Three Ways Your Agents View Your Call Center

Mediocre management looks at contact centers through their own prisms.  They see their world as one that can be impacted based on their decisions.  They make decisions on seating arrangements, project assignments, compensation, policies and procedures, contests, etc, based on their assessments.

Agents understand that management does this, and it bothers them immeasurably.  In Great Call Center Manager cover 207x300 Three Ways Your Agents View Your Call Centerlunch meetings, break conversations and after work, agents talk to one another about how management makes decisions without bringing agents in the loop.  In essence, management “makes decisions without consulting us on what is really going on.”

So, how do your agents view your contact center?  And, is it critical to you that your company recognize what your agents (your audience) are thinking?  And, how can you make a difference once you know what they are thinking?

Agents desire extensive training and ongoing training

New hire training, Product training, sales training, etc.  One of the questions potential new hires ask in interviews is whether there is training for the position.  If so, is it paid, and how long does it last. The answers to those questions provide a big commentary on the company.  Contact Centers that provide little or no training, or don’t pay their agents to go through training, tend to not be worthy of a quality agent’s time and effort. In addition, the best contact center not only trains, but provides residual training to increase an agent’s skill level.

Agents hope management will think about problems before acting

Management can sometimes find itself reacting to issues and concerns without first taking the time to listen completely to what those issues and concerns are, and how best to handle them.  For instance, agents tend to use their supervisors to vent, but they don’t want any action taken.  Oftentimes, the supervisor should take a step back and say “Is this something you want me to act upon?”

Agents want a management team that is empathetic and fair

This is another subjective wish, but certainly one that holds validity.  What does “fair” mean to the agent?  Usually, it revolves around making decisions involving two or more agents.  In many roundtables, agents will speak of how they left organizations because management wasn’t fair to agents as a whole, or played favorites with one agent over another.  In addition, being empathetic compensates for making a decision that the agent may not deem fair.  So, by recognizing the hardships your decision creates, it can serve as a fair play and keep the agent motivated to perform.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Creating An Amazing Call Center Culture

Don’t just know the concepts: Execute them!

Most call center managers understand the concepts of what they must accomplish.  They recognize the reasons why agents don’t perform to standards.  They are able to articulate the theories as to what must be done to create opportunities.  Yet, due to dozens of factors, those same managers don’t have the time, energy or ability to take these concepts and bring them to fruition.  They know the concepts.  They have no ability to execute the actions.

Call center management is principally a compilation of theories and practicality.  Whether you supervise five agents or 205 agents, the ebb and flow of daily operations involves a little bit of theory and quite a bit of implementation. Twenty-five percent of a world class supervisor’s job is based on understanding the philosophies and theoretical foundation of management.  This 25% involves spending time away from the main floor thinking about the job, and about ways to increase performance levels; 75% of the job is doing: rolling up the sleeves and taking action by managing the agents who work the front lines.  A call center supervisor can become quite polished at being great at the 25% of the job.  But the supervisor will win or lose based on his ability to perform the 75% of his job at a spectacular pace.

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About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Building Amazing Call Center Communication Culture

The foundation of any call center operation begins and ends with the establishment and execution of a first-rate communication culture.  A world class, phenomenal communication culture will bring your call center the best of success.

The reasons why call centers falter are not because the agents are not motivated, or because the supervisors are green, or because the compensation plan isn’t proper.  Those Great Call Center Manager cover 207x300 Building Amazing Call Center Communication Cultureare the many effects from a particular cause.  That cause is a fundamental lack of communication culture within the call center.

Management should understand that a call center is a unique beast. A call center’s whole basis of functioning properly revolves upon creating culture and building communication where agents and their telephones meet.

Identify and attack the root problems that are rocking the structure.

The lack of a strategic communication culture in the call center is the root problem.  It involves every aspect of management and agent performance.  Imagine communication culture as an overriding tenet of philosophies and practices that forms the foundation for everything that happens in the call center.  It encompasses the structure of managing agents and supervisors on a daily basis; it encapsulates sales and customer service performance; it builds opportunities for feedback and growth; it overcomes roadblocks which invariably arise on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis. All that operates in the call center begins and functions through communication culture.

There is no question that every call center, by nature, has some form of communication culture.  Most probably, it is not the culture management wants.  Or it may be the culture they want but not the culture they need.  Management at all levels must recognize that a communication culture of some type exists in the call center today.  The objective is to turn that communication culture into a world class dynamic.

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About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Your Call Center Requires A Better Communication Culture

The foundation of any call center operation begins and ends with the establishment and execution of a first-rate communication culture.

A world-class communication culture will bring your call center the best of success, specifically the main floor; the place where your agents conduct their daily work. The reasons why call centers falter are not because the agents are not motivated, or because the supervisors are green, or because the compensation plan isn’t proper. Those are the effects from a particular cause. That cause is a fundamental lack of communication culture within the call center.

Communication culture involves every aspect of management and agent performance.  Imagine communication culture as an overriding tenet of philosophies and practices that forms the foundation for everything that happens in the call center. It structures agents and supervisors on a daily basis; it builds sales and customer service performance; it compels opportunities for feedback and growth; it overcomes roadblocks that invariably arise on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis.

Everything that operates in the call center begins and functions through communication culture. There is no question that every call center has some form of communication culture. Most probably, it’s not the culture management wants. Or it may be the culture they want but not the culture they need. Management must recognize that a communication culture of some type exists in the call center today. The objective is to turn that communication culture into a world class dynamic.

Question:  What type of communication culture do you have in your contact center?  And, how would you like it to be different?

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and re-making your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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The Key Program To Convert Leads To Clients

The key program is to create the program. Converting leads to clients is based on outbound, plus, multiple touches using multiple channels in a coordinated approach to drive revenue and profits. For instance, when your company has multiple offers you will sell more leads. It is better to attract a percentage of sales across all offers, then nothing at all. Multiple offers provide the lead with more choices. And, often, they will buy, they just require the right offer to do so. Here are some examples below.

Build a program (selling a product or targeting a group) Find those groups of leads that need to touched, and say hello! Cook your data often. Don’t let the lead get too old

Target your customers with “multiple touches” to drive retention. How often do you want to nurture their interest in your company? Don’t talk to them once to twice and move on

Use channels to communicate. What different channels (all priced affordably) work for you? Email, direct mail, telephone, text messaging, etc.

Develop creative. Brochure, letters, scripts, postcards, etc.

Build an action/offer program that motivates action. Very important to buy their behavior by enticing their interest

Give them multiple offers and make it easy for them to say “yes” Outline the campaign duration. How long does each campaign run?

Follow up. Who is going to ensure your lead is touched enough times to justify whether it is a buying lead or an inquiring lead? Marketing? Data Analyst? Inside Sales Manager?

There is so much that goes into creating the right package to convert your leads into clients.  What is the most important take-away? The key in the process is recognizing that running radio and TV and then hoping your inside team can sell is not a plan. You may convert a fraction on the first call; what you do with the outbound follow-up makes the biggest difference for your campaign. The lead needs to be nurtured by your organization to convert more of them to customers. Outbound is everything. The offers are everything. How you use offers to the customer, and how you manage your inside sales group, is very important. Attracting, say, 1,000 leads each month, selling 10% and wasting 900 leads from your advertising dollars, is a path you do not want to take. Especially, when there is another 20% or 40% out there, for the taking.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and re-making your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Inside Sales Is Better With Direct Marketing

An inside sales agents’ job is to sell. They should be focused, virtually the whole time, on dialing the telephone, taking calls, returning e-mails, saving lost sales, and finding referrals.

Often times in call center work it is easy to parallel the management of inside sales reps with the supervision of other employees in other lines of business. Call Center Today consultants like to say an airline pilot flies planes and does not also serve drinks and pass out pillows, although on many smaller airlines and private planes they do stack the luggage before take-off. Airline pilots fly planes. And, inside sales agents should sell.

What we see most often is a request by management to have inside sales agents multitask. This extends to the point where both the company and the inside sales agent treat selling to prospects and customers as a secondary element to the job. Who has time to sell when there is paperwork to push and other administrative tasks to administer?

When inside sales agents are distracted the only entity that truly loses is the company. Instead of driving more revenue, saving more customers from cancelling, and cross-selling more products, inside sales agents do non-productive minutiae that could be better managed by other personnel. The company is paying a set amount of money (hourly or salary) for the hours the agent is performing, but the company is not gaining the level of sales and revenue they should be enjoying to grow their business during those set hours. The company is defeating itself.

An inside sales agents’ job is to sell. They should be focused, virtually the whole time, on dialing the telephone, taking calls, returning e-mails, saving lost sales, and finding referrals. When you have your inside sales agents spend too much time on wrap, or pushing papers, you miss out on maximizing employees in your company who are charged to sell for your company.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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2 Steps To Killing Sales On The Phone

As we have undoubtedly discovered, in the course of a telephone sales presentation there are many roads for the TSR and the customer to embark upon.  These roads are very similar to the roads which each of us take each day in the performance of our daily activities.  From the moment a person awakes in the morning until that person lays down to sleep at night, the whole day is full of roads that incorporate twists, turns, obstacles and barriers.

Encounters that start at one level eventually conclude at another, but the path we take on a daily basis is never consistent or even as we envisioned it would be.  The course of a telephone sales presentation mimics the above in every way.  From the moment a TSR dials the telephone, through the instant of communication and until the telephone call is terminated, every step of the way is charted through multiple roads, full of twists, turns, obstacles and barriers.  These roads are called telephone presentation levels, because each step in a telephone sales presentation moves that call forward and backward through multiple presentation levels.  Presentation levels form the path that a TSR takes to complete his sale.

An outstanding telephone sales presentation is very much similar to a great race through a maze.  If the TSR is good at his job he will be able to figure out what he wants to accomplish and where he needs to go, both prior to the beginning of the telephone presentation and then through its inception and on to its conclusion.  In effect, a TSR making a presentation is similar to that of a mouse avoiding land traps as the mouse maneuvers his way around a house.  The mouse is the TSR while the house is a telephone sales presentation.  Things look promising if the mouse has the ability and knows what he is doing.  However, it’s quite a long way from one end of the house to the other and, unfortunately for both the mouse and the TSR, getting caught is never a good thing.

Presentation Levels In A Telephone Call Are Infinite

Each call has its own number of presentation levels.  Some telephone calls that last ten minutes or so may span twenty or thirty presentation levels, while other calls may on encounter only five or six.

Perseverance of Presentation Levels Completes Sales

The TSR must never give up on a telephone sales call.  Because 80% of all sales are completed by only 20% of all sales reps, those 20% have demonstrated that consistent pursuing pays dividends.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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A Program To Make Culture Work In Your Contact Center

Do you feel that your call center lacks an introductory game plan each day?  If you or your supervisors don’t have a solid plan to keep your agents motivated and focused, then you are probably failing to do all you can do to affect performance, and retention.

For instance, I once worked with a call center where two hundred and fifty agents began their day at 6:30am.  At 6:30am, I would walk the call center floor and see four Call Center 3 Book Picture A Program To Make Culture Work In Your Contact Centersupervisors in one office, two supervisors in the break room, forty-five agents on the telephone, seventy-eight agents late or not at work, one hundred agents in the break room and rest rooms, and two supervisors on the floor working hard.  In essence, supervision didn’t start the call center game properly, and their agents followed suit.  It was very disorienting…

Imagine a restaurant where you seat yourself but no waiters come by to serve you, or a restaurant where you try to serve yourself at the buffet table but there is no food to be had.  Imagine an airplane full of passengers while the pilots are in the employee lounge, or a stadium packed with fans while security and employees are late for work and just beginning to organize their duties.

It really doesn’t matter how large your call center is.  You may employ seven agents or seven hundred. The communication presented to call center agents in the first thirty minutes of their day will set the stage for the rest of the day.  The best boss I ever had came into my office at the start of every day and gave me a rousing welcome.  He knew that if I felt good about what I was doing, my agents would feel good about what they were doing.  And he recognized that if he got me off to a rousing start, I would project that enthusiasm to my agents so they could get off to a rousing start, too.  When that boss failed to come into my office every day to keep me motivated, I began to stop motivating my own employees.  He fell into bad habits, and so did I.  In turn, so did my agents.  The first thirty minutes of any day is critical.  Check back all week long for five ways to make those first thirty minutes work for you.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Ask For More On Your Inside Sales Calls

You must always be cross-selling. Your growth to more profits and sales is through Recurring Revenue per Customer (RRPC). Look at cable television. They make a bit on the core box, basic cable. They make a-lot more on taking a valued customer and selling them premium channels. The customer has committed to your organization by buying something. So, now, develop an engaging relationship and sell them more.

So often, customers do not know all the other products you offer. They may know they bought containers from you, but, they do not know you sell caps, too. They may know they bought toner supplies from you, but do not realize you sell printers or maintenance kits as well. They may have bought medical alarms for their home from you without realizing you offer smoke detector sensors, too.

Companies lose millions of dollars by not cross selling products well. And, they lose millions of customers, too. It is simple. Over time, if a customer is not engaged with your organization, then they may become engaged with other organizations, your competitors. So, cross-selling serves two purposes. First, sell more products, make more money. Second, build a sustainable, nurturing relationship with your customer. Engage them in your company.

Remember-your customers have no idea what other products you offer.

How can you do the cross-sell most efficiently? It takes dozens of programs and thought strategies and roadmaps. But, here is a tip, simple and concise: Each month, plan on offering two or three products (special, cross sell), on every call. These products have specials attached to them, discounts or incentives for the buyer to act. Put these specials on your web site, on paper, via email, and in the phone script. Ask your direct marketing partner to help you “spread the word”. Ensure your representatives, when appropriate, offer these products. Simply, ASK.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and remaking your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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Your Call Center New Hires Are Always Afraid Of Your Technology

It’s a fact.  When your agents see your technologies, CRM and contact management programs, they become concerned.  Sure, they may have been hired to sell or provide superlative client services.  But, out of the blue, their interest in learning product or company is usurped by the panic and fear of not understanding your technology platforms.

The Internet, intranets and web-based customer contact applications have joined computer-telephone integration (CTI), turning the call center into a tech-oriented environment, geared toward serving customers over various media. This means new learning curves.

Because agents continually interact with computers, dialing systems and evolving technology, they start their new job concerned more about the position’s technological requirements and less about their communication and product responsibilities. The first questions out of an agent’s mouth generally are “How do I use the computer? What type of computer programs do I use? Do I need to learn a dialing system or database program? Can you tell me about the technology and how to use it?”

What Agents Should Learn

Managers should see that mastering technology becomes the agent’s smallest concern. Agents should focus on the core aspects of the job first, the tech stuff second. Ahead of technology, areas to emphasize should be:

  • The agent’s learning the characteristics of the product.
  • Get the agent ready to successfully communicate with customers and sell the product via the telephone.
  • Make sure the agent has the potential to become a well-rounded, positive employee.
  • The agent’s contribution to the well being and success of the call center or department.
  • The agent’s understanding of the standards he’s expected to meet.

About Call Center Today

Want to talk to Dan Coen about boosting your inside sales numbers and re-making your call center? To contact Dan about speaking, workshops, training and consulting: DCoen@CallCenterToday.com or 888-835-5326 x111. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/callcentertoday

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If you would like to contact us about workshops or training programs for your company please email training@callcentertoday.com

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