Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Day of a Call Center Rep

A typical customer service rep receives more than 50 trouble shooting calls per day. Surprisingly, more than 60% of those reps say they’re not good at solving the customer’s issue*. That means that 3 of every 5 customer service reps say they don’t know how to do their job. Can you imagine a basketball team that 3 of the 5 players didn’t know how to play basketball?

Before we pass judgment on those reps, let’s step into their shoes. They receive 50+ calls a day from customers ranging from friendly to extremely irate. They have to toggle between the 6+ systems on their computer while on a call. They need a working knowledge of all the company’s products and services. Not to mention the 10 emails a day they receive with confusing information about the newest marketing promotions or incentives competitions. Then add in the pressure of having their multiple bosses listen to and evaluate their every word. And finally, they are hit with pressures to reduce their call time, increase customer satisfaction, and get more sales. Their reward for doing all this is $8 an hour.

Considering all that, it’s a wonder there are any good call center reps out there. To deal with these overwhelming expectations, many reps develop coping mechanisms to get through the day. One rep I sat with recently (we’ll call her Lisa) told me that, when she gets a call about a technical issue, she asks the customer to restart their system and then call back if it still doesn’t work. Lisa says that restarting does often solve the problem, but if it doesn’t “it’s another rep’s problem now.” Lisa doesn’t do this out of laziness; she does this out of fear and ignorance.

As a good manager, we know your mission is to help reps like Lisa learn how to do her job better, but time and your other responsibilities don’t allow you to do that as much as you would like. That’s why Weber Associates exists. To focus on your people, simplify their world down to the core responsibilities, and develop their skills on the job so they can begin to meet their seemingly overwhelming expectations.

Please call or email to learn how we can help all your Lisas. 614-222-2168 or zpavol@weberassoc.com

* Survey of 1200+ customer service reps

Grow revenue through consistent sales force execution

Despite best efforts to drive consistency, why do large disparities still exist between the best performers and low to medium performers?

In unpredictable economic times, it’s critical to focus on driving consistency and many companies are doing so by investing valuable time, resources, and budget dollars aimed at helping their agents consistently execute a successful sales process. Common steps include restructuring compensation plans, developing training, and even creating new internal support organizations. Despite the company’s efforts, sales agents are still executing inconsistently, which begs the question…

Why don’t agents consistently execute a successful sales process?

Hundred of interviews and observations with field sales agents and managers have produced insights surrounding the mystery, including:

> 67% of agents said they do not know HOW to execute the sales process

> 72% of agents said they find the process too complicated and unrealistic

> 95% of agents do not feel supported by the home office (tools, marketing, training, etc)

> 91% of field managers said they coach all agents, yet only 37% of agents said they received coaching from their managers

To overcome the challenge, we have 4 proven tips that drive consistent execution. When done correctly, these tips lift and maximize sales results in a short period of time:

1. Improve the sales process: Ensure your process is grounded in what your top performers actually do by spending time observing them in the field. Next, clarify expectations at each step for every key player. Finally, communicate the right level of detail so the process is clear and actionable

2. Simplify the agent’s world: Focus on developing only the activities and behaviors that will improve agent results. Then use existing technology to create marketing materials that are easy to locate, customize and use directly with customers at “the moment of truth”.

3. Enhance reporting: Customize performance reports so management can inspect an agent’s performance across process, measure progress toward sales goals and quickly identify gaps.

4. Facilitate culture change: Shift the organizational mindset from accommodation to accountability and develop managers to drive successful behaviors in the field.

To learn more, please go to www.weberassoc.com.

How the economy will affect the education industry

Last month alone, more than 160,000 jobs were cut in the United States, according to Forbes magazine. What are all those people going to do? Well, many plan to enroll in undergraduate and graduate programs to increase their marketability.

That is great news for universities, but a serious problem still remains. How do the universities get the students who enrolled to actually show up on campus (or online) and start paying tuition? This challenge is especially difficult for technical universities, which historically have “show rates” below 50%.

There are numerous root causes behind those low numbers, but the two primary reasons are the student’s financial concerns around paying for college and the need to continually sell the value of the university throughout the enroll-to-show process. This puts a lot of pressure on the university to have all the right pieces in place, which is easier said than done.

Because it is so difficult, many universities simply accept the steep decline in show rate and focus their energy on just getting more students to enroll. Those universities typically put a lot of focus and investment into developing marketing materials, which can be VERY expensive and rarely produces significant return on investment. While effective marketing is critical, the real challenge is creating an ideal prospective student experience that only comes from truly understanding their point of view.

To help with this challenge, below are five steps for implementing changes that have proven to significantly improve the prospective student experience and increase show rates:

  1. Marketing support: Develop targeted material that the frontline (anyone who has contact with prospective students) will actually use, that is targeted to the student’s needs, and that is proven to deliver results.
    Especially in today’s economy, potential students are extremely worried about their financial situation. The number one reason we hear students say they didn’t show up for the first day of class is they didn’t think they could afford it. Knowing that, marketing material needs to communicate how the university will help make the student’s dreams and goals come true and that the university will also help in every way they can to make college affordable. Unfortunately, many universities overwhelm prospective students with generic material that is rarely relevant to them and often confusing. This is not only an incredible waste of marketing budget, but it also turns off the prospect.

  1. Student segmentation: Help the frontline to identify the major student profiles based on actual enrollment and show rate trends and align the appropriate products, services and messaging according to those profile needs.
    Companies typically provide the frontline with segmentation material that is simply demographics and psychographics of potential student, which does not give a clear plan for catering to the segments’ needs. Instead, provide a student profile tool that is a clear and simple roadmap for tailoring the conversation to each students’ needs and interests. This will allow the frontline to quickly identify the student’s motivators and goals so they can show how the university will help to achieve them.

  1. Contact strategy: Diligently help students at every step of their journey, from the point of signing a contract to actually showing up for class.
    Often times, universities react to lack of responsiveness and missed deadlines from prospective students by increasing the pressure on them. This one size fit all approach leads to communications that are generic, confusing and even threatening to the prospective student. Instead, the communications that reach the prospective students need to be tailored to their specific needs and motivate them to want to act out of excitement, not out of fear. Every single point of contact should sell the value of the school and how it will help the prospective student attain their goals.

  1. Ideal process: Design the ‘ideal’ student experience or sales process in simple usable terms that the rest of the organization, including marketing, can easily align to.
    Most organizations have process documentation in place, but it is either too high level or too detailed and confusing to implement with any significant results. Instead, the process should be based on the observed best practices of your people and define each step in terms relevant to the frontline.

  1. Execution: Create an environment that leaves no room for inconsistent execution.
    Most companies have the correct strategies in place, but fail to execute on those strategies because they leave it up to the frontline to figure out how to pull them through into their everyday activities. Instead, companies need to create a coaching culture that focuses on developing key behaviors, constantly tracks both cause and effect results, and holds EVERYONE accountable. This will also help identify who the true top and bottom performers are so the school can ensure they have the right people in place.

If you’d like to learn more about this methodology or to discuss a particular challenge, contact Zach Pavol at zpavol@weberassoc.com or 614.222.2168.

Why Don’t My Call Center Agents Cross-Sell?

There are four main inhibitors that typically prevent service reps from becoming successful sales reps, but there is a way to address each one.

1. Service-oriented reps do not feel sales should be part of their job.

Solution: Communicate how selling can enhance service if you can offer something that the customer needs and/or wants.

2. The reps lack the skills and/or behaviors to sell.

Solution: Recruit and hire reps with sales competencies. Then train and coach the reps to successfully identify customer needs and match them to your products and services.

3. The reps view selling as not worth the effort

Solution: Put in place carefully constructed, consistent and fair incentive programs that not only rewards reps for getting results, but also displaying the correct sales behaviors.

4. The company makes selling difficult on the reps. (constant product changes, pressure to meet service levels, inconsistent QA evaluations, etc)

Solution: Simplify the expectation of the reps and develop on-the-job tools that make it easy for them to execute the “ideal call’

Pressure for Marketing ROI

According to an article, by Kenneth Hein at Brandweek magazine, marketers are feeling intense pressure to reduce their spending and prove ROI. “89 percent of marketers said they are under more intense scrutiny than ever before…”

How are marketers reacting?

“Sixty percent of CMO Council respondents said better segmentation, profiling and targeting strategies were the top ways they were trying to better engage core audiences…”

I think the answer is much simpler. Most, if not all, marketing organizations have all the right pieces in place already. The problem is they are not leveraging them to their full potential.

Below are 3 ways markers can capitalize on what they already do;

1. Leverage technology to create efficiencies. Everyone has a digital asset management (DAM) system, but few use it correctly and see the results they were promised when they purchased them. The problem is the companies that sell the DAM systems are not marketers. These companies know the technology side and leave it up to the marketers to figure out how use it effectively. Now is the time to figure out the DAM system! Make the user interface as easy to use as your external Web site; ensure only the newest and most used items are on the system; and create templates to enable quick customization and increase speed to market. If done correctly, you should see huge decreases in development and print costs.

2. Implement a discipled end-to-end process. Marketers hate to admit it, but they are guilty of creating silos. They have the branding department, creative department, copywriting department, legal department and so on. Then they engage the IT and training departments and it’s no wonder it takes so long to get stuff done. The problem is everyone works to improve their silo and rarely look across the entire process to find efficiencies. The solution is to sit down with someone from each of the silos and map out the entire process and then go back and look for redundancies and possible efficiencies. If done correctly, you should see a significant increase in speed to market.

3. Make your segmentation usable. Don’t waste time and money trying to come up with new segments just because you’re not seeing results from your current segments. The problem usually isn’t the segments; it’s the application of them. Customer segments are typically defined in marketing terms (i.e. demographics and psycho graphics), which mean nothing to the sales people who try to use them. The solution is to make the segments applicable to the sales force. First, give them clues and questions to ask to help identify which segment a customer is in. Second, provide examples of the typical needs of each segment and the products that match them. Finally, arm the sales force with clear and compelling value propositions for each of the products that tie back to the customer need. If done correctly, you should see increased sales results.

Essentially, I think the problem is not the strategy, but the execution. Do you agree?


As Featured On Ezine Articles

Cardholder Bill of Rights

New limits on interest rate hikes – Fewer penalty fees – More time to make payments

It is obvious that this change in regulation will affect cardholders, but what impact will it have on the customer service and retention departments of credit card companies?

For starters, it is likely to cause a huge spike in call volume into the customer support centers as cardholders exercise their newly given authority. Secondly, there will most likely be an increased number of customers looking to close their accounts because they feel their current terms are not agreeable or they’ve found a better option.

The challenge to customer service executives is to ensure that their contact centers are equipped to handle that increased call volume and their reps are ready to respond to the retention challenges coming their way.

In order to prepare your contact center for these changes, here are three recommendations that have worked successfully in similar situations:

1. Assess and plan: Establish a plan that’s based on end-user training needs

Start by identifying what the end-user needs to support the experience you want your customers to have

Focus on what is needed to execute “on-the-job,” not just in the classroom

Build a master training curriculum that can be scaled to meet multiple audiences’ needs

Time is of the essence, so assess rapidly to determine short term needs; don’t over-study it

2. Rapidly train: Build the foundational skills necessary for reps to make the ideal call

Create a Training Workshop with all content needed for a new hire which can be scaled for use with existing reps as well

Equip mangers with the knowledge and skills needed to support the ideal “call flow” and coach their reps on-the-job

Provide quick, on-the-job resources for all associates to use to guide customer calls through an ideal “call flow”

Rely on certified trainers to deliver the training

3. Drive intensive behavior change: Guarantee success by ensuring that reps perform at the most critical time

Develop coaching and management tools to simplify how to diagnose reps’ skill issues and prescribe solutions at different skill levels

Develop tools to hold each team accountable to key performance indicators

Assign change management experts to drive execution in targeted centers by providing actionable, real-time feedback based on live interactions

Continuously refine your process based on results and frontline feedback

If you’d like to schedule a 1-on-1 brainstorm session with me or one of our other call center experts to discuss how you can prepare your contact center for February 1st by applying this approach, please contact Zach Pavol at 614-222-2168.

In addition, if you have other advice to offer in order to help prepare for this monumental change in the industry, please feel free to comment below.