BenchmarkPortal is a global leader in the contact center industry, providing benchmarking, certification, consulting, training & industry reports. BenchmarkPortal’s mission is to help contact centers reach peak performance in operational effectiveness and efficiency so that the centers will realize increased levels of agent and customer loyalty while containing costs and building enterprise value.
BenchmarkPortal is conducting a survey on inbound sales best practices. This is our third year of collecting metrics for call centers involved in inbound and blended (inbound and outbound) sales.
Please take a moment to complete this brief, 20-question survey. The survey link below will ask you questions about this important topic. As always, by participating in the survey, you guarantee yourself a complimentary copy of the results ($199 Value).
This survey is intended for call centers that primarily handle inbound sales calls. If your center does not handle inbound sales calls, please forward this email to the appropriate contact center group manager within your company. If you have colleagues in other call centers who you feel might want to participate, please send this survey invitation to them.
You will also be invited to join our new community of inbound sales specialists which will focus on best practices in this sector. Don't be left out! As indicated above, participants will receive the results of this survey via e-mail, at no cost, within 10 business days of the survey's close. It's our way of showing our appreciation to you for your input.
Thank you very much for your participation.
Bruce Belfiore Senior Research Executive & Chief Executive Officer BenchmarkPortal
BenchmarkPortal is conducting a survey of our industry to determine what steps contact centers are taking to service customers who prefer to communicate in their own language.
Non-English call handling has become a hot topic for many contact center managers due to increased immigration and globalization and the unique customer service issues they may present.
Please take a moment to complete this brief, 15-question survey. The survey link below will ask you questions about this important topic. As always, by participating in the survey, you guarantee yourself a complimentary copy of the results ($199 Value).
If you have colleagues in other call centers who you feel might want to participate, please send this survey invitation to them.
As indicated above, participants will receive the results of this survey via e-mail, at no cost, within 10 business days of the survey's close. It's our way of showing our appreciation to you for your input.
Thank you very much for your participation.
Bruce Belfiore Senior Research Executive & Chief Executive Officer BenchmarkPortal
Contact Centers are generally not venues of high fashion, but sometimes they are the sites of some pretty eye-opening sights. Skirts that go too high and blouses that go too low; jeans that look painted on and sweatshirts that could fit three people.
Not all of the fashion statements are problematic. However, those that state too much (or too little) can take away from the professional atmosphere which managers want to promote in their workplace. Beyond clothing, there are codes of conduct that should be adhered to for all of the right legal and managerial reasons. Let's face it - the media sets a terrible example of workplace employee conduct. As managers we work to set high standards, standards that are not reflected in "The Office," "30 Rock" or many other workplace-based shows that permeate and pollute our popular culture.
When teaching call center managers, I frequently hear complaints on these topics and have developed what I call "The ABC's" for contact center employees.
"A" is for "Apparel." If your center has a specific or stringent dress code (e.g., uniforms, business casual or coat and tie) then make sure that people know what it is from the first phone interview. You don't want to waste the time of people who do not want to meet the dress code on the one hand, and you want to begin acculturating people to your standards on the other.
New hire training should indicate whatever detail is necessary to describe your standards. Also, the company handbook should be clear on what is and what is not acceptable.
In most call centers, a fairly wide range of apparel will be acceptable. However, the following areas should be highlighted in your training and in your handbook:
Health and Safety. Jewelry and accessories which have the appearance of weapons should be strictly forbidden. Other elements that affect health and safety in different climates and cultures should be taken into appropriate account.
Business Appropriate Garb. Describe what is appropriate and what is not. Good example should be modeled by management so that employees can see for themselves what appropriate apparel looks like.
If you hand out prizes for performance and these include shirts, then the shirts should be what you would like to see around the office. Pay a little more for a classy golf shirt or good looking collar shirt, perhaps with your logo on it.
"B" is for "Behavior." This reflects the right attitude for which you should be hiring and which you should nurture in all of your employees. You can teach content and technique, but you should screen and hire for people who naturally fit the proper mold for cheerful customer service.
"C" is for "Conduct." This is for the specifics of workplace interaction and needs to be carefully monitored for legal reasons as well as managerial and morale reasons. Some of the key elements include:
Language. This is where the media have really affected (or better, infected) our culture, by making the offensive seem "normal." As a manager you may not be able to single-handedly reverse the "crudification" of the popular culture, but you can set a good example and require that others follow.
Proselytizing. On the opposite side of the profane is the sacred. In many contact center settings references by individual employees to their faith and their faith communities is normal and accepted. However, if it crosses the line to evangelizing and becomes an annoyance to other employees, it must be dealt with in a sensitive but clear way.
Political shrillness. My advice to managers has always been to keep their political views to themselves when it comes to the workplace - for all the right reasons. One of the right reasons is that you can intervene with more impartial authority should one of your employees spend too much time on his or her soapbox. Agents should know that the center is a place of work and not a radio talk show or a polling station.
Sexual innuendo / sexual harassment. These are, of course, verboten. Your company may already have a well-developed program to address this issue. If so, follow the program. If it does not, you need to work with HR and senior management to develop one, or to acquire a program that is available from a vendor specialist. Anyone who crosses the line is out. Anyone who is getting near the line should be given a warning plus sexual harassment training.
As indicated above, the ABC's should be made clear in initial training and in the company handbook. When you need to call someone into your office for an ABC transgression, be sure and follow your company's procedures (you may need to have a second management person, or someone from HR, sitting with you) and be clear. Document what happened. Keep in mind that most agents want to do the right thing, but they may need some mentoring from you to learn their ABC's and apply them in the future.
BenchmarkPortal recognizes the exceptional efficiency and effectiveness of United Concordia Dental’s Customer Call Center by awarding it Certification as a Center of Excellence. The granting of certification is based on a company’s operational metrics, customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction.
United Concordia Dental’s Customer Call Center has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center researchand consulting organization. “Only the top 10 percent of those benchmarked annually achieve this distinction,” said BenchmarkPortal CEO Bruce Belfiore. “Achieving Center of Excellence certification is an acknowledgement of strong management and leadership in the call center industry.”
“Center of Excellence certification indicates that the contact center delivers superior customer service within a responsible cost structure,” said Belfiore. "A great contact center operation reflects its management's passion for balancing the demands of high quality and low costs. United Concordia has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics. We have validated its metrics and have certified that United Concordia is, indeed, among the best in its industry. I congratulate United Concordia on a job well done.”
About United Concordia Dental
United Concordia is a leading national dental carrier and delivers high-quality, cost-effective dental programs. Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., the company has more than six million members, a network of more than 76,000 unique dentists at over 164,000 access points nationwide and is licensed in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. United Concordia has a companywide dedication and commitment to superior customer service, which is evident in the design, implementation, administration and servicing of its dental benefits programs. For more information about United Concordia products, visit http://www.UnitedConcordia.com.
Florida Power & Light Company's Customer Care Center has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center research and consulting organization. “Only the top 10 percent of those benchmarked annually achieve this distinction,” said BenchmarkPortal CEO Bruce Belfiore. “Achieving Center of Excellence certification is an acknowledgement of strong management and leadership in the call center industry.”
To achieve certification as a Center of Excellence, a company must undergo a rigorous benchmarking process, which compares the organization’s operational metrics to those of its peers, using the world's largest database of contact center metrics. During this process, BenchmarkPortal experts audit and verify key data from the contact center applying for certification.
Factors (called key performance indicators) such as first call resolution, cost per call, call waiting time, customer satisfaction, agent satisfaction and utilization of human resources are taken into account. BenchmarkPortal is able to scientifically gauge how the contact center being studied compared to other centers in the same industry, and if the performance of the contact center is superior. Customer satisfaction, which relates to customer loyalty and business growth, is the goal, balanced by financial metrics which show that the center is being operated efficiently.
"A great contact center operation reflects its management's passion for balancing the demands of high quality and low costs,“ said Belfiore. “FPL has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics. We have validated its metrics and have certified that FPL is, indeed, among the best in its industry. I congratulate FPL on a job well done.”
“Benchmarking delivers a crackerjack profile of a contact center’s operations that can inspire management to move forward aggressively,” added Belfiore, who has been with the company since 2000.
About Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the largest rate-regulated electric utility in Florida and serves the third largest number of customers of any electric utility in the United States. FPL serves approximately 4.6 million customer accounts and is a leading Florida employer with approximately 10,000 employees as of year-end 2011. During the five year period ended December 31, 2011, the company delivered the best service reliability among Florida investor-owned utilities, while its typical residential customer bills, based on data available in December 2011, are about 25 percent below the national average. A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and one of the leading energy efficiency programs among utilities nationwide. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.FPL.com
Eliminating Your Customer Service Blind Spot With Co-Browse Technology
Join host Bruce Belfiore and Dusty Stanford, Sales Director, LiveLOOK, as they co-browse technology. Customer service strategies have evolved over time to cover every communications channel - phone, chat, email, social media and more. But, with the exception of in-store service, most companies have lacked a visual component to customer service communications. Learn how Co-Browse Technology is now being used in call centers to create a visual connection, enabling agents to see exactly what a customer sees on the screen during a call or chat.
Broadcast monthly, directly over the Internet to your desktop, CallTalk covers informative and educational topics that impact today's call center. This show is hosted by Bruce Belfiore, CEO of BenchmarkPortal. It is aired without the participation of vendors so that topics will be free from their influence and guided by the needs of its listeners.
Dusty Stanford is the Sales Director at LiveLOOK. He has been involved with technology for the last 25 years and has worked with some of the leading call center companies in the world. Dusty has held numerous positions in the contact center environment, and he successfully leading his own center. Dusty has extensive knowledge about call center operations.