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Call Center

Flexibility seems like a simple word, but in the workplace this ability can make all the difference. Being able to work with others and around what they need to do while still doing what you need to do is a good skill to have. Have you ever gone into work expecting to do one thing or call one program but find out you will be doing something else or calling something else that day because of outside circumstances? Of course you have, and of course you do as you are instructed.

The best thing to keep in mind is that what you are doing – be it calling a certain program, on-the-fly coaching, putting together a last-minute training – in the end you are doing what’s best for the company. You are helping make your supervisors your customers by being flexible. Flexibility means being willing to do something different from what is expected, for the good of someone or something else.

In your life, you will find many opportunities where it is best to be flexible. The best way to handle any change is with open arms and eyes. Don’t get upset about something that is thrown your way that will help better you, better someone else, or better the company as a whole. By showing your bosses that you are flexible and willing to do what needs to be done without complaining, your dedication and willingness to help out will be obvious.

Flexibility is not just dropping what you’re doing to do something else; it’s being willing to help out a teammate or employer but doing what they need help with currently. Keep an open mind and remember that when you are asked to do something, it is for a good reason. And whoever is asking this of you needs your full support. Sometimes opportunities will change, so do your best to be open-minded in these situations, and it will take you a long way.

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Let's talk... results

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Recently we talked with Josette Schneider, Incept’s Conversational Quality Manager, to discuss  monitoring our Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) and conversational quality. Below Josette provides some insight on developing the most effective conversational quality process.

A new program is brought to the Conversational Quality Department. What are the steps to determine the conversational quality process?

  1. We determine how long the test phase is going to be.
  2. Once the test phase has been completed but prior to rolling the program out to the room, the Contact Center Results (CCR) Team and the Conversational Quality (CQ) Team meet to discuss quality procedures and verifications, if any.
  3. Both teams establish the quality assurance processes, forms, and quality measures.
  4. Once these have been developed, they are submitted to the Client Results Representative for client approval.
  5. Once approved, the process is put into place.

How often is a CQ process evaluated to ensure it is continuing to find and improve quality in phone calls?

  • We don’t have a specific time period when we reevaluate processes. We determine this by program changes, big jumps in quality scores (both low and high), and even client complaints. We will run the current process along with a process that we are testing and determine which process truly reflects the Conversational Marketing™ Experts’ (CMEs’) performance and quality. There are times when an entirely new process is implemented and times when revisions are simply made to the current process.

What is the best number of calls/minutes to monitor to ensure the CME is doing everything right?

  • There really is no basis for the best number of calls or minutes a CME should be monitored. Each call center has their own way of determining this. Some use a number determined by management or past history. A percentage of companies determine this by statistics, and other companies use the number of calls available to be monitored. Incept uses a set number of calls per CME for some of our programs, a specific percentage of calls for other programs, and all CME statistics are looked at when CQ-ing.

If a CQ is not good, what is the best way to evaluate it to improve the CME?

  • If a CME receives a low score or even several deductions for the same infraction, a consultation is scheduled right away with the CME. During this time, we try to get to the root of the problem. Is the CME just not following the process or were they unsure of how to handle that situation. The CME listens to their calls that were evaluated and they are discussed between CME, CCR rep, and CQ rep. Once the calls have been listened to, either the CME’s supervisor or a CQ rep will complete a detailed coaching on the CME. The coaching will be reviewed with the CME and another CQ will be completed. Depending on the CME’s quality score or infractions, the number of times the CME is coached and reevaluated may differ. We also use role playing wherein the CME will listen to someone in management make the calls to get a better feel for how they should be handling different situations.

The quality of phone calls is so important to any campaign. What are the steps your company uses to develop an effective conversational quality process?

Let's talk... results

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In order to set up your donor base calling in a way that maximizes your results, it’s important to begin with a proven strategy to ensure you are getting the most out of your work. Setting up your list of donors and calling straight through will not give you enough results to justify the work. Taking some time to analyze and prioritize your list will yield much better outcomes.

Firstly, you must determine your needs:

  • What blood types and/or donation types are most needed right now?
  • What recruitment difficulties do you run into on a regular basis?
  • What are the center’s long-term and expected blood needs?

Establishing your needs will help you to ensure that all of your subsequent decisions are working in the right direction: to fulfill the actual needs of the blood center.

Secondly, divide your list into categories to better understand the calling universe:

  • How many current, lapsed, and super-lapsed donors are available?
  • How many whole blood and automated donors are available?

You may be surprised at how many resources you have in each category once you look at them. You may find that some categories need to be bolstered, while others may need whittled down in order to get the right donations from the right donors.

Thirdly, match up your short-term needs with your donor segments:

  • Is your immediate need a large quantity of red cells? Try focusing on both automated donors and O- donors to get the volume you need in the area you need it in.
  • If your immediate need is platelets, try focusing on all previous platelet donors, donors that tested high for platelets during a whole blood donation, or those of A/B blood types.
  • If you find that your current donor base for automated donations does not meet your current need for blood products, try supplementing your calling by working to convert all donors of a necessary blood type to do that donation or increase your volume of donors that have lapsed in the past.

Once you have determined your needs and categorized (or segmented) your donors, you will be able to determine which segments will best fulfill your many needs at one time. You will also be able to prioritize the time you want to spend strengthening or cutting down your segments based on the size and importance of each segment.

Now that you know what donor segment you need to focus on in order to meet your current needs, it’s time to focus on meeting your center’s long-term blood needs:

  • The best way to take care of your donor base and ensure that your needs are met long-term is to keep in regular contact with your donors, and let them know that they are appreciated.
    • Keep in contact with current, lapsed, and even super-lapsed donors regularly
    • Do not attempt to call a donor more than 3 times in one week
    • Wait at least 3 weeks after speaking with a donor before calling them again.
    • Follow a consistent contact schedule to ensure that donors are contacted throughout their donation cycle
      • Recruitment calls
      • Reminder call one day before appointment
      • Thank-you call one day after appointment
      • Educational information in between donations
  • Use various contact methods, such as direct mail, email, social media, and text messaging to reach all donor types.

While meeting your short-term needs is valuable, it is vital to ensure you are actively building relationships with your donor base and educating them on why they are so important. The more time that is spent nurturing your donors throughout the year, the less often critical times will come up and cause you to make a change in strategy.

Following the strategy above when setting up your donor recruitment calling is essential to both protecting your donor base in the long term and to getting the most out of your efforts every day.

Let's talk... results

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Recently we talked with Billie Johnson, Incept’s Vice President of Client Results, to discuss conversational marketing™ versus traditional telemarketing.  Below Billie explains what the different is and how Incept uses it in our blood donor recruitment strategies.

Explain conversational marketing™: Conversational marketing™ is a fundamental philosophy that revolves around using your marketing touchpoints to have true, meaningful conversations with your donors to communicate your mission and build a partnership for the patients and hospitals you serve – not just for today, but for years to come.

Why is Incept different than your traditional telemarketing firm? Traditional telemarketing often focuses on the outcome of a phone call. The more “yeses” today, the more success. The Incept difference is that we believe our conversations secure relationships for the future. Our objective in every call is to make sure that the relationship between our blood center client and their donors is stronger and healthier than before our call. It’s a cohesive, long-term strategy, not a one-time campaign, that develops lifelong commitments and loyalty.

Why is it important to build a relationship with the donor when you are on the phone with them, even if the end results is ‘no’? Not everyone is going to say “yes” every time, but each person we call has made the commitment to donate in the past. We want all donors to continue that commitment. Keep in mind, even if now is not a good time, perhaps the next time we call they will be in a position to help. If we alienate even a single donor, that donor could mean all the difference to someone in need in the future.

What is the difference between talking with the donor and talking at the donor? The key here actually has nothing at all to do with talking. The difference is listening. Nearly anyone can begin reciting a script when a donor says “hello”, but listening for key indicators that help guide the talk track is imperative if you truly care about your relationship with your donors. It’s the key to putting the donor’s needs first.

Scripts are important, but why should a Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME) add their own personality into the phone call? Incept believes that guidelines are very important to communicating the right message and preserving a blood center’s brand. However, equally as important is allowing our Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) to have true two-way conversations by using their personality to build a rapport. People build relationships, not scripts.

How can you implement conversational marketing™ into your blood donor recruitment strategy to not only increase results, but also build strong relationships with your donors?

Let's talk... results

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Here is some good information on how you can improve your blood donor recruitment strategy!

In a recent post by Brian, he talks the benefits of a donor loyalty program and providing incentives to blood donors. Everyone loves rewards; they make us feel important and special, but let’s take a look at the numbers to see if they really help you bring in more blood donors. In a recent study done by the University of Toronto, it was discovered that 15-20% of people are more adept to donate if they receive something for doing so.

The numbers speak for themselves! The study was completed on 500,000 individuals (and donors) through 14,000 blood drives across the U.S.

What incentives do you provide your blood donors? What kind of donor loyalty program are you using to help bring in more blood donors?

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If you work for Incept then you already know that compassion is one of our core values. There are many situations in which compassion is key to having a productive conversation, and I would like to share with you a few ways you can show compassion in your blood donor recruitment calls.

The first thing you must do to have a compassionate call is listen actively. Listening actively means that the blood donor you are talking to has your undivided attention and that you are not thinking about something else – even if it’s what you plan to say next. Not only do you have to listen to the words coming out of their mouth, but you have to pay attention to the tone they are using.

Listening actively will allow you to use empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think of everything your blood donor just told you, and ask yourself, “What would I want someone to say to me if I were in this same situation?”

Next acknowledge the blood donor or customer by saying, “I’m sorry to hear that!” or “I understand.” This will let them know that you were listening actively, and you would like to help them. Then proceed by giving a statement that will make them feel better. For example, “I’m so to hear that you are ill. I hope feel better soon.” This will leave the donor with a positive impression and encourage them to donate with us in the future.

There are so many ways to show compassion in your calls, and keep in mind that recruiting blood donors is a compassionate act in itself, so thank you for what you do every day!

Image Credit: http://www.savvydaddy.com/content/site/savvypack/00282/raising-kids-strong-character-compassion

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Touch-Activated Phlemotomy

Using a microneedle, Seventh Sense Biosystems is developing a blood-draw device that will make getting patient’s blood a lot easier, as it is painless touch-activated phlebotomy (TAP). The device “penetrates the uppermost layers of the skin, along with a proprietary microfluidic extraction mechanism that draws blood in a painless, one-step process and leaves a mosquito bite-sized impression in the skin.”

This device can be used anywhere – at hospitals, in clinics and even at home! With so many blood tests being used now to help with diagnosing patients, along with new tests being discovered, a device like this will be used quite frequently!

What about using a device like this for donating blood? Having a donor’s blood drawn painlessly will make more donors open to donating more and should also bring in new donors who may have a fear of needles or don’t like the pain associated with donating. Nothing has been mentioned yet about using something like this for collecting blood donations, but with the development of  TAP there is a good possibility we can expect something similar in the Blood Donor Recruitment field in the near future!

Image Credit: http://www.medcitynews.com/2012/04/painless-blood-draw-device-using-microneedles-could-be-available-in-2013/

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The most important part of your job as a Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME) at Incept, and any other conversational marketing firm, is making donors (or customers) feel comfortable.

There are several ways you can do this, and one of the most important things to keep in mind is that the voice at the other end of the line is a person too. You want to treat them with respect and dignity, and always acknowledge, and respond accordingly to their concerns. By responding accordingly you will be letting the blood donor know that you are listening, which will oftentimes make the donor feel more comfortable. When the donor feels like you really care, they are more likely to be willing to listen to what you are saying.

Simply using your voice inflection in the right places and taking the time to sympathize or understand the donor’s situation will allow you to really make a donor feel comfortable. When a donor feels comfortable they are also more likely to listen to what you have to offer and what you can actually do for them. By building trust with a donor you build a relationship in the long run.

You always want to take the time to fully listen to what the donor is saying, as well. Really listen to their tone, because it will tell you a lot about the situation. The best thing to do when you can tell a donor is upset about something is to be genuinely caring, and allow yourself to show that through your voice inflection and choice of words.

In the end, a comfortable donor is a happy donor. And a happy donor is someone that a blood center like Incept can count on. So simply by making a donor comfortable, you will be building a relationship not just between you and the donor, but also between the donor and the blood center, as well as the blood center and the community. And all of this strengthens the relationship with Incept.

What tips do you have to make a blood donor feel comfortable when you are speaking with them?

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Let's talk... results

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Have you ever walked past the 100% board and asked yourself  ”How can I get my name on there?” I have just the answer you are looking for…

It’s time to talk results. There are many ways to improve your results, and I would like to share with you the top 3 ways to improve your results immediately:

  1. Rebuttaling – “Rebuttaling is not just a part of the job, rebuttaling IS the job.” I’m sure all of you have heard Dave Walter say this before, but the truth is he is right. If everyone just came in to donate blood on their own, well then, you wouldn’t have a job. I realize that many of you don’t rebuttal because it can be uncomfortable, but the truth is, most times the donor just needs to be educated. The donor may not understand how it helps the blood center by scheduling an appointment. The donor also may not be aware that it is common for their iron level to be low, and that there are certain foods that they can eat to help raise their iron level. It is your job to educate them. Using a friendly and positive tone to educate the donor on why we need their donation and how it helps their community will make an uncomfortable situation exactly the opposite. So the next time you don’t want to rebuttal for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and try. If you don’t try, then your results surely will not improve.
  2. Sounding Confident - It is very important to sound confident in your calls. If you don’t sound like you know what you are talking about why would anyone else believe that you do? Be prepared for your calls and ready to answer as soon as the donor says “Hello!” Speak loudly and clearly so the donor is able to identify who you are representing and who you are trying to reach. Believe in the cause – remember that you are asking someone to make a life-saving donation. Most importantly, be proud of what you do each day to help save lives.
  3. Focusing on your calls - Focusing on your calls ensures that you are giving your donor the time and attention that they deserve. Making call after call, day after day, can become tedious, but it is important to remember that you are asking for a donation. Donating is something that is done from the goodness of the heart to help others, and it not something that has to be done. Therefore, being respectful of the donor’s time is very important when ensuring good customer service. Also, making sure to focus on the donor on the phone, instead of the person sitting beside you or the magazine in front of you, is a very easy way to improve results.

Now you have the tips and tricks you need; make every call count, and you will surely improve your results!

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Let's talk... results

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In the world of retail, an industry term known as “shrinkage” is frequently used as a reference to lost inventory that is never sold (i.e. theft).

There are an increasing number of industry experts who use the term “shrinkage” when referring to contact center operations. Instead of inventory, what is being lost to shrinkage in the contact center is the employee’s time. Simply put, contact center shrinkage is time when a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) is getting paid but not taking calls. At Incept, we refer to the two most common influences on shrinkage: variance and schedule adherence. Poor variance and schedule adherence have negative impacts on the CME, the company, and its clients.

For Incept the concept of shrinkage is more cut and dry. Notwithstanding planned meetings, such as Employee of the Month, paid breaks, and coaching sessions, we want the CME to be on phone calls or available to take phone calls for the entire time they’re clocked in. When an employee is supposed to be taking calls, but is not, we call it variance at Incept. At the CME level, variance represents the potential for lost appointments, fewer Lifesaver points, and a smaller bonus.

Since I am a numbers guy at heart, I would like to take a brief mathematical look at two hypothetical groups of CMEs to showcase the organizational impact of variance.

  • Group 1: Scheduled 26 hours, 5% variance
  • Group 2: Scheduled 26 hours, 10% variance

Let’s assume that, in a given week, Incept requires approximately 2,800 hours of phone time to complete the required work on the Saves/Outbound side of the business.

  • Group #1: 26 hours, less 5% variance = 24.7 hours of phone time.
    • 2800 hours of required phone time – 24.7 hours per Group #1 CME = 113.3 CMEs needed
  • Group #2: 26 hours, less 10% variance = 23.4 hours of phone time.
    • 2800 hours of required phone time – 23.4 hours per Group #2 CME = 119.7 CMEs needed

From an organizational perspective, the difference between 5% variance and 10% variance is an increase in labor requirement of 5.6%. This percentage may seem small, but extrapolated over the course of an entire year, it adds up. In addition, the extra infrastructural costs such as additional computers and dialer licenses have to be taken into account as well.

It should be clear that some variance, even in addition to what is minimal (i.e. your break) is understandable. We don’t expect employees to delay going to the bathroom until their meal or break periods. However, there are certain things that all of us as a team-minded organization can do together to accomplish these variance and schedule adherence goals.

Step #1 – Be personally accountable for variance.

Maintaining variance within permissible levels is a measure of your job performance, just like your % to goal or your CQ scores are. Typically, once an employee accepts accountability, their variance improves.

Step #2 – Consult with Contact Center Results Management to monitor your variance.

Personally, I love it when CMEs take an active role in understanding and working to improve upon the statistics that measure their performance. If you think you had a very good variance day, ask a member of management to look at the percentage to confirm it for you. Seeing your efforts to reduce your variance bear immediate results is an end in itself.

Step #3 – Honestly examine behavior that is driving up your variance.

Only you can make an honest examination of the things that drive up your variance. Imagine a CME who has a variance of 8%. Variance of 8% is equivalent to almost 40 minutes of time off of the phone in a shift of 6.25 hours. How much of that time is truly necessary? How much of that time is essentially an extra unauthorized, paid break?

Following these three steps can result in great improvements in variance. This will have a positive financial impact for both the CME and company while generating superior customer service and results for our valued clients.

What else need to be said?

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Let's talk... results

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