Call Center Geek: Questions from the Mailbag

October 9, 2020

Our Advice from a Call Center Geek community has started a mailbag for questions from all the other geeks out there. Texts come in, and we answer as many as possible. We will not sell your information, nor will you get lots of spam from us. We might, however, use your anonymous inquiries on the podcast, blog, or LinkedIn. Let’s look at some questions that listeners have sent in.

What are some of the ways that you are hiring/recruiting during Covid-19? What social platforms are the best for this?

For Expivia, this has been a relatively easy transition because we were very digital in recruiting in the past. For senior-level positions, we use LinkedIn and Indeed, just as we did previously. We also use some job boards for our reps too. We use Indeed and get a constant stream of applications, but we have learned that sometimes we get quantity over quality.

We are big on using referrals as a recruiting tool. Our culture is right, and our agents are hitting numbers. Using a referral system is an excellent idea because good reps tend to send us good potential hires. Our representatives receive $5 per referral that comes in for an interview. If we hire that person, the rep gets $10; if the new hire completes their 90-day probationary period and continues to work, the rep gets $200. We have some agents who make this additional money every month because they refer great people.

If you are not using Facebook for hiring purposes, you are making a colossal mistake. It is really cheap and easy to use. When I am hiring, I set a $300 budget for five days. We can choose exactly where we want to search for a potential hire because the system allows you to pick and choose where ads will show up. You should post on your business page that you are hiring, but don’t waste a bunch of money on just boosting a post. Create an ad. It will be more beneficial to create an ad and set the parameters for who you want to reach out to as potential hires.

How do you monitor and care for the emotional well-being of your work-from-home agents?

In the beginning, everyone was excited to work from home. Then people started struggling with how to make this work for themselves. It is stressful working at home, but then you start to crave the friendly office chatter, too. Missing the normalcy of going to work and the routines you develop can lead to an emotional decline for anyone.

We have learned it is imperative to communicate even more with our agents. We could do one daily morning meeting, but I don’t think that’s enough. In a stable environment, we touch base with our agents throughout the day; why should this be different? I believe that we need to reach out multiple times daily, especially now.

It is essential to communicate with your team how important they are to you. These interactions could be in a whole team video meeting, individual video chats, or even quick, personalized IMs in Slack or Teams. These messages go a long way towards making the day feel a bit more familiar, while also keeping people from going off the rails with their performance and customer interactions.

Some centers have virtual happy hours.  Our culture doesn’t really support that, so we have virtual hangouts. A bunch of people all login for a virtual birthday party or even to have lunch together. These are just small ways to make things feel a little more “normal.”

As Covid-19 numbers settle, bringing small groups into the office on a specific schedule may help our agents. For many, it is comforting to follow a particular home-work-home plan. Giving a set time for them to be in the office may prove beneficial to your team’s morale.

How do we play games at home?

Fun in the call center is such a key component to keeping everyone happy and engaged. Figuring out how to play office games from home is essential. We are still trying to develop a good list for this new normal, but some are easy.

Online you can find versions of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy that allow you to create your own game.  You just supply the answers and categories. You could use information about the program a team is working on, your company, or even about your reps. You could create a birthday category to keep it personalized to each group. Both of these are free!

Along with card or dice games, people can also play games using submitted photos or videos. Think about I-Spy. Someone will show a pic of the room they are in, and the others take turns guessing what the person “spies.” This one gets played in a twenty-questions format where someone earns a guess by getting a good QA score or hitting a pre-determined KPI. The winner then receives some sort of small prize.

Can you make a budgetary ROI for speech analytics?

Speech analytics can take over many of the ways you are getting customer feedback. It will even take a lot of the after call things and do them better. In using speech analytics, you are deleting those extra expenses.

When you think of the money you can save using them, it begs the question–can you afford not touse speech analytics? We can now look at a customer’s journey and pinpoint the painful areas.  It is tough to do this without speech analytics. When thinking about ROI, consider all of the improvements you can make from a customer experience standpoint.

Analytics will catch weaknesses that your organization has quickly.  Incentivizing your reps through QA is good, but your speech analytics system will be listening to every call. You will be able to reward your staff for doing the right thing, making them want to do it all of the time. That kind of in-depth listening is priceless.

What is your thought process on using voicemail in a call center?

I hate it. In nearly all circumstances, it is horrible. You could do things in a much better way. If you only get a handful of calls on the third shift and could better use that staff on a day shift, then it might be okay to use voicemail rather than agents. Maybe.

Do not use voicemail for heavy queues.  Using it because you don’t want to staff to the level you need is not the right choice in the customer experience department. It would be interesting to see what a company is losing versus gaining by understaffing its center. It often feels like organizations that use voicemail don’t care about helping their customers quickly.

Someone might reach back out to a voicemail customer within 24-hours. Consider all the hassles that may cause. One agent calls them back, leaves a message because the customer isn’t available.  The customer has to call again, and most likely cannot talk to the rep who reached out. Then, either the whole scenario starts again or a frustrated customer has to explain the entire situation to someone new.  Instead of voicemail, invest in a call back software and learn how to program it into your platform so that your customer service experience stays as positive as possible.

Those were the critical questions from the first group of mailbag questions that came in.  If you have questions you’d like answered by Advice from a Call Center Geek, text “Hello” to (814) 247-0366, and we will get your questions answered!

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