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contact center

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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Strategy + Change = HELP!!!

Most of us know that the key to a successful strategy is to stick to it. But how do we stick to a strategy when our industry is changing every day? For years we’ve battled with never having enough inventory. Then the industry had a surplus. Now we find ourselves attempting to react to both problems, often in the same month! How do we, as organizational leaders, create a strategy to recruit donors that is cost-effective, flexible to our changing needs, and stable enough to keep us moving forward in the future?

During Billie’s session, she will discuss what components of blood center strategy need to be evaluated, how to incorporate goals and accountability, how to build a self-correcting reporting system, how to evaluate outcomes, and how to incorporate innovation to ensure a successful today and tomorrow!

Billie Johnson will be speaking at the ADRP Conference in Denver Colorado on April 22nd at 8:30AM. This will be a session you won’t want to miss!

Download the ADRP Conference brochure here.

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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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In today’s society it is not uncommon to have a busy schedule. So oftentimes when you are on the phones you will have to second-attempt a donor when they explain that they are too busy to donate. When a donor who is too busy to donate agrees to schedule a blood donation, it is imperative that you explain the importance of rescheduling in case they are unable to make it to their appointment.

When a donor schedules an appointment, a spot is saved specifically for them and that spot is considered a promise to a patient who is in need of a transfusion. When the donor doesn’t call to say that they are unable to make it to their appointment, donor centers aren’t able to open that spot for other donors who are interested in giving blood; this is now a loss to the donor center and to patients in need. For this reason, you should inform the donor of their options if they are not able to make it to their appointment.

What exactly are the donor’s options? Well, we are able to give them a reschedule number, and they can call that number to be directed to one of our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) and set up a time that is more convenient for them. If the donor wasn’t able to write down the reschedule number, it’s not a problem. We have the option to send it in a text message reminder that they will get both 24 hours before their donation and 2 hours before their donation. Incept also provides the donor with a reminder call; this is typically done a few days before the donor’s scheduled appointment. It allows the donor the opportunity to reschedule when they get their reminder call.

Letting the donor know how important their blood donation is to a patient in need allows them to understand why they should always reschedule their appointment. When a donor reschedules their appointment, it allows someone else to fill the time slot and it ensures that there will not be a blood shortage in the future.

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Here at Incept, we focus on making quality calls.

Making quality calls gives the  Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) a better chance at getting blood donors to make their scheduled appointments to donate blood. Why is that? Well, when calling an individual to donate blood you want to make sure to show compassion, empathy, appreciation, and understanding, all while being polite and pleasant. By having communication skills and showing all of these aspects in a donor recruitment call, a CME is able to strengthen the relationship with a blood donor so that they continue to donate blood on a regular basis. This is what makes a quality call. When you do not use these aspects in donor recruitment calls, donors will not feel as important as they should.

When we are making calls, we don’t want to give the impression that the only thing we are interested in is getting an appointment. Instead, we want to make sure that we are listening to the donor 100% ,as well as acknowledging the donor whenever they make a statement, ask a question, or give an objection. It is also important to go the extra mile to make donors feel appreciated for taking their valuable time to help their communities with blood donations.

In addition, using voice inflection is a very important part of the phone call. This is what helps to grab the donor’s attention and keep them engaged on the phone. If you use a monotone during the phone call and don’t show any excitement, there’s a better chance of the donor getting restless and hanging up. Remember, as a CME, our voice is the only avenue of communication we have to use while making calls, so we want to make the best of it. The speed that you’re talking to the donor is also very important. We want to read at a pace that the donor understands clearly. Not only that, but we only have a couple of seconds to make a good impression to grab the donor’s attention. Quality calls show better results, and this is why quality is so essential here at Incept!

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Established business rules will determine whether or not you should leave a message when recruiting blood donors.

Some organizations may use automated voicemail. If yours does not, keep your message brief and to-the-point. Inform the blood donor about why you are calling, give brief details about any current promotions, and provide a callback number where he or she can self-schedule.

Your marketing strategy will dictate whether you choose to incorporate broadcast voicemail.

Broadcast messages are very low-cost, but also yield very low results, so use them smart and sparingly. They tend to be most effective for supplementing other reminders, alerting donors to location changes, or notifying donors about cancelled drives.

Voice messages should be brief and to-the-point. Inform the donor about why you are calling, give brief details about current promotions, and leave a callback number. Tele-recruiters must use great diction and inflection and must sound personable. Otherwise, it’s better to skip the message and attempt to reach the donor live another time. A poorly delivered message will do more harm than good.

What are your best practices for reaching unresponsive donors?

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Change Your Language

Begin thinking of what your tele-recruiters do as ”having conversations” rather than “making calls.” A call is of good quality if it’s dialed correctly. A conversation is of good quality if it engages another person and both parties learn something of value. Such conversations build strong relationships, in this case between your blood center and the donor. That’s what you’re really after.

Define Quality Standards

Measuring a conversation’s quality requires dissecting it. Standards must be objective and inviolable. Let us know if you’d like a copy of our Conversational Quality Scorecard to see how a typical donor conversation may be broken down to clearly show which specific parts of the conversation meet your quality guidelines and which specific parts need improvement to meet your quality standards.

Connect Quality Standards to Employment Policies

Quality Standards must be thoroughly integrated into your employment policies for them to have any real effect on tele-recruitment conversations and donor relationships. Promotions, pay-per-performance programs, corrective action, and similar policies must be explicitly connected to objective measures of quality.

Appoint a dedicated Conversational Quality Manager

It’s imperative that a dedicated, unbiased individual or department is responsible for monitoring tele-recruiters’ adherence to your conversational quality standards. To avoid conflicts of interest, this Conversational Quality Manager should report to a department that is not incentivized for the contact center’s results. Furthermore, whoever provides oversight of the Conversational Quality Manager should set continual improvement goals for the quality management function itself.

Separating out this function in this way has numerous benefits:

  • Bias will be eliminated
  • The quality measurement process will not become lax or soft
  • The quality measurement function won’t get triaged to other priorities

Audit Tele-recruiting Conversations

The Conversational Quality Manager’s role is to audit all tele-recruiters’ conversations on a continual basis. Avoid the temptation to only use this function to check up on tele-recruiters you suspect are slacking in their duties. Quality audits are not disciplinary tools. They are tools for continuous improvement.

Even your star tele-recruiters can incrementally improve. Even your greatest tele-recruiter needs to be held accountable for maintaining that greatness. When approached well, good tele-recruiters should look forward to seeing their quality scores and learning if and where they can improve.

Grade Tele-recruiting Conversations

As the Conversational Quality Manager listens to calls, he or she will assign point values to all items on the Conversational Quality Checklist and grade each tele-recruiter according to those criteria. We recommend grading quality performance on a 100-point scale. Nearly everyone is familiar with this format, and it provides the right amount of granularity.

The scored results from this ongoing quality audit can then be used to correct, reward and develop tele-recruiters and strengthen donor relationships in the process.

Generate a Personalized Conversational Quality Audit Report for Each Tele-recruiter

At least every two weeks, the Conversational Quality Manager creates and prints a quality audit report for each tele-recruiter. The report assigns an overall and specific performance score. It also provides narrative descriptions of performance indicators for those two weeks.

Distribute Conversational Quality Audit Reports to Supervisors

The Conversational Quality Manager distributes the personalized reports to the contact center supervisors. This supports the important accountability system that is so critical to continuous quality improvement.

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It’s not enough to hire people and trust them to consistently relate well with donors. Let’s face it, saying the same things to numerous people each day, and being turned down by a large percentage of them, can be demotivating. It can turn a very important job into a routine.

What gets measured gets done. Everything else is optional. Your people will respect what you inspect. A blood center that raises conversation quality to the highest level of importance will have tele-recruiters who gauge success by quality interactions. Without this, tele-recruiters tend to feel they’ve done good jobs just by churning the front-end numbers.

High-quality conversations benefit everyone. They strengthen your blood center’s relationships with its donors and are more fulfilling to your representatives.

Implementing the following steps will establish a culture of conversational quality in your call center and strengthen relationships with your donors:

  1. Change your language
  2. Define Quality Standards
  3. Connect Quality Standards to employment policies
  4. Appoint a dedicated Conversational Quality Manager
  5. Audit tele-recruiting conversations
  6. Grade tele-recruiting conversations
  7. Generate a personalized conversational quality audit report for each tele-recruiter
  8. Distribute conversational quality audit reports to supervisors
  9. Task supervisors with discussing audit reports with tele-recruiters

Stay tuned for our next post describing each of the above methods!

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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!

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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?

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