January 14, 2013

Investments in Employee Training… Are You Getting a Big Bang For Your Buck?

CallTalk Online Radio Show 

Investments in Employee Training… Are You Getting a Big Bang For Your Buck?

Date: Wed., Jan.23, 2012
Time: 10am PT / 1pm ET
Duration: 30-45 Minutes

Join host Bruce Belfiore and Susan Osborne, Strategic Learning Specialist with BenchmarkPortal, as they discuss Investments in Employee Training. Organizations that make large investments in people typically have lower employee turnover, which is linked to higher customer satisfaction and profitability. On average, companies are investing $1,200 per employee in training. Are those investments paying off? Susan McDonald Osborn, Call Center Learning Strategist, will present common flaws in training programs and provide practical strategies for ensuring that training dollars translate to performance on the call center floor.

About CallTalk 

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 vendor sponsorship, so that topics are free from their influence and guided solely by the needs of our listeners.

Guest Host: Susan McDonald Osborne, Strategic Learning Specialist, BenchmarkPortal

Susan has more than 25 years of progressive experience in performance improvement interventions. She brings expertise in instructional design and project management experience, as well as a master’s degree in human resource development. Most recently, Susan architected the 2010 U.S. Census Call Center training solution and led the training development, deployment, evaluation, and operations across the nation. Susan, while an employee of a large training development company, provided program management and instructional design services to organizations such as Wells Fargo Phone Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Prudential Insurance, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, BMW North America, and the Forum Corporation. Susan has exten sive experience in the government sector as well. Some of the agencies Susan worked with are Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Highway Administration, and the U.S. Army Drug and Alcohol Operations Agency.

Cross/Up Sell in the Call Center to Grow Your Business

Cross/Up Sell in the Call Center to Grow Your Business By: Dee Buell, Senior Consultant, BenchmarkPortal

Contact Centers are expected to provide excellent service to their customers, but we continue to see many Centers expected to do more;.e.g., add sales, generate leads, provide software and hardware technical support, etc.  A focus on sales and lead generation is consistently becoming more important because Contact Centers have the potential to become revenue-generating profit centers.  The important role they play in retaining customers and enhancing the company brand is key to a successful cross/up sell business model.
There are a few best practice strategies you should keep in mind; keep your focus on the customer, create a standard sales process, and understand there are different needs for different customers.  Other factors that need to be considered to optimize cross/up sell performance are:
  • Economics – companies should seek to grow existing customer relationships to offset a downturn in the economy
  • Competitive shifts – value-add products with higher profit margins can build strong customer relationships
  • Customer Relationships – preserving and expanding customer relationships not only helps retain customers but builds customer loyalty
  • Cost-effective sales – it is cheaper to sell additional products to existing customers
Research should be done to understand the customer’s experience as seen through their eyes, and the cross/up sell process should be created to enhance that experience.

Building on the Customer Relationship
Leveraging Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) for sales has become a standard practice,  but many organizations have not fully tapped into the power of their CRM.  Best-in-class companies look at each contact as an opportunity to enhance their relationship with that customer.
Customer loyalty is granted to a business for outstanding performance.  True loyalty cannot be manufactured in marketing or sales, but is won through a consistent experience, and the ability of the company to deliver on its promises.  Customer loyalty starts with brand positioning, making the alignment of customer strategies with understanding what is critically important to the customer.  It is also important to know how the company is performing relative to the competition.

Customer Segmentation
Targeting the best customers for specific cross/up sell opportunities is a best practice.  Not every customer should be a target for additional sales.  Quantifying the financial impact of a customer should be considered when developing your strategy.

Online Cross/UP Sell Strategies
Increased Internet usage, along with changing customer habits, needs to be driving companies to develop online sales strategies.  With lower acquisition costs and changing customer preferences, a good online sales strategy can be an important channel to increase revenue and enhance the customer relationship.

Technology Support
Best-in-class companies utilize technology to support the cross/up sell process.  They identify new products based on customer history, present standard scripts, identify sales opportunities and offer pricing support.  Intelligent routing systems can be used to connect customers with the agent best qualified to sell the relevant products.  Screen pops or Whisper technology can alert the CSR of a potential sales opportunity.

Moving from the traditional contact center service model to a customer-centric cross/up sell model requires management to go through a paradigm shift – moving away from their traditional customer satisfaction orientation to a position of concentrating on maximizing revenue with every customer-oriented interaction.  Management must leverage their CRM systems, collaborate with sales and marketing to enhance customer relationships, maximize their technology and develop a strong online strategy to achieve revenue goals.  This transition may require significant changes in company culture and the mindset of the CSR; however, the additional revenue and resulting stronger customer relationship can be worth the effort.

About BenchmarkPortal
BenchmarkPortal is the leader in Call Center Benchmarking, Call Center Training, and Call Center Consulting. Since its beginnings in 1995 under Dr. Jon Anton of Purdue University, BenchmarkPortal has grown with the contact center industry and now hosts the world’s largest call center metrics database. Now led by Bruce Belfiore, the BenchmarkPortal team of professionals has gained international recognition for its call center expertise and innovative approaches to Best Practices for the call center industry. Join our community today by benchmarking your call center with one of our Benchmarking Surveys on our website.http://www.BenchmarkPortal.com

January 10, 2013

BenchmarkPortal Announces: OEConnection’s Customer Care Center Achieves its Fifth Certification as a BenchmarkPortal Center of Excellence

BenchmarkPortal recognizes the exceptional efficiency and effectiveness of the OEConnection’s Customer Care Center by awarding it Certification as a Center of Excellence for the fifth year in a row. The granting of certification is based on a company’s operational metrics, customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction.

The OEConnection’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 compares 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.
“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. OEConnection has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics. We have validated its metrics and have certified that OEConnection is, indeed, among the best in its industry. I congratulate OEConnection on a job well done.”
“Benchmarking delivers a crackerjack profile of a contact center’s operations that can inspire management to move forward aggressively, even in a less-than-robust economy,” added Belfiore, who has been with the company since 2000.
About BenchmarkPortal
BenchmarkPortal’s founders pioneered the first contact center benchmarking study in 1995. Now custodian of the largest database of contact center metrics in the world, BenchmarkPortal is a leader in certification, training, consulting and research for the customer contact industry. Its team of professionals has gained international recognition for expertise and innovation in best practices. BenchmarkPortal’s mission is to help management optimize the performance of their center in terms of both cost and quality, encourage customer loyalty and build enterprise value. For more information on BenchmarkPortal, call 1-800-214-8929 or visithttp://www.BenchmarkPortal.com.
About OEConnection LLC
OEConnection is the leading parts e-commerce technology provider for OEM distribution networks, serving over 35,000 dealership and repair customers. Customers use OEConnection products over 6 million times each month to market, manage and move original equipment parts, facilitating an estimated $18 billion in annual replacement parts trade. The company is headquartered in the greater Cleveland area at 4205 Highlander Parkway, Richfield, Ohio, 44286. Additional information is available at http://www.oeconnection.com or by emailing Joan Deegan at joan.deegan (at) oeconnection (dot) com.

January 9, 2013

BenchmarkPortal Announces Call Center Management Certification Training Schedule for 2013

Call center training for managers is an important focus for any customer service call center if they want to be able to achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace. These certification courses will help call center managers build on best practice skills needed to manage an effective and efficient call center.

BenchmarkPortal and The College of Call Center Excellence introduce the 2013 Call Center Manager Training schedule. This workshop is composed of information-rich modules that offer lectures, discussions and learning activities in the form of case studies that examine practical problem solving and current best practices. Originally developed by Dr. Jon Anton of Purdue University, the curriculum has been expanded and updated by Bruce Belfiore, Chancellor of the College, Senior Instructor Dayne Petersen and Jose Perez, Dean of the college.
The course focuses on specific areas of call center management that include organizational leadership, human resources, quality monitoring, customer satisfaction, the basics of WFM forecasting and scheduling, call center technologies, technology-enabled processes, knowledge management, caller self-service, analytics and reporting, and call center benchmarking.
Small class size allows for one-on-one interaction with the instructors, as well as networking opportunities with colleagues and industry peers. Participants also leave with “take aways” that are meant to enable them to make a real difference in their centers.
Participants in these workshops typically include Call Center Managers, Supervisors, Directors and Vice Presidents. The courses are designed to enable these leaders to better manage their call centers and strengthen relationships with other departments. Every attendee receives complete course documentation, a comprehensive workbook, and a certificate of completion.
All call center training courses by BenchmarkPortal and The College of Call Center Excellence include access to a complimentary benchmarking report and web-ex style presentation of the individual’s benchmarking results with their college instructor, following the course. Managers report that they really appreciate the combination of interactive classroom work along with personalized focus on individual needs and challenges. This approach is considered to be unique to BenchmarkPortal's College of Call Center Excellence training.
True quality call centers exist as a result of quality training. BenchmarkPortal helps companies get the training they need, so that call centers perform at the levels others expect.
"I was very pleased how well the course was put together. It provides info relevant to small and large call centers. The course provides an indirect approach to the top call center concerns and validates all info that is given. If you run a call center this course is a must.," said, Mike Rooks, Call Center Supervisor. "Not only will you learn from the course, but every one else brings their info to the class and you can use them as a reference."
  • Jan. 22-24, 2013 - Orlando, FL at the Embassy Suites
  • Feb. 26-28, 2013 - Scottsdale, AZ at McKesson Specialty Health
  • Mar. 26-28, 2013 - Greensboro, NC at Lincoln Financial Group
  • May 14-16, 2013 - Minneapolis/Eden Prairie, MN at GE Capital Fleet Services
  • June 11-13, 2013 - Cincinnati/Mason, OH at EyeMed Vision Care
  • Aug. 6-8, 2013 - San Francisco, CA at a Business Centers
  • Sept. 10-12, 2013 - Hamilton, NJ at AAA Mid-Atlantic
  • Oct. 8-10, 2013 - Chicago, IL at American Medical Association
  • Nov. 4-8, 2013 - Las Vegas, NV at Call Center Campus Week

January 3, 2013

BenchmarkPortal 2013 Top 100 Call Centers Contest Ends on January 31, 2013

BenchmarkPortal ranks the top call center operations in North America based on operational and financial metrics. Deadline to enter contest is January 31, 2013.

BenchmarkPortal, (http://www.benchmarkportal.com) a leading call center consulting services group, announces the 2013 Top 100 Call Center Contest entry deadline is January 31, 2013. Participants submit performance data on key operating metrics, using BenchmarkPortal’s 12 KPI (RealityCheck) Call Center benchmarking survey.

Completion of the survey not only grants entry in the contest but also provides a baseline from which to improve your operation and save your company money. Once the survey is completed and submitted, BenchmarkPortal will schedule a “readout with one of their certified experts, who will review the data and organize it in a personalized webcast. During the readout, the expert will explain how the report works and review performance gaps compared with others in the industry.” This unique benchmarking process allows managers to see how they compare to others in their industry sector. The key performance indicators “KPI’s” that will be collected are metrics such as abandonment rate, hold time and average call time.

This BenchmarkPortal contest can be a valuable tool for your organization. Benchmarking will provide companies with best practice standards and provide an opportunity for managers to show off all the hard work they’ve put into their call centers --, they can find out more on where they can improve the process.

Contestants must complete the survey by January 31, 2013. Winners will be broken down into three subdivisions for small (100 agents and under), medium (101-249 agents) and large call centers (250+ agents). The winners in each category will have the highest statistical values for efficiency and effectiveness. To pay for success celebrations for the winners, nine cash awards, ranging from $500 to $2000, will be given to the highest-ranking entrants in three categories of call centers. BenchmarkPortal will release the results of the contest by March 31, 2013.

In addition to identifying the best in the business, the contest will also rank call centers that have made the most significant improvements since 2012’s contest. Enrollees this year will be automatically entered in the category for Most Improved Center in 2013.

Top 100 Call Center Contest  participants will be given the option to use the award seals in marketing programs, on product packaging and product support materials, as well as for internal/ external recognition programs. Past participants have used the Top 100 seals in various marketing pieces including: Web sites, social media, advertisements, print ads and press announcements with great success.

To find out how your center ranks among your peers, visit the Top 100 Call Center Contest page; find out more about the 12 KPI Call Center Benchmarking Survey (RealityCheck) and enter the Call Center Top 100 contest.