Irma and are open for business.