Why and how to adopt a culture of knowledge sharing

What are your business's key resources? We’re willing to bet that your most precious one is in-house knowledge.

It’s simple really, all your employees need to be experts in their fields, be that engineering, sales or accounting, plus they need to know everything about your business and its products or services. The success of your company literally depends on keeping this knowledge in-house.

One way to facilitate this is to look into your knowledge sharing strategies. So what exactly is knowledge sharing, why do you need it and how can it be implemented?

What is knowledge sharing in a business?

Knowledge sharing can be defined as a designed process where employees exchange both their implicit and explicit knowledge in order to create mutual understanding, resulting in new understanding. This can sound a bit complicated but basically it’s any process that allows employees to share their expertise efficiently with each other in order to generate new ideas and retain important skill sets within a company.

True knowledge sharing consists of:

  • Knowledge donation – i.e. communicating an individual’s intellectual capital to others.
  • Knowledge collection – i.e receiving and computing another person’s intellectual capital.

Knowledge sharing is important for organisations. Knowledge sharing requires both donation and collection of information.

Businesses with an effective knowledge sharing structure often support these processes with carefully selected technology. This means that information can be accurately stored and distributed digitally to other employees in the case of someone leaving the company. It can also make processes like training and onboarding more time efficient, as employees can work through information at their own speed rather than attending classes.

Why should you adopt knowledge sharing?

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Without exception, groups are better at achieving goals when everyone involved has all the skills and knowledge required to do so. This means giving them key information about the process, teaching them the required skill set, and communicating effectively within the group so that everyone can perform a useful function.

Here are some further reasons why knowledge sharing is important:

Eases growing pains: Growing a company is always a difficult process, particularly when it comes to deciding who needs to know what. Who will train new staff and what are the clear chains of command? Having a clear knowledge sharing process can help to alleviate these problems at the source. Creating solid infrastructure that guides the onboarding process and ensures that everyone is getting the right information when they need it most.
Prevents knowledge hoarding: Knowledge hoarding is damaging for businesses. It means that when employees leave your company they take all of their expertise with them, leaving their team flailing. This is particularly important for organizations where specific client knowledge is essential for the working relationship. Knowledge sharing means that this expertise can be retained and built upon rather than dependant on certain individuals.
Retains your top talent: Providing people with all the information they need to succeed lets your best and brightest shine and prevents dissatisfaction from chronic communication problems. After all, no one likes being left in the dark, particularly when it makes their jobs ten times harder.

3 ways to create a knowledge sharing culture

Knowledge sharing can be a tricky culture to implement, largely because so much depends on how your specific company currently works. However there are some necessary basics that you can put in place.

1. Consider all the ways that knowledge is shared and encourage these activities

Ideas are exchanged in all sorts of ways depending on the situation and the characters involved. All the varied forms of knowledge sharing should be encouraged to ensure that you are getting the most from everybody. For example:

Face to face meetings and collaboration: Sometimes the best way to get to the core of a situation is to get some one-on-one time and bounce ideas around. It’s also a fantastic way to get the more shy older members of your team to contribute valuable insights. Setting regular time aside to communicate in this setup is often an important grounding for your knowledge sharing plan.
Offsite events or meetings: From company social outings to training events and conferences, changing up the scene is a great way to set collaboration in motion.
Presentations: Presenting ideas to a certain team or even the company at large means that everyone can keep up to date with developments and also take the opportunity to learn about things outside their roles.
Team sharing times: Whether its an hour every week to go through client updates or a quarterly break down, scheduling a regular opportunity to update everyone on progress keeps the team in the loop.
Outings are a good way to share knowledge. Knowledge can be communicated in a variety of settings.

2. Redesign your office to include more sharing space

Don’t underestimate the impact the physical space has on collaboration. There is nothing like planning a meeting only to find there are no rooms available. Building an office environment that encourages and enables easy collaboration makes knowledge sharing much more possible.

There are two effective ways to do this. One is to provide enough meeting rooms so that those who prefer private and quiet communication have space to carry this out. Secondly setting up common spaces so that employees can sit and work together. This allows casual get togethers and collaborative work to take place with ease.

3. Consider a knowledge sharing platform

A lot of knowledge sharing can be supported by new technology and associated platforms. This takes away many of the manual processes involved with storing information and giving staff access to relevant files and folders. Researching and finding a knowledge sharing software solution could help your company to more efficiently manage information and remove the heavy lifting aspects of processes.

If you’re interested in finding out more about knowledge sharing and streamlining your workforce solutions, get in contact with the experts at Call Design today.


How to motivate employees with non-monetary incentives

Even your best-performing agents will have off days.

It’s natural – from time to time everyone wakes up not quite in the mood for a day at work. However, as a manager, the onus is on you to minimize how this impacts task completion by motivating your staff.

While incentivizing is often done through monetary means – promotions, bonuses – the truth is that this isn’t always possible.

In this article, we’ll explore some current methods being adopted by workforce managers to motivate their staff through non-financial encouragement.

1. The fun of gamification

One of the newest tools in a personnel leader’s arsenal is gamification.

Reduced to its fundamentals, gamification involves turning a pre-existing task or process into a game. This holds a number of benefits in the workplace:

  • Motivation – It’s true that familiarity can breed contempt when it comes to repetitive daily tasks. By turning these into a fun activity, however, you can prevent complacency and engage staff. In fact, when properly implemented, gamification can enhance employee motivation by 51.6 percent, according to Karl Kapp, Instructional Technology Professor at Bloomsburg University
  • Education – By flipping duties on their head in this way, you force yourself and other participants to think about them in new ways. This can result in learning outcomes that improve your systems in the long run.
  • Participation – A side benefit of gamification is the way that it encourages employees to work together – this teamwork can contribute to an overall increase in cohesion in your contact centre.

All sorts of daily tasks can be overhauled with gamification, but here are a couple of great examples:

The Quality Scores Sports Game: 

Monitoring quality is high on the priority list for any manager, and why not make this process fun for staff who might otherwise see it as daunting? First, work out a sport that your staff are into, and then assign points that link quality scores to a sports event scenario.

Gamification can improve motivation by up to 51.6 percent, according to Karl Kapp.

For example, if U.S. football was your chosen sport, an average quality score could equate to an extra point (one point), a good score to a field goal (three points), and an excellent score to a touchdown (six points). You could run this competition over a month, with the agent who gains the most points winning a prize.

The Customer Experience Game:

Customer experience is hugely important to a business’ bottom line. Indeed, 73 percent of consumers worldwide name this factor as important in influencing their buying decision, states research from PwC. 

In this example of gamification, each agent has a sheet featuring a list of factors that contribute to a good customer interaction. The idea is that customers complete the sheet by checking off specific items – for example, informing clients of upgraded products. However, they can only check one box per customer – this prevents the game being over after one call, and encourages staff to alter their approaches to dealing with different callers.


Gamification is the latest technique in workforce motivation.

2. Flexible work arrangements

More and more, we’re seeing an erosion of the traditional 9-5 office job. This trend is particularly true in line with the desires of Millennials and Generation Z, who are filling up an increasing percentage of the job market. Flexible working arrangements have been shown to build loyalty among this demographic of employees, and improve business performance, according to Deloitte.

Call Design’s ME mobile app allows staff to manage their schedules by swapping shifts with colleagues and requesting time off. This allows them to create a program that provides them with an optimized work-life balance, meaning they’re working at times where they feel most motivated to do so.

Flexible working arrangements have been shown to build loyalty and productivity among Millennials and Gen Z.

To do this effectively, you need to establish a process that both you and your employees should stick to. Flexible working requires trust on both sides, but can do wonders for your staff’s motivation when properly implemented.

3. Awards ceremonies

Whether on a grand, annual scale, or at smaller departmental meetings, public recognition of hard work can go a long way to encouraging similar performances in the future.

A great alternative to monetary rewards in these instances can be personalized gifts. Branded company items, for example mugs that also feature the winner’s name or photo are a great touch. Gift tokens that match with that individual’s personal interests also often go over well – for example, movie tickets or books and sports tickets.

For smaller scale wins, a post on a company-wide intranet or social media platform can reinforce the perception that stellar performances don’t go unnoticed.


Internal awards ceremonies motivate staff by showing the rewards and recognition available to hard workers.

4. Involvement in decision making

While, traditionally, decision making is left to senior management, there’s a lot to be said for opening the floor to employee input. Your agents see the business from a different perspective, and will doubtless have ideas of procedural changes you can make that will improve efficiency.

As well as potentially improving the day-to-day running of the company, such initiatives make it clear that you value your staff’s input, which can be a highly motivational tool. Communicating that you’re always open to new ideas will encourage individuals to go beyond the scope of their role and brainstorm concepts that could help shape the future of the company.

From your point of view, that practice of regularly engaging with your team in this way also shows you who might be most suitable for more senior roles, should such an opportunity come along.

With so many different ways of motivating your staff with non-monetary incentives, there’s no reason for not starting to implement some of these ideas today. For more training and solutions to improve performance among your agents, get in touch with the team at Call Design today.


The importance of operational planning for your business

 

Think of your business as a ship. You need to make sure everything is running correctly to ensure you stay afloat - however, there's no use sailing if you have no clear idea of where you're headed, or how you're getting there. Your operational plan will be the lighthouse that reminds you which way to go, and highlights any potential dangers that could arise in the near future.

What is an operational plan?

An operational plan details the actions your different teams or departments must carry out to achieve short-term targets and objectives of the company, and is essential in effective workforce management. This plan is updated depending on your needs.

This should comprehensively cover:

  • What targets need to be met in order to achieve short-term goals.
  • The sustainability of any projects undertaken.
  • What the time constraints are.
  • Who the teams are, and what's expected of the individual team members, including personal targets.
  • Whether there's any risk of not meeting goals, and how these risks can be avoided.
  • The financial and time cost involved in meeting the short-term goal.
A man and a woman working in the office.Depending on the size of your business, you may need multiple plans for different departments.

Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged.

An operational plan ensures that a benchmark is in place for the meeting of these short-term objectives, and that you can refer to it in case of risks or to confirm that the day-to-day output of the company is on track with your targets. Depending on the size of a contact centre, sometimes multiple plans are executed for different departments to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What are the differences between strategic and operational plans?

While an operational plan focuses on short-term goals, a strategic plan embodies a long-term outlook for your contact center, projecting from 12 months to around five years ahead. As a general blanket overview for your entire company, a strategic plan considers what projects or opportunities you'll need to take on to meet your long-term goal, and what changes need to be implemented throughout to support this. Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged unless there's a major review.

Why do I need an operational plan for my business?

Having an operational plan is crucial. It's an all-star playbook for your business - reviewing the performance of key staff members through quality management, and recognising how the overall team can work together to meet targets. Without an operational plan, you're out of the league.

Being able to update and refer to a plan enables comprehensive understanding of goals.

An operational plan ensures you can identify areas that aren't generating as much revenue as they should, or are causing losses, and can help you establish what needs to change. Being able to continually update and refer to a short-term plan enables a comprehensive understanding of what the goals are and provides a guide for every step of the process. As a result, your agents should be well aware of what's expected of them and with the right tools self-manage meeting these targets.

Operational plans bring accountability into daily tasks. By having a comprehensive plan of expectations for the performance of your business, if discrepancies occur, you should be able to analyze your plan and identify where these have taken place and how they can be resolved. These plans are a great way of managing other performance indicators too: shrinkage, the number of calls or average handling time, or which of your employees are achieving higher than their targets.

A group of workers plan at a table.Being able to refer to a short-term plan enables comprehensive understanding of goals and a guide for every step of the process.

How can I create a plan?

The planning process is dynamic - you need to be able to adapt your plan to a range of changes, which can be a daunting task. If you're new to operational planning, it's best to seek professional consultation or learning tools to help you step into the critical thinking role of an operational planner. There are many resources and guides from which you can draw your operational plan. Attending a workforce management course can open new doors for your management techniques, allow you to explore new avenues for staff optimization and can help you derive the right targets to implement into your planning.

Call Design's Workforce Management Essentials course is designed to educate workforce management admins and analysts with some of the best industry knowledge and practices. This course breaks down essential workforce management operations to ensure all facets of your business are running as they should be. Examining team efficiency, staff placements and forecasting in the short- and long-term are all theories explored in the course. This way, workforce planners can optimize their staff arrangements to prevent mistakes and make sure they are meeting business requirements.

Call Design has been delivering tailored workforce optimization solutions to contact centers for almost 20 years, and pride ourselves on our service and industry expertise. To find out how our training courses can help you implement effective operational planning into your organisation, get in touch with our team.


Business growth and high staff turnover: what to do about it

 

Losing trusted personnel is always a concern, especially when you're trying to grow your business.

A high staff turnover rate can disrupt processes, affect staff morale, and drain time, money and resources away from a company's overarching goals.

Here, we'll take a look at why you should care about resignations, the reasons they happen, and what you can do to prevent them, keeping in mind at all times the objective of business growth.

Call Design has training and solutions that will aid your staff retention rates. High staff turnover can seriously limit business growth.

How does staff turnover affect business growth?

If you type "How do I grow my business" into Google, you'll likely return a lot of results about what makes a 'foolproof' strategy, how to identify new opportunities, and different ways to get your brand out there. While there's no doubt that all of these things, and more, are important ingredients for business growth, one subject area that's conspicuous by its absence is looking after your staff.

In 2017, the average cost of rehiring mid-range positions was 20% of the position's salary.

The impacts of staff leaving your company are often felt much more widely than you may first think. When it comes to hindering business growth frequent departures can affect the following:

  • Costs: As anyone with any experience of hiring and training a new employee will know, it doesn't come cheaply. One 2017 study found that on average, the costs to replace an employee are 20% of that position's salary.  In an organization with a high turnover, these costs can quickly start to add up and affect growth.
  • Productivity: With a depleted team, you can't expect to get the same amount of work done. This will, with time, start to seriously impact the productivity of your business, which will, in turn, be detrimental to your ability to grow.
  • Staff morale: The byproducts of this increased workload for those left behind can include higher levels of stress, and an overall drop in morale. This could create a vicious cycle of resignations if these new stresses become too great.
  • Leadership prioritizing: Instead of focusing on growth strategies, lengthy recruitment and hiring cycles will serve as unnecessary distractions for you and the rest of the leadership team.
Good engagement with staff can help prevent resignations.Leaders need to recognize the importance of staff retention if their company is to grow successfully.

What are the causes of high staff turnover?

A 2017 report from the Institute of Managers and Leaders showed that 10 percent of employees leave their positions voluntarily because they aren't offered sufficient opportunities to develop themselves professionally.

The top three reasons for resigning in this survey were as follows:

  • Seeking new challenges - 79 percent.
  • Limited career advancement/progression - 58 percent.
  • Insufficient remuneration - 45 percent.

What you can do to prevent high staff turnover?

What should strike you first as you digest this information is that all of the above are largely within your control. In this section, we'll discuss some of the specific steps you can take to reduce the rates of attrition in your business.

1. Regularly engage with your staff:

As a people manager you're setting yourself up for failure if you don't frequently take the time to talk to your staff. This is especially true in growing businesses where changes in strategy or increasing demands mean that personnel are consistently having to adapt to new ways of working. Having your finger on the pulse of your employees gives you a better chance of catching problems when they're in their infancy, rather than letting them develop.

2. Conduct exit interviews:

Whether it's the latest in a spate of resignations, or the first departure in a while, it's vital to engage the outgoing staff member in an exit interview. These forums offer the perfect opportunity to discover exactly why this person no longer wants to work in your organisation. Free from the pressure of talking to a professional superior, you'll likely find former employees are a lot more honest in this setting, providing you with valuable insights as to how you can improve staff experience for those who remain, therefore reducing future turnover.

3.  Provide professional upskilling programmes

The millennial workforce is only going to grow in the coming years, so knowing how to appeal to this group is particularly important for managers who want to hold onto their staff. A staggering 87 percent of millennials rank professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a role, according to a Gallup report - so establishing training programs should be high on your list of priorities.

The other benefit of this solution is that better-trained staff have more to offer your business. A great place to learn how to instigate such initiatives is with Call Design's Managers Essentials Course. Designed for team leaders and managers, this program will tell you how to set measurable goals with your employees, identify roadblocks that could prevent them achieving their objectives, and provide actionable feedback.

The existence of these initiatives not only makes your company a more attractive place to work, but also lays the foundations for a more productive and engaged workforce.

Call Design's Manager Essentials course can help managers learn how to provide useful feedback to staff.Training programs are a great way of engaging staff with your business, and improving productivity.

4. Implement incentive programs

Another crucial way of increasing loyalty is to recognise and reward strong performances.

As we saw above, 45 percent of voluntary resignations come as a result of insufficient remuneration. While simply upping the salaries of all staff is financially unviable in the majority of businesses, an important step is to provide employees with a progression roadmap. By showing workers what they need to do in order to be considered for promotion you make it clear that increased wages are a tangible reality.

However, there are plenty of incentives you can offer instead of/alongside augmented earnings:

  • Flexible work arrangements: Millennial employees are more likely to be loyal to companies that offer flexible work arrangements, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Software such as Call Design's workforce management solution ME offers staff the opportunity to take ownership of their personal schedules on-the-go.
  • Gift cards: Gift cards are a great incentive as you can personalize them to show an awareness of an employee's interests or hobbies.
  • EventsCompany funded events or excursions are perfect for showing staff that their efforts are appreciated, and to bring the team closer together.

These are just a few ideas on how you can help to prevent staff from leaving your business. For more solutions, and information on our training courses, get in touch with Call Design today.


What's next? Future proofing your contact center

 

Adaptability is the key to survival for all businesses, and none more so than contact centers.

With consumer habits changing constantly, and the continuing influence of technology on customer-business interactions, looking to the future isn't an option, it's a necessity.

Here we'll do just that. This article will examine a few trends that are already occurring in the contact center industry, and some that you're likely to see in the years to come.

Call Design has solutions to help contact centres navigate the complex world of technology.Technological innovations will play a huge role in the future of contact centers.

1. Increased personalization

The likes of Spotify and Netflix long ago realized that that personalization is the key to customer satisfaction, and this is a trend that's branching out far beyond the entertainment industry.

There are numerous ways that contact centers can personalize the experiences their customers have. These include:

  • Omni-channel approaches: Social media has revolutionized the way people talk to each other, and to businesses. These days, customers expect to be able to reach agents through the medium that's most convenient to them, so establishing which platforms are favoured by your consumer base is a great way to show you understand their habits.
  • Empathetic agents: Training your agents to understand a product or service is one thing, ensuring they get this information across in a manner that creates trust with a customer is quite another. Managing the quality of your staff's service should remain an utmost priority for workforce leaders.

2. New technologies

We've already discussed the impact of social media, but there are plenty of other tech-based innovations that have a part to play in the future of contact centers.

Artificial Intelligence: 

Many contact centers are already taking advantages of the benefits offered by AI, and its capabilities are only going to increase as the technology becomes more sophisticated.

A few examples of how AI can be used in contact centers include:

  • Helping customers find useful information: In the digital age, consumers will often turn to the internet before picking up the phone. Virtual assistants can be used to direct these users to an FAQ page based on their query, or connect them with the best qualified agent.
  • Taking the place of interactive voice response (IVR) processes: The machine learning capabilities of AI mean that it can go beyond presenting a caller with a set of choices, as is seen with IVR. Instead, bots can begin to understand statements and therefore provide a better level of customer experience.

Biometric security:

Customers are often asked to give out sensitive information when interacting with contact centers, so it's imperative they trust you. As a result, It's likely that simple identification questions such as full name, age and address will soon become a thing of the past.

Instead, voice biometrics will provide agents with a quick and efficient method of flagging suspicious behaviour that could denote fraud. This works through speech recognition, meaning that even the most advanced fraudsters would struggle to gain access to the information they need.

Voice biometrics could have an important role to play in the future of contact centres.Voice biometrics can help contact centers protect their customers from fraudsters.

3. Changing work patterns

It's no secret that sitting at a desk all day isn't great for your body, or your productivity. Well, even that could be set to change.

Computers and headsets are so ingrained into the stereotypical contact center environment that it's difficult to imagine life without them, but as speech-text technology keeps improving these items may be consigned to the history books. Agents will be free to move around the office, creating a more dynamic workplace and fewer manual administrative tasks.

Going a step beyond this, the numbers of remote workers are also likely to increase. Flexible work arrangements featured in the top five factors that make an employer attractive, according to PwC's Millennials At Work survey. Therefore, finding techniques that enable staff to take greater control over both how and where they work is an important consideration for any contact center manager.

Call Design's ME Mobile App can help with this. Accessible from your agents' smart devices, this piece of software allows employees to keep track of their schedules, apply for leave and swap shifts with colleagues to create timetables that work for them and you. They can do all of this while on the go, which also reduces the pressure on your workforce management team.

While the day-to-day takes up the majority of your time as a contact manager, it's important to keep an eye on the horizon. Call Design has a raft of training and solutions that you can leverage to ensure your contact center is prepared for anything the future might throw at you. For more information, get in touch with our team today.


Meeting your requirements: Call Design's customized courses

 

To an outsider all contact centers seem much the same.

However, as anyone with experience in the industry knows, this couldn't be further from the truth. Each has its own nuances and quirks, something which is also true when it comes to problems.

Call Design helps contact centers better their services by offering training courses on everything from performance management to manager essentials. However, through doing this we've learned that it's not always straightforward to pinpoint the issues preventing a given contact center from reaching its full potential.

Here's our solution:

Call Design has customised courses for contact centres in Australia.Call Design's customized contact center courses let you take control over how your staff are trained.

1. Customized courses for contact centers

Expanding training programs was listed as the second most important talent-related initiative to be undertaken in the next two years by respondents to Deloitte's 2017 Global Contact Center Survey.

However, unless you specifically know which area of your contact center workflow needs improving, blindly picking a course and hoping it yields results is just a shot in the dark.

63 percent of respondents to Deloitte's Global Contact Center Survey want to expand their training programs.

That's why Call Design has developed customized courses to meet your unique requirements.

In these instances, rather than adapting our tried and tested teaching modules to your contact center, the impetus comes from you. Simply reach out to one of our team with a question, and they'll get back to you to discuss exactly what you need. From there you can work to build a training program that will best suit the unique situation in your contact center.

2. Why Call Design?

Call Design has worked with contact center managers and leadership teams for nearly 20 years to help improve their workplaces. We combine our industry experience with innovative technologies and a consultative approach to ensure all bases are covered.

Our emphasis is on working with you to identify what is going well, and what could be done better. This builds a solid platform for future growth.

For more information on how Call Design's customized courses can enhance your contact center, get in touch with our team today.


Inbound vs. outbound contact center channels

 

There used to be a clear division between inbound and outbound contact centers - one was for customer service, the other for sales. But with the increase in initiatives like inbound marketing and a greater call for proactive customer support, these lines have blurred. Sales people are as likely to receive inbound communication as to reach out themselves, and to some degree, the opposite applies to customer support agents.

So in this contemporary contact center space, what channels are most important? We examine inbound versus outbound channels and discuss how agents can be prepared to use them.

47 percent of customers would sooner go online to complain than place a phone call.

Inbound contact center channels

Social media

All modern contact centers should incorporate social media into their business. And we're not just talking about direct chat, but monitoring comments, tweets and the like, too. According to an eGain report, 47 percent of consumers would sooner go online to complain than place a phone call, and 18-35-year-old customers are twice as likely to use the web for complaints than those over 55 years.

But do you create a dedicated social media monitoring team or train your existing agents on the relevant platforms? There are mixed recommendations in the industry on this. Where the former may let you hone the expertise of your team, the latter integrates social media into the wider business - which might help you track queries and record data alongside other channels.

Chatbots

Chatbots are a growing trend. This is where customers talk with a system powered by artificial intelligence instead of an agent. Chatbots solve simple problems and let humans focus on more complex, important duties, allowing you to improve customer turnaround and increase their satisfaction.

That said, a business has to be ready for chatbots. They require a team of engineers (in-house or otherwise) and regular upgrading in order to operate effectively. On top of that, chatbots tend to work best when limited in scope; if a chatbot has to do too much, it can struggle, but a simple task it can repeat over and over will help it excel. For anything more complex, it must escalate to a human handler - which is where your agents will require additional training.

Inbound contact centres are increasingly featuring social media and chatbots.Chatbots and social media are becoming increasingly prominent in the inbound contact center space.

Content

Content - i.e. blogs, whitepapers and the like - may not seem like channels for your sales or customer service agents, but it's vital that your contact center staff keep up-to-date on what content is being published.

This is because the goal of content marketing is typically to attract more users to your website, answering their queries and educating them on topics relating to your product. Many of these customers will continue through the marketing pipeline to your contact center staff with questions relating to what they've just read or watched. If your agents aren't aware of what is being promoted, they may be unable to help further and this could cause a negative customer experience.

Traditional channels

Of course, no inbound versus outbound list would be complete without the traditional channels. Phone calls, emails and IVR remain important parts of the inbound contact center environment even as new technology takes greater importance - this is especially true of older generations, who eGain found still prefer phone calls. So while chatbot and social media training may be exciting, it's important never to let your fundamentals drop.

When was the last time you optimized your forecasting and scheduling system, or your IVR software?

Social media can be an effective tool for outbound contact centres chasing warm leads.

Outbound contact center channels

Social media and email

Social media and email have grown into strong inbound channels, but they should be integrated into your outbound center as well. This is to fit in with a warm calling strategy, where agents are reaching out to sales prospects who they've already made contact with online.

Most warm calls will likely follow an email request for a quote or demo, but contact center agents can also start warm relationships with social media. This could be in the form of replying to prospects' posts, or sending direct messages. Achieving this in your business will require basic social media training for agents, plus expanded training on how to research relevant prospects online (i.e. via LinkedIn).

Advanced dialers

Dialers have of course been around for years, but modern systems greatly surpass their legacy counterparts in terms of functionality. Modern computer algorithms allow systems like Aspect Predictive Dialer to be forward-thinking tools, detecting busy signals and no-answers, modifying campaigns dynamically, tracking and managing consent, and providing proactive outreach via voice, email or SMS.

These features are designed to maximize agent effectiveness and productivity, and they fit readily into a modern data-centric contact center.

Advanced predictive diallers are a valuable asset to outbound contact centres hoping to improve productivity.With a predictive dialer, your outbound agents would spend more time on calls and less time waiting between them.

In conclusion

Inbound contact centers are growing in size and importance, but outbound centers are still going strong and their success rates can be bolstered with smart digital channels. For local contact centers looking to improve their services, technology and training is a must.

If you need help installing either of these in your business, reach out to Call Design today. We've been a leading consultancy in the contact center space since 1999, with a raft of advanced technology solutions and best-practice training sessions available to optimize your workforce and improve your customer experience.

To learn more, contact us today.


How to measure good customer service

 

Customer service is a very measurable activity. There is an almost endless supply of data that can be measured to assess overall performance and quality: call volumes, chat times, resolution rates for a start.

But while it may be tempting to simply measure everything, sifting through mountains of data is unlikely to be an effective way to determine how good your service really is and highlight areas for improvement. So what exactly should you be measuring to get the most enlightened view of your customer service performance?

Let's have a look at how you can choose the best metrics for your business and some examples of the metrics for success.

Choose your own metrics

Quantifying your customer service efforts is a fantastic way to maximize your potential to improve the way that you communicate with customers and ultimately your brand image. However, not all metrics will be useful for everyone.

Don't chose generic metrics.Metrics should be chosen to be specifically useful to your business.

Every company is different and while there are some general rules, simply copying another business's metrics is unlikely to give you the best results. Instead you should carefully consider which metrics will be most useful for your own goals and deliver useful insights into your own processes.

When deciding which metrics you should be measuring within your business first consider:

  • Why are you reporting? It seems like a basic question but it really gets to the heart of your ultimate goals. Understanding 'why' will give you a solid foundation to pave the way for later detailed decisions.
  • What are the desired outcomes? Everything you're measuring should have a direct link back to your overall objectives. If a number isn't helping you to achieve the insights and actions you want to see, it is effectively useless. Be ruthless with your metrics - fluff numbers waste everyone's time.
  • Who will be looking at these reports? Understanding who your audience is can help you to better leverage your insights. If it's a C-level who has little on the ground experience, broader data points will be more useful than specifics. However, someone with a deeper insight into customer service may benefit from an overview of the nitty gritty. Also consider how often these reports will be communicated and in what format.

An important point to remember is that there is no single magic metric that will be able to show you the whole picture. Your metrics are most useful in relation to each other. Choose them based on the combined insights they give you, rather than their perceived unique value.

What makes a good metric?

There are several key attributes that good metrics have. They should be:

  • Actionable: It is not only pointless but frustrating for your team to be measured on things that they can't impact. Make sure your metrics reflect your customer service performance and highlight avenues for improvement.
  • Authentic: All of your metrics must tell the true story. Fabricating results to create a more pleasing picture is not useful for improvement.
  • Meaningful: We have mentioned this before, but it's worth doing so again. Everything you are measuring should have a direct link back to your overall objectives. If it's not then it's a poor metric for your business.
  • Consistent: Trends over quarters or even years often give a more useful insight into your processes than specific daily or even hourly data. Metrics that can be measured consistently over prolonged periods will be much more use to you in the long run.
  • Contextualized: Raw data presented in isolation isn't desperately useful when looking at a complex process like customer service. Make sure that your metrics can be contextualized at every stage to give them more value.
Customer service metrics should give you the best insight into your processes. The best customer service metrics give you a clear insight into how to improve further.

Metrics you can measure for success - some suggestions

For those actively looking for some tried and tested metric ideas to monitor your customer services, here are some suggestions:

1. Resolution rate

This metric represents the overall percentage of issues that your customer service staff resolve. A higher percentage indicates efficiency and expertise from your staff and lower percentages could indicate a number of issues preventing a resolution.

When tackling this result you should consider whether you need to hire more staff, or whether there are systemic issues that take up time or hold up processes.

2. Reply time

This simply refers to the time taken for customers' queries or complaints to be followed up. This metric is often a great indicator of customer satisfaction and your businesses' success at effectively communicating with customers.

If it's taking a long time to reply, you may wish to consider whether you need to increase your number of staff or whether there are broader issues that are preventing reps getting back in touch with people sooner.

3. Customer satisfaction

This can be a complex metric to measure as it has some subjective aspects. It also relies on a lot of external factors such as how the measurement is designed and even how people are feeling on the day of the survey.

This metric is most often measured by a quick, simple survey after a significant interaction with a member of your team. The results of these surveys are most useful when aggregated over a substantial period of time.

However, it is important to think seriously about how you can most effectively measure customer service in relation to your own specific business structure and customer base. For example a younger, digitally-savvy customer base may prefer an online survey, while an older demographic may like to give their feedback on the phone. Also take time to think about your questions and how ranked levels could be interpreted by the audience. For example,four out of five may be very good for some people and only OK for others.

With this measurement, you should consider whether your staff may need further training to improve their customer facing skills. It may also indicate more systemic issues with your user interface.

To learn more about improving and measuring the quality of your customer service get in touch with Call Design today. Our training and solutions in areas such as performance and quality management can help you identify measurable weaknesses in your delivery, and work to improve them.


4 features to look for in your next workforce planning tool

 

Workforce planning tools are essential to the smooth running of any contact center or back office. Choose an effective workforce planning tool and you'll have access to a suite of human resource features that help you get the right staff in the right place at the right time. Choose an ineffective tool and you're at risk of falling behind the competition.

When it comes time to upgrade your suite, it is essential to choose software that doesn't just meet your needs now, but that will continue to do so long into the future. So today, we discuss what features to look for when investing in new workforce planning software.

Your new software must be quick to scale or upgrade if you are to keep up in the future.

1. A solution that is future-proofed

Business needs are always changing, and you must be able to keep up not only with the wider market, but with your own growth. By moving your business away from clunky legacy systems (like spreadsheets) to a modern, intuitive suite, you're laying a foundation that you can build upon in the coming years.

For example, choosing a cloud-based workforce planning solution enables you to access the scalability and ease of use that is inherent with cloud tech. Cloud-based software can be installed easily into your business (requiring little to no on-site infrastructure), upgraded in a timely manner by the software host, and scaled up and down depending on how many users require access.

 

2. A solution that is easy to use

If your new software is hard to use, people aren't going to use it. It's as simple as that. And if this is the case, you're not getting the most from your investment.

So, it's vital that you find a suite that makes life easier. Take Aspect WFM for example. Aspect WFM is one of the global leaders in workforce management and planning not only for its functionality, but its usability too. The user interface is designed to be fast to learn and quick to use, pulling inspiration from common UI designs such as those from Microsoft, Apple and Google.

3. A solution you can use on any device

Being able to use smartphones at work could increase staff productivity by 34 percent.

The modern office is a multi-device office. Your workforce planners are using multiple devices everywhere in their lives, so why not at work too? In fact, a combined Frost & Sullivan/Samsung report found that enabling staff to use smartphones at work can increase their productivity by 34 percent.

Combine your next workforce planning suite like Aspect WFM with a user-based mobile app such as Call Design's ME. This would allow staff to access the software from their mobile device even if they are out of office, without sacrificing the security or administrative oversight that on-site software would provide.

4. A solution that packs bang for buck

Finally, like any major software investment, your next workforce planning tool must come packed with a host of modern features. That means strong, data-backed forecasting and scheduling, accurate productivity and performance monitoring, and robust leave management and shift swapping - all the foundations of any good contact center or back office success story.

At Call Design, we believe Aspect WFM is the tool for the job. And we back that decision with expertise - we have vast amounts of experience in the workforce optimization and management space, with a team of consultants who have an average 15+ years of experience. If you'd like to find out more about how Aspect WFM and Call Design's accompanying apps can help you business, contact us today. 


Retaining staff: A guide for contact center managers

 

It's no secret that attrition is one of the biggest challenges facing contact centers, and it's something the industry acknowledges. In fact, 40 percent of contact center managers want to improve retention rates among staff, according to Deloitte's Global Contact Center Survey.

So what can you do to hold on to your top performing agents? Let's explore.

Contact centre managers need to know how to deal with unhappy staff.Staff attrition is one of the greatest problems facing contact center managers.

1. Analyze your hiring process

Reducing contact center attrition starts with your hiring processes.

It can be difficult to know from a resume how well a candidate may suit your company, but it's important to begin building an idea as early as you can. Cover letters in particular should allow you to gain an understanding of how their past experience sets them up for life in your centre, but also what they expect from the role, and how they might fit into the structures you have in place.

Your hiring process should determine whether someone will slide seamlessly into your culture.

This information can then be added to at the interview. As well as digging deeper into their professional skills, a substantial proportion of this time should be allocated to determining whether the candidate will slide seamlessly into your culture. A good indicator comes in the form of their soft skills.

Soft skills is a category that includes attributes such as communication, leadership and collaboration, all of which permit people to work well alongside others and produce an atmosphere where people want to stay and develop.

2. Establish clear objectives, and clear rewards

Opportunities to progress finished second only to a good work/life balance in the list of factors attracting millennials to a workplace, according to Deloitte's 2016 Millennial Survey. Once hiring is complete, therefore, part of the onboarding process should involve giving your new recruits a clear picture of not only their own role, but what they can do to advance.

Crucial to this is having well-defined and easily available employee handbooks. Among other things, these should detail incentives for good performance, as well as Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets that need to be met. This approach gives your staff something to aim for beyond their day-to-day targets. Though, as we will see in point four, these are also important when it comes to improving retention in contact centers.

Having a clearly defined progression for employees is a great incentive.Employee handbooks are great ways to show the opportunities for promotion.

3. Personalize incentive schemes

A great way to go the extra mile for your staff, and increase their loyalty to your business, is to personalize the incentives you offer.

This could be something as simple as giving employees a range of options if they're eligible for a reward, showing that you take these processes seriously and aren't simply going through the motions.

Digital rewards are also a great option. Acknowledging high achievers on social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn provide public acknowledgement of good results, and even a well thought-through email can be an effective way to build manager-staff bonds.

4. Stay on track

Using trackable metrics is an essential aspect of managing agent performance and the quality of client interactions.

This not only ensures that your customers experience a consistently high standard of service, but also allows you to catch potential problems and turn them around.

Tracking performance using metrics gives you the chance to catch problems and provide a solution.

Using metrics allows you to identify areas of weakness and provide the necessary training to bridge gaps. As well as showing interest in the professional development of your individual agents, this proactive management can halt the disenchantment that often comes with poor professional performance. Ultimately this may result in preventing an employee from leaving the company.

However, even when employees aren't missing targets, providing regular commentary to staff, based on the insights gained from metrics, is highly recommended. In fact, 51 percent of millennials surveyed by PwC said that feedback should be given very regularly or continuously, and the more detailed, the better.

5. Open up your culture

Vital to preventing unnecessary loss of staff is creating a culture where agents feel comfortable talking to management about problems they may be having.

As these issues may range from professional to personal, it's vital that leadership are properly trained to make these interactions productive. As with feedback on trackable metrics, these are opportunities to catch issues before they snowball and provide a resolution that aids with retaining the staff involved.

However, sometimes enlisting the help of outside experts can be the best solution. Call Design's Contact Center Consulting service is designed to help managers who are too close to identify the root cause of what is preventing an easy fix to culture problems. This service will optimise the running of your contact center down to the smallest details, including leadership skills that could help you better understand the challenges facing your staff.

Exit interviews allow you to get insights on what went wrong,Exit interviews provide a valuable opportunity to learn how you can improve your systems for future employees.

6. Conduct exit interviews

Even if you adhere to all the guidance mentioned in this article, from time to time staff will leave. Rather than view this as a failure of your retention initiatives, use it as an opportunity to learn why this employee felt it was time to move on.

This is a golden chance where the individual in question is likely to be far more honest than they were during their tenure at the company. If there was no single reason that led to their departure, you can still gain valuable insights on what they feel your organization does well, and what could be improved.

Learning from past mistakes and engaging with your staff is integral to reducing attrition in your contact center. However, if you want more information on the relevant professional services you can make use of, get in touch with the team at Call Design today.