How Pulling Away for 3 Hours a Week Can Actually Make You More Productive

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Every week I set aside three uninterrupted hours to work on me. In this “Strategic Block,” a term coined in the book “12 Week Year,” I don’t allow emails, calls, or meetings, and no regular business tasks. I focus solely on personal or professional development.

Pulling back from the hustle and grind to self-develop gives me energy and creativity to come back and own my week, and I promise you, this exercise will help you boss up, too.

In this week’s Strategic Block, I’m working my way through week eight of the twelve-week “Artist’s Way” course, while I explore a new coffee, “Oddly Correct.”

Here are some things I’ve done in my Strategic Blocks:

The Miracle Of Visualizing, Planning, And Executing Your Best Customer Experience Yet – Through Quality Monitoring

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Twelve years ago, I created a vision board. On it, I had a specific vehicle, a goal of annual family vacations, antique office furniture, a whole new backyard, including patio furniture, and a playground for my kids, and a few other coveted things. I manifested every image I tacked on my board. EVERYTHING.

The success of my vision board is a lot like a project I’m working on with some of my clients.

When I work with customer service and marketing teams to improve customer interactions, I always ask some form of these questions:

3 Things I Know For Sure Motivate Customer Service Employees

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We all go through times when we’re not feeling the whole work thing. The mere thought of work brings on dread, we mop ourselves into the office later and later, and our eyes are rolled to the back of our head more often than not. These are all signs that we’re burned out or morale is very low.

If you’re a supervisor or manager and you see signs of work exhaustion in your people, you need to act fast, or you might lose your people to burnout, or another job. I’ve had depleted employees, and I’ve been the used up person (even in my current position).

Here are three things I know for sure meaningfully motivate employees. I know these ideas work because I’ve used them in call centers I’ve managed, and right here at Myra Golden Seminars.

1. Plan a Team Building Outing

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I keep things spicy at Myra Golden Seminars by regularly getting the team out for fun. We’ve done escape rooms, painting with wine in hand, and I once brought in a game from my childhood home, Simon, which gave way to energy and belly laughs. Look for ways to bring your team together outside of work.

2. Highlight What They Do Well

How Merely Asking Yourself, “What Else?” Will Transform Your Customer Experience

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My daughter and I were exploring supplements at Whole Foods on Saturday. I’d grabbed Matcha powder, MCT oil, and ground flaxseed. An employee with happy robin eyes spotted my bounty and whispered a tip, “If you can wait a few days, all of our supplements are going to be 25% off August 2-4, and Prime members get an additional 10% off. I can get you a bag and hold your items for you if you like.”

I needed the ground flaxseed for a vegan recipe, but the other times could wait. “That’s so generous of you to share! Yes, I’d like to start a bag, please,” I said, shocked by the employee’s helpful tip, and grateful. My little bag was chock-full when I handed it back to the happy-eyed employee to hold for me until Friday.

The Whole Foods employee used a technique that I call the “What else?” approach. This technique is to think of what else can I do/offer to make this experience the best it can be? I’ve had three recent happy experiences of front-line customer service employees asking “what else?” with me. Let’s quickly look at these situations, and then I hope you’ll take my challenge of asking “what else” you can do to surprise and delight your customers.

Six Common Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes With Quality Monitoring In Contact Centers

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After I deliver a customized, engaging customer service workshop, I help my clients reinforce the main ideas. One way I do that is by teaming up with the company’s Quality Assurance team. When working with the quality people to help make sure employees apply the soft skills I teach them, I find six typical mistakes. Here are the Six Common Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes In Quality Monitoring In Contact Centers.

1. Calculus-Difficult Scoring

In my last contact center job, the Quality Form that was in place when I started made me dizzy. One had to subtract, divide, and multiply to get the final score. My Dad, a retired mathematics teacher, may as well have created this form as an algebra project in word problem form for his middle school students.

Make scoring and interpreting your monitoring data as easy as reheating pizza in the microwave. Yes, I’m serious. We’re not preparing six-course culinary brilliance. We’re just trying to measure the customer experience.

2. Needlessly Long Quality Form

I remember sitting down with Ava, a customer service supervisor, to discuss her Quality Form. It was a stupendous seven-page mess. The form evaluated everything from dead-air space to the accidental use of “uhs” and “ums.” My reaction was, “What the actual?” If your Quality Form is more than three pages, you need to cut the drama and ask yourself, “What problem are we trying to solve?” Measure only standards and objectives that help you achieve the sound, flow, and feel in interactions that reflect the soul of your brand. Ditch everything else and get that form to three pages or less. If you need help with designing your quality form, get a seat in my August 9th webinar where I walk through the quality form components and give out sample forms. 

3. Monitoring Sans Coaching

Reviewing employees’ interactions and giving them guidance on how they’re doing go hand in hand, like a wick and flame. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised to know how many companies take the time to rate customer service contacts – and then penalize employees for lousy performance without bothering to meet and discuss variances with employees. Employees expect and deserve feedback and guidance on their performance.

4. Skipping Calibration

Simple Guidance for Designing Your Quality Monitoring Program (8 Steps)

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Are you designing or redesigning a Quality Monitoring Program for your organization right now? Need some guidance on how to develop and execute a quality program that is robust, fair, and that your employees buy-in to – and one that doesn’t make your supervisors need to sip wine just to get through a coaching discussion with employees?

I have help for you. Here’s the 8 Step Quality Program we use at Myra Golden Seminars.

1. Define the Problem You Need to Solve
2. Determine Outcomes – What you want your employees to do, do differently as a result of quality monitoring
3. Develop Standards and Objectives for Customer Experience
4. Determine Monitoring Method and Frequency
5. Design Coaching Strategy
6. Develop Calibration Strategy
7. Introduce Quality Program to Employees
8. AAR Discussion – After Action Report – What was expected to happen? What actually occurred? What went well, and why? What can be improved, and how?

I explain each of these steps precisely as I use them with clients below.

3 Ways to Get Quality Contact Center Monitoring Right

If you can dream it, you can do it

The goal was to motivate customer service employees to deliver a better customer experience by monitoring calls and giving feedback on calls. The manager carefully crafted a monitoring form, which would be used to measure everything from listening skills to friendliness, to empathy. Each dimension on the score sheet was rated on a 5-point scale after supervisors listened to a random sample of calls between employees and customers.

Two months into the new quality monitoring plan, employees were complaining about the “fairness” of scores, supervisors were stressed as they struggled to find time to listen to calls, coach employees and record all the data.

Just 5 months after introducing the new quality plan, management acknowledged that the project was thrown together without proper research or knowledge, it was too difficult to manage, and employees perceived the program as unfair. The entire plan was benched.

This, friends is an excellent example of how not to do a quality monitoring plan. Quality monitoring programs must motivate employees to perform at optimal levels, be easy to manage, and yes, they must be fair. Today I will explore with you 3 ways to Get Quality Monitoring Right.

One. Let Employees Listen to Their Own Calls

How to Boost Your Quality Monitoring with Calibration – And Why You Must

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When my daughter was 13, we re-did her bedroom to give her a teenage look. She picked out modern furniture from Ikea, lovely bedding and fun art that perfectly matched her style. Six years later my teenage son, now 16, pointed out, “You guys owe me a new room. Sissy got a new room when she was 13 and I’m 16 with the same room I had when I was little.”

My son felt we were being unfair to him by not redoing his room at exactly the same age as we did his sister’s. So, on Saturday night we went out and picked out his new room. We haven’t made the purchases yet, but the process is started! I didn’t think of the timing as being unfair, but that is certainly my son’s perception.

You, no doubt, have employees who notice the little (or big) things just like my son. This means you must take care to be fair and to be perceived as fair, particularly when it comes to performance feedback.

I remember managing a contact center and having an employee say to me, “Tammy does the exact same thing, yet the supervisor doesn’t take off points for her. I may not have a bubbly tone like Tammy, but I’m good with customers.” The employee was referring to the point distribution on her quality monitoring form versus Tammy’s points. Employees often came into my office to have discussions that were in one way or another just like this one. The problem was my people didn’t feel the supervisors were being fair. That was a problem.

It took me a short while, but I did eventually nip the unfairness dilemma in the bud. What I did is I began meeting weekly with my supervisors to calibrate. Calibration is simply: