Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"Follow the Leader", Featuring Mike Aoki

What do you think is overlooked by contact center leadership, that hinders their customer retention efforts?

Customer retention is a relationship rather than an event!

Too much emphasis is placed on "saving" customers. That is like waiting until the end of a romantic relationship to tell someone you love them. By then it is too late. Minor frustrations, unfilled needs and finally a "trigger" event cause a breakup.

"EVERY customer contact is a retention opportunity!" Train your agents to look for ways to improve customer experience on every interaction. How can you add value? Look for opportunities to help. For instance, suggest automatic renewals, so customers avoid service interruptions. Offer paperless billing to save the environment and make record keeping easier for customers. Make your customers feel valued. Make it easy for them to stay loyal.

In addition, look for opportunities to add positive emotion during customer interactions. Apologize when appropriate. Be gracious. Use friendly, but professional language in both verbal and written communication. Little things count in a relationship. So, remember to make your customer feel appreciated.

Remember: "Every customer contact is a retention opportunity!" 

Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc., a Canadian training company that helps contact centers improve their sales and customer retention results. A contact center expert, Mike serves on the advisory council of the Greater Toronto Area Contact Center Association and was Master of Ceremonies for five of their Annual Conferences. He was also chosen by as one of the “Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter” for 2014-17.

Follow: LinkedIn | Twitter

Customer Service Quote of the Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Practical Ways to Boost Customer and Employee Satisfaction

This article originally appeared on ICMI

In my early days as a contact center leader, I was obsessed with metrics. In my defense, metrics were the primary way to evaluate my success in the role. I measured everything! Some of the metrics were necessary, while others weren't. I was inundated with numbers, data points and potential solutions for struggling performance areas. I was experiencing information overload!

Does this sound familiar? No,you are not alone! Many of us were there, and some of us still are.

Today, the two most important metrics to me are Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Employee Satisfaction (ESAT). All of the other metrics help to support my quest to create an environment in where customer and employee satisfaction are high enough to ensure the growth and sustainability of the business. That sounds simple, but in actuality, it's quite complicated. Why?

For starters, contact center leaders aren't only required to analyze data and metrics that are necessary to the operational success of the department. We also have to track organizational-wide metrics. Combine all this reporting with the responsibility of training, mentoring, coaching and managing the team AND individuals, and it's easy to feel lost, frustrated and confused.

Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have the support of great leaders, colleagues, and friends. Their help has been invaluable. Because of them, I received excellent advice. For example:

"Measure what matters, Sean."

"People before metrics."

And one of my favorites: "Let the data tell its own story!"

These are still nuggets of wisdom that I carry with me today. Perhaps the most significant lessons came from failure, though.

Because of those failures and lessons, I now focus most of my effort on building relationships with teams and individuals. How I wish I'd learned this many years ago! Employee engagement is the crux of success in the contact center! Having a highly engaged team affords you the luxury of making mistakes, creating buy-in, and earning trust. Engaged employees will follow a leader who has demonstrated over and over again, that nothing is more important than people. To borrow a quote from my good friend Matt Beckwith, "the people we lead are primarily responsible for our success, as they are the ones carrying out the plan for success."

So, with all that in mind, let's discuss ways to improve both CSAT and ESAT. But first, let's begin with those things that influence satisfaction!

Don't be a slave to metrics

Although I am not sure who to credit, a favorite quote of mine says, "Don't make the measurable things important, but make the important things measurable." To do this, you have to understand what is important. Fortunately, as a contact center leader, YOU get to make this determination. Okay, maybe I should clarify that statement. You get to determine what is important to your customers, company, department, and team.

How? There are four key areas to address:
  1. Assess Needs- Understand what each stakeholder need to be satisfied and successful.
  2. Deliver- Provide the right solution to meet the needs.
  3. Reinforce- Leadership must shape and change minds while creating a culture that is customer-focused.
  4. Evaluate- Scrutinize your performance! Ensure your people, processes and procedures are meeting the needs, and delivering at a high rate of excellence.

Remove Barriers

Obstacles do not block the path; they are the path! How do you ensure employees and customers are satisfied? You make it easy for them to work and do business with you. We often overlook how current operating procedures impact the end user, because the emphasis is usually on how to complete the task, rather than doing so with minimal effort.
Here is a three-pronged approach to removing obstacles that prevent satisfaction.
  1. Review: Review the technology, tools, processes, and procedures that you utilize. I do so on an annual basis, and anytime we add something new to our workflow.
  2. Define success: Defining what success should be, helps compare and contrast what you are currently doing. If you don't know what success is, you will never achieve it.
  3. Identify needs: Do you have the right talent and infrastructure in place to achieve success? When you define your success, it, in turn, helps you identify what you need to be successful.


You might assume that it's best to begin with engagement initiatives. However, it's best to find the causes of disengagement first. For example, failed systems can lead to poor engagement. Understanding obstacles to success allows you to improve engagement in ways that will directly impact your employees and customers. For example, if agents are forced to adhere to handle time, you should know how this affects both the agent and the customer. If quality is poor, is it due to your product or service? Engagement works when you put in the effort to enhance relationships. As the saying goes, "effort will release its reward."

Engaged Employees improve sales, quality, retention, and profit. Customer engagement likewise enhances sales, satisfaction, and profit (among others things). Employee engagement begins with involvement. Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Tell me, and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me, and I Iearn." Adopting this mindset can have a tremendous positive impact on agents and customers alike.

Seek ways to involve your team in decisions that directly impact their work. Solicit their feedback and implement their ideas when it makes sense. Remember your employees ARE your stakeholders, too. Get out of the mindset that free pizza + potlucks = culture. Provide incentives that go beyond food. As leaders, we should also focus on feeding people's emotions, beliefs, needs, and goals. Discover what agents are passionate about, and use that knowledge to build better relationships and transform your culture. Employee engagement is personal.

Likewise, customer engagement is personal. Know your customers! Reach out to them to extend random acts of kindness. Don't be afraid to wish them a happy birthday, or to celebrate some other milestone. Don't wait for them to call you; initiate the conversation sometimes. Social media is an excellent tool for doing this. If customers are following you, follow them! Monitor their activity to experience and celebrate their successes.


Ultimately, satisfaction is the result of empathy, patience, personalization, and sympathy. When you focus on those things AND create an environment based on shared success, you truly grasp the concept of satisfaction. Whether the stakeholder you're trying to satisfy is the employee or the customer, the approach is the same.

You see, satisfaction is much like respect. It must be earned!

Customer Service Quote of the Day

Monday, April 23, 2018

What Value are you Adding to Your Product or Service?

By Lori L Dees

I work for a local dental society, as the Exhibits and Foundation Manager. We receive many offers of products and services from a variety of companies. Most are looking to increase brand awareness, but the few successful business affiliations seem to stem from a mutual respect and partnership beneficial to the both of us.

We can purchase products from any number of suppliers, but we always go back to one. Why? Because the company has proven our company, mission and business are important to them. They visit us periodically, making sure to bring swag!  This is of mutual benefit to both of us, because they get to share samples of their product with us, and we can provide that to our customers. They know we will give honest feedback about their products, and when we are ready to purchase, we will remember the relationship we have with their representative, and their company.

There is never a hard sell, just sharing of information and a cheerful banter. We usually do not purchase anything during or soon after the visit, but when we are ready to order something, we feel confident purchasing from this company. We have a history of wonderful service. We get a great product for a great price, with value added extras included. In this case, with purchase of toothbrushes, we receive free imprinting, free toothpaste samples, floss samples, and bags. We use this to create free health kits that are distributed at schools and health fairs. This allows our foundation to further its community outreach efforts.

Not only do they sell us a great product at a great price, they  also donate products to us, so we can then donate it to worthy charities in our community. This has allows us to assist those in need.

So, the next time you pick up the phone to make a cold call, think about what value you can add to the company, and not only to your bottom line.

  • What information can you share that will be of use to them? 
  • What value can you add to their mission?  
  • What events do they have coming up that you might participate?
  • What causes are important to your customer? 
  • What do you have on hand that you can donate to their worthy cause? 
    While they may not purchase immediately, they will remember you when they are ready to make their next purchase. They will remember the value you can offer.


    I am passionate about great customer service with a smile.  Prior to my current position as Exhibits & Foundation Manager at Dallas County Dental Society, I spent almost 25 years working with dental students and patients. I love learning new things and recently became a certified coach, and I'm working on certification for handwriting analysis.  On most nice days off, you will find me on the golf course with my husband and my dachshund, or in the pool with our grandchildren.

    Follow: LinkedIn 

    Customer Servie Quote of the Day

    Friday, April 20, 2018

    Spring Clean Your Mind, Body and Office

    By Robin Thomas

    Clear Your Mind, Boost Your Mood

    Pay attention to your self-talk. Tired of winter dragging on, it can be easy to let negative thoughts slowly creep in and begin to cause feelings of self-doubt, guilt, and overall feeling down or defeated. The good news is you have the power to shift your thoughts into being more positive by simply paying attention.

    Notice when you hear those negative voices and have a mantra or affirmation that can turn it around. It's not worth your time or energy to put up with those negative thoughts.

    Put pen to paper. Get started writing in a journal, letting the thoughts just flow. Write down daily affirmations or mantras that help you shift your perspective into a more positive and productive outlook.

    Protect your energy. It's important to pay attention to and protect your energy. What activities or even people drain your energy levels, making you feeling tired or exhausted? And conversely, what activities or people increase your energy in a positive way?

    See if you can note those things that drain you and then avoid or change them in any way as to protect your energy levels throughout each day. This will have you feeling better than ever without much effort. 

    Take Care of Your Body

    Try to drink 100 oz of water per day. Water is one of the best and fastest ways to begin to help your body flush toxins. Try 100 oz of clean water for 5 days and you will notice a significant difference in your energy, mental clarity, and skin.

    Move your body. Sweating is another excellent way to rid your body of toxins. Moving your body is important to keep your blood flowing to all vital organs, delivery nutrients and oxygen along the way. Sweat is one of your body's natural ways of cleansing toxins from organs and cleaning your skin.

    Add in good, to crowd out the bad. When talking about food, one of the best ways to approach cleaning up your diet, is to put your focus and efforts into adding in more good foods in order to crowd out the bad. When you fill up first with your fruits and veggies, your body will [over time] naturally stop craving the not-so-good foods.

    Not by accident, all of these areas [mind, space, body] affect the other. When you work on improving one, it positively impacts the others. 

    Clean Your Office Space

    Clear the physical clutter. When there is a lot of clutter laying around your desk, it's  actually more difficult to think clearly. It's important to have a space that is clear and dedicated to working. It’s time to file away those loose papers, or shred them, if you can.

    Time to organize. Everything in your office should have an appropriate place to be stored. If you find that you feel out of control and overwhelmed by your desk or environment, now is the time to do something about it. Choose 1 drawer or area to organize and clean out each day. This will help you do some spring cleaning and keep you motivated as you compartmentalize the bigger task.

    Clean the air with house plants. Will your office allow house plants? Rarely are you able to opening up your windows to air-out the office of stale air and toxins built up over the winter. However, house plants can really help, too. Spider plants are known to be excellent air-fresheners.

    Robin is the founder of Living Well Connections, a community of supportive people who are passionate about improving their health and the health of their families.

    Her background in medical research on inflammation and 13 years with USANA Health Sciences has given her a unique insight on helping individuals find the best solutions to support their own health needs. Follow: LinkedIn | Twitter