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While on the phones, it’s very easy to be distracted because there is a lot of multitasking that goes into being a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME). However, as a CME, one of your main jobs is to actively listen to what the donor is saying to you. You cannot have a productive conversation with the donor unless you listen to their side of the story. Without listening, you are not having a conversation; you are talking at the donor.

When the donor is speaking to you, it gives you a chance to use active listening to find the tone of their voice and recognize how they are feeling. By determining what tone they have with you, you are able to match it. If the donor is upset or angry, you want to sound calming; if the donor is bubbly and excited, you want to match their excitement. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of not matching the donor’s tone, and it can be a killer to the call. For instance, if a CME sounds too excited and shrill and the donor on the other end sounds sad, the donor would be more likely to hang up.

It is also important to use active listening to truly understand why the donor is either motivated or unmotivated to make a donation. Being a CME can be a difficult task at times because you are busy trying to be one step ahead of the donor. However, if you don’t listen to what the donor is telling you, the way you respond to them could give them a negative view of the donor center, and they might feel like you don’t really care about what they are saying. We want the donors to know that we care about them, so when they are explaining a situation to you, take a moment to truly listen to what they are saying so that you are able to converse with them and give them a genuine response.

Using active listening from the very beginning of a call may be difficult because being a CME means doing a lot of multitasking, but being a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) also means that we need to have productive conversations that drive meaningful results. Having a productive conversation means listening to the needs and concerns of our donors. If you do not use your active listening skills you could give the donors the wrong impression and, in turn, lose an appointment. So always take the time to pay attention!

How else do you use active listening skills in your blood donor recruitment calls?

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The changes facing the blood center industry are significant and are making executive roles more difficult than ever.

You are faced with many challenges, including:

  • Decreasing demand
  • Increased competition
  • Price pressures on every department
  • Patient blood management programs
  • Acquisitions
  • Personnel challenges

Over the last 16 years, Incept has helped over 40 blood centers reduce cost, increase collections, and improve donor relationships. Last year alone, we conducted over 6 million conversations with blood donors and recruited more than 267,552 units, all on a fixed cost-per-donor payment structure. Meaning our clients only pay for a usable unit.

Billie Johnson, Incept’s VP of Client Results, uses her 16 years of experience to develop customized solutions to increase collections and improve donor relationships for each of our clients. Based on her expertise in Donor Center Strategy, we’ve created a monthly webinar series dedicated to helping the blood center industry face new and existing challenges.

We’d like to invite you to a private webinar series hosted by Billie and special guest Dave Walter. On April 16th, they will be sharing industry best practices regarding goals and accountability for tele-recruitment, as well as answering your most pressing questions.

Please register for this webinar by clicking here.

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Incept has the great pleasure of spending the majority of our time focusing on the high-performing Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs). There is an Employee of the Month ceremony held each month, and every employee is invited to attend – on the clock. This is an opportunity for Incept to do a lot of personal and specific recognition.

Personalized, handwritten thank-you cards – signed by every single member of Incept’s management team – are handed out to each hourly employee who had perfect attendance for the previous month. Each card has tickets included for a half day of paid time off as a thank you for being a loyal employee and coming to work every shift they were scheduled. In addition, Incept awards an Employee of the Month who receives a framed plaque signed by the CEO and the Director of their division, a $0.50 raise, $50 cash on the spot, and a reserved parking spot for the next month. A Most Improved award is given each month to an employee who has shown outstanding improvement from previous month’s performance numbers. This person also receives a framed certificate signed by the Director of their division and Incept’s CEO, a $0.25 raise, and $25 cash on the spot. In addition to these awards, each Team Leader gets the chance to publicly recognize any and all employees on their team who have had outstanding accomplishments during the past month. Each Team Leader is given as much time to speak as they need to adequately cover the appropriate public recognition for each and every person on their team who has earned that recognition.

This ceremony typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour, and there are four separate ceremonies held each month to ensure that all Incept employees are able to attend. This ceremony is in addition to the daily, weekly, and monthly incentives that are provided at a team level, as well as the impressive bonus programs attached to each program.

We provide a performance bonus that is based on weekly performance to specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that correlate directly to what is defined as success for our clients. In addition, we provide instant incentives like extra breaks, vending machine coupons, client t-shirts and other client products, public recognition, supervisors taking the CME’s calls, team incentives (like catered lunches), games to be played in the rows, and public recognition. We also have an employee referral program for new hires and PTO Ticket for Schedule Adherence on a monthly basis.

Structurally, Incept is organized in teams, where the leader of each team is individually responsible for the performance, attendance, and promotions of the employees on their teams. Numerous studies show that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers; by creating a clear relationship with one primary individual within the company, we are able to address individual recognition and/or concerns swiftly and correctly. Each employee is asked to anonymously complete the Gallup Q12 survey each quarter, and each supervisor is ranked and coached on opportunities to increase their scores. Two significant drivers in this survey are “I have been recognized for my work in the last 7 days” and “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person”. By focusing on standard ratings and discussions on these questions, we ensure employees receive appropriate public and individual recognition.

We believe the combination of these items directly lead to our low employee turnover and consistent recognition as a Top Workplace.

What’s your favorite part of Incept’s employee recognition program?

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What do you do with donors who simply do not answer the phone? Even though you contact them during what is typically the optimum time of day, some donors will not respond to phone calls.

In any 60-day period, if there have been 10 or more unsuccessful attempts to reach a donor, leave a brief, informative message.

Your organization may also consider leaving a pre-recorded message for unresponsive donors.

The automated message should sound like a message from a live person. Using this option can shave 20-30 seconds off each unanswered call.

How do you determine if you are going to leave a message for donors?

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Calling donors in order to get the donation type that is most in need can be done simply if you have the right resources. Your database should be segmented by each donor’s blood type, last three donation types, and gender. If you have the luxury of scripting software and an automatic dialer, the scripter should be able to utilize this data to prompt the dialer to call only qualified donors and to serve an appropriate script to your tele-recruiters.

The logic involved in choosing the donation type may go something like this, depending on current inventory needs:

  • Donors with no previous history of donating either Double Red Cells or Platelets: O-, O+, B-, B+: Recruit for double red cells
    • AB-, AB+, A-: Refer to gender
      • Male: Recruit for platelets
      • Female: Recruit for whole blood
    • A+ or unknown: Recruit for whole blood
  • One of the last three most recent donations was a Double Red Cell donation:
    • AB-, AB+, A-: Refer to gender
      • Male: Recruit for platelets
      • Female: Recruit for double red cells
    • All other blood types: Recruit for double red cells
  • One of the last three most recent donations was a Platelet donation type:
    • O-, O+, B-, B+: Recruit for double red cells
    • All other blood types: Recruit for platelets

Platelet donations take priority over Double Red Cells and Whole Blood except for “O” donors, where Double Red Cells take precedence.

How do you ensure that you’re calling the right donors?

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As the holidays approach everyone is getting ready to decorate their homes, preparing their shopping lists, and planning their trips to visit family out of town. At this time of year, the community doesn’t realize how much their local blood centers could really use their support with blood donations.

Did you know that every two seconds someone in the United States is in need of blood? This means that the need for blood is always present. And during the holidays blood is needed even more frequently for a couple big reasons.

Reason #1: Local high schools and colleges are typically on holiday break.

Most of the blood that is collected comes from local high schools and colleges where students attend the blood drives scheduled at their campus. Typically around this time of year, students are on holiday breaks, making it a little bit more difficult for blood centers to keep their blood supplies at safe levels. This is when the blood centers depend on the community to keep their shelves stocked. Now this is only one reason as to why blood is needed most during the holidays. There are several other situations that affect blood centers all around the United States during the holidays.

Reason #2: Traveling increases and so do accidents.

Around this time of year, there are also tons of people taking trips to spend the holidays with their loved ones. This makes blood donors unavailable to donate for a certain amount of time depending on how long they will be away. It can be difficult finding time to do anything after traveling for a long period of time, with having to get settled back into normal routines and knowing how our schedules will look. However, the need for blood never ends, and this is why people should make time to pause, relax, and take an hour of their valuable time to help save up to three lives during the holidays.

As holiday traveling increases so do accidents. A single accident victim can use up to 100 units of blood, which is a significant amount of blood to substitute. Once again this raises the need for blood donations during the holidays.

This holiday season, give a gift that can help save a life. With schools being out and traveling on the rise, this time of the year increases the need for blood tremendously. So again, be a hero and take an hour to help your local blood center keep their blood supply at a safe level. Most of all, help save some lives!

Photo Credit: http://www.donateblood.com.au/category/news-tags/blood-donation-western-australia

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Not a workday should pass by without each Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) receiving coaching for blood donor recruitment in some form. Formal Coaching Sessions, Follow-Up Coaching Sessions, Positive Coaching Sessions, and Quality Audit Sessions fill this need eight days each month.

On remaining days, each tele-recruiter should receive what we call “Drive-By Coaching.” Drive-By Coaching is not as time consuming and is less structured than the rest. It consists of very brief, one-off suggestions or reinforcements related to current conversations.

Supervisors should listen carefully to their tele-recruiters’ donor conversations throughout the day. As they do, they should notice little opportunities to strengthen positive habits and/or correct poor habits and should discuss these observations with tele-recruiters as soon after the call as possible.

Drive-By Coaching In Action

The following are example Drive-By Coaching statements:

  • “That was a great second attempt, Sara! I know you didn’t get the appointment, but the second attempt was awesome. If you keep on doing it that way, you will definitely get more appointments!”
  • “Don’t forget to ask for an email address in every call, Byron. It helps us stay in touch with the donors who don’t respond well to phone calls.”
  • “I’d like to hear you emphasize key words more in your conversations. I brought a highlighter and a paper copy of the script so that you and I can highlight key words in the script for emphasis. For the next hour, I want you to focus on putting extra emphasis on those words when you say them. Practicing this will allow you to inject some highs and lows into your presentation flow and make your pitch sound more natural and interesting.”
  • “Second requests increase appointments per hour by an average of 25%. I’d like you to set a goal of at least five second-requests per hour in five separate conversations for the rest of the day. Five second-requests per hour should result in you scheduling a minimum of one additional appointment per hour today.”

These brief but meaningful encounters keep Conversational Quality top-of-mind, let your tele-recruiters know that you are always listening, and provide instant feedback for strengthening good behaviors and changing bad ones.

What do your Drive-By Coaching sessions sound like?

Photo Credit: http://www.secretan.com/coaching/

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Bonus Programs motivate our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) to practice what they learn through coaching. You may think the regular paycheck is enough to do that, and you may be right—if you relax quality standards for blood donor recruitment.

Paychecks motivate “acceptable” results that are good enough to remain employed. Bonus programs, however, justify you to continually raise quality standards since your people receive additional pay for results that are beyond “acceptable.” When understandable KPI reports are directly connected to well-designed bonuses and effective coaching, tele-recruiters know exactly what actions to take to shift their numbers and earn extra money!

Designing Your Own Bonus Program

The following are guidelines for designing your tele-recruitment bonus program:

  1. Structure your bonus program with conversation quality, integrity, and customer satisfaction at its core.
  2. Use client requirements as the minimum achievement, meaning that no bonuses can be earned until after client requirements are met.
  3. Keep your bonus program easy to explain, easy to understand, and easy to calculate.
  4. Teach tele-recruiters how to calculate their own bonuses. When they understand exactly what positively and negatively impacts their bonus pay, they will quickly figure out how to maximize their performance to get the lion’s share of that bonus.
  5. Design your bonus program to mirror the payment arrangement with your client. If your client pays you for successful blood draws, for example, don’t incent telerecruiters to merely set appointments. Otherwise, tele-recruiters will do whatever is necessary to set appointments without regard to whether those appointments will likely result in successful donations.
  6. Incorporate your bonus program into your organization’s employee training program, coaching sessions, quality control audits, daily team meetings, and any other form of regular communication with tele-recruiters. If it is obviously important to you, it will be important to your tele-recruiters. Employees respect what you inspect, and they produce results that you reward them to produce.

Getting Buy-In For Your Bonus Program

Diligently promoting your KPI reports in conjunction with quality and bonuses will help condition your representatives to actively monitor their performance numbers. The following are suggestions for promoting KPIs:

  • When you first initiate this program, hold a scavenger hunt to familiarize tele-recruiters with the location of the reports and the content they contain.
  • Hold a “game show” where tele-recruiters have to provide examples of what effect various positive and negative behaviors have on the KPIs.
  • 10 minutes before each shift begins, ask your team specific questions that can only be answered by those who studied yesterday’s reports. Give away small prizes to those who know the answers.
  • Publicly recognize tele-recruiters who know specific information when you ask them for it.
  • Highlight key players from the previous day’s results, and spotlight those representatives on the report itself for all to see.
  • Write personal notes to your tele-recruiters on the reports.

Once tele-recruiters begin to actively use and rely on KPI reports, internal friendly competition will take on a life of its own to drive improvement. As a manager or supervisor, you will be freed up to dedicate more of your time to development than to regurgitating data.

How do you promote bonuses?

Photo Credit: http://www.getreadytocoach.com/coachingwebsites-live/

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Coaching sessions can mean the difference between successful blood donor recruitment and unsuccessful blood donor recruitment. Our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) depend on Formal Coaching Sessions in order to improve and enhance their skills. These sessions should be Durable, Actionable, Straightforward, and Helpful. You may remember these using the acronym “DASH”.

  • Durable: Written records from Formal Coaching should be easy to understand—not just at the moment but also in the future. Supervisors should spell out details and avoid abbreviations. A written record is durable if a tele-recruiter can understand it 5 days after the session just as easily as during the session.
  • Actionable: The tele-recruiter must have a crystal clear understanding of how to act upon the advice received and the benefits of doing so.
  • Straightforward: The tele-recruiter should understand each word, line, instruction, and piece of advice that is offered. The supervisor must be adept at recognizing confusion and at clarifying when needed.
  • Helpful: This is not just a “feel good” meeting. The content of the discussion must be honest and useful so that the tele-recruiter can use it to score more wins.

What kinds of tools do you use in your Formal Coaching Sessions?


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Great workplaces are built through day-to-day relationships that employees experience. To make Incept a great workplace, we follow 6 important values:

  1. Integrity – Integrity involves moral judgment, character, honesty, and leadership values. Individuals who show integrity in a workplace not only understand right from wrong, but they practice it in everything they do. This is beneficial in a business environment where trustworthy actions set the foundation for successful business relationships.
  2. Never satisfied – This means that we can always make improvements. We proactively identify new areas where improvements can be made regardless of current performance, which sets a great attitude! This also helps employees learn something new each day.
  3. Compassion – Compassion is having a positive impact on others. We want to view all of our actions through the eyes of others first. We also encourage and reward our employees for volunteering their time to help others. Compassion helps strengthen the relationship with clients, as well as teammates, which in return helps us to create better results as a company.
  4. Everyone’s a customer – This means creating a “wow” experience for our teammates and all of our clients. We ask customers what is required to make them our advocates, listen to their answers, and then deliver. At Incept, we anticipate customer needs and provide suggested improvements to address them. We make sure to work as a team to define success and achieve it.
  5. Present This means balancing work and home life and being present in both. Being present is having understanding and encouraging the fact that a strong personal life is the key to achieving a strong professional work life. We like to encourage the discussion of, and assist each other in achieving, our life goals. When working, it is important to avoid distractions (such as personal issues), and when home, it’s crucial to avoid stresses that come with your job.
  6. Tenacious – Last but not least, being tenacious is all about being passionate and determined. Showing enthusiasm helps accomplish any goal. As a team, we persist until we make improvements in efforts to be successful achieving every goal we set.

At Incept, we are relentless in supporting our values, goals, and teammates. Furthermore, we use all six of our values to help us achieve our goals as a company, as well as perform great results and continue to grow stronger as a team. This is why Incept is such a great workplace!

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