Monthly Archives: June 2015

Customer Service Excellence – Whats holding you back?

Coverage in Contact-Centres.com

A recent survey by Which?[i] found that BT, TalkTalk and Scottish Power operate the UK’s worst call centres. Which? surveyed 7,000 consumers who ranked these companies based on staff knowledge, phone menu system, politeness, helpfulness and waiting times.

 

BT, TalkTalk and Scottish Power all scored an overall rating of just one star. In comparison Ovo Energy, NFU Mutual, Zen Internet and First Direct topped the survey all receiving five stars.  In today’s competitive world where people vote with their feet and stop buying goods and services if they receive poor customer service, there is a great deal of pressure to ensure call centre staff are the best they can be.

 

They need to not only provide the right advice to customers but also deliver excellent service levels consistently, and, as they are often the only contact that a customer, they have the power to make or break a business. Yet many companies, despite spending a lot on training and having comprehensive Learning and Development tools and processes in place can still find their staff making errors in the way they deal with customer queries or complaints.

 

The solution isn’t always immediately obvious and simply providing more training or one to one coaching won’t deliver any real improvement unless the root causes of why this is happening are uncovered. These are more often than not the result of one of the following three situations:

 

1. People don’t truly understand what they’ve been “told”

 

Typically one root cause is that giving people knowledge does not mean that they truly understand how, when and why they should use it. After all, the typical multiple choice questionnaire handed out at the end of a training course, can only really measure the ability to select the right answer from a list of possible answers more often than not.  It does not and cannot identify if a person truly understands in what specific circumstance they should apply their new knowledge.

 

2. People are 100% confident they do know and they do understand – when in fact they don’t.

 

This root cause is insidious and is often the most damaging because it’s very hard to uncover. It’s further compounded by the fact that people will come to work believing they’re doing a great job. They will wholeheartedly believe that the advice or response they’ve given to a customer query is the right one and they will be happy and confident that they’ve followed the correct company process and procedure along the way.

 

When asked to attend a training or refresher course people can wrongly believe they already know and understand well, which in turn makes them approach the course with the wrong motivation; a desire and intent to simply “get through it and tick the boxes”, rather than with a genuine interest or agenda for re-examining the subject and challenging their own understanding and experiences.

 

3. The tools and resources provided are not used to best advantage

 

Most organisations make significant investment in Learning and Development Systems, tools, materials and expertise and many have made an even greater investment in organising, maintaining and syndicating industry and “Corporate Knowledge” via a central Knowledge Management System.

 

However these may not be designed or presented in the best way for the end user to get the most out of them. The information provided via the Intranet or Knowledge Management solution may be excellent but if the people it’s designed to help, find it difficult, cumbersome, time consuming or intimidating to find, they simply won’t use it all.

 

The solution

 

Central to winning and keeping customers is delivering a consistently high performance of service to customers that will turn them into loyal fans and identifying and addressing risky and unacceptable behaviour before it becomes a problem. Whilst this is challenging it’s not impossible.

 

To achieve customer service excellence and uncover the root causes of behaviour on the job companies need to start by looking not at what people know but rather identifying specifically what it is they don’t understand. They can do this using employee assessments designed test and measure advisors in realistic ‘on the job’ situations. The results will highlight knowledge gaps and unacceptable behaviour giving managers a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses of every individual.

 

Once gaps in understanding have been identified, companies can design specific interventions, avoiding the one-size fits all approach to training and provide appropriate learning media and resources to address it.

 

In today’s competitive business environment it’s vital for companies to get it right when it comes to customer service and really understanding what staff know and how they apply this knowledge on the job is the key to achieving this.

 

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[i] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/11620116/The-UKs-worst-call-centres-named-and-shamed.html

What are the most common causes of contact centre mistakes?

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Often, the only contact customers have with a company is through their call centre or customer services team, so it’s crucial that staff deliver a good service at all times.

However, some call centres are failing do this, according to a recent Which? survey which revealed the UK’s worst call centres. The consumer champion surveyed 7,000 consumers who ranked companies based on staff knowledge, phone menu system, politeness, helpfulness and waiting times. They found that BT, TalkTalk and Scottish Power operate the UK’s worst call centres, with an overall score of just one star. In contrast Ovo Energy, NFU Mutual, Zen Internet and First Direct topped the survey all receiving five stars.

 

As well as unwanted negative press coverage, poor customer services can lead to the loss of customers and damage a company’s reputation.

 

Call centre staff are therefore under intense pressure not only to provide the right advice to customers but to deliver excellent service levels consistently. Yet many companies, despite spending a lot on training and having comprehensive learning and development tools and processes in place, can still find that their employees make errors when handling customer queries or complaints.

The solution to improving their performance isn’t obvious. Simply providing more training or one to one coaching won’t deliver any real improvement unless the root causes of why this is happening mistakes are happening are uncovered. More often than not, errors are made as a result of one of the following three situations:

1. People don’t truly understand all aspects of their role

Typically one root cause is that giving people knowledge does not mean that they truly understand how, when and why they should use it. After all, the typical multiple choice questionnaire handed out at the end of a training course, can only really measure the ability to select the right answer from a list of possible answers more often than not.  It does not and cannot identify if a person truly understands in what specific circumstance they should apply their new knowledge.

2. Misplaced confidence

Many people come to work believing they’re doing a great job. They will wholeheartedly think the advice they’ve given to a customer is the right one and they will be happy and confident that they’ve followed the correct company processes and procedures along the way.

When asked to attend a training or refresher course people can wrongly believe they already know and understand well, which in turn makes them approach the course with the wrong motivation; a desire and intent to simply “get through it and tick the boxes”, rather than with a genuine interest or agenda for re-examining the subject and challenging their own understanding and experiences.

3. Problems with learning and development tools

Most organisations make significant investment in learning and development systems, tools, materials and expertise and many have made an even greater investment in organising, maintaining and syndicating industry and ‘corporate knowledge’ via a central knowledge management system.

However, these may not be designed or presented in the best way for the end user to get the most out of them. The information provided via the Intranet or Knowledge Management solution may be excellent but if the people it’s designed to help, find it difficult, cumbersome, time consuming or intimidating to find, they simply won’t use it all.

The solution

Central to winning and keeping customers is delivering a consistently high performance of service to customers that will turn them into loyal fans and identifying and addressing risky and unacceptable behaviour before it becomes a problem. Whilst this is challenging it’s not impossible.

To achieve customer service excellence and uncover the root causes of behaviour on the job companies need to start by looking not at what people know but rather identifying specifically what it is they don’t understand.

 

They can do this using employee assessments designed test and measure advisors in realistic ‘on the job’ situations. The results will highlight knowledge gaps and unacceptable behaviour giving managers a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses of every individual.

 

Once gaps in understanding have been identified, companies can design specific interventions, avoiding the one-size fits all approach to training and provide appropriate learning media and resources to address it.

Companies that do this will be rewarded with a customer services department they can be proud of who will consistently achieve customer service excellence – winning and keeping customers along the way.

Empowering Managers – Uplifting Performance & Engagement

What’s the problem?

Across the UK, we have a problem. Our managers are under qualified and under trained. A recent cross-industry CMI survey indicates that 71% (150,000) UK managers are either given inadequate or no training at all, especially in the earlier stages of their role.

The cause (Cross Industry Data):

1. Only 4 days training are provided to managers each year

2. Employees are not trained prior to being appointed as managers

3. 34% of UK managers feel their employer could provide better training

4. 37% of UK managers feel current training is poor or non-existent

5. Employee engagement is directly linked to the number of training days provided

6. Poor engagement is effecting efficiency

7. A culture of short-termism is being implemented throughout various organisations and industries

8. Four-fifths of workers do not think their managers set a good moral example for employees

9. A fifth of those employees are unaware of any organisational values to start with

10. Managers feel as if they have ‘fallen’ into their roles.

Pressure is mounting across the board from the regulators, the executive, central government and of course the public. It’s therefore no wonder organisations are putting increased urgency on providing adequate, efficient and relevant training at all tiers of management, whilst trying to gain the most return for their investments in L&D.

How could you solve it?

Cognisco has partnered with CMI to produce Management *KNOW which sets out to tackle the issue for all UK managers in both the public and private sectors. The assessment, focuses on competencies that all managers should have and use, regardless of the industry they work in. We have developed the diagnostic tools in line with National Occupational Standards (NOS) in relation to key management competencies, with an approach CMI considers to be good management practice.

Our unique approach to employee assessment uncovers what an individual actually understands about how, when and why they should apply the knowledge (or training) they have been given (if they have been trained) in practical day-to-day terms.

Traditional methods of assessment and training can mean that even those who score highly on post-training assessments may well apply their recently acquired knowledge incorrectly when faced with a real life situation, indicating they have failed to transfer what they have learned in a workshop environment to the workplace.

Since 1998 and countless thousands of assessments, Cognsico are able to evidence that on average up to30% of any workforce will unwittingly have a low enough level of understanding to present a risk, 20% will prove to be already highly competent and confident and should become your exemplars and the remaining50% will require a mix of coaching and interventions.

What are the benefits?

-Rapidly and cost effectively uncover the urgent Learning & Development priorities within your management team.

– Focus Learning and Development spend where it’s really needed.

– Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your existing training and learning resources.

– Uncover the previously unknown organisational strengths and areas for improvement within your management teams.

– Build a culture of transparency, openness to escalate problems and boost overall employee engagement.

– Identify training requirements and targeted interventions to guide managers to particular training that they actually need.

– Drive up management capability.

How do we do that?

Cognisco specialises in linking behaviour, attitude and knowledge together through a scenario based, situational judgement multi-response assessment. These assessments not only pinpoint what an individual does or does not understand, but measures their confidence within that situation which gives a good indication of how they are likely to act, work and behave.

It also identifies the “unconscious incompetent” – those who believe they are doing the right thing, when in fact the reverse could be true as well as those who are highly competent but may hesitate to act when called on to do so.

Each scenario is linked to a knowledge goal. Managers can then be directed to specific and relevant information or learning resources to help address the specific gap in their knowledge and understanding.

The data provide a concise training needs analysis, which means you can more accurately plan and budget for further training and development, which is now based on empirical evidence of the precise needs of each manager and the management team. It also provides a platform or framework for coaching and empowers individuals to self-develop. By using the Cognisco approach, organisations can uncover the true trends in management knowledge, understanding and confidence across the 15 topics all managers should be able to execute.

Our expert Occupational Psychologist consultants will work with you to:

– Rapidly and comprehensively assess your managers

– Provide your Senior Management Team with a results and recommendations report

– Feed back and Coach your managers in a one to one session to help them understand how to address any gaps or weaknesses

– Re-Assess your managers at an agreed time to evidence improvement

– Provide a results and recommendations round up presentation to enable you to plan for the future.

Where to start?

Most organisations will start with a pilot programme and based on the success to look to roll it out more widely. We’d be happy to discuss the best approach and option to suit your needs.

What are the costs?

We charge a fee per manager assessed and coached and another fee for providing the senior management reports and recommendations. We will be happy to provide you with a quotation on request.

Supporting Information:

You can find further details of Management *KNOW here: Management *KNOW: Perform & Engage

Find out more

Call 01234 757520 or email information@cognisco.com

Why Your Agents’ Training Might Be Failing

Amanda Green looks at why you might not be seeing the best results from your agents’ training sessions.

There is a great deal of pressure on agents not only to provide the right advice to customers but also to deliver excellent service levels.

Yet many companies find that, in spite of significant training, agents still make errors in the way they deal with customer queries or complaints.

1. People don’t truly understand what they’ve been “told”

Giving people knowledge does not mean that they truly understand how, when and why they should use it. After all, the typical multiple-choice questionnaire handed out at the end of a training course can, more often than not, only really measure the ability to select the right answer from a list of possible answers.

It does not and cannot identify if a person truly understands in what specific circumstance they should apply their new knowledge.

2. People are 100% confident they do know – when in fact they don’t

This is often the most damaging because it’s very hard to uncover.

It’s further compounded by the fact that people will come to work believing they’re doing a great job. They will wholeheartedly believe that the advice or response they’ve given to a customer query is the right one and they will be happy and confident that they’ve followed the correct company process and procedure along the way.

When asked to attend a training or refresher course people can wrongly believe they already know and understand well, which in turn makes them approach the course with the wrong motivation.

3. The tools and resources provided are not used to best advantage

Most organisations make significant investment in learning and development systems, tools, materials and expertise. However, these may not be designed or presented in the best way for the end user to get the most out of them.

The information provided via the intranet or knowledge management solution may be excellent, but if your agents find it difficult, time consuming or intimidating, they simply won’t use it all.

Employee assessments can highlight knowledge gaps

To achieve customer service excellence and uncover the root causes of behaviour, companies need to look not at what agents know but at what it is they don’t understand.

This can be achieved with employee assessments designed to measure agents in realistic ‘on the job’ situations. The results can help highlight knowledge gaps and unacceptable behaviour – giving managers a clear picture of the `strengths and weaknesses of every individual.

Once gaps in understanding have been identified, companies can design specific training, avoiding the one-size-fits-all approach, and provide appropriate learning media and resources to address it.

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