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Improve Customer and Employee Experience - One Individual at a Time
Natural Born Gift
“The ‘natural’ part is the piece of building those customer relationships and having the passion to serve them..”
All of us here at our company are in positions where we serve others. Some of us fell into our positions perhaps through circumstances of life and others by careful choice. Either way, we are and have become very good at what we do. Our results demonstrate that. For some of us it takes work, and for others it seems they were born with a natural talent. This particular representative is a Customer Service ‘Natural’. Now, does someone who has the natural born gift still have to work to improve performance? Yes. The ‘natural’ part is the piece of building those customer relationships and having the passion to serve them. Because of the genuine love that this rep has for her customers, she welcomes feedback and applies that to her performance so that she can be of even greater service to her customers in the future. Her natural approach, focus on becoming more efficient (realizing that customers desire efficiency) and application of the coaching/feedback to her performance, has not only enhanced her customers’ experience but has heightened her overall job satisfaction as well. This is a direct reflection of her improved SQM VoC results. These results are fantastic! When we went over her results together, her first response was, “WOW! I wasn’t aware that the stats had increased that much.” When I ask her what she felt drove the improved results, she said, “I am focusing on what the customer wants and not on what I feel they need.” After thinking about her response, it became clear to me that she would not have been aware of the stats increasing that much because of where her focus was. Her focus was not on moving numbers; it was on enhancing and giving her customers the BEST possible service as well as being sure that the service was meeting their needs.
Here is what a few of her customers had to say: “She listened to what my request was; she looked it up immediately and I was on the phone less than 5 minutes”, “She was efficient, effective, pleasant and knowledgeable. Her voice is like ambrosia”, “She was precise. She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew the situation and resolved it quickly”, “She took very good care of me, she made me understand my plan and she took care of some other matters with the doctor’s office”, “I wasn’t even aware that I had coverage. She did an excellent job on it so thank you.” As you can see through the words that her customers used, this representative was able to handle their situations with ease. When someone can maneuver in and out of conversation with folks that they don’t even know, and this is done through the phone waves not in person, and yet they have a way of making one feel as if they have known you for years in the way that she does, that is a born ‘natural’.
Most Likely to Succeed
“First and foremost, you have to truly have a passion and a desire to want to service your customer..”
This representative started his career in 2011, and for only having a few years under his belt and being ranked as “Most Improved” from both call centers, that in itself is quite impressive and really speaks highly of his work ethic. Over the past few years, he has been working on grasping a good solid understanding of our products and services as all of us have done as new employees. And all of us know that 2013 brought us all a lot of challenging changes, new business growth and opportunities. Not only was he challenged with knowing and understanding his role as an employee, he had to also keep up with all of our 2013 changes.
The representative sat down across from me the other day in a one-to-one session, and after sharing his VoC results and how much of an improvement he had made over his 2012 results, I asked the question, “Why do you think your results have shown such a significant improvement?” He shared that he has become much more comfortable with his role and feels that his knowledge level has improved which in turn allows him to deliver product and plan information to our customers in a more confident manner. Confidence; it’s amazing what “confidence” can do. During another one of our scheduled chats, he had shared one of his own personal customer service experiences. He was in need of having the tires on his car replaced. He knew exactly where he wanted to go and the reason why is because of the high level of quality service he had received a time before. He knows what kind of service that he himself has come to appreciate and expect, and he could not think of giving his customers anything less.
So how did he build his confidence? First and foremost, you have to truly have a passion and a desire to want to service your customer. Knowing and fully understanding that YOU guide customers in making decisions that result in the BEST outcome for them based solely on their needs, and knowing the impact that YOU have on the end result and ultimately our customer’s experience. I know that sounds pretty deep, but this is exactly what describes how this representative approaches each and every one of his customers. You also have to remain open and receptive to not only hearing the coaching opportunities but you need to “own it” which means applying the coaching to your performance. He remained focused all year, reviewing our intranet to become more familiar with our products, services and plans. He would set clear expectations with his customers, setting timelines for follow-up on situations he was researching.
Here are a few examples of comments from the representative’s customers. As you can see, the repeating theme that described him was: courteous, knowledgeable, willing to help, efficient, thorough, direct, clear, and professional resolution. All of those words = CONFIDENCE. “He was very direct, very to the point, very pleasant, and I would definitely like to talk with him again because he got the information that I needed”, “He was very informative and he gave me information”, “I was elated with the information that I got from him. He should be given a raise ‘, “He was very courteous and very efficient. I cannot say enough good about him. Thank you!”, “He was very polite and professional. He offered help beyond what was the norm, so I appreciated that. I will not have to revisit this problem again”, “He was very helpful, very informative; he knew what he was talking about. He was very friendly and he was quite helpful and he is, in my opinion, an employee that you should be honored to have”. It takes a lot of focus to pull this off. What a huge accomplishment and outstanding achievement.
Quality over Quantity
“Taking a little more time in your answer to ensure full quality service..”
I would like to nominate this representative for her improvement scores in 2013. She is a Small Business Email Consultant who was perplexed each time she received her survey results; claiming that she answered all queries, she was efficient in her work and for some reason she was not able to attain her SQM results/objectives. She took full ownership of these results in June of 2013 and set a goal to ensure as many, if not 100%, WCC. We reviewed her past surveys to assess where she was lagging; we noticed that while the customers’ queries are being answered, they were fairly vague. Here is an example: A client had written in asking why he had been charged for an activation fee. Her reply was polite as she apologized for the inconvenience and advised that we had applied the credit to the account. In reviewing what could have been done different and what she has been applying to her emails now is: remain convivial, polite and courteous; however, add: when the credit was applied, which invoice he/she will see the credit and the new balance on. This representative has also advised her teammates about how her scores have increased while taking a little more time in your answer to ensure full quality service (Quality over Quantity); she also assures us, that she is still efficient while getting the quality of her work in check. Her objective in 2014 is to be WCC certified and increasing her results by 20%; I have full faith that she will do it.
Strive to Improve
“I invested extra effort into trying to create a pleasant and productive experience for our clients..”
When I first learned what VoC was, and that we would be partaking in the program, I must admit I was a little bit intimidated and honestly less than thrilled by the idea. My initial thought of having no control over what a client says on a survey worried me. My early results were nothing to write home about; I struggled to consistently get World Class Calls. After the first few months, I had a discussion with my team leader to review my initial results. We then decided that we should make it a goal of mine to strive to improve in the year to come. He gave me a few tips and come the New Year, I invested extra effort into trying to create a pleasant and productive experience for our clients. I made a few small changes to the way I interacted with our clients and the way in which I handled their affairs. I basically just tried to be very polite, friendly and as helpful as possible whenever I addressed an issue for them. Whether it was a moment of small talk, a quick joke to make them laugh, or a real effort to go the extra mile to assist with a complicated case, I decided I would do what I could and just hope that I would reap some positive results from my efforts. Slowly but surely, I started to realize that I did in fact have lots of control over what the client might say during the survey. Somewhere along the way my World Class Calls improved substantially.
I can remember staying on a call to give a client step-by-step directions to one of our offices in a city which I had never even visited. I distinctly recollect upon a call that began with an irate client screaming at me about a payment he did not receive, that ended with the caller repeatedly thanking me, singing my praise and wishing me a Merry Christmas. Other times callers just remark upon how knowledgeable, friendly or helpful I am and how pleasant of an experience it has been. I can even remember calls where people have even gone as far as offering me jobs. The funny thing is, however, that though these interactions are as memorable as they are somewhat unique, I find that the most rewarding part of the Voice of the Customer program for me is reading the feedback from the calls that did not really stand out at the time. Reading the positive remarks and feedback from a client you dealt with, where you didn’t really notice or feel like you did anything that special. Even though it may have seemed like an average call to you, you somehow created a really positive standout experience for the client. You really get to see how a little extra effort to be friendly, polite and helpful can go a long way and mean a lot to the client and in time it all just seems natural to you. Looking back at everything, I really am glad that we adopted the VoC program in our call center. The feedback from the clients is always helpful. Sometimes it gives me new ideas on how I might be able to improve upon an aspect of my service. Other times reading the positive things the clients say gives me joy; the results motivate me and often give me a real sense of accomplishment. I consider it proof that my efforts to provide a pleasant experience are not going unnoticed and really are appreciated by our callers. It has helped me become a better customer service representative.
Quality Makes a Difference
“Her outstanding call flow performance is now being used in our training classes..”
I am honored to nominate this representative for the World Class Call Improvement Award. She maintains professionalism, while making our members feel comfortable with sharing their concerns. She improves the member’s experience during every call she handles, and has demonstrated the ability to lead and work effectively with her peers. Her call flow approach has been recognized throughout the call center, her phenomenal customer service has been noticed by the manager of Quality Assurance. Her outstanding call flow performance is now being used in our training classes providing examples to our future customer service representatives. She has mastered providing World Class service!
It Wasn’t About Me, it was About the Customer!
“Take ownership of that call and be the lasting memory for that customer..”
I began my career near the end of October 2011 and had my first taste of the VoC scoring near the end of December 2011. I have to say, for someone who has prided themselves on customer service jobs, I was in for a shock when my very first survey came in as a non-World Class call. I got the feedback comments and not one negative thing was said, or so I thought. The member responded “the representative was nice and easy to talk to, she listened to me but she could not find what I was looking for”. Okay, so I was nice, check, easy to talk to, check, and I listened check, but the information wasn’t available for me to provide, so why was it a non-World Class call? I never seemed to get it until more and more surveys came in with worse and worse results. The members always said I was great to deal with, so why was I suffering? This call spawned an epiphany in me; it wasn’t about me, it was about the customer! I prided myself on the soft skills needed for customer service, but what I had to learn was not to memorize the information, rather where to look for it so that I could provide the answers that these customers needed. After all, that is why they call.
VoC taught me to be upfront in my responses, and to take the time to convert the information I provide into the simplest of terms. I even got away with using my sense of humor to simplify information for members and from the surveys, I learned that not only did I provide the members with the information they required, the members will never forget me because of my analogies. Soon, VoC results would come in and Word Class calls were there. Comments like “I did not mind holding because she knew what she was talking about” and “she was hilarious, she figured out what I needed when even I didn’t know” were thrown in and it went uphill from there. Knowing that I am helping members and leaving them with a lasting memory is what makes the days go by.
I have now progressed from the Customer Care Representative role into the Resolution Case Manager role since summer of 2013. Now, I spread my words of wisdom to other CSRs. You can be the kindest person in the world and have a smile on your face all day, but if you cannot provide the information, you haven’t served your purpose as a CSR. I tell every CSR I talk to, to pretend like they are dealing with their best of friends, be truly genuine and know where to look. Take ownership of that call and be the lasting memory for that customer!
Providing Memorable Customer Experiences
“I was focused on solving the inquiries and needs of the customers in a way that increased their satisfaction with our company..”
At the end of 2012, most of my teammates had received SQM certificates throughout the year, and were also awarded as World Class Representatives, recognized by their efforts to satisfy our customers. My overall results were not that bad, but I understood and knew that I could provide a memorable experience to our customers. It was in that moment that I made the choice of increasing my World Class Call results for the year to come. I set the goal that I wanted to be recognized, not only by the help that I provided to my co-workers, but also because I was focused on solving the inquiries and needs of the customers in a way that increased their satisfaction with our company. With this decision, the way I saw the results of the surveys changed. It stopped being just a way to evaluate my performance as a representative, and became about the way the clients felt about my efforts and how they describe their experience with me. This change was not only in the way I saw the surveys, but it also changed the way in which I spoke to customers, the attention I provided to their inquiries, and the way I saw their problems. Their problems became my problems, and what others saw as ‘going the extra mile’, to me was an essential part of my service. With this change, not only the quality of my service changed, but I also changed as a person, and my feelings as to how I feel about the client and their inquiries changed. Now every call is an opportunity to make them feel that they are important to me and our institution, and that their problems are my problems.
Passion for Helping People
“She has passion and a gutsy attitude; she works on the issues tirelessly, and does everything in her power to resolve it..”
Passion for helping people – that is what you are born with. This rep is one of those few that can turn a raging customer into someone that appreciates her time, energy, and passion to work out a solution. It has not been all smooth sailing for her. Just recently, during her annual review I gave her some feedback for improvement regarding her written communication. In business, we need to be direct and empathic while respecting our customer’s time. Her challenge is working on her written communication. No one is perfect and I don’t expect her to be. But what I like about her service is that she doesn’t quit. She has passion and a gutsy attitude; she works on the issues tirelessly, and does everything in her power to resolve it.
“Seeing problems as challenges and being positive regardless of the situation..”
As the former manager of this representative, I am pleased to write her nomination for CSR World Class Improvement. She has reported directly to me for over 2 years and I can personally and honestly say a noticeable difference has been seen in regards to her customer focus and accountability with her clients. She has been receptive to coaching, positive, focused, motivated and dedicated to customer satisfaction and resolution, resulting in her receiving countless customer commendations from both her internal and external clients alike. In addition to having an extremely well balanced scorecard, her SQM results speak to her drive and dedication to her clients. This representative has always possessed a ‘can do’ attitude and always looked at the positive in every situation or challenge. This positive thinking definitely contributes to her successes and speaks to how she handles her clients on a day to day basis. Seeing problems as challenges and being positive regardless of the situation are some of the characteristics which set her apart from the rest. She ensures any and all customer issues (regardless of them being in her realm of control or job scope) are resolved and escalates through her manager to gain traction when required. Her attention to detail, tact and responsiveness is appreciated by her manager, but most importantly by her clients.
I am reminded of a time where she was off on vacation due to a family emergency and unfortunately not enough time was given to her clients to notify them of her departure. While she was gone, I received two emails from clients indicating how much they missed her and wanted to know when she would be back. She had a backfill at the time, however, from the client’s perspective, the level of service the rep provided did not measure up and the bar was set rather high. It was at this time that I noticed how valuable she was and what an asset she was to the team. She often worked late to ensure all customer issues were rectified and resolved and the additional effort showed in her results. 2013 was a challenging year for her personally and I am impressed at how she still managed to deliver stellar results and continues to grow professionally and personally. Due to her above average results, fantastic improvement and ability/skill level, I was working with her to further develop her from a career perspective. As a result of her hard work and drive, she was able to lock and solidify a Customer Service Manager role within the company and unfortunately she no longer reports to me. It was a huge loss to me and my team but a win for her and the clients she now supports and represents. In addition to her Account Consultant role, she took on several initiatives, prime ships and in-charges during the 2013 year. She took on these roles with ease, confidence and tact while still maintaining her results. Additionally, she was able to improve her SQM results compared to the year prior and it is for this reason that she is being nominated. I am pleased and privileged with playing a role in her development, however, this was a result of her own hard work; I merely supported her decisions and acted as an advocate of hers. I wish her continued success and all the best in her future endeavors.
Open and Receptive to Change
“Looking back on how far I have come and how much I have improved only makes me want to continue..”
Being recognized as a representative who is most improved is quite an honor. I attribute my improvements to being open and receptive to change. Throughout 2013, several changes occurred, both personally at home as well as professionally in my career. These changes, combined with a strong leadership team behind me, helped me improve in my current role as a Customer Service Representative. On a personal note, 2013 saw the birth of my son, who is an amazing addition to my life. He continues to be a great lesson from which I learn on a daily basis. He brings out the best in me in every possible way; improving me personally as a father, but also as a person, with all my interactions with others. On the professional side, I went through several skill advancements with my position at work and further developed my expertise as a Customer Service Representative. I grew to be a multi-skilled representative, handling calls from all different policy types, including specific policies that require an advanced knowledge/skill for handling. By improving and evolving as a representative, I was also forced to change and adapt as quickly as possible, making me as efficient as possible. I have always been proud of my multi-tasking abilities (even if my significant other doesn’t always think so), but I am extremely proud of my further developments in this regard.
2013 was also the year in which the company extended their focus on the customer with an internal initiative. Working closely with my supervisor, I was able to improve even further by finding balance in terms of handling calls. Putting this balance into my role was another improvement that I am proud to say I accomplished quite well. Balancing call components – customer satisfaction through a quality interaction, accuracy of information provided and educating my customer while respecting my customers’ time – can be a difficult task. However, the key components of the initiative have helped me develop the necessary balance required in order to intensify my customer focus. As a result of paying attention to and applying our initiative’s core values and being respectful, responsive, making it easy to do business with and providing peace of mind, my SQM results and CCR / Call Centre satisfaction increased substantially. With 2013 now at a close, looking back on how far I have come and how much I have improved only makes me want to continue to do the same throughout 2014. I hope that I can continue to become a better customer care representative and service our members with the absolute best customer service experience possible; giving them 100% World Class service by doing so.