Tag Archives: Gregory North

NACCM 2008: We Are All Storytellers

Becky and Greg have been good enough to provide their own perspectives on our keynotes yesterday. I also was on hand for our great presentations. The morning began with an opening address from our chairperson, JoAnna Brandi. I’ve had the chance to work every day during this conference with JoAnna. She has reminded so many here of the importance of looking past customer satisfaction and to remember that even for ourselves, satisfactory marks are not enough. We are all seeking the exemplary. She reinforced what Kevin discussed the night before that we are all seeking the magical, that moment that makes us go WOW!

Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone,” followed and he focused on the importance of relationships in order to help us achieve our goals in our career. Keith had been good enough to host a web seminar with us over the summer to share some of these ideas. Here is just a small portion of that discussion:

Keith was followed by Joe Torre. I had the chance to meet Joe before his presentation. He is a very warm, welcoming, and friendly individual. During his discussion, he answered many questions from the audience. He was quite frank, not only about the actual details of his remarkable career, but he also reminded everyone that in the end, no matter the figures, or the expectations, it all comes down to people and their own personal responses. Everyone in attendance appreciated not only his insights in baseball but also his management experience, handling difficult bosses, temperamental staff, and the expectations of customers. His ability to manage all of these elements clearly has led to his success on and off the field.

Joe was followed by Peter Guber, Chairman & Founder of Mandalay Entertainment. I’ve had the opportunity to hear Peter speak before. He discusses the importance of storytelling to achieve those goals we have. Great storytellers are able to engage their listeners and create an emotional connection. Storytelling is such a fundamental aspect of our emotional makeup, we all can be storytellers, but its understanding the power of storytelling that will help us to become great storytellers. Here is a small portion of that presentation:

As we come into our final day of the conference, we have several corporate practitioners who will be sharing their own experiences in dealing with the daily challenges so many face in customer-facing organizations. I won ‘t have the opportunity to post immediately after but in the coming days and weeks I will certainly add more material from the event. If you haven’t been by the site, be sure and check all of the great material we have been posting including photos from the conference.

Finally, I want to send a ‘shout-out’ to my colleagues. The team who produces and puts together this great event, works very hard to create an experience attendees will not forget. Even for those of you not here can see how much effort and work goes into creating this remarkable conference. You can be sure they appreciate your feedback in order to ensure you have the best possible time here.

Day 1 Keynotes – It’s all about people!

Three powerful keynotes on Day 1 – and it was all about people.

Relationships between you and other people as the key to your personal and professional success.

Managing by knowing your people, really knowing them, not just by the numbers.

And telling stories to people as a way to achieve your goals – starting off with your own.

This last point brings me full circle back to last night at Kevin Carroll’s talk. What made that so powerful was the simple truth that his story is his life’s work. Telling it is what he does and in so doing he motivates others to pursue their passions.

There is clearly a theme running here in our keynotes!

Now back to today this morning.

First off was Keith Ferrazi, author of Never Eat Alone (which based on the line after his talk we now all have a copy) who found in a way to get us all talking to total intimately to total strangers. Sure we were only practicing, but he drove home through these exercises how superficial our interactions often are and how we need a different way of being in the world if we are to build mutually beneficial lasting relationships. As you really don’t get anything done in this world alone, everything requires other people to help you do it. Keith smashed our paradigm of the business relationship helping us to see we need personal relationships at work.

Keys to building those relationships?

  1. Don’t wait for relationships to happen – be intentional about building them
  2. Get out of your own way – letting go of behaviors that are barriers to true intimacy
  3. Be authentic – be present for others – not just for the sake of connecting
  4. Be vulnerable – encouraging others to tell it like it us, not just what we want to hear

I was truly moved by his idea that our job is to walk around the world and produce an environment that invites people in…and that to do that we need to find something in everyone we talk to that we can care about and also how we can help them. I sensed a lot of us left his talk wondering if we are up to that challenge.

By the way, I was a circle (other choices were triangle, squares and z’s). Which were you? And was that a bunch of Z’s I saw partying late last night in Downtown Disney?

Next up was Joe Torre, known to anyone who knows anything about baseball as one of its most winning managers and known to Boston Red Sox fans (like me) as one scary dude. What was always so scary about Joe was the calm way he sat in the dugout, nothing ever seeming to phase him, as if he knew his team would find a way to win. And they usually did.

Joe kept his message simple – It’s about people. Managing by the numbers has become all the rage in Baseball, but in the end it comes down to people. A hitter facing a pitcher. An outfielder going for a ball. Baseball is a stange sport that features team play – one player at a time.

Torre emphasized how over the years he worked to make this paradox clear to his players – that if they wanted to to win they need to ignore their individual stats and focus on the only numbers that matter – wins and losses. Each day he urged his players to think of what they needed to do better to help the team. Little things, he noted, like getting high paid stars to run faster to first place – can make the difference in a tight ball game. And that means every player has to come to play every single day – you win or lose as a team.

Then we heard from Peter Guber – one of Holllywood’s most successful producers (my favorite Guber flick was the Tim Burton production of Batman) – telling us the simple truth that people were born to tell stories – that throughout our prehistory that is all we could do – no writing, just orally conveyed information. This ability Guber explained is in us and is ready to be tapped as a tool we can use to accomplish our goals.

Telling great stories – important – got it. But how you do that?

Well, Peter explained, it’s MAGIC:

Motivating your
Audience to achieve your
Goal
Interactively with great
Content

Echoing strains we heard from Carroll and Ferrazzi, Guber suggested we start by connecting better with our own stories, learning to tell them, connecting them to what we passionately want to achieve, using them as a motivating force for others. We also should take care to let negative aspects of our personal story get in the way of us achieving our goals.

He challenged us to think of our customers as an audience. Our job is not just to satisfy them or handle their complaints – it is to provide them with a great experience, to engage them emotionally. This reminded me of Disney’s mantra – “we make magic happen every day.”

Guber urged us to bring the audience into the production, use artificacts passed around the circle to engage them in the telling of the story. What story? Whatever story we need to tell to close the deal, win the case, make change happen in our company, convey to customers what our brand really means. He closed imploring us to think of the story at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. “It’s the holy grail.”

A great morning – many stories to tell – and they’re all about people!!!

NACCM 2008: What’s Your Red Ball

The Conference has arrived, and I have to say, in my opinion, it began with a bang. A day long pre-conference summit that lead to the official launch of the conference opened by JoAnna Brandi, Publisher, Customer Care Coach & President, Joanna Brandi & Co. who in turn introduced our opening conference keynote, Kevin Carroll. Kevin is a remarkable presenter with a personal story of conviction, personal success in the face of great strife and difficulty. He has been inspired by the truly simple and discovered the remarkable and innovative in his life. His opening keynote was not only a chance to share that perspective but to also to help us consider the opportunity we have being here to develop, network and share. Everyone came away very enthusiastic and excited.

I have here a snippet of his presentation. He discusses the inspirational moment that he describes “saved his life.”

Afterwards, we sat down with Kevin and JoAnna who discuss some of their shared perspectives:

After seeing these videos, I’m sure you’ll want to learn more, so be sure and visit his website and blog and his own social network related to his books.

Then I sat down with Becky Carroll, from CustomersRock! who has already been participating in many great sessions and will be here posting her thoughts during the conference. Here she discusses the Disney experience

If you haven’t subscribed to our feed, be sure and do so, you don’t want to miss more of her great insights and thoughts during the next few days.

Next, I met Fred Broce, Program Manager of Request IT for GSK. He’s here presenting later today on the IT Service Catalog: Opening New Customer Channels While Driving Service. I asked him to share some highlights on what attendees can expect during his presentation:

Finally, last night, the CSIA and ICCSO who hosted the International Service Excellence Awards that honored companies large and small, and individuals in customer service positions based on the highest industry standards. I actually had a chance to record a great deal of material, but I’m going to need a little more time than one night to edit it all. But I will share this clip from the opening remarks from Brett Whitford, Secretary-General of the ICCSO, as he tells a rather extraordinary story of individuals going that extra step of customer service.

We have two more days of great experiences and presentations we’ll be sharing. Gregory North has joined us and is also blogging his experiences. So be sure and check back here and our event website to see the many updates including photos and videos we’ll be posting.

Virtual Contact Centers

Leslie Nelson, responsible for customer management at Bluefly a retailer that strives to be the store of first resort for designer fashions, gave an exciting talk about their experience with virtual contact centers.

Why do they go the virtual route?

– quality problems
-costs were spiraling out of control
- problems with attendance
-trouble with training
– “superagents” were training, even though they were not trained as trainers

They tried adding call centers, but then they quickly decided to outsource as they are NOT an expert in call center management. They looked at many different potential partners.
They selected a firm, VIP Desk, known for their virtual approach to customer service and their hosting support for luxury brands

Now Bluefly has people who, because they are virtual, have a much better worl/life situation. And they don’t have to fill up their tank on the way to their office! So, Bluefly has a 95% retention rate. They are several KPI’s the Blue “Brand Ambassodors” are assesed on and the better they do the more flexibility they have.

Results?

1st six months. Cost per contact down by 18%.
Year to date: cost per contact down 32%
Year to date, sales conversion has doubled.
Scale is now easy and fast.
Set up of new of new queues for promotions in days.

Team structure? Service leaders are responsible for quality and training only and they have a defined team.

Keys to managing outstouced virtual teams?
– Doing all of the training material in house
– Great service leaders in the outsourcer
– A communication strategy that enables agile knowledge transfer like Daily Huddles and IM, weekly business reviews and forecasting
– Online training in Webrooms allowing two way conversations led by professional trainers
word of caution: virtual training takes 150% to make sure people are engaged
– Online materials like Bluefly’s “Flashionista U”
– A passionate desire to assure people on the front line have the information they need to answer the question
- Motiving teams by incentivizing with your products on which they are now more knowledgable

All in all an exciting window into the virtual contact center world!

A Key to Next Generation Quality: Speech Analytics

Erika Van Noort of Bell Canada walked us through the evolution of customer care at Bell Canada and provided a deep dive on the power of Speech Analytics.

Bell is moving from a more fragmented business, built through acquisition, towards a more integrated , optimized environment for the customer. One way to optimize is through mining existing data, including call data.

Here was Bell’s wish list of what they wanted to learn from their call data:
– Root causes to why customers call
– What value add vs. non value add
– Get at the true Voice of the Customer
– Reduce what Price called earlier dumb contacts and increase time for value adding contacts
– Customer intelligence (preferences, drivers of behaviors, etc.)

In response to these and other questions, one approach to data mining is speech analytics.

“Speech Analytics, Erika explained, ” does not mean you never have to listen to customer call again. Only if you don’t care about your customers.” But through speech analytics Bell has learned a lot about process, products and service, more than they could have learned from traditional call monitoring, including:

Benefits of speech analytics?
– Root cause analysis
– Real time feedback
– Positive impact on FCR
– Reduced low value calls
– Opportunities for cross selling

And this is using the superset of all calls, not a sample, something you just can’t do with traditional call monitoring.

An analytics tree – how Bell looks at each call
– a call we want?
– routed correctly?
– resolved well?
– a church opportunity?

Speech Analytics: What Bell does

– take all calls
– break them down by reasons why customers call
– look at trends and outliers
– get at root causes
– identify real time call back opportunities

Results were great: FCR up, Sat. up, escalations down, productivity up, revenue way up

And employee feedback was very positive. “At last you have realized a dish that goes at 2Am is not my fault.”

Making the wins real:

– 1 customer event took 3 and 1/2 months.
– 6 customer calls and transfers
– 1 hour and a half of call time
– Cost? $400

Now multiply that by all the repeat calls and you are talking real money!

Understanding length of call by call type enables Bell to set thresholds for talk time based on what is really needed to get the customer’s work done right the first time.

Finally, this information drives changes to process, product and service design based on a systematic analysis of true voice of the customer. And this VOC is used at the highest levels of the company.

All Hands on Deck

Empowering Agents to Use Tacit Knowledge and Exceed Customer Expectations

Dr. Susan Reisinger of the US Navy’s Global Distance Support Center

“If you don’t give them the opportunity to fail, you won’t give them the opportunity to succeed.”

With these words, Susan explained how management just has to get over the risks that empowered service agents might make mistakes, might go too far…because this is the best way to get FCR up, employee morale up and turnover down. In her talk she described how the Distance Support Center gets the job done well often in complex circumstances connecting elements of the Navy family around the globe.

The cornerstone of their success in empowering their agents? Use of Tacit Knowldge.

What is tacit knowledge? “It’s our agents know, but don’t know they know,” explained Susan.

The Support Center systemtically captures and shares cases describing how tacit knowledge is used…but does not try to turn these cases into cookie cutter scripts. The goal is to expand the scope of what an agent can and knows how to do.

Results are clear -
Their customer sat ratings range between 92 and 95% every month and
FCR averages 96%!
And agent satisfaction is up and turnover down.

Keys to this approach:

  • Go beyond a scripted, procedural approach -Use cases for training – real-life scenarios
  • Use a WIKI to share these in real time -Goal is to share what works
  • Consider peer review as a way to evaluate what works and what does not
  • Delineate when it is okay to go outside the box and when it is not, and how far they can go.
  • You can get to these guardrails through trial and error

Empowered agents like their jobs better and do a better job for the customer. Not a surprise, perhaps, but how the Support Center gets there is something special.

Best Service is No Service – Bill Price

Insights from our Contact Center 360 Summit today:

First up “The Best Service is no Service.” – with Bill Price, formerly of Amazon.Com

- “The best service is no service,” was Bill’s response to Jeff Bezos’ question about his philosophy of customer service when interviewing for a job leading Customer Satisfaction for Amazon. Bill gives voice to something many of us have been thinking about for years – think of a call to a contact center as a breakdown in the service model.

Bill calls non value adding calls “dumb contacts.”

‘ Dumb contacts are ones that are not valuable to the customer or the business.
‘ If a contact is dumb it should be automated.

Companies that get this are measuring there % of Self Service. Many target as high as 90%, but Bill suggests using 80% as a workable goal. % Service provides a much better focus for service program than FCR or other traditional contact center metrics.

Bill relayed great examples of how self-service adds value based on knowing the customer’s needs: Two struck me as wow:

  • The Autobahn breaking into your FM radio program with an automated message warning off raffic ahead and then activating your GPS to show you where to get off
  • MM’s allowing online requests of personalized candies for special occasions.

Each example drove home the need for innovation in service design.

Here is a real gem about dealing with an age old challenge at call centers – How to melt “snowballs.” Yes, snowballs. Snowballs are repeat contacts because once they start rolling each call comes in with a bigger and bigger AHT Key to “melting them?” Unlimited Handle Time allowed for specific question types to do as much research as required, as long as it takes…to get to a First Call resolution.

Bottom line on Bill’s talk:
Great service is table stakes.
Value comes from innovating ways to take the service call out of the equation.

Making Magic Every Day – Lessons from the Disney Institute

“Service is tough, ” so said Bruce Kimbrell our facilitator from the Disney Institute.

Yep. But the way Bruce talks about service makes it infinitely fascinating and fun!We got the basics on loyalty you would expect. Lifetime value. Know your markets. The relation of the employee’s satisfaction with the experience of the customer. But there was so much more…

Some takeaways from Bruce’s delightful talk:

  • “I just work here.” The enemy of customer loyalty is the company where “the rules” are a disincentive to customer satisfaction and the culture is “we just follow the rules.”
  • “What little bump does it take to notice service?” Disney pays attention to the details.
  • Loyal customers feel ownership of the brand, “it becomes part of how they send messages about themselves.”
  • “Seamless process – start to finish.” This is a favorite of mine. Thinking about what happens before, during, and after each individual transaction gets at the whole customer experience.
  • Why do customers leave? Bruce’s answer. It’s the “Yeah, what?”…the “you’re bothering me” look from a service person communicates “I don’t care.”
  • Then there was a real life letter from a customer with accompanying pictures of their stay in Disney World. “Thank you for adding magic to our stay.” Wow. A housekeeper moves Mickey around, posing him differently each day when she cleans the room and a grandchild experiences a vacation she will remember fondly – forever. You could hear the “awww’s” fromt he audience at the last photo of Mickey at the window…waiting for the family to return to the room.
  • The challenge? “Once you have bumped it, that becomes the new level, the new expectation.”
  • Identity – Value- Relationships…these in balance build great loyalty.
  • Experience Mapping – way cool. Disney uses these to break down the elements of value and see what drives the quality of every experience. For each they define what would meet and what would exceed expectations. The goal is to exceed.
  • “What do you want to be known for, then make that connection at every point.”
  • And there was that clip at the end with the girl dancing with a cast member. I teared up, more than just a bit. ‘We have the opportunity to make magic every day.’ Yep.

Thanks, Bruce, for an inspiring journey into the magic of Disney service.

We are off and running!

It’s great to be here at the NACCM Customer 1st Conference representing Fidelity Investments. Now, more than ever, we are aware how essential customer loyalty is to the continued success of our businesses.

Blogging will be a great way to share best observations and insights from sessions throughout the conference. Amanda just kicked us off so we are off and running…

Gregory North
Fidelity Investments