Jeremy Booth feels like a broken record. He’s said time and again that the future success of call centers hinges on taking proactive performance measurements. Call centers need to stop looking at historical data that only depicts what’s already happened and instead they should focus on what is going to happen.
He is Associate Vice President of Cambridge Investment Research, which is an independent broker-dealer with 2,600 advisors around the country who are his clients. His call center has 40 agents, who field about 150,000 calls per year and they’re tracking to make $600 million in revenue this year. In this interview, he explains why call centers need to stop looking over their shoulders and start looking ahead.
Jeremy believes call centers keep looking over their shoulders. Traditionally, they focus on lagging measures – agent availability, average speed to answer, call length – and other metrics that track service when considering agent and call center performance.
While historical measures are great because trending analysis can be gleaned from them, it’s time now to focus on predictable, influence-able outcomes. The time is now to look into the top most important performance metrics looking forward to 2015.
The easiest and most impactful way to do this is by ensuring training is effective, hiring practices are in line with business need and other indicators that will have a direct impact on those lagging measures, Jeremy says.
“We’re of the mindset that if you focus on and are proactive on your upfront service — whether it’s operations or the service that’s built out (for example) … and don’t give our advisors a reason to call us for anything that’s not informational – if we cut out the issues, that our satisfaction scores will follow right along with that,” Jeremy says.
The future of call center performance, therefore, depends on the strength of its proactive measures. Centers need to be able to focus on predictable, influenceable outcomes. He likes to use the example of weight loss since it is a simple concept most people can relate to.
“If I stand on the scale every day, am I going to lose weight? No. It’s going to tell me I’m either going to go up, or I’m going to go down, or I’m going to stay the same. I’m still looking at it every day. It’s something that’s already happened. But if I know that my caloric intake and what I burn in calories are directly related, and those are influence-able things that I have going on in my life. If I can burn more calories that I can take in, I don’t have to check the scale every day. I can do it once a week or once every two weeks, and I will see progress if I stick with the plan,” he says.
Therefore, instead of focusing more on the numbers and the metrics, call centers should take a holistic view and then ask themselves, “Is this strategy aligned with the end business goal seeing?”
The first step to managing employee expectations, goals and demands
is to understand what those demands are. The only way to do so is to
ask them. Transamerica, a financial services institution, conducts annual
employee satisfaction surveys, but they don’t just complete the survey
and then put it in a box and file it away. They look at them, evaluate
them and then slice and dice them to identify the top three areas of
opportunity. Action plans are then put into place; the results of which
are later communicated to staff.
In this interview, Crystal Wyland, Vice President of Customer Experience, explains why Transamerica doesn’t just ask for employee’s opinions. They act upon them.
Listening. It’s all about listening. You should listen to your customers; but you should also listen to your employees. Listening is the key interlocking piece that can help you satisfy business demands while also meeting and exceeding employee goals.
Crystal Wyland is the Vice President of Customer Experience at Transamerica, a financial services organization with more than 10,000 employees across the U.S. The firm evaluates employees annually, but they also make a point to conduct a mid-year evaluation for career pathing reasons. Crystal says the regular evaluation of employee performance helps the firm better understand what they’re looking for and perhaps determine other areas of interest within the organization.
Crystal spoke on “Updating Your Recruiting, Training & Developing Practices to Keep Up with Employee and Business Demands” Crystal Wyland, Vice President of Customer Experience, Transamerica When an employee first enters a large organization such as Transamerica, they’re only really aware of the job they’re entering into. So, they created what they called foundations training, which was an idea that was born out of employee satisfaction survey feedback. Now every new employee goes through foundations training to learn the history of the company, the leadership, and the various locations, products and offerings they provide so that an employee is more enabled to see and develop a career path and understand what’s available to them within the organization.
Another example of how evaluations enabled empowerment was with time off.
With contact centers, it’s always difficult to balance how much time to allow off or how many people to allow off in order to still meet service or contractual obligations. There was a period of time where they weren’t balancing it appropriately in the staff’s view, which was hurting morale.
“We didn’t want that, so instead of operning it up on a quarterly basis, we opened [the leave schedule] up for the full year and allowed them to schedule their time throughout the entire year,” Crystal says. “It really did a lot for improving the employees’ morale and meeting their expectations.”