Leadership's Mindset is Key!

I was recently chatting about ESat and employee engagement with a Sales Director for a Fortune 500 insurance company. Among her responsibilities, the performance of a 400 rep contact center. After making some suggestions for improving her ESat challenges, she said all of that would be great, but "I cannot get buy in from Senior leadership. They regularly say that a trained monkey could do the reps' job so if they are not happy, get new reps."  Yes, she said that to me and I could tell she was telling the truth.  Wait...What? It was a dagger in my heart to think that this mindset still exists in 2017. I cannot think of a more destructive way to view your front line, or a more telling insight into how you feel about your customers.  I'm willing to bet money that those same executives think of and say things just as horrific about their customers. I told her I would give anything for 30 minutes with those executives, short of that I felt compelled to share some facts that she might want to use to turn them around. With so many (obvious) reasons that mindset is ridiculous, I am not sure where to start,  however here are the top five (seriously basic) things those execs need to realize:

  1. First of all, come on! Even if you cannot bring yourself to look at employees as anything but a number, look at the correct numbers and get smart about how those "numbers" can increase your bottom line and harness that resource.
  2. The tangible costs of recruiting, staff time for interviewing and hiring, the training process and resources, onboarding new reps has been proven to potentially cost anywhere from two to three times their actual salaries. Depending on industry, size of company and other factors, it can be even more costly to bring a new rep to the floor. If bottom line and dollar data is all that speaks to them, this should be all they need to know.  
  3. There are intangible costs as well, and they can be even more pricey! Morale suffers tremendously in an environment that views agents in such a light. They see so many coming and going that it instinctively causes stress and a lack of job security does not foster the best performance. If you don't care if they leave, they will. There is a learning curve for new agents on the floor and every KPI will suffer during that period of time. Add in the inevitable loss of customer trust, satisfaction and revenue from dealing with less seasoned or overly stressed employees and you are senselessly shooting yourself in the foot...or P&L as the case may be. 
  4. The benefits of proprietary knowledge from a seasoned agent is a priceless resource. If you have any mindset other than that, you are missing an advantage that is right under your nose. With every interaction an agent has with your customers, their knowledge of your company, product and customers increases creating a knowledge base that can tell you more than any survey. Spend time finding a way to tap into and use the information they can share. The more you make them part of the company's mission and vision, the more loyalty and better their performance will be. 
  5. You do not need a psychology degree to grasp the fact that when you treat people well, and are sincere about it, they will perform better. In turn, when people who are treated well and given some freedom are the front facing team for your customers, your customers will organically be treated well and be more satisfied. This is not rocket science! 

I don't know if leadership with that "anyone can do it" mindset can be reformed. I firmly believe that rather than wait for that generation to fade away, we should be trying to educate them. It can be a scary undertaking, speaking up on behalf of your staff and trying to change the way they are viewed from the corner office. It may be potential career suicide to even address this with them. I was faced with that situation once. Facing execs who didn't want to see the light and needing to speak up, fearing I may lose my job or end any career path with the company. I spoke up anyway, took the chance and put the needs of the many ahead of my needs. In the end, I never got senior leadership to admit that I had a point, however I was given more autonomy to create a better environment and at least improve things for my reps. Since actions speak louder than words, I counted this as a win. I didn't win the war but winning that small battle went a long way to improving a less than perfect situation. I want to encourage anyone who faces upper management that looks down on your contact center staff as less than or easily replaced, find a way to address it respectfully and try to make a change.  If the only thing they understand is data, ROI and dollars, you can easily frame it that way. It all boils down to the simple Golden Rule and sometimes even the smartest business people just need to be reminded. 

Finally, after this conversation, I did some research. While I will not name this company, I will leave you with a little comparison to another company in their industry that I have enormous respect for and have written about in the past. Aetna has been on the front lines of Mindfulness in the workplace and pioneered many policies and initiatives that have revolutionized not only their own ESat but that of many companies that follow their lead. In comparing Aetna to this other company, I'll call XYZ, I found some very interesting and telling facts.  Aetna was founded in 1853, XYZ in 1854. Aetna has 49,000 employees, XYZ has 12,000. Yearly revenue? Aetna at more than 63 billion, XYZ at 24 billion. I could go on an on comparing these two companies in the same industry, founded at the same time, but I'll save us all the time and let you know that the company that puts employees and their wellness first, invests in their employees and appreciates the work that they do, is undeniably more successful than the one who looks at their employees as trained monkeys. Is this a coincidence? Is mindset and treatment of employees a factor in the overall success of your company? It all seems awfully obvious to me.

What is Emotional Intelligence & Why Does it Matter?

*It was my pleasure and honor to write a guest article for ICMI.com

Copyright © 2017-ICMI. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from ICMI

It seems everywhere you turn; lately, there is a reference to Emotional Intelligence. What is it? Where did it come from? And how can it make a difference in your business? These are the questions we are going to answer, and you may be surprised at how much you already know.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

By definition, Emotional Intelligence is the level of a combination of five traits. Some people innately have a high EQ (measurement of EI just like an IQ), while others can be taught to improve these characteristics through training and expanding an understanding of their own emotions.

 

When determining a person’s level of EI, or EQ, five traits come into play-- Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Empathy, Motivation and Social Skills. We are going to take a more in depth look at each of these as we examine the benefits of a high EQ in your contact center.

Where did the term originate?

Emotional Intelligence may be more familiar to you as “soft skills” or being a “people person.” The term was first introduced by psychologist Daniel Goleman in 1995 in his book, Emotional Intelligence. The book became a bestseller and was popular with the general public. However, it has taken a while for the concept to find its way into the corporate world. Much like using mindfulness techniques in the workplace, most leaders are skeptical, and the idea of measuring EI has been slow to catch on.

In the customer service/contact center world, it is not a new concept, but a renaming of something we have always strived for, perhaps without even realizing it.

How can it make a difference in my contact center?

This is the question that really matters! In many cases, it is not really a question of how EI can enhance our KPIs, but how much of a priority EI should be. Is it the most important thing to screen for in hiring? Is it something to include in ongoing training? Does it make enough difference to deserve a high priority?  I believe the answer is "yes" to all of the above; however, adding an entirely new list of questions doesn’t respond to the initial inquiry.

If we take a look at each facet of EI and how it pertains to contact center life, it becomes obvious that there are massive benefits:

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is measured by how well you know your strengths, weaknesses, and emotions, as well as your acceptance of these to be true. It also includes being cognizant of one’s own moods and the impact they have on others. With a clear understanding of these things, one becomes more confident and recognizes their self-worth.

In a contact center setting, this is very important. It is best illustrated by something we have been telling customer service agents for many, many years: “Don’t take it personally!” Someone with a high EQ is not going to take the words of an angry customer personally or reciprocate the anger and feel they need to strike back or retaliate. Naturally, a call of that type will have a better outcome than a similar call with a less self-aware agent. The emotionally intelligent agent will be less likely to escalate the call. The call time for a call will probably be shorter as well; a really desirable outcome if AHT is an important KPI for your team!

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There are other ways high self-awareness can benefit agents and the entire contact center. How many times has one person’s cranky mood slowly but surely spread and harmed your whole team? It plays out not only in the room but on each phone call that each of those agents is on. Like that shampoo commercial back in the day, if she tells one person, they tell one person, and so on. It only takes one Grumpy Gus to bring down the mood ofeveryone they interact with. But imagine that Gus is highly self-aware. He would undoubtedly recognize that toxic attitude and get it in check before he infected the room and the customers he faced.

Self Regulation

Self Regulation is the natural next step to Self Awareness. It is how you handle yourself and those emotions that you are aware of and understand. Also, high self-regulators can accept and handle things around them that are out of their control. This is essential in the contact center environment whether dealing directly with customers or with others on their team.

Someone who can regulate or control their moods and emotions well is going to be calm, confident and steady. They will not become overwhelmed when call volume spikes; they will not allow other attitudes or actions to unsettle them. They do not avoid tough subjects or confrontations, but rather meet them head on with determination to resolve. An agent that self-regulates well is more likely to be unflappable when trying to navigate multiple platforms and find answers for a customer. Keeping a good, calm head on your shoulders makes one naturally more efficient.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognize feelings and emotions in others, access and relate to similar scenarios from their own lives. The desire to hire people that can show empathy and holding workshops on how to exude more empathy have been staples in the call center environment since the dawn of time. It doesn’t take a genius to see why it is an important trait for any customer facing employee who is hired to solve problems. Honestly, as important as solving the customer’s problem is, showing empathy/sympathy and creating a relationship with the customer ranks just as high. Or at least it should. Empathy and sympathy are different animals, though close enough in spirit and practice to be interchangeable here. An upset customer that connects with an empathetic agent is more likely to calm down faster, build a rapport, and connect in a way that reflects well on your company. It breeds repeat customers, retains customers that were on the way out the door, and can give your CSAT an edge.

Motivation

For EI, motivation refers to a person’s internal ability to take on new challenges, set attainable goals, and seize opportunities with a positive and optimistic outlook. This is an individual who is not necessarily financially motivated, but who gets jazzed by accomplishments and sharing the wealth with others. There's no need to point out why someone like this is ideal to have on any team; they are probably prime supervisory material.

Social Skills

In the context of EI, the term social skills not only covers the obvious interpersonal relationships, but also encompasses self-esteem, and the abilities to collaborate, cooperate, manage conflict, and have a positive influence on others. Social skills really are the compilation and execution of all the other EI traits. This is undoubtedly a highly desirable feature in a contact center setting, not only for the customer facing, customer service benefits but for the good of company culture and the team dynamic.

Where measuring an EQ falls on your hiring priority list is subjective. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our first impression of a candidate’s personality has always been the first and foremost goal when hiring customer service representatives; that’s just common sense. The game changer is that now there is more science behind evaluating this in someone. A quick Google search can find an array of screening tests to determine where a person’s EQ falls on the scale.

There are super in-depth tests as well as relatively quick and straightforward assessments that you can add to the vetting process. In fact, some would say Emotional Intelligence should be the first and foremost attribute to evaluate in candidates for customer facing jobs. It is not a guessing game any longer. Just because someone may give a good first impression and knows the correct answers to woo an interviewer, it doesn’t mean they possess sustainable traits that will make them an asset on your floor.

Why wouldn’t you move EI to the top of your priorities in hiring? Why wouldn’t you either find an assessment test that you like or at least frame the bulk of your interview questions around it?

Originally published August 17, 2017  Click here to read original article.

The Surprising Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Contact Center*

*It was my pleasure and honor to write a guest article for ICMI.com

Copyright © 2017-ICMI. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from ICMI

Serving customers and solving their problems is hard work. It may not be physically labor intensive or break your back, but it is mentally taxing and it can break one’s spirit. Helping customer service professionals navigate the potential for emotional wear and tear can revolutionize a contact center. As leaders, we spend so much of our time making sure that our agents have the right tools to do their jobs. Well, there is a new tool in town that everyone needs to consider.

Mindfulness has been fashionable for some time now and it was only a matter of time before it found its way into the corporate world. Companies like Ford, Target, Aetna and Google have adopted mindfulness programs for their employees and the results are overwhelmingly positive from every perspective.

The concept of mindfulness in the workplace was first introduced for leadership teams, and has been widely accepted for a while now. A Harvard Business Review study of leaders practicing mindfulness concluded that they were impacted positively in a number of ways. Full disclosure: the study proved that without a doubt, the degree to which mindfulness can improve performance and quality of life is directly proportionate to how involved the subject is. You’ve gotta play to win, if you will.

 

A few of the key successes in the HBR study are universal and impact performance we would all love to see improve in our customer service staff. Proven benefits from this study include:

  1. Becoming less reactive and more responsive - How many times have you tried to train agents to “listen to understand”? Core to that skill is the curbing of our natural instinct to react, especially when someone is presenting us with a problem. The benefit of being able to regulate emotions and focus clearly on the problem at hand enhances the ability to empathize as well.
  2. Increased resiliency - We have all seen agents have one bad call that throws them off for the rest of the day. Not being able to shake off a tough call can taint any number of subsequent ones. Ideally, we want agents to “reset” after a challenging call and carry over little or no effect from the previous call. Mindful breathing is a tool that can help them achieve just that.
  3. Focus - Recent studies show that call center agents are maneuvering through as many as six or seven different software programs to find answers and solutions for your customers. Solving an issue for a customer can be likened to spinning plates in a circus act. That balancing act can breed frustration that agents may try to mask, but regardless, it is felt by your customers. When they are able to clear their minds and create pinpoint focus, many of the KPIs you are watching will improve. Traversing the how, when and where to access the right information becomes more fluid. Naturally, the plate spinning frustration will decrease.

The techniques used in a mindfulness practice are not just for your leadership team anymore. The benefits, especially in a high pressure setting like a call center, are endless. I have found some surprising benefits. Early in 2016 I did case study with a marketing firm in Indiana. They had a small OB call center tasked with setting appointments for their outside sales team. Within 48 hours of the first workshop, after simply learning mindful breathing techniques, we saw an increase in productivity. By the end of week one, productivity increased by 17% and they have maintained that standard. I didn’t realize at the time how dramatically their retention rate would be affected. Their previous retention was dismal at just over 34% for the classes brought in in 2015 and 2016. Only one out of three agents hired didn’t last. Many didn’t make it through training or get to the six month mark on the floor. Coincidentally, a new class completed training and joined the group just when the mindfulness workshop began. That class, eight months later has a retention rate over 60%. In addition to being able to handle the stresses of the job, these agents and their colleagues feel appreciated just because the workshop was even provided at all. They not only do they feel validated, but also their contribution is affirmed and they see its importance. More than half of the team reported using the techniques at home and benefiting there as well.

There are many spokes in the wheel when creating a positive culture to address issues like retention, burnout and poor performance. Introducing mindfulness techniques is one spoke in that wheel. There are a few things to remember if you are deciding to introduce the concept in your call center:

  1. Not all agents will take to it. Some will flat out not participate, and that is ok. Remember that agents are people, and people respond in different ways to different things. If only half of the team takes the tools and uses them, then that is still a win. Keep exploring ideas to reach the others.
  2. At face value, it may seem counterproductive. The thought of giving agents any time off the phone can seem blasphemous! Mindfulness can be incorporated into their day without much or any additional down time. And the truth is that when you study the big picture, the rewards and payback can outweigh any drawbacks. Higher retention rates, shorter call times, increased first time resolution and overall happier customers and employees are priceless. Perhaps start with how agents can incorporate the practice into their daily schedules as they are. You don’t have to provide additional DND time if you are not inclined to do so.
  3. Even the simplest, smallest efforts will have a positive impact. There is no need to convert everyone to Buddhism or meditate on a mountain in Tibet for a year; success is not reserved for only those who make major changes. The beauty of mindfulness is that any and all strides you make will have a positive impact. If the only thing you introduce is mindful breathing, that’s great! And there is no downside. Everyone can benefit from this simple technique and the more they practice, the more they get out of it.
  4. Seek buy in from all leadership. It will be important for them to not only be on board but promoting the tools to the agents. They should be reminding agents to take a few minutes before they come back from a break, helping them remember that they can control their emotions after a tough call or even incorporating exercises into team meetings and training. If your leadership team isn’t willing to support it, then you may not even want to put it out there for agents. Like anything, they are looking to us as an example.
  5. Be ready to support and encourage agents to expand their practices on their own. Inspire them to form groups and help one another learn more. Provide them a safe space, like a conference room to get together and discuss what they are learning and discovering, or a quiet room if they would like to meet to practice meditation. If someone expresses the desire to lead a group and take charge, you should encourage, support and recognize them for that effort.

My advice to companies looking to introduce mindfulness techniques in their contact center culture is simple: start small but cultivate it and tend to it so it grows. A simple breathing workshop that includes tips for assimilating it into their day is a good start. One small step for your contact center, one giant leap for your entire company!

Originally published January 24, 2017  Click here to read original article.

 

 

 

 

 

Appreciation - Walking the Walk

In too many organizations, the contact center staff doesn't feel the love.  Most companies will pay lip service to how much they appreciate their employees, but how many really show it? How many call center employees really do feel the appreciation and know they are valued? The answer is simple...not nearly enough.  

I was pleased to be part of two recent events that materially showed appreciation to hundreds of contact center agents.  It was refreshing and impactful.  Kudos to the men and women of Salesforce for facilitating the events.  Salesforce visited three of their customer's call centers and hosted a day of fun, games, prizes and appreciation for their agents.  Food trucks lined the parking lots to provide lunch, a dj kept the upbeat tunes spinning, cornhole games, headset ring toss and karaoke gave the agents plenty of opportunity to win great prizes and have fun.  Not your typical Tuesday at the office. 

I spent the days wandering through the event, chatting with agents from every team and tier, passing along mindful tips and techniques to help them reduce stress and increase focus.  More importantly, I had the opportunity to personally say "thank you" and "you are appreciated" to several hundred agents.  The impact of these events on many of the agents was tangibly positive.  

The opportunity to laugh, bond with co-workers and the spirit of fun competition is crucial, especially in a call center setting.  The benefits of this type of event will be evident for some time for the host companies.  Especially if they continue to create an atmosphere of understanding and appreciation.  Undoubtedly, these companies will do just that.  The fact that they participated in these events and the comments that I heard from agents made it clear that these companies are on the right path.  Because they make appreciating and humanizing their contact center staff a priority they enjoy higher retention rates, agents miss less time at work, agents see opportunity and strive for excellence to boost their careers.  Many of the agents I spoke with do see it as a career and an opportunity.  A refreshing thing to hear. 

I was particularly impressed when the #ServiceTrailblazers tour spent the day at the Tucson offices of Intuit.  There is no doubt that Intuit has developed a healthy, happy and positive company culture. Every agent I spoke to was upbeat, positive about their job and their contribution.  They really are a cohesive team and agents are in tune with one another.  Over and over I heard them say they loved their jobs and their leadership. I heard so many stories of hard work and dedication being reciprocated with a wonderful culture and with advancement.  When I shared mindfulness techniques with one of them, more often than not they would mention a co-worker that would benefit from it and eagerly gathered my info to share.  I spoke to Rosalie, who is in an agent support role and she was interested in knowing how whe could pass along these tips and help the team she supported.  It was clear that being appreciated and noticed was not new to these employees, It was also clear that the benefits of taking the time to create this culture is worth every effort a company puts into it.  Good on ya', Intuit!

Nothing but kudos to the Salesforce Service Trailblazers tour for making its way around the country, giving love and appreciation to agents who rarely get to leave their headsets, much less the office.  I commend the companies that allow the tour to visit their office.  Whether it is new to your employees to be the center of attention or it is something you are already cultivating, keep the appreciation going and use that momentum.  There is no rocket science here. People who are valued and appreciated will be more loyal, more productive and motivated.  They simply do a better job and everyone involved is happier, period.  And if you need to know if your employees feel empowered and appreciated just ask your customers...they are the first to feel the results. 

 

Sorry Doesn't Need to be the Hardest Word...

There’s a very distinct line in the sand between those who believe a company’s agents should apologize when a customer has an issue, and those who think agents should never apologize under any circumstances. Businesses on both sides of the line are making mistakes.  Even those companies that are on board with apologizing have to be sure they are doing it correctly.

 

If You Are On the”Never Apologize” Train

Those who are adamantly opposed to apologizing generally say it is because they do not want to admit fault, risk negative social media posts, or even litigation.  Ok, that is understandable to a point -- but you can and should apologize.  It can be done without admitting fault. Some may prefer to call it empathizing.  Call it what you will, when a customer has any type of issue related to your company or product, studies show that the three most important things customers want  are:

1) An apology 

2) Resolution  

3) Follow up (with assurance the problem will not recur) 

Surprisingly, these three things hold nearly equal weight. In the case study by www.Genroe.com, Adam Ramshaw reports that, at least in the IT industry, closing the loop is just as  important as resolution of the actual problem when it comes to driving customer loyalty and satisfaction.  Also, disarming an angry customer with an apology will decrease the likelihood of negative social media posts,and drastically increases the chance for praise and positive posts.  

I was working with a natural pet food company not long ago and a customer called in with a complaint.  She was livid and literally screaming at the agent about her cat becoming ill from eating one of their products.  She was yelling, making demands about paying the vet bill and suing the company.  This company was not onboard with the idea of apologizing. The agent let her know that a manager would call her back shortly.  I called her personally to illustrate my point with the marketing team.  When I spoke to her, I apologized for the entire incident, empathized that I know she was worried about her cat and it is so scary when our furry “kids” are sick.  As soon as she realized I was listening and understanding the gravity of the situation for her, she calmed down.  I asked her many questions, investigating how it happened and determining why.  In fact, the customer did not store the product as directed and mold occurred (which happens frequently with natural products that are not stored properly), so technically the entire situation was a result of her own negligence.  In the end, I think she realized that it was her own fault, but neither of us said it out loud.  I replaced the product she purchased and threw in a “gift” of a storage container to keep the treats fresh and safe.  Less than 24 hours later she posted a glowing review of the company and its customer service.  She highly recommended the company and said she was a customer for life.  She even noted in her post that she “had a terrible scare with one of the products but they replaced it immediately and took time to talk to me and make me feel better.”  We started with threats to sue and expectations of vet bills being paid and wrapped up with social media praise.  Even though the company and its product were not even at fault, conceding the replacement product and container not only saved the company from spending time and energy fighting back and forth with her and possibly her lawyer for who knows how long, we saved the the likelihood of many negative posts.  “Customer for life”.  Even the most adamantly opposed to apologizing to customers have to see the value in that phrase.  The company has since changed their policy

Take responsibility.  People respect that and don’t get it nearly enough these days.  Assuming customers will then hold that guilt against you is an unlikely and unfair assumption.   Find verbiage that you can live with and use it.  

 

If You Are Already On Board the Apologizing Train

Congratulations and good for you!  Sorry doesn’t have to be the hardest word.  You have likely already seen the effect on your bottom line if it is something you implemented recently. 

There are businesses that have seen apologizing backfire.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it, it just means you need to be sure you are doing it the right way!  See the tips below to be sure you use the tool properly. 

 

Tips for Apologizing Without Admitting Culpability

First, just listen - First and foremost, listen to the customer and let them vent and explain the problem.  No interrupting or turning the blame to the customer. The customer is not the problem, even when they are the problem.  You must see it as your job to anticipate and prevent the issues they may have. 

Empathize sincerely with the actual issue - Let the customer vent and explain the problem completely. Train your agents to recognize the real issue that has the customer angry.  “I am sorry you had to make this call today and take time from your lunch hour, Mr. Brown. Let me clarify what I understand the issue to be so I can get it resolved quickly for you.” More often than not the angry vocal customer is in that state because of the effect not the cause.  They are more angry about the inconvenience than anything. Guaranteed. Even when the customer is at fault for the problem, pointing that out doesn’t work in your company’s favor, ever.  It is still important to apologize to them for having any issue at all.

Find the common ground so they know you understand - Have your agents relay a time when they had a similar problem and they felt the same way.  “I’m sorry your widget arrived broken, Mrs. Smith. I had that happen with XYZ item and I was so disappointed after waiting for it to arrive for what felt like a lifetime!  Let’s get a new widget out to you immediately.”

Apologize for the right reason, in the right way - If your apology includes throwing your vendors or staff under the bus, then you are not really helping.  In fact, that sort of apology ends up making you look bad in the long run.  If you have such a terrible staff member or unreliable vendor then why do I want to trust you with my business in the future?  There is nothing wrong with assuring a customer that you will correct the problem if it regards an employee through training or immediately bring it to your vendor’s attention so they can rectify the problem on their end. 

Assure them this is an unusual thing and that it won’t happen again - Be straight with them, let them know that things happen and that you are sorry.  “This is such an unusual issue! I am so sorry you had to be the one to have it happen, Mrs. Jones.  I appreciate you bringing it to our attention and we’ll get started on fixing it right now!”  Have processes in place to help insure the customer does not have the same experience again.  Hopefully, problems are occasional and you can be confident that this issue  won’t happen again.  Relay that confidence. 

Unless you know it is not unusual! - If there are customer/product issues that you are aware of in your company and are already addressing, be sure to have a system for flagging their account to be handled with special care while you tidy up things on your end. You can relay with confidence that you are on top of it.

Don’t forget to close the loop!  Follow up with each and every complaint, even when you know it has been resolved. This is equally as important as saying you are sorry and resolving the problem. You are two-thirds of the way there, make it a home run!

 

Five Pointers for Hiring the RIGHT Call Center Agents

Taking the time up front in the interview process can save you time, productivity and headaches later on down the line.

Here are five things to include in your vetting process to increase your odds of finding the right agents to put in your room:

  1. Always have 2 interviews.The first and second interviews will have decidedly different goals.

  2. In the first interview you will want to do a lot of the talking. Explain your company, the job and everything they should expect if you were to hire them. Answer any questions they have and get any and all questions you have from viewing their application or resume answered.  ** Liberally decide who to invite back for a second interview **
  3. The second interview is when you will want the candidate to do most of the talking.  Answer all the questions they have come up with from the first interview. Get them to open up and tell you more about them, their experience but more importantly about what matters to them and what they do with their free time.  GEt to know the personality.

  4. Have a short mock-call with an excerpt from a script in the first interview.  Just a greeting and one paragraph. You are mainly looking for how comfortable they are with it and that their reading skills are up to speed on the fly.

  5. In the second interview, a lengthier mock call that includes coaching should be done.  Present the prospect with a short script and include two objections and scripted responses. During the first read through mock call, present the objections in order that they are on the script. Wrap up the “call”.  Now give some coaching and feedback you would like to see them execute and go through the exercise again.  This time you should flip flop the objections.  You are looking for two things at this point.  One, do they implement the coaching well? Are they coachable?  Two, how to they deal with the switch up of the objections?  Does it throw them? Do they recover quickly and smoothly?

It is surprising how many call centers will hire someone without a script reading of any sort. I know of at least one occasion where an agent was hired and in training it was discovered that they could not read!  At all!!

Use these tools to not only help discover a candidate’s ability and how coachable they are but also how they will fit in or even elevate the culture of your room.