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contact center

This blog post comes to us from Incept’s Erica Heath.

Some of the most important aspects of influencing company atmosphere are how well you build trust, communication, and rapport with the employees. In an atmosphere such as Incept, it is important to take these things into consideration when building a team. Strong teams are comprised of a strong leader and employees who have excellent communication skills with one another.

A good team should run like a well-oiled machine—the members should take accountability for their actions and the actions of one another, as well as build each other up in times of need. Having a strong team can decrease company turnover while also increasing the quality of production. In order to build strong teams it may be necessary to do team-building exercises.

3 Great Team-Building Exercises

The following are some exercises that can be used to create better rapport among your team members:

  • Two Truths and a Lie – Go around the room and have each CME state two things that are true about themselves and one thing that is a lie. Then have the team members guess which one of the items isn’t true. This game helps everyone get to know each other better.
  • Common/Uncommon Interests – Break the CMEs into pairs by having them count off in numbers. Tell the CMEs that (with their partners) they should come up with a list of three things they both have in common and two things that they do not have in common. The answers should exclude work, body parts, clothing, and the like, to encourage learning more in-depth things about each other. Tell the CMEs that one person should take notes, and the other person should be prepared to present the items to the group. This helps the CMEs make connections with people they wouldn’t normally get to talk to.
  • Four Squares - Give each of the CMEs a sheet of paper and have them fold the paper into four squares. Come up with a topic for each square and have them draw pictures that describes themselves for each topic. For example, here are some sample topics: favorite sport, dream job, if you were an animal what would you be, etc. The drawings don’t have to be detailed; they can be as simple as stick figures. Give the CMEs a few minutes to draw their pictures and then have them show their drawings and explain how they pertain to their interests.

These team-building exercises normally work better with CMEs who don’t know each other that well. However, these exercises can also work with a team that needs to reconnect. Remember, there are a lot of team-building exercises that can be used to create a strong team, and strong teams produce better results—meaning more lives saved!

What are you doing to build up your team?

Photo Credit: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_52.htm

Let's talk... results

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This blog post comes to us from Incept’s Erica Heath.

Here at Incept, our management team strives to live by the values of the company. It is also very important to instill these same values into the Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) on the floor. The best way to ensure that our CMEs live the Incept Values at work is leading by example.

Setting Expectations Through Leadership

Leading by example means doing things that you would expect a CME to do without expecting recognition for it. As a manager, every day that you come into work you have employees watching you and looking to you for advice and guidance. It is important to try your best to do what is right, because you are a role model for so many people.

The following items are ways that you can improve on leading by example:

  1. Stick to your commitments. There will be days when you have unexpected things come up that may cause your schedule to fluctuate, and that is understandable. However, showing the CMEs that you always follow through with your commitments helps to build rapport, because they’ll know they can always count on you.
  2. Keep a level head. As humans we are all prone to having tempers and occasionally getting upset, but it is important to remain stable and to keep a calm attitude when things get tough. Try your best to show that CMEs can trust you when the going gets tough. If it helps, try to find a quiet place for a few minutes to take a breather and regain control over your emotions.
  3. Be fair. Make sure you treat everyone as equally as possible, and don’t show favoritism. If one person gets punished for something, make sure that if someone else on your team does the same thing you give them the same consequence. This excludes people who earn their rewards and work hard to get them, because they should be recognized (just like anyone else who accomplishes the same).
  4. Be present. The CMEs need to know that their leader is there for them and part of showing that you are is by staying in the rows and building strong working relationships with your teams.
  5. Follow company rules. Companies put rules in place for a reason. If you expect the CMEs to follow the rules, then you should follow them as well. This means if you expect a CME to wear their lanyard at all times, then you should wear yours at all times. If you expect them to be on time after their breaks, then you should be on time after yours. The list goes on…

These aren’t the only ways that you are able to lead by example, but they are definitely a good place to start. As a growing company, it is important that we lead by example to ensure that we maintain a great work environment and ensure Incept continues to be a safe and fun place for everyone.

How are you leading by example?

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Let's talk... results

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This blog post comes to us from Incept’s Director of Contact Center Results, James Latsch. James works closely with the Client Results Team to develop a plan that helps our clients hit their goals. He then drives the plan’s execution internally to the contact center to deliver a quality product for Incept’s clients.

Numbers alone are not effective. They need to be applied to affect change. When supervisors share conversational quality audit reports with tele-recruiters in brief meetings (no more than 10 minutes), they have opportunities to congratulate tele-recruiters for things they did well, teach them to improve areas where they missed quality standards, and keep them motivated to continually grow. These measures ensure that conversational quality remains as important to tele-recruiters as it is to you.

A Step-By-Step Quality Audit Discussion

Let’s assume supervisor Demetrius is holding a Quality Audit discussion with tele-recruiter Janice, who received an audit score of 90%. The Quality Audit discussion might flow like this:

  1. Demetrius allows Janice to make herself unavailable for calls.
  2. Demetrius sits down with Janice, preferably in a neutral location away from the phones, to review her quality scores with her in detail.
  3. After presenting Janice’s Quality Audit Report to her, they review the specific things that caused her to receive 90 points. He congratulates her and reinforces her positive actions.
  4. Demetrius and Janice review the specific things that kept her from receiving the other 10 points. He clearly explains exactly how particular parts of conversations affected her score.
  5. After discussing these violations, Demetrius explains how Janice should handle similar situations to avoid future deductions.
  6. Janice and Demetrius engage in exploratory conversation, question/answer dialogue, and perhaps role playing.
  7. Janice is now clear on how to improve, so she sets performance and quality goals for her next Quality Audit.
  8. Janice signs and dates a copy of her audit.
  9. Demetrius photocopies the signed Quality Audit, and gives a copy to Janice so she can continue to refer to it as a reminder of the areas in which she must improve.
  10. Finally, Demetrius files the completed Quality Audit and notes in Janice’s personnel file.

How are you using audit reports to have meaningful conversations with your tele-recruiters?

Photo Credit: http://www.careeranalysts.co.nz/for_business/coaching.htm

Let's talk... results

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This post comes to us from Incept’s President and CEO, Sam Falletta. Sam is in charge of finding the right measurements to make sure that the right people are in the right position to produce the desired results for Incept’s clients.

Thank-you calls help to establish respectful, long-term relationships and build loyalty with those who selflessly donate life-saving gifts.

Timeliness is Crucial

Call donors the day after their donation to thank them for their generosity and reinforce how important their donations are to the community. Use personalized scripting for first-time donors, automated donors, and donors with special blood types and antigens.

Sincerity is Too

It is important that thank-you calls strengthen donor relationships without asking for anything in return. People do not like being called upon only when they are needed to give something. Simple thank-you calls let donors know you care about them. In addition to saying thank you, ensure that the donation experience was a positive one. If you have a donor loyalty program, recap details on how to check status and redeem perks as well.

If you reach a voice mail or answering machine, leave a brief thank-you message and a contact number to call with any follow-up questions or concerns. If there is no answer of any sort, try again the next day. But remember, you want to share your appreciation; you don’t want to become an annoyance with numerous phone calls.

How do  you thank your blood donors?

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Let's talk... results

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This blog post comes to us from Incept’s VP of Employee Results, Dave Walter. Dave oversees Training, Recruiting, Quality Assurance, Employee Results, Contact Center Results for the Results Division, and the teams of amazing people who fill each of the roles within these departments.

If you know your prime times, staffing at the appropriate times is a relatively simple decision. But all too often blood donor recruitment departments are staffed from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. because that is when tele-recruiters or managers prefer to work. That, however, is typically the least effective time of day to tele-recruit. Our experience indicates that attempts to reach donors after 5:00 p.m. are 11% more successful. Set your Contact Center’s hours according to your donors’ preferences.

Identifying Ideal Staff Levels via Dials Per Hour

How many tele-recruiters to staff is also a relatively straightforward decision. You will need to know your Dials Per Hour. Here is the formula:

Simply multiply your Dials Per Hour times the number of days per week that your contact center operates. Then divide that number by 8 hours, which represents one Full Time Equivalent (FTE). That will tell you the number of tele-recruiters to staff.

If you suspect that your Dials Per Hour is low, look closely at whether your tele-recruiters are spending longer than necessary on phone calls and also how they are using non-productive time.

How are you staffing you blood donor recruitment center?

Photo Credit: http://callcenterinfo.tmcnet.com/analysis/articles/369689-australian-contact-center-applications-market-grow-389-percent.htm

Let's talk... results

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Every now and then, we speak with a blood donor who really drops a bombshell of reality on us all at once through our conversations.

Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME) Vicki Monsour recently had a conversation with the family of a blood donor who, as she sadly found out, was deceased. He was a young man who was actually a big advocate of donating blood and had helped out many folks with his own blood donations; this was something the family mentioned to Vicki as their conversation transpired. As Vicki continued to talk with the family and show empathy about the situation at hand, one of the family members asked how they could use their son’s death as a way to encourage others to donate blood. They even mentioned that in lieu of flowers they were kindly asking friends and family members attending the service to make a blood donation at the local blood center in honor of their son, since it was something he truly believed in and made a practice to do himself. It takes an amazing group of people to keep other folks in mind during such a tragic time.

This conversation really resonated with Vicki, even as she hung up the phone. Vicki is a Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME) that takes extreme pride in her job at Incept recruiting blood donors. She herself has experienced tremendous personal loss in her life and understands the need for blood and how the actions of blood donors help families with terminally ill family members. She actually brought this call to my attention after being touched by the family’s gesture.

Why Giving Blood Truly Does Matter

As human beings, we are all going to die. That sounds so morbid and simple to just say like that, but the sooner we accept our mortality the sooner we can truly live. That being said, people should be able to live a healthy life in this day and age. We shouldn’t have to worry about a losing a loved one to cancer. We shouldn’t have to wait on pins and needles in hopes that a parent’s heart surgery went well. We should all be able to have a serene and last moment with an ailing family member when their time has come and be able to say a meaningful goodbye. At the end of the day, it really is blood donors who make it all possible.

We always tell people their blood donations have the power to save up to three lives apiece, which is true. But sometimes that isn’t the case. Sometimes sickness can prevail over treatments, and our biological bodies act more like failing machines, as they break down and deteriorate. If you are a blood donor, at the very least, you can take pride in the fact that your blood donation might have kept someone alive long enough to say goodbye to their spouse or kids. Your blood donation might have helped alleviate some of their pain while they were hospitalized during their final days as well. Your blood donation has the power to improve the physical living conditions of those who are sick and dying. Isn’t that something to consider when donating blood?

You aren’t always just saving lives when you donating blood. Sometimes you are granting time and extending life to someone who might not be on this Earth for much longer. You are giving them and their families that opportunity for real closure. That is a truly inconceivable gift to most folks who haven’t been in a position of losing a loved one to a terminal illness.

It is funny, because when we talk to a blood donor who donates due to their own family members having received blood in a time of need, you can hear it in their voice. They give because they relate to the cause. They unconditionally understand the importance of being a blood donor and sometimes even get emotional talking about the act of donating blood, because they do it in a way that posthumously honors their deceased loved ones. They continue to carry their love for that person through the act of giving life to others.

Everyone has their own reasons for donating blood, but hopefully now you can better understand that donating blood isn’t just a way to get out of class or something you do on your lunch break. It is a way to remember a loved one and keep their memory living on.

Why do you donate blood?

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Let's talk... results

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Let’s be honest, does anyone ever really want to donate blood? Do you think a blood donor woke up one day and just thought, “Today is the perfect day to have a needle stuck in my arm and bodily fluids taken from me!” Probably not. Fear not, though. That is why people like me are here. As a Conversational Marketing™ Expert (CME), it is my job to conversationally wrangle a donor who might be on the fence about donating blood into willingly setting up an appointment at their local donor center.

Donating blood is a great thing and it honestly does take a certain willingness to commit to giving your blood as a blood donor. It isn’t that current or lapsed donors don’t understand the concept of giving and the general good that a blood donation does; it is just that sometimes they can need a little cajoling.

The LAMA Technique & How It Helps Rebuttals

At Incept, we heavily weigh on the LAMA technique as a method that gives us the ability to reset a call to the moment before our pitch. It is an invaluable technique that we have used with success on our for-profit side of the company, as well as in our non-profit calling campaigns. Here is how it works.

Let’s say that a donor says, “I’d love to come in and donate. I can’t pick a specific date or time to schedule right now, but I’ll make it in soon. I promise.” In an age of ailing donor bases and when every unit counts for our clients, the LAMA technique can help us turn this no into a yes.

  • L stands for Listen. Donors and customers want you to hear what they are saying, but, more often than not, you will have to listen to what they aren’t saying to get a good idea of what they are really trying to convey. Someone who says they are too busy to donate this weekend due to a jam-packed schedule is sometimes actually saying they would be more likely to donate if you offer them a more convenient time at a later date. Listening is a skill that gives you the ability to pick up on certain verbal cues that allow you to personalize your rebuttal.
  • A stands for Acknowledge. In telecommunications, the absolute easiest way to build immediate rapport with your customer or donor is to simply reverberate what they have said to you. This clearly lets them know that you understand their initial concern or problem and you can empathize. All this step is doing is putting your listening skills into verbal action. “Sir, I can definitely understand that you might currently be in a position that prevents you from scheduling your next blood donation. This time of the year with the holidays coming up is pretty busy for everyone!”
  • M stands for Make a Statement. For me, making a statement means giving a realistic explanation of the features and benefits you can offer the donor to make them feel good and, more importantly, comforted by scheduling an appointment to donate blood. I also like to throw in real facts about the current need for blood to add viable meaning to my statements. “What we are able to do for folks like yourself who are busier but still want to help is actually set you up with a date next week instead of this week. That will enable us to make sure we give you a reminder call back the day before to check with you and make sure your time is still OK. If it doesn’t work out for your schedule after all, we can simply change the time however you see fit. We’ll also make sure you receive our direct number should you need to contact us ahead of time. We really try to schedule to help with blood unit estimates for the hospitals we serve, as well to prepare the staff to accommodate any given number of donors such as yourself.”
  • A stands for Ask a Question. When asking the question, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The pitch. You’ve just made a very clear-cut statement on how you can make this appointment convenient for you donor and have clearly stated the features you are able to offer your donor. Simply and smoothly roll your question into the end of your statement, and make sure it is in trial close format. A trial close format is just a question that doesn’t give the donor a “yes or no” choice. Instead, it makes them choose. “With that in mind, sir, we really appreciate O+ donors like yourself and could use the help around the holidays more so than other points of the year. Would you prefer to donate a life-saving whole blood donation on a weekend or would a weekday be easier for you?”

The LAMA technique is really a chance for you as a rep to set the pitch up a few times in a call as opposed to maybe just once. The best thing is this: it is a technique that works for multiple programs and not just blood donor recruitment!

How have you successfully used the LAMA technique in your calls?

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Let's talk... results

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Here at Incept, one of our values is never satisfied. Along with this value, we use the philosophy that we should always improve everything. This is why if you speak with any our Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs), they will tell you that when recruiting a blood donor, they always try to schedule an appointment within the next ten days out. The reason they do this is because we have found that the closer the appointment is to the date of the call, the greater the likelihood that the donor will show up for their appointment. For example, if a donor schedules an appointment for tomorrow, they are more likely to show up for their appointment than a donor who schedules an appointment for three weeks from now.

We know that donors schedule an appointment with pure intentions, which is why our Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) would never deny a donor an appointment that would be the most convenient for the donor’s schedule. With that being said, we know that things come up that are out of the donor’s control. It seems that these days we find our schedules fuller with each coming day. And I hate to say it already, but the holidays are right around the corner. This means everyone’s schedules are going to get even tighter. This is why when the donors don’t have preferences, our CMEs jump at the opportunities to schedule them to donate as soon as possible.

When a donor comes in sooner, it means that patients receive the blood components that they need to save their lives even faster. When always improving everything results in saving more lives, it is easy to see why we are never satisfied.

To take this concept one step further we realized that we had the opportunity to increase our productive donor rate. Our productive donor rate is calculated by comparing how many donors scheduled an appointment to how many donors gave a successful donation. This opportunity came in the form of direct mail. We know that our donors are busy, and we also know that they aren’t all able donate or schedule to donate within the next ten days. But we realized that we could help remind the donors who have scheduled their appointments more than ten days out via postcard.

The postcard reminder is sent a week prior to their appointment and includes their appointment date, time, and location. This prompts the donor to take a look at their schedule to make sure that they haven’t overbooked themselves. The postcard also provides a reschedule phone number for the donor to call in the event there is a conflict in their schedule.

The results of this test have shown that our productive donor rate increased by approximately 3%  just by sending a postcard reminder to donors who have an appointment scheduled further than ten days out. So if you ever find yourself thinking that you have done all that you can, I encourage you to challenge yourself to be never satisfied, because in the end you will find that you can always improve everything!

In what other ways do you identify improvement opportunities?

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Let's talk... results

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You’re being pressured from all directions to collect not only more units but the right type of units, by location, by day, and based on the ever-changing inventory needs of the blood center. Additionally, the staff you have in place has probably never been trained on the sales skills necessary to make every interaction a strong one.

How do the most successful blood centers handle these competing priorities?

Taking an approach by which we use our strengths to our advantage at Incept, we propose letting clinical staff reinforce the message that our trained team of sales people have delivered. How do we recommend you do that?

  1. Examine your donor base. Look at counts of current donors, lapsed donors, and super-lapsed donors by blood type and by previous procedure type. This will allow you to strategically decide what procedure you need from what donor type and ensure you have the quantity of donors you need to reach your stated goals.
  2. Set your strategy. Generically speaking, it would look something like this:
    O- 2RBC PLT/RC O+ PLT WB B- PLT/RC 2RBC B+ PLT/PLA RBCP A- PLT/RC 2RBC A+ PLT WB AB-/+ PLT/PLA RBCP UNK PLT/RC 2RBC
    Of course, your conversion strategy needs to change as your inventory needs change, but having your entire team on the same page is critical to success. Remember, if a donor says no to automation, you should always default to a whole blood request.
  3. Look at your contributors. I, of course, recommend using tele-recruitment to drive your conversion strategy. But that starts with training! Spend several hours educating your tele-recruitment staff on each procedure, where it is used, how long it takes, and the benefits to the patient and the donor.
  4. Create a compelling script to educate your donor and convert them to the procedure needed. An example of a conversion script for platelets would be something like this:

Because you are a/an [insert blood type], the component of your blood most needed is platelets. Platelets are the part of your blood that is used most commonly for patients undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants, or dealing with weakened immune systems. The process of donating only platelets takes longer than a traditional donation; however, because we take only the platelets and give you back your red blood cells, we are able to draw 5 to 6 times as many platelets than we are able to collect during a normal whole blood donation. Platelets are highest in demand at this time, and because you are an ideal candidate, we’d love for you to help area patients with a platelet donation for your next visit. We are currently scheduling at our [insert center] for [insert next two available days]. Which of these days works best for you?

Now you’re ready! You have your strategy, a trained staff, and a compelling message. Start dialing! Choose your tele-recruiters who have high sales aptitudes. Track their results separately to ensure quality and performance. The best way to grow your platelet donor base is through conversion and allowing your sales team to do the conversion. This will enable your clinical staff to reinforce the message, answer questions, and make the donation process an enjoyable one so that you gain an automated donor for life!

Try this conversion process and watch your results increase!

Let's talk... results

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I have just a quick thought I wanted to get out there: I really almost hate hearing the word “boss”.

It just has some type of condescending ring to it. It implies imperative and thankless commanding. As a young leader at Incept, more specifically in my role as a Team Captain for our nonprofit side of the company, I try as hard as I can to disassociate myself from the standard and preconceived notions of what a “boss” or supervisor can be.

Why do people tend to associate negative connotations with the word?

On one end of the spectrum when considering a company’s administration, we have the true “leader”. A leader doesn’t just dictate tasks and sit behind a desk delegating all day, but (especially in Incept’s case) they get on the front lines with their coworkers to literally make sure success is achieved.

While trying to research modern differences between a boss versus a true leader, there is one theme that stands vastly apparent: a leader truly is enveloped in a team mentality. A leader is a problem solver, while a boss looks for someone to blame for the problem. True leaders are not afraid to get their hands dirty. An example of this type of mindset at Incept is when a supervisor helps alleviate stress by taking phone calls for his or her Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs). Rather than a boss, a Team Lead at Incept will literally cultivate a healthy work environment by being directly amongst the Conversational Marketing™ Experts (CMEs) he or she manages and not just barking orders from a desk. We call this being “in the rows” with a team. It gives him or her the chance to control the atmosphere and have a hand in directing motivation and productivity.

What is the difference?

While surfing around some of my sources, researching the topic of a boss vs a leader, I came across the following image below.

If anything the easiest thing to notice about the comparison above is the style of communication that a boss has compared to a leader. The boss sounds imperative, threatening, even untouchable in certain circumstances as the buck is passed along, while a true leader seems like almost a walking, talking, motivational rally point for his or her employees.

Have you ever considered the cultural atmosphere around your office? Regardless of if it is positive or negative, who has the most authoritative interactions with your own representatives? Whoever is in charge could have a hand in the source of your employee’s sulking or splendor. Something to sleep on.

Does the word boss have a negative sound to it or not? What do you think?

Image Credit: http://www.tackinternational.com/

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Let's talk... results

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