July 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 2
Formula for Sales Success: Four Factors That Increase Sales Exponentially
By Paul Derbyshire
How does a contact center build the perfect customer experience? There are the quantitative variables, such as staffing levels, hold times and abandon rates, which are relatively easy to define and measure. On the other hand, there are the qualitative variables that can’t be expressed in numbers, but are no doubt essential to the formula for excellent sales and performance. They are: culture, training, quality assurance and coaching.
Culture Of High Performers
The best contact centers don’t consider their employees to be agents or TSRs — they think of them as communicators who build relationships with customers that result in higher sales and satisfaction. These professionals are enthusiastic, goal oriented and experienced. To recruit and retain them a contact center must:
• Provide compensation and benefits based on performance and prior experience.
• Avoid commission-based compensation. Instead, focus on customer satisfaction and quality assurance.
• Reward and recognize top performers often.
• Foster a spirit of friendly competition.
These recommendations, when applied to a person who is mature and educated, are sure to have a big impact on sales.
Training That Provides a Foundation
Nothing is more obvious and annoying to a customer than a poorly trained representative. Take this all too common scenario. A woman calls in for help with a simple billing question, but the agent who takes the call can’t help her. So she is put on hold while her call is escalated, often several times, before her issue is resolved. Not only is this customer frustrated, she is certainly not going to be receptive to cross-sell or up-sell appeals. This is a lose-lose scenario that can be avoided through careful, coordinated training exercises.
Good training starts the first day on the job, before a call is ever made. It includes written tests as well as role-playing exercises. It also includes client-specific information and is developed with the client’s input. To ensure that this classroom training transfers to the contact center, training should continue for at least three weeks after the date of hire. Although extensive training of this nature requires time and financial resources, it ensures that the people helping customers have product knowledge; effective communication, customer service and sales skills; and an understanding of the client’s mission and vision.
Quality Assurance at Every Level
Quality assurance is more than just a single department or assessment. Rather it is a total operations philosophy that ensures that every call is superior to the one that came before it. Naturally, one of the most essential aspects of quality assurance is a multi-faceted call monitoring process that documents every aspect of the call from sales and customer experience metrics to nuances such as tone, timing and volume.
Supervisors are just one level of quality assurance. From front-line contact center employees to top management, there must be a commitment at every level of the organization. The best contact centers won’t ask that clients take their word for it on quality – they make it easy for clients to remotely monitor live calls, provide real-time reports and digitally record all calls.
Coaching For Continual Improvement
If culture, training and quality assurance are present, the only thing left is to cultivate and retain exceptional performers. To do this, contact center supervisors must focus their time on coaching and mentoring, leaving administrative tasks to support staff. This means providing objective and subjective criticism that ensures each customer is handled with the care and respect that he or she deserves. Supervisors should receive formal training in the following areas:
– Paul Derbyshire is Director of Operations Strategy at InfoCision Management Corporation.