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April 09 Newsletter Online Final

Customer Reach Newsletter published by The Taylor Reach Group. Well regarded publication: over 10,000 subscribers, 54% of subscribers have implemented change in their contact center based on ideas and concepts they first read about in Customer Reach.

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April 09 Newsletter Online Final

  1. 1. CUSTOMER REACH® VOLUME 6, ISSUE 4 APRIL 2009 ISSN 1718-8938 Motivating Without Money…Doing More with None Motivating agents in a contact center is a perennial challenge for virtually every contact center manager. Just how can we motivate staff to excel? We know that engaged and motivated staff perform better and create and support a healthy culture within the call or contact center. Traditionally money has been the primary and in some centers the only answer to this question. Money always seems to be the right size and colour to address motivational issues. But is money the best or only solution to a motivated workforce? And if we are going to employ financial compensation as a motivational tool how can we best manage this to get the maximum ‘bang for our buck’? Lets look at how most contact centers employ money as a motivational tool: often they will establish specific targets or thresholds: calls/hour, orders per day, AHT, quality scores etc. and then associate a dollar value on reaching these thresholds. This approach is tried and true; it has been employed in centers for decades and does improve motivation; at least for some agents. Not all agents have the skills or the experience to reach the thresholds or to achieve them consistently. I have seen some centers where overall performance and motivation actually decline or are eroded through some ‘incentive’ programs. Ask the agents in these centers and they will quickly tell you why: “the same handful of agents will get all of the incentive comp”; “I can’t win so why should I try”. As you can see this type of program can actual act as a disincentive and de-motivate staff. This clearly is not the outcome we are seeking. Of course monetary programs can be tweaked to expand there scope an application, basing opportunity incentives not on achieving fixed thresholds, but based upon percentage improvement for example. However even this approach can back fire, are we incenting and rewarded staff who do as little as possible to keep their jobs each day, but work harder when there is cash on line, over staff that work hard every day and on the whole are much more valuable staff. So monetary rewards are less than perfect and in today’s economy more and more contact centers have moved from ‘doing more with less’ and are now being asked to ‘do more with nothing’. Non monetary motivational tools and tactics are increasingly the only options open to many centers. As a result a number of Contact Center Managers are now in unfamiliar territory as they have only ever employed money or ‘stand ins’ for money (movie passes, restaurant certificates and gift cards etc.). What guidance and advice can we provide these managers to help them navigate these difficult waters? First, the manager needs to understand that they while non-monetary tools can be effective, they generally require more planning and structure than cash incentives do. Most cash based motivational or incentive programs are either: Tactical or Ongoing. Inside this Issue Motivating Without Money…Doing More with None ................................................................................................................................ 1 Survey of the Month ................................................................................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined. The ART or SCIENCE of the Service Recovery Paradox........................................................................................................................... 4 Newsworthy................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 Inside TRG................................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Upcoming Events......................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Case Study ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 11 Tactical programs are a short term incentive to improve performance opposite a specific KPI, goal, or objective, i.e. increase revenues by April 2009 Page 1 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  2. 2. 5%, reduce handle time to 300 seconds, achieve quality scores of 95% or better, etc. Ongoing programs tend to revolve around commission sales structures. Similarly non monetary incentives can also be tactical or structural. Tactical non monetary motivation is not ongoing, though may be term based: Employee of the Month, Most Improved Agent etc. are both examples (which could include a monetary aspect) of term based motivational programs. Other engagement programs that can deliver positive motivation would include point program and/or shift swapping. Point based programs are modeled after frequent flyer or loyalty programs allowing agents to earn points through various activities and/or achievements: one point for perfect attendance, 10 points for a quality score above the target, 25 points for a kudos letter form a customer etc. Such point programs then allow agents to redeem their points for preferred shifts, days off, preferred parking, gift certificates etc. Your agents are adults, or we hope they are, so treat them as adults. Let them schedule themselves and swap shifts when required based upon the rules set down. These rules may include program or technical knowledge tenure or points accumulated through a point based incentive program. Structural non cash motivation should actually be woven into the structure and culture of the center itself. There can be success with tactical applications of non-cash motivation. Centers, however, achieve superior and more sustained results from a holistic integration of non cash motivational elements into the underlying contact center operational structure. At this point I am often interrupted as a manager will then suggest that they already employ Recognition within their center. The conclusion that one draws here is that recognition is the only non cash way to motivate staff. Of course recognition is a valuable tool and can motivate staff. Recognition is not just recognizing the agent with perfect attendance or a well handled call that should be acknowledged. Recognition should be a fundamental tenant of the contact center operating strategy. Research (The Neuroscience of Leadership by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz) has shown that engagement is a key driver of staff motivation and recognizing and celebrating a job well done is a great way to engage with your staff. Often effective contact center employ monetary program (tactical and/or on going), but they also employ recognition programs that value their agents contribution. The best practice contact centers layer these motivational initiatives on top of a structure that supports employee engagement and motivation. We are not just speaking of a manager trying to motivate their staff, but of a contact center environment and culture where the agents are motivated themselves and motivate those around them. Creating a structure that supports this type of culture requires that each aspect and element that relates and impacts on the agents employment within the contact center is aligned to create motivated and engaged and effective agents. If we look at the agents experience of the contact center from their moment of being hired and then chart that experience through to being a productive and engaged member of the contact center team we can see a number of opportunities to create a motivational culture within the center and to create and hire agents that support and grow the culture. This process is illustrated below. April 2009 Page 2 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  3. 3. Agent Career Progression Hiring/Recruiting Career Path/ACM Recognition Agent Employment Successful Career Job Description Peer Feedback Monetary Comp The environment that staff are hired into has an impact on how engaged the staff feels and how effective and motivated they are to perform. The first element on a career progression is the recruitment or hiring phase. Hire staff that possesses the skills, competencies and attributes to perform well in a contact center. This results in staff that functions better in the center. They are more motivated to perform. Far too many centers still today rely on previous call center or customer service experience as a stand in for demonstrated real skills and competencies. They then wonder why their center is dysfunctional and the staff unmotivated. When we look at the skills we desire in staff no two centers are the same. Keyboarding skills, attention to detail, sense of ownership and responsibility are common to most skill & competency maps created. Some centers add stress testing and resilience, or interest in yoga or meditation. Other seek those who will fight for the customer at all costs. Perhaps most famously, Zappos asks all applicants to demonstrate how they are ‘a little weird’. You must look at the type of culture you wish to create and the type of performance you seek. Mirror these in the hiring and recruitment processes. Of course these attributes must be testable. You will need to verify that those who claim these attributes and skills actually have them. Pre employment testing should include: typing, spelling, attention to detail, numeracy, logic exercises and may include personality tests to determine if the person is a high ‘I’, a peacock or a tiger. The name of the game is to hire staff that can succeed and by succeeding improve to centers performance and reinforce the culture you have set out to create. Job descriptions should set out exactly what is expected of an agent in terms of KPI’s. Staff can motivate themselves to achieve and exceed these goals once they know what you expect of them and how they will be measured or assessed. It is critically important in this economy and in this ‘age of entitlement’ that staff understand that they are primarily responsible for their own career. By telling them what is expected of them and by telling them you only hire those who can succeed do you establish a good basis for motivation and engagement. By extending this through a vision of their career path you cement the goals and hurdles that agents need to meet before they can proceed within the center. One model employed is the ACM model or Adequacy, Competency and Mastery. This model recognizes that when an agent is hired and trained they are Adequate. That is to say that there is no reason to fire them. Over time with experience coaching and learning they should proceed to the second stage in their agent career: Competent. Now they are valuable members of the agent pool, they can perform most desired tasks and can regularly meet the desired performance metrics and KPI’s. The next stage along the way is Mastery. Here the agent becomes the ‘go to’ person for knowledge, help and assistance. They are likely subject matter experts within the centre. They likely coach and mentor other staff. These same staff are poised to move in a supervisory or specialist role and will likely have completed special projects or worked on various teams. By defining and publishing what skills, competencies, achievements and performance criteria are required to move ahead in the center and in their career, agents self motivate and self identify. A self motivated and engaged agent is the ideal to be sought in any center. Of course April 2009 Page 3 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  4. 4. any career progression with defined performance criteria requires commensurate increases in compensation. Ideally the pay ranges should also be published. They should include an element of re-earnable incentive compensation in addition to a base salary. By requiring agents recertify their performance annually it ensures that they stay engaged and motivated and prevents them from becoming lackadaisical or ‘resting on their laurels’. Into this career progression adding peer feedback is valuable. In a center with an engaged and motivated culture agents want and seek input and feedback from those around them. Peer quality reviews as a component or in addition to your formal Quality program creates this feedback. Let the staff review each others calls, provide kudos and feedback to the agents, select the best calls, the most improved agents etc. This empowerment motivates not only those recognized, but also those involved in the selection process. Money is and has been the easy answer to staff motivation in the past and while money alone can improve performance building a culture of engaged and motivated agents will produce results long after the money has run out. Let us know what you think of this article send us an email at The ART or SCIENCE of the Service Recovery Paradox   In any customer facing organization, things are never perfect. Try as we might, by error of omission, commission and yes even deliberate design, there is a real or perceived discrepancy in the delivery of customer service. A severe enough dissatisfaction, as we are all painfully aware - can sometimes result in a lost customer along with the investment put into acquiring and maintaining them as well as the loss of future profit. To add insult to injury there is also the specter of negative Word of Mouth to multiply those losses. Academia has been trying to answer the question of whether a successful recovery from a service failure can 'paradoxicallyquot; lead to a stronger customer bond. In other words can failure lead to success?   There have been many studies with various sample sizes, longitudinal and cross sectional in design and so it’s not really surprising that some studies will affirm the paradox, others not. I recently came across this study ( ) of online banking customers at a Swiss Bank which stands out by its sheer size and scope. April 2009 Page 4 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  5. 5. Key sample sizes: Total customers involved in study: 11,929 Customers reporting no service failure: 9,166 (8174 in study, 452 non response) Customers reporting 1 failure: 2,638 (1189 in study, 1025 resolution pending, 424 non response) Customers reporting 2 failures: 125 Its key findings: 1) Consumers are accepting of minor deviations in service 2) Service failures are relatively rare 3) Customer Satisfaction impact hierarchy: a) Exceptional service is better than b) Exceptional recovery is better than c) Nondescript service 4) Recommendation intention hierarchy: Exceptional service is equal to exceptional recovery in scoring high intent to recommend and both are better than nondescript service Other studies (Service Recovery Paradox: A Meta-Analysis, ) point out that recovery is possible if the failure is not too severe. If the customer has had a longer term relationship, if the customer perceives that procedural changes will be forthcoming as a result... So at the end of the day it seems the studies agree on a few key points, namely that to Err is Human...but divine forgiveness depends on sincerity and severity. Or as Johnston and Michel have noted there are three outcomes of service recovery: Customer recovery, process recovery and employee recovery. Many companies have therefore tried to implement process standardization at every critical juncture, but in the view of Hall and Johnson at Harvard Business Review science/ib quot;The movement to standardize processes has gone overboard. Some require an artist’s judgment—and should be managed accordingly.quot; In their view when a 'standard' input is inherently variable (i.e. humans), or when output variability is desired by the customer, the process needs to be managed from an 'artistic' perspective allowing for judgment and context while ensuring frequent feedback and mentoring oversight. Using that guidance, there will be aspects of the customer interphase that can and should be engineered whereas others need to be open. None of these conclusions should be surprising revelations, but for varied reasons companies struggle to get it right. So what's your experience with the service recovery paradox, is it something that mostly needs a scientific or artistic approach? 1. What is your incidence of service failure? 2. What escalation processes do you have? 3. Do you allow front line staff to resolve issues directly? 4. Do you have (financial) limits on the resolution, or do you follow the Nordstrom rule quot;do what is right for the customerquot;? 5. What about preemptive measures. 6. Are you proactively informing customers about deviations that they may not even be aware of and the steps you took to correct the situation? About the Author- Miro Slodki is a marketing generalist with cross functional and cross sector experience spanning CPG Marketing, Direct Marketing, Franchise Retail/Travel, Market Research, Rewards, Sales, Relationship Management, B2C, B2B and online marketing. He’s pursuing his passion for strengthening brand value linkages for over 15 years. Any questions or comments are welcome by contacting the author at Please visit Miro’s blog at Let us know what you think of this article send us an email at Newsworthy In this regular column we review the latest news, predictions and trends impacting on the Call Center / Customer Interaction April 2009 Page 5 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  6. 6. Industry. China cracks down on Telemarketing Fraud Fraudsters busted over phone scam Twenty criminal gangs were busted and 601 suspects held in late March for cheating through telemarketing, Beijing police said yesterday. Fu Zhenhua, Deputy Chief of Beijing public security bureau, said the move quot;showed Beijing police's determination to fight against property-related crimes, growing in times of the financial crisisquot;. quot;We are reminding the public to enhance their vigilance against cheating,quot; he said. Bureau statistics showed cheating through mobile text messages had cost the public 100 million yuan ($14 million) in the first three months of this year. Police said criminals were stealing consumers' personal information, like names, phone numbers and addresses from information collectors, insurance agents and the Internet, as well as exchanging the information with other telemarketing companies. They recruit telephone operators to promote ostensibly high-end products, such as 3G mobile phones, jewelry, Rolex watches, costing significantly lower than the market price. Eventually these turn out to be counterfeit or shoddy products. A quot;limited edition, golden Samsung mobile phonequot; developed by a tele-shopping company, which claimed to be the quot;cooperative partnerquot; of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee and China Post, and sold at 2,580 yuan apiece, is unusable. Ma Wenqing, a victim from Gansu province, said he received a phone call to promote a cell phone model with dual cards and dual standby functions this January. quot;They said it was a quality product and offered 1,000 yuan worth of free calls if I bought the phone, priced at 1,980 yuan,quot; he said. But he received a shoddy product without the fancy features or the 1,000-yuan worth of free calls promised. quot;What's more irritating, since I bought the crappy phone, I receive at least two calls a day trying to sell commemorative coins or watches. They are disturbing my normal life!quot; Ma said. Consumers were taken in by the unusually low pricing and the callers claiming to be partners of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee and China Post, police said. The cheaters hired logistics companies to pack the commodities uniformly and send them to China Post for delivery. Beijing police said they found a logistics company had sent out over 40,000 articles, worth over 55 million yuan. China Daily April 2009 Page 6 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  7. 7. Why EarthLink Likes Click-to-Chat By Ken Magill Is click-to-chat a wise option for every merchant’s Website? No, it’s usually not for those who sell low-consideration, low- margin products. But live-chat customer service does make sense for low-margin items if the customer is a high-value customer overall, or if the contact-center representative can cross-sell or upsell during the process. And it can work well for certain services, as EarthLink has found. The Internet service provider began offering click-to-chat customer service in 2001. By 2004 the company was using it to handle 15% of its customer contacts. “This was really huge for us, because our chat agents handle three concurrent chats,” says Mike Murphy, EarthLink’s senior manager, online support strategy. And, depending on call time, “if we’re handling the customer with chat as opposed to the phone, we’re saving anywhere from $3 to $5 per contact.” That adds up quickly, Murphy notes: “A couple million chats a year for support breaks down into huge cost savings for us.” Chat is also EarthLink’s highest scoring channel in terms of customer satisfaction and comparable to other channels in terms of issue-resolution percentages, says Murphy. A chat agent can handle 80 to 100 contacts a day and no topic, including service-cancellation save attempts, is outside their scope, he adds. Chat currently accounts for about 25% of EarthLink’s customer contacts, adds Murphy. MultiChannel Merchant Furloughs for L.L. Bean Call Center Workers By Jim Tierney Outdoor gear and apparel merchant L.L. Bean will furlough about 75% of its staff at the Bangor, ME-based call center starting in May, according to the Kennebec (ME) Journal/Morning Sentinel. All but 50 of the 200 workers at the Bangor facility will be furloughed -- which means they will be out of work temporarily – under what the company calls an quot;extended lack of workquot; program, according to the article. L.L. Bean spokesperson Carolyn Beem did not return calls to MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT by press time, but told the newspaper: “They will remain active employees with seniority and all benefits. Hopefully, we’ll be able to reassess in the summer and bring them all back.” The Bangor facility, which opened in fall 2005, was selected for temporary layoffs ahead of three other facilities -- in Portland, Lewiston, and Waterville, ME, because Bangor was the newest call center to go online. The 50 employees who will be kept through May and June will be picked by seniority. Workers will be brought back by seniority when L.L. Bean begins staffing up the call centers for the fall/holiday this summer, Beem said. L.L. Bean in March released its 2008 financial report, which revealed a 7.8% drop in revenue from 2007. MultiChannel Merchant April 2009 Page 7 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  8. 8. April 2009 Page 8 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  9. 9. Inside TRG Based upon demand we have elected to extend this offer to Customer Reach subscribers…see below Recently TRG secured a Management Services agreement with Telepoll a Toronto based Market Research and data gathering company with 19 years of experience. Telepoll’s services include: Data gathering, Market Research, Customer satisfaction surveys, Mystery Shopper calling, Outsourced quality monitoring (3PQM) TRG has secured preferential pricing for readers of Customer Reach. For a limited time Customer Reach readers who retain Telepoll services will receive a 20% discount off standard pricing. This discount will allow a company for example to complete a Customer satisfaction survey for $5,000. For more information about how your company can take advantage of this discount please contact Christine Schmakies at . Looking for a Good Read? Check out Colin Taylors Blog: Call Center Perspectives at Looking to expand you contact center networking? Join us on To join Colin Taylor’s LinkedIn network, just send Colin an email and he will send you an invitation. To join John Cockerill’s LinkedIn network, just send John an email and he will send you an invitation. Upcoming Events Reinventing Call Centre Management Colin Taylor is speaking at the 2nd Reinventing Call Centre Management, April 27 to 29th at the Metropolitan Hotel (108 Chestnut Street) in Toronto. For more information about the event follow this link If you cite my email address ( when you register you will receive a 15% discount off the basic registration fee. Topics include: · Key performance indicators · Collecting customer feedback · Recognizing potential leaders in front-line staff · Latest customer support tools · Rewards and recognition to motivate employees · Streamlining response time · Challenges associated with developing a customer-focused culture · Dealing with employee resistance to change · How to conduct a self-service pilot study · A plethora of insightful case studies from large and reputable organizations April 2009 Page 9 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  10. 10. Motivation without Money What's the difference between Incenting and Motivating someone? What happens when the money you use as an incentive is perceived as an entitlement by your team? Sometimes things that are intended as motivation backfire -or are perceived as a bribe- and actually have the opposite effect. Colin is also speaking at the CPA Breakfast meeting on April 21st at the Toronto Holiday Inn Airport. For more information visit the CPA Event web site at . The following presentations are available for viewing and/or download at no cost from our Slideshare site Attrition Management Contact Center Leadership Strategies ICSA- TRG Dec 2006 Narrowing The Gap TRG RFP IP PBX Template TRG Credentials 08 April 2009 Page 10 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  11. 11. Case Study In this regular column we review the successes that TRG has been part of. Assisted a Major bank to review its' Customer Interaction processes and identified more than $5 million dollars of operational efficiencies The Challenge: A national network of call centers, significant staff turnover, unhappy customers, uncertainty regarding the benefits of outsourcing and challenges associated with delivering the value they sought from their call center channel. These were some of the challenges facing one of the largest financial institutions in Australia when they began speaking to Colin Taylor. The Process: Colin and his team of consultants began at the beginning, a Strategic Assessment a full end-to-end review of each of the 'moving-parts' within the call center infrastructure. The sweeping engagement assessed the people in the call centers, their skills and competencies, the processes, procedures, operational methodologies, technologies, quality and service practices and business objectives. With a number of centers and thousands of agents this was a significant exercise in terms of scope. The Solution: The bank employed state of the art, best of breed technologies and had invested heavily in self-service and workforce management solutions. Their operational methodology was based on a very successful internationally accepted model…so what was the problem? There were fundamental gaps in the process maps and invalid assumptions being employed in defining the objectives and means to attaining these objectives. By vetting and re-engineering the process maps, procedures and operational methodology we ensured that the objectives of the organization could be met. In the process we streamlined the use and application of the existing technology and implemented a limited outsource relationship, both of which improved efficiency and reduced expense. The Result: The bank improved its customer satisfaction, reduced turnover and leveraged enhanced benefits from their technology investments. In addition they established an outsource relationship that allowed them better control on the call patterns arriving in their captive centers which improved the center performance, as well as employee morale. The re-engineering process improvement, leveraged technology and outsource combined to total more than $5,000,000 in annual operational cost savings! April 2009 Page 11 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved
  12. 12. Customer Reach® is published 10 times per year by The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. Customer Reach® may not be reproduced without permission. Subscription requests can be directed to or to; Customer Reach 19 Mercer Street, Suite 302, Toronto ON M5V 1H2 Phone - 416-979-8692 Fax - 416-977-8817 The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. provides Strategic and Operational customer interaction consulting services that deliver Operational Innovation breakthroughs in Contact Center operations. Award winning service and more than 100 years of industry experience serving ‘Fortune 1000’ companies. Extensive North American and International experience with both captive (in-house), home based and outsource centers. Delivering Operational Innovation to your Contact Center Contact Center Consulting, Quality Monitoring & Assurance, Customer Satisfaction Consulting, Outsourcing/Offshoring Assessments, Contact Center Technologies, Total Cost of Ownership Assessments, KPI and Best Practices, Service to Sales Migrations, Award winning service...Reach Beyond! Phone or email Colin Taylor today at 416-979-8692 ext. 200 or John Cockerill at ext 201 By email at or Offices in Toronto, Atlanta & Australia TRG are proud members of: The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. E-mail: April 2009 Page 12 Copyright TRG, All rights Reserved