Article : The People Principle - More Than Just A Technology
The contact center industry faces numerous challenges as it attempts to create a positive customer experience. High turn-over continues to create challenges, impacting on contact center cost and ultimately, reduced customer satisfaction. There is also a huge disconnect between the perceptions of service provided, depending on whom you ask. Fifty-six percent of in-house call centers believe their customers are "satisfied" while only 22% of customers agree . Given that seventy-five percent of contact centers use customer satisfaction as a key metric, the dilemma is obvious.
Many contact center Administrators seek out and implement new technologies and strategies to address these challenges and there is no question that technology can provide many benefits to the contact center: Facilitating call handling, improving the responsiveness through access to relevant information, providing real time and historical information for "here and now" decisions, and forward planning.
However, technology cannot modify attitudes, nor can it provide the agents (your front line access to customers) the tools necessary to effectively deal with your customers.
Contact Center supervisors may have access to a lot of statistics on specific agent activity and performance, but traditionally they have not been provided with the tools necessary to evaluate agent attitudes and personalities during the hiring and evaluation process. Nor are they able to easily identify areas for improvement with a clear path for change.
A recent ContactCenterWorld.com survey asked: "Which of the following do you do to improve employee productivity?" The top three responses were: Set performance criteria, review performance regularly, and pay individual performance bonuses.
Yet, none of the above addresses what we believe to be a fundamental issue, the "people principle".
What is the "people principle"? The people principle recognizes that some issues are about human behavior and interaction. Simply stated it is an understanding that we are all "wired" differently and as a result we each perceive the world and respond to it in different ways.
If the "people principle" is addressed, the organization can create a seamless system that embraces differences in agents styles, understands the different styles of the customers calling in, provides the supervisor with a skill set and understanding of agents behavior, and ultimately provides stellar customer service while empowering agents to have some control of how they deal with various customers.
Too often business leaders, managers, or supervisors want help managing "people", however, you do not manage "people", you manage a "process", and you need the right information to develop a process all people can benefit from.
The contact centers have not developed an effective process because they have not considered the different types of people who may be working within the organization and/or the different types of people who call, which results in the following:
High staff turnover
Stressful work environment
Compromised customer services
Poor staff morale
High training cost
Poor staff communication
Inadequate conflict management
The human touch, not just technology, is needed to create an environment that fosters both customer and agent satisfaction.
A Bit Of History Of Character
Character typing is not new. It actually dates back to 460 BC when the Greek physician Hippocrates developed a model detailing four basic types.
In 1920 the Swiss physician Carl Jung developed a model that outlined sixteen different types which break down onto four basic types in his book Psychological Type.
Then, in 1956, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment was presented to the Educational Testing Service and was used worldwide. One of the major criticisms of the MBTI assessment is that it is difficult for people to remember their type or the type of others. In the 1960, David Keirsey began to refine the MBTI and returned to classifying personalities into four different types. He uses Greek Gods to classify the four types in his publication Please Understand Me.
In 1978, Don Lowry recognized the potential of character typing to improve people's lives, careers, and relationships. He set about developing a fundamental and universal way to package the information into practical guidelines that could be understood and easily applied by all.
The result is True Colors, which expands upon Keirsey's four temperament types, and translates complicated personality and learning theory into one of the easiest, most convenient ways of understanding and appreciating human behavior.
The True Colors program asks participants to identify their "color spectrum", which represent key personality types based on the colors: Blue, Gold, Green or Orange. Each color has particular strengths and each analyzes, conceptualizes, understands, interacts and learns differently. These differences, if not acknowledged and understood, can become barriers to interpersonal communication, making understanding between people of different types difficult.
It is imperative to understand
the four basic types of people and design processes, structures, and training
that meet them at their core. We should always work from the perspective that we
must meet the 'esteem' needs of every customer, staff, supervisor, etc.
Utilizing a model that assesses each type and provides strategies for creating
the most harmonious work place for each is what True Colors was designed to do.
At a basic level True Colors can be defined as follows:
Blue - relationship driven people
Gold - order & structure driven people
Green - knowledge and information driven people
Orange - excitement and hands-on now driven people
As you change your thinking about addressing these contact center issues begin to think about how to meet the esteem needs of the staff based on their True Color:
This staff person needs positive contact with other people. As a Contact Center Representative, the Blue person must feel they are helping others in their job.
Utilization:Create opportunities for them to talk about their challenges but more importantly their successes.
This staff person needs clear expectations of the job. They need to plan their work then work their plan.
Utilization: Create opportunities for them to read manuals, procedures, and maintain clear lines of communication.
This staff person needs information. The work assigned must make logical sense to them. They must know where the information originated from and that it is valid.
Utilization: Create opportunities for them to solve problems, research, and develop new ways of doing things.
This staff person needs flexibility to just "DO". They are master negotiators and thrive in the moment.
Utilization:Create opportunities for their skill to be showcased and turn to them to handle your crises.
Benefits Of True Colors:
The benefits of True Colors to the Contact Center can be enormous, positively affecting each of the problem areas they are currently faced with:
High Staff Turnover- Through True Colors, the staff will learn the strengths they bring to the work place. If the managers utilize the TC model when an employee first begins with the Contact Center both will have a better understanding of how to improve job performance. Also, most staff leave a job when they feel their needs are not being met. The True Colors Model will help the management develop communication strategies that meet the specific needs of the staff.
Stressful Work Environment -
With True Colors, employees will gain knowledge on how to identify the
issues that cause them stress. The model will provide each staff with ways
to handle their individual responses to stress as well as how to reduce
stress for their co-workers.
Compromised Customer Service - Using True Colors, staff will learn specific ways to identify the type of customer based on the style of communication. Once the type is identified the needs can quickly be addressed in a manner that is key for that specific color type.
Blue customers may become emotional while discussing their issue and may address how the issue is affecting "people".
Green customers will be very concerned with facts and how to logically resolve the issue. They will have a suggestion on how to handle it before every call.
Gold customers will be concerned with the "right thing to do" they will quote details from the contract, etc.
Orange customers may become rude and want to complete the discussion RIGHT AWAY!
Poor Staff Morale - By implementing True Colors, staff will become immediately excited because the training session is fun, highly interactive, and immediately transferable to both their professional and personal worlds. Many employees feel like the organization values them after the session and praise them for the insight in selecting such an exciting model.
High Training Cost - Using True Colors, managers will gain key information that will assist with keeping each staff person in their job. If employees are identified, trained, and supported utilizing the True Colors model several style issues will be avoided. Remember, the cost of training new staff is lowered if staff remain in their positions.
Poor Staff Communication - Implementing True Colors, staff will identify their personal communication style as well as the unique communication style of each "color". The training session has an activity that immediately assists with improving communication among staff. This model increases the teambuilding skills of each employee.
Inadequate Conflict Management - Utilizing True Colors, staff will understand their individual conflict management style and how to reduce conflict with the other color types. Often when people are in conflict, they think it is personal. After completing a True Colors session people understand that it is "type" difference and that it is not personal.
In order to address major challenges in the contact center we need to recognize the impact of the "people principle" and introduce soft skills training specifically geared towards providing supervisors and agents with the tools necessary to ensure an optimal customer experience. Technology always plays a key role as an enabler, however until we address the human relationship obstacles we will continue to focus on the results rather than the cause.
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About Robert Koblovsky:
Mr. Koblovsky has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications and software industries and has held several senior management positions in companies. Most recently as Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Data Kinetics Ltd., Mr. Koblovsky successfully managed the company’s Software and Education divisions and was instrumental in revamping the uncertain Education division and turned it around into a viable and thriving business.
About Smart Telecom:
Smart Telecom develops and delivers affordable automation tools for call centers and help desks. These tools enable real-time display of ACD status and historical reporting without the purchase of additional hardware. Smart Telecom has been serving call centers of 2 to 80 seats since 1989. Data Kinetics and Smart Telecom are partners in the development of custom e-learning training solutions for the call center market.
About Sabrina Jackson:
Sabrina Jackson, MSW is founder and president of Sabrina Jackson Enterprises. Drawing on a 14-year career in the mental health and child welfare arena, Ms. Jackson has emerged as one of the nations leading motivational speakers, corporate trainers and project management specialist. During her tenure as Executive Director of the Children & Youth Initiative of Detroit/Wayne County, Ms. Jackson developed and implemented new strategies in order to promote program efficiency.
About Sabrina Jackson Enterprises:
Sabrina Jackson Enterprises is a Detroit-based consulting firm that provides project management, corporate training, motivational speaking, auditing and grant writing services to a variety of clients throughout the world.
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2005