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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
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:
One morning I was using the kiosk at the airport to check-in for my flight. Self-service check-in is something I do, all of the time. I like using self-service, and most of the time, I know what I’m doing. But on this day, something went wrong, and I wasn’t able to print my ticket.
An employee with the airline noticed I was stuck. She walked over and asked if I needed help with anything. I told her what my problem was. She stood, facing me, and looking over the kiosk, so that the kiosk was actually upside down for her. And from that position, she walked me through what I needed to proceed.
Two things about this encounter struck me. First, the employee “noticed” that I needed help. That means she was watchful and willing. I didn’t have to stand there and struggle, and I didn’t have to hunt anyone down.
The second thing I noticed was, she didn’t just do it for me. The employee walked me through the steps, which helps me to be able to do it myself next time.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to spot when it’s time for you to step up, and help a customer use self-service, much like the airport employee did for me.
Self-service at the library must be a smooth and quick experience. This means it has to be easy for customers, and customers have to “like” using self-service tools.
You can make self-service easy and enjoyable by jumping in at the moment your customer needs assistance. There are 3 steps you can take to make self-service work.
Key 1: Observe
Stand back and let customers approach self-service. Those who know what they’re doing don’t like to be bothered. But keep an eye out for people using the options for the first time. Just glance over at customers as they use your self-service so that you know when your help is needed.
Key 2: Act
I’m working with a utility company in the northeast. All of my customer service workshops begin with what I call a Discovery Discussion – a video conference where I discover the problem my client needs me to solve. For my utility client, the discussion showed the most pressing issue was that Representatives didn’t know how to keep interactions focused and productive.
Conversation control. That’s the issue. My solution for this client was 4 ways to use questions to move conversations forward to solutions and then closure. Here’s what I gave them.
1. Ask a Focus Question
Focus questions help you, help your customer to focus on why they’ve called you. Try questions like:
“I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking. What exactly do you need us to do?” Your tone is crucial here. Make sure you don’t sound condescending in any way.
“I see..so, how, exactly, can I help you with this?” Again, the tone is essential here.
“How, specifically, can I help you today?”
2. Use Clarifying Questions
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A lot of people are curious about self-service options in public libraries and in retail, but many customers will avoid trying self-service if it seems complicated. No one wants to add more stress to their lives, so if it looks hard, they’ll skip it, and work with a real person instead.
Here are 6 keys to guiding you through exactly how to teach first-time users to master self-service in your library branch or retail store.
1. Introduce Self-Service
A great way to get customers to try self-service is for you to just mention the option.
While you’re helping a customer check out a book, for example, you could ask, “Have you ever tried using self-checkout?” You could then walk over to self-checkout, and walk the customer through how to do it themselves. You just may introduce a customer to something they never would have tried on their own. In that way, you’ll be empowering your customer.
2. Politely Probe To Determine If Your Help Is Needed
Chat support is not supposed to be rote like an ATM transaction. The idea is to insert a personal tone so you can build rapport and even delight customers. I have my clients do four things in chat interactions to make them more human.
1. Use “I” and “We” personal pronouns because they instantly make the tone personal.
2. Acknowledge customer concern, meaning speak to your customer’s pain point, “I realize this has been frustrating for you.”
3. Apologize, when appropriate. A sincere apology helps you restore confidence and regain goodwill. It can be as simple as, “I’m sorry your tablet isn’t charging for you.”
4. End chats on a positive note. A QVC Chat Agent ended a chat with me positively, like Chick-Fil-A employees always finalize order taking in the first drive-thru window, “You’re certainly welcome, my pleasure! Have a wonderful day and please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime. We’re always glad to help.”
I wrote this article because a workshop attendee wanted to know how to make her chat support more personal. I even filmed a short YouTube video offering these four secrets that you can use to train your employees. Show this video to your employees to help them make chat interactions more personal.
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