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How to Send Subliminal Messages in Your IVR

Posted on  8 May 13  by 

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subliminal IVR messagingSetting customer expectations can be a very delicate matter.  There are times when you need to be very transparent to help customers understand what to expect next—and to avoid them from calling you back unnecessarily—

Your estimated wait time is 2 minutes. 

We will reply to your email in 24 hours.

Your order will ship next Tuesday.

But, there are other times when being that straightforward is not appropriate—and frequently the IVR script is one of those times.  We want customers to use the IVR, and we want them to understand its value in serving them…but customers aren’t always ready to listen when it comes to telling them about the features and benefits of an IVR.  So, that’s when subliminal messages start to sound like a good idea.

How can you send subliminal messages in your IVR?  Try these on for size: Read More »

Customer Service in the News | Week of May 6th

Posted on  7 May 13  by 


news3Service News

  • The Risk of Using SMS for Customer Service [Forbes]
  • Gamification for Customer Service: Does it Work? [CustomerThink]
  • Infographic: Social Customer Service [five9]
  • Insurers See Value in Social Media’s Customer Service Capabilities [Insurance Networking News]

Why You Make it Hard for Reps to be Low-Effort

Posted on  7 May 13  by 


May7There is no doubt that the No.1 goal for service organizations is to make it easy for customers to solve their issues. But have you ever thought of whether you have made it easy for your frontline reps to deliver that service?  If reps have to put forth a lot of effort during customer interactions, how can you expect them to create easy experiences for customers? In fact, our data collected from “Service Organization Culture Assessment” as part of our major research initiative this year showed that nearly half of reps (48.6%) we surveyed agreed that they had to put in a great deal of energy to handle with customer issues.

If you haven’t previously considered how hard it may be for reps to provide good service, this data point should really make you start thinking about what created this reality and how you can make it easier for reps to deliver low-effort service experiences. Specifically, here are some reasons we think are driving effort for reps in the current contact center world. Read More »

You’re Probably Not Hiring Correctly

Posted on  3 May 13  by 


hiring Our parent company, CEB, recently acquired a company at the forefront of talent acquisition analytics. SHL, a leader in talent measurement solutions, has a suite of offerings—one of them being contact center frontline rep hiring. We are excited about the offerings that they have and the exciting research they’ve done on how to hire smartly. And it’s led us to do a little thinking of our own about hiring in the contact center environment.

It’s no secret that a lot of things have changed in the contact center environment—so how you hire for reps should be one of them. Reps were once expected to handle simple issues in a straightforward way, so hiring primarily focused on basic skills. Organizations could rely on resumes to assess work experience, office skills, and intelligence. Today, however, the role of the rep has fundamentally altered. Dynamic work environments, difficult issues, and demanding customers all create a need for a more robust hiring process. In fact, we’ve learned today’s high performing rep possesses a different skill—the ability to take ownership—that we’ve coined the Control Quotient. This means your entire hiring process should change, and here are three things you can do differently:

Read More »

Why You Need to Trust Reps

Posted on  1 May 13  by 

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We recently came across an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review that explains the importance of trusting your employees to achieve good outcomes, rather than telling them what to do.

SMAC model employeeThe author asserts that by trusting your employees, you encourage individuals to be more committed, produce higher quality work, and be proud to work for you.  We couldn’t help but recognize the similarities in the author’s findings and our own work on trusting employees to achieve outcomes and increasing employee engagement as a result.

The author outlines the following actions to demonstrate trust in your employees, and at CEB Customer Contact, we couldn’t agree more:
Read More »

Peer Perspectives: How Gap Inc. Moved the Dial on Coaching

Posted on  30 April 13  by 


QandAAt CEB Customer Contact, we’re big proponents of the power of effective coaching to impact staff performance. There’s reason for our focus on coaching: coaching is the most significant driver of staff performance, and it’s also one of the top three drivers of rep retention.

We shed some light on how a few companies with top-notch coaching programs got to where they are in our recent webinar on coaching effectiveness, and we were excited to see how interested our members are in the different stages of the coaching journey. Read More »

Customer Service in the News | Week of April 29th

Posted on  30 April 13  by 


customer service newsHow to create a successful multichannel customer service strategy [1-to-1 Media]

US Government tackles federal customer service quality in hopes of improvement, savings [Houston Chron]

Ritz-Carlton goes a long way to delight an unhappy customer — with penguins [HLN]

McDonald’s creates new “runner” role to ease dissatisfied customers [Business Insider]


Identifying Future Leaders

Posted on  23 April 13  by 

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How do you find the next line of supervisors at your organization?
Most people reward their high-performing reps with promotions to supervisorial roles.  On the surface, it seems logical that individuals who perform well in their roles as reps should naturally have qualities – ability to communicate, efficiency, loyalty to the company, etc. – that will make them successful in managerial/supervisory roles.

Read More »

Customer Service in the News | Week of April 22nd

Posted on  22 April 13  by 



  • 5 tips for providing high-quality service via Twitter [B2C]
  • The next generation of ATMs provide service with a human face and give you exact change [CNN]
  • How can technology help lead a customer service revolution? [Washington Post]
  • Simple things can impact how much effort your customer think they have to exercise [Forbes]

5 Keys to Managing Millenials in the Customer Service World

Posted on  22 April 13  by 


connectEmployee Engagement is certainly a topic that I encounter on a regular basis.  Service leaders are always curious about 2 things:

  • Why is my frontline team disengaged?
  • How can I make them engaged?

And most of the time the diagnosis is either an absence of effective coaching processes or an absence of culture…a culture promoting frontline behaviors and judgment absolutely necessary for the new “Quality 2.0” world.  However, it has come to my attention that maybe you and I (who are supposed to be the experts) focus too much of our attention on the Why and the How.  In the process, we overlook another important question…the Who.  Who are these individuals that are filling the seats in the contact center…the individuals we are looking to engage and manage?

Our latest data from our major research initiative this year showed that within the last 2 years, the percentage of Millenials operating in the contact center has increased from 41% to 65%.  I think it’s safe to say that the contact center is not getting any older.  Certainly, many service leaders I speak to attach a negative connotation to the idea of managing Millenials.  The challenges of understanding an entirely different generation are well documented.  However, it is not impossible.  In fact, it’s as easy as learning how to play Call of Duty on Xbox360…err…well maybe a little easier.

Tips for Managing Millenials

1)      Offer Career Pathing and Mentoring – Millenials possess high aspirations particularly because they are new to the workforce and have something to prove.  Try to take a vested interest in their development.  Have conversations about their professional goals and if possible, help map out a career growth path.  (See how Dow Chemical did it.)

2)      Provide Feedback and Recognition – Millenials expect immediate feedback and validation.  Be transparent around expectations.  Be sure to discuss performance and ways to improve on a regular basis.  Provide acknowledgement where necessary to make the Millenial feel they are working with purpose and that they are part of a team (See how companies have implemented incentive programs.)

3)      Be Flexible – Millenials possess many ideas and opinions and are confident in their convictions.  They don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored.  Be open to hearing their perspective and afford them opportunities to find their way to achieve the desired results.  They value trust in relationships and have an affinity towards learning and on the job training. (See how Fidelity did it.)

4)      Offer Job Rotations – Millenials have short attention spans and are always seeking ever-changing tasks within their work.  Provide opportunities for them to explore their passion for learning new things and exercise their ability to multitask. (See how Cadence did it.)

5)      Provide a balance of Work and Play – Home, family, and spending time with friends are priorities for Millenials.  Don’t overlook this.  Allow for balance between life and work, while still maintaining some semblance of structure.  (See how companies have implemented flexible scheduling.)

The Millenials are here to stay and service leaders have no choice but to adapt.  How will you choose to unleash the great potential behind this emerging resource?


Related Links

Employee Engagement

Redefining the High Performing Supervisor

Modernizing the Quality Assurance Function

Attracting and Retaining Generation Y