Chapter 6: Training Curriculum

Dec 01, 2003 10:30 PM  By

In their book Customer Service and Human Experience, Drs. D’Ausilio and Anton, who believe that core competencies should be customized for each client, discuss the five Ws of training.

The fifth W in the five Ws of training is What is the appropriate curriculum? During training sessions conducted by Human Technologies Global, Dr. D’Ausilio and her staff incorporate the five Ws into the following modules:

A. ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The first module is Acknowledgment. Front-line agents have a tough job. In our fast moving lives, it is very important to take the time to acknowledge the awesome responsibility and daily grind of their jobs and the professionalism that goes along with it. Remind them that they are the heart of the center with the pulse of the customer, and the opportunity (and sometimes challenge) of turning around an upset customer and making everyone’s day.

B. CUSTOMER SERVICE

What is world-class customer service? What are the qualitative and quantitative measures? Why retain customers? Suggested mission statement for CSRs.

C. CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

How are expectations set? What are customers’ expectations? What are the drivers for these expectations? And are they being met?

D. PERCEPTION SHIFTING

Included in this module are techniques and exercises to begin to expand people’s perceptions so they can see things differently. Awareness is heightened as to each participant’s limited belief systems.

E. CHALLENGES

In the last several years, we felt it necessary to add this module. In the classroom, we invite participants to put forth what their current challenges are — people, process, or technology. Using brainstorming techniques, we look for solutions, only allowing positive responses. The trainer becomes the conduit to management in reporting these challenges and possible solutions, some of which cost nothing. Many of the challenges have to do with the mixed messages that are rampant in organizations today. One mentioned in Dr. Rosanne D’Ausilio’s previous book that is voted #1 is to adhere to the oft-repeated adage, “We are really committed to quality here, but hurry up!” The old quantity vs. quality paradigm.

Another frequent challenge is how to prioritize. What if we are given a project with a deadline, and a minimum quota for our daily inbound calls? Or, we are in the process of consolidating centers and the new one takes priority, yet both phones ring at once. Help! Someone needs to take responsibility in the decision-making process. These challenges surface in a live, interactive, classroom where confidentiality and safety are part and parcel of the context created by the trainer. Sometimes the issues fall within the purview of the company; others within the context of the training. Boundary setting is an ever-present lesson.

F. ANGER MANAGEMENT

What are the techniques to diffuse an angry customer? To stop yourself from being activated? There are classic steps to anger management.

G. STRESS MANAGEMENT

Stress management techniques originated with the concept that we have the ability to take charge of many everyday stress-producing situations previously considered beyond our control. What is stress; how do you handle it such that it supports, not debilitates?

H. CHANGE MANAGEMENT

In this module we speak to the concept of change as a process, not an event. We look at the perceptions of change, the reactions to change, and Prochaska’s’ six stages of change that we all go through. We suggest strategies for success before, during, and after a change.

Adversity and resilience are part and parcel of change. Resilience is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, even when the circumstances are discouraging or disruptive. Characteristics of resilient people include:

  • team player
  • effective communicator
  • adaptable to change
  • positive/flexible attitude
  • continuous learner
  • self-confident
  • willing to take risks
  • committed to personal excellence

When we ask ourselves, who are the greatest human beings and why, it is usually those who have faced significant adversity in their lives. Without adversity, we can never unleash our greatness.

What is an adversity quotient? Simply, it is how you respond to the tough stuff; how much life will eat you up along the way.

To be more conscious of and to begin to strengthen your capacity for adversity, ask yourself these four questions when adversity strikes.

C.O.R.E.

C ontrol … what can I influence?

O wnership … what do I care about? How can I make it better?

R each … can I contain/limit this?

E ndurance … what is on the other side?

The bottom line: Today life is more about our AQ than our IQ. All aspects of our life, both professionally and personally, are impacted by our AQ.

In today’s work environment, companies are responsible for keeping the company alive, and employees must be responsible for themselves. What does that mean? Taking charge of your career requires resilience. And the most important of all of these? Attitude. It breaks down into:

  • I am either growing or decaying — there is no middle road.

  • A chaotic organization is a great place to learn.

  • I must be selective in what I learn.

  • It is possible to align what I want/what the company wants and what the market wants.

  • I must push to the outer limits and enjoy doing it.

  • I am a unique business — me.

Questions to ask yourself are: How do you keep your people accountable? How do you keep time lines on projects, “by when’s” promised to people (internal and external)?

I. COMMUNICATION/LISTENING

In this module, we define what communication is, distinguishing the differences between talking and communicating. Included are pro-active listening, how to ask questions, clarifying and confirming techniques, as well as how to communicated powerfully using “muscle” words.

THE GEESE STORY

By flying in V formation — adding 71% more velocity than if each goose flew on its own — geese exemplify teamwork. Read this story at team meetings, the beginning of shifts, and post it where everyone can see it. It’s a great way to motivate your people.

CLEARING MEETINGS

Clearing meetings are an opportunity to begin your day or your shift over. What is a clearing meeting? A chance to offload whatever is being carried, consciously or unconsciously, forward with you. For instance, it could be the dog that chased the cat that ran away with the newspaper, the child who forgot their lunch or missed the school bus, the driver who cut you off on the highway, or an upset or irate caller who is trying to take it out on you. To clear your mind to be more available to a customer, to have your perspective and objectivity, we include the following clearing meeting options: THE VAULT Imaging a bank with a safe deposit room available to only you. You have the keys to all the boxes and in each one you put your upset, worries, errands to run after work, things you can do nothing about at the moment. See them safe, lock them away. BALLOON Blow up a balloon, put your name on it and send your “stuff” into the balloon and up to the sky. DUMPSTER Visualize a large dumpster (garbage containers on construction sites for debris). Choose the color(s) for it and again send your ‘stuff’ to it. NOTEPAPER Do this with a partner. Have your partner tell you their concerns, worries, etc. You write them down. Then switch so you each have a turn.

What’s important here is to be sure and be responsible at the end of the day or shift and take back that which needs attending to, and let go of that which is no longer applicable.

PATIENCE

We encourage patience. Be patient with your customers. When you hear the same thing over and over again, it’s not easy to be patient, but it’s worth it. Be proactive, decide for the next three calls I am going to be patient with each of my customers. Then notice how those calls went. Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Were they easier for you to handle?

  2. Was the customer surprised?

  3. Did they feel taken care of?

  4. Did the call close in a timely fashion? And most important,

  5. How did you feel after those calls?

When we are being patient with a customer (or spouse, child, mother, father), we feel good about ourselves and we are not as easy to engage. By that we mean we maintain our perspective because we have chosen not to let anyone or anything bother us, but rather, we are being patient.

When you easily accomplish three calls, kick it up a notch to six, then to twelve and before you know it, your stress level has decreased and you are looking forward to your daily challenge of being patient with customers. This is truly a win/win/win (you, the customer, your center) situation.

UNDER-COMMIT/OVER-PERFORM

Under-commit, over-perform is a strategy that is win/win. If your standard operating procedure is to send a letter, product, acknowledgment, anything in writing that usually goes out within a week, inform the customer that they will receive it within 10-12 days. When they receive it in a week, they are very impressed with your company.

If however, you tell them one week, and on the seventh day by noon it is not there, they are on the phone calling you — an escalated call. “What kind of an operation are you running? I was supposed to have this by such and such a day and nothing has arrived.” To avoid upset or disappointed customers, as well as unnecessary callbacks, under-commit and over-perform.

SMILE WIDELY

We all know a smile can be heard over the phone. In our training we use PC mirrors. Not only does using the mirror (which is affixed to the monitor) increase productivity, it stops you from going into automatic. It allows you to look in the mirror and check your P-A-T, your posture, attitude, and tone of voice. When you maintain eye contact with yourself, you stay present in the conversation at hand.

POST ROAD SIGNS

Make your own road signs, such as “55 Smiles per Hour,” or “Smile Widely.”

LISTEN CARE-FULL-Y

Listen care-full-y simply means to listen full of care. Not waiting for a pause to jump in and take a customer where you think they might want to go that could be wrong. By the way, when you are listening for the pause, you can’t really hear what is being said by the customer.

AFTER CALL PROCESS

The purpose here is to not take the last call into the next call, especially if that last call was a proverbial call from hell. What to do?

  • Toss the call (figuratively, of course).

  • Tell someone.

  • Paper shredder — put the customer’s name on a piece of paper and put it through the shredder.

  • Helium balloon — send it up!

  • Breathe: Breathe deeply five times.

  • If you are sitting, stand up. If you are standing, sit down. Move energy.

ABCS

Attitude impacts behavior and behavior has consequences.

Ability + Breaks + Courage = Success

10 MOST POWERFUL (2-LETTER) WORDS: If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me

HUMOR/LAUGHTER

Humor is a powerful tool. When you can see the humor in a situation, you can see it from a different perspective. What does humor say about you? Humor says that you’re feeling good, comfortable, in charge, and have choices.

Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper — it doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while. And laughter is a great stress reliever.

CREATE CHOICES

Nearly all of what you do — as much as 98% — results from habit, not from choice. Habits operate outside of the conscious mind, where choices are made. Choice, not chance, determines destiny. Remember you can start your day over anytime.

SHIFT PERCEPTIONS

The question to ask yourself is: How can I see this differently: this customer, this project, this job, this manager, this (you fill in the blank).

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO FLORES

Fernando Flores was Chile’s minister of finance, at one time a political prisoner, and now teaches companies to transform the way they do business. He believes the process is through language. We think it fits perfectly to the customer service/call center industry.

The World According to Flores (Rubin, 1999) exists in three realms:

What You Know You Know. This is the smallest, most limiting and self-contained world. Here people are unwilling to risk their identity in order to take on new challenges.

What You Know You Don’t Know is the realm of uncertainty which manifests itself as anxiety or boredom. Most things in life belong here, i.e., what you don’t know about your future, your health, your family. For instance, we don’t know how to tune up a car and we know we don’t know. To avoid uncertainty, people try to merge this area into the first.

What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know is where people should aspire to. In this realm means to notice opportunities that have the power to reinvent you, opportunities that perhaps you are too blind normally to see. Here you see without bias. The language here is the language of truth.

Why do we speak to this? Because it’s about communication, powerful communication that speaks in language that promises action and generates commitments. Which, to us, is what world-class customer service is all about.

How do you make commitments? That part’s easy. But how do you make commitments and keep them? Aha! This takes practice. He suggests:

  • Make promises as often as possible.

  • Make them in public, before lots of people.

  • Ask others to objectively assess you.

  • Build an “identity” (because then you make personal commitments, absolutely keep them, and become known for it).

Companies do it. A great example is Federal Express. FedEx promises delivery. They don’t say “Maybe it’ll be there by such and such a date.” You walk away confident that FedEx will deliver as promised.

SELF-MASTERY PROCESS

This is a good place to include Maslow’s self-mastery process (probably what Flores based his concepts on), the goal being to have unconscious competence such that we communicate at a mastery level naturally.

DISTRACTIONS FROM LISTENING

What prevents you from listening?

  1. Environmental Interruptions: You might be on the telephone with a customer when a coworker shoves a piece of paper in your face. A red light may begin flashing because there are so many customers in the queue.

  2. Third Ear Syndrome: You are tuned in to what is going on in the background. If this happens, it might be because:

    • You care about your coworkers and customers.

    • You overhear another agent solving a tricky problem you spent a lot of time solving the previous day.

    • You hear someone solving a tricky problem you couldn’t solve.

    Based upon good intentions, these detract from your ability to focus on the task at hand which is resolving your current call.

  3. Jumping Ahead:

    • You focus on what you are going to say next.

    • You mentally jump ahead in the conversation.

    • You make assumptions as to where the customer is going.

    This has to do with two factors. First, you are expected to answer questions, solve problems, resolve issues, and diffuse upset as quickly as possible. Second, you can listen at a faster rate than you can speak. We can think at approximately 400 words per minute and people speak at 125 words per minute.

  4. Emotional Filters: Perhaps you serve the same customer base most of the time. Because of this, you may get to know some of your customers and develop an emotional response to them. These are called emotional filters. For example, you might “brace yourself” whenever a particular customer calls. Avoid this. Keep an open mind from the beginning of every conversation.

    You decide this customer has nothing significant to say or at worst, they’re boring. And you create prejudice against this (type) customer. The way out? Force yourself to see the value in what is being said so you can take the customer to a productive interaction.

  5. Mental Side Trips: Let’s say it’s 11:30 in the morning, and you get the same type of call you’ve been handling all day long. You know what the customer is going to say; you’ve handled a number of these calls already.

    So you’re wondering, “Where am I going for lunch?” You re-engage yourself in the conversation and find that you haven’t lost too much. The customer continues to talk, and you work together to define the problem.

    Maybe you think you know what the customer is going to say next, so you decide you’re going to eat lunch at a certain restaurant because it’s next door to a shop you’d like to visit. You start thinking about what you are going to buy, and so on.

    Now you’re on a mental side trip. You come back into the conversation, but you’ve lost it. Your mental side trip has gone on for too long. You’ve wasted time, and you have to back track in the conversation by asking the customer to repeat what was said. Being aware of this tendency will help you stay focused on what the customer is saying.

  6. Over-talking: Maybe you have gone on and on. Be alert and be willing to check in with the customer, take them on the journey, with simple questions like “Are you with me?” “Am I being clear?”

  7. Fear: What if you don’t know the answer! At that point listening comes to a halt! Breathe and pay attention. If you don’t hear what is being presented, for sure you won’t be able to answer.

    Effective listeners:

    • Accomplish results more timely

    • Get the right information to begin with

    • Reduce margin of error

    • Focus on what the customer is saying (instead of what they’re going to say next)

    • Build rapport (based on genuine interest and caring)

With the goal being powerful communication, watch your verbal patterns like:

  1. Asking a question such as: “Do you think that’s a good idea?” hides a statement. It’s better to say, “That seems ineffective/inefficient to me because….”
  2. Tag questions, such as: “It’s cold in here, isn’t it?” In this manner, you try to get agreement and/or approval. The suggestion is that you don’t have your own opinions. Avoid using tag questions.
  3. Disclaimers — prefaces to what you say, such as: “It probably isn’t very important, but,” “I know I should know this but,” “This is a silly idea, but.” What it actually says is “Don’t pay attention to what I’m about to say” — and so people don’t. If you ask a silly or stupid question, the other person will let you know. Leave your disclaimer.
  4. Frequent qualifiers, such as: probably, sort of, maybe. They take strength away from your message.
  5. Interruptions. Aren’t they irritating? Either you get interrupted or you interrupt. People interrupt for many reasons, one is “What you are saying isn’t as important as what I’m saying;” or said another way, “I’m more important than you.” However, if you don’t stop it, you permit it. It takes two people to allow an interruption. The way out? “Excuse me, I wasn’t quite finished,” and keep going. Let’s say you’ve done that two times and now you do what they do. Raise your voice and keep talking. One person backs down, and it doesn’t always have to be you.

Again, the goal is powerful communications. Power = choice, and choice lives in the future. If you are in the past, you could be stuck in complaints, and the feeling is powerlessness. There is nothing you can do about the past. There is no control over the past. The only control you have is your attitude toward it. It’s as if the past were a cancelled check, the future is a promissory note, and the present is cash. Be cash!

If you want your center to stand apart from your competition, institute A.P.A.R.T.

  • Acknowledge your people and the awesome responsibility and job they do.

  • Patience — choose it with external and internal customers.

  • “And” instead of “but” in all your communications. When you use “but” all that came before is eliminated. For example, “I like how you handled that call, but….” truly says “I don’t like how you handled that call!” What to say? “I like how you handled that call, and I would encourage you to blah blah blah.”

  • Reinforce positive interaction consistently

  • Tell what you can do, not what you can’t. Not, “no we can’t do that, but rather, “Here are the options available, which one works best for you?”

PERSONALITY TYPES

Laura Benjamin, in her book Communication Skills: Are We Speaking the Same Language? presents four basic personality styles. Find yourself, your co-workers, your customers (internal and external), actually all people in your life professionally as well as personally. Know that at times we are each of these.

  1. Direct

    Direct communicators seek action and results. They speak in very specific, clear-cut ways, “cut to the chase,” get right down to business. They tend to speak in absolutes and prefer to evaluate issues based on black and white, rather than recognize the gray areas. They are known for the ability to get the job done and don’t spend much time on small talk. It’s easy to misinterpret this direct approach as demanding, highly assertive, and sometimes abrasive.

    What to do? To be more effective with direct communicators, speak with confidence, focus on the deliverables, and talk in specifics versus broad, vague generalities. Tell Them what you will do and ‘by when,’ as compared to only how you will do it. Avoid thinking out loud and don’t take it personally if they cut you off in mid-sentence, or ask you to just get to the bottom line.

  2. Analytic

    Analytical communicators want to do it right. Their communications style centers on clarifying, correcting, analyzing, and evaluating accuracy. They focus on the specifics, down to every detail and nuance, and tend to be very successful at quality control responsibilities. They may grow impatient if you avoid their questions or respond with vague, general statements. They are very good at identifying gaps and flaws in an idea or plan, which can be misinterpreted by others as being too critical. It’s also easy to misinterpret their need for accuracy as picky and controlling.

    What to do? To be more effective with analytical communicators, do your homework. Have your facts in order before approaching them; don’t “wing it.” You may immediately lose their respect and it will be hard to get it back. Appreciate the value they bring in identifying gaps and holes in processes and procedures, and avoid taking it personally if they criticize your ideas.

  3. Collaborators

    Collaborative communicators want consensus. They strive to create areas of agreement and commonality to gain cooperation from others. They tend to be the peacemakers and avoid contentious communications, even if it means they have to go above and beyond what most people would do to achieve the goal. It’s easy to misinterpret their need for agreement as “wishy-washy,” indecisive, or easily swayed.

    What to do? To be more effective with collaborative communicators, use a “win-win” approach and build options and choices into your conversations. Since they automatically look for areas of agreement, avoid making either/or statements. You may need to draw them out by asking for their opinions.

  4. Influencers

    Influencers want to be liked. They usually start a conversation with niceties and can spend the majority of their time on “social talk” before getting down to business. It’s important for them to know you like them as a person prior to conducting business. They paint a broad picture with words and set the stage to gradually transition over to their main point or purpose. Due to their strong sense of diplomacy and tact, they may avoid saying exactly what they mean. It’s easy to misinterpret their indirect, highly social approach as frivolous or unfocused.

What to do? To be more effective with influencers, temporarily set business objectives aside long enough to address their social needs. They respond well to positive non-verbal cues like smiles. Ask open ended questions to help them be specific like, “How may I help you? What specific actions will you take to accomplish the goal?” You may need to set clear deadlines and touch base with them frequently to see how they are progressing. Appreciate their ability to influence, inspire, and motivate others while you help them clarify and achieve the deliverables.

J. TEAM BUILDING

What does it mean to play on a team? Are you a team player? What are the characteristics and synergy of a team? What about the team and its players’ accountability and credibility?

K. CONFLICT RESOLUTION

The emphasis in this module is win/win. The constructs of conflict management are discussed from win/lose, lose/lose to win/win. Even when the answer is “no,” the interaction can still be win/win, such that each person walks away feeling good about themselves, and good about the interaction, regardless of the outcome. We posit the distinctions between blips, clashes, and crises and how they build upon one another unless handled appropriately. Forms of conciliatory gestures also are included.

By the way, surveys show that you can win back between 54% and 70% of customers simply by resolving their complaints (Tschohl, 2001).The percentage actually goes up if it’s done in the first call (one and done or first-call resolution).

L. RAPPORT BUILDING

Rapport building presents the various representational systems through which we all imbibe information. Rapport simply means connection. You’ve heard the expressions, “We’re on the same page,” or “We’re on the same wavelength.” This is the essence of rapport. Some people are visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic. No one is just one or another, but usually there is a preference in how you imbibe information. We raise awareness so that you can listen for and communicate powerfully using your customer’s representational system. Role playing illustrates how to mirror or match you communication to the customer’s. Included is transactional analysis, complementary and crossed transactions, and strategies to establish relationship so that everyone wins.

M. LANGUAGE SKILLS

At one time CSRs were hired for their voice, rather than their writing skills. Because of multi-tasking challenges, they then were given responsibilities for e-mail or text chat, and sometimes were found lacking in basic English writing/usage skills, spelling exercises/homonyms, and common vocabulary, phraseology, and jargon. They need help in punctuation, prepositions, conjunctions, and homonyms. And the critical importance of the meaning of the written word, if not executed properly.

N. E-MAIL PROTOCOL

We request our clients to provide us with sample e-mails, with the names changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent) and then have everyone critique them in class. We break off into teams of two and assign a specific scenario to each team to critique and present to the participants. We are looking for: Did the e-mail answer the question or request? Was it complete? What worked, what didn’t work, and how would you kick it up a notch? Then the group comments further to improve the communication. We look at specific types of e-mail responses, etiquette, and templates for ease of use while at the same time personalizing.

O. INTERACTION/ROLE PLAY

Role playing brings good ideas into experience. Once it is experienced, it can be replicated, and CSRs can make it their own, in their own style. We use a center’s own scenarios, typical calls, and “what do I do when” situations. In real time and with actual circumstances, participants learn to make a difference. We dissect a call as if it were the only call of the day. In our trainings, we request participants to take ownership for the series of either scenarios, e-mails, challenges, “what do I do when” situations, as well as whatever changes are going on at that particular time. We also role play with typical calls, calls from hell, those that stump agents and everyone takes part in improving the communication.

P. EMPATHETIC RESPONSIVENESS

This is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see it from their point of view. This doesn’t mean to agree with the customer, only to see if from their vantage point. You listen for what is being said behind the words, such that you can address it. The old adage, first fix the customer, then fix the problem fits perfectly here. Basically, all customers (all people) want to be heard and treated with dignity and respect. If they don’t think they’re being heard, they repeat their story over and over and over again. The purpose of empathy is to acknowledge what is being heard (behind the words), acknowledging what you hear, and only then can you move onto a more productive interaction.

Q. SERVICE WITH A SMILE

Service with a smile is self-explanatory, yet needs constant reinforcing. After all, your day follows the curve of your mouth. Mark Twain says that wrinkles only show where smiles have been!

ORGANIZATION OF TRAINING

Training is like building a house. First you start with the foundation, the basics. There are four types of calls that come into any center:

  1. Questions that need to be answered
  2. Requests that need to be fulfilled
  3. Complaints that need to be resolved
  4. Problems that need to be solved

This is the order we suggest training be delivered in — building from the bottom up so that agents are equipped to deal with all kinds of calls from the simple to the complex. Each session includes a brief review of what came before and then proceeds forward reinforcing all that was learned along the way.

FORMAT

Training is an ongoing process, not an event, and is key to creating a service culture. It is not a one-time event. Being sensitive to taking people out of their work station, we suggest four hour sessions, two sessions per day, on low volume days. Representatives should have at least 24-48 hours of soft skills training, per person per year. An every-other-month format allows for six sessions per year per person, for a total of 24 hours each.

According to Call Center Management Review’s survey (April 2000), 95% of centers offer ongoing training. Off-phone training per year: median amount of hours was 32 hours, mean average was 50 hours. However, please note that this includes hard as well as soft skills. (Bannan, 2003).

In a recent survey from BenchmarkPortal, Inc., in answer to the question: What percentage of your contact center’s training hours are for hard and soft skills, the responses were as follows:

Hard skills 63.96%

Soft skills 36.04%

We open each session with a clearing meeting. At the close of each session, participants are asked:

  1. What will you do differently as a result of today’s session?

  2. What (positive) word or phrase will you take with you today? (Positive Round)

  3. To take back that which you need to be responsible for from the clearing meeting

There are evaluations for each session, with a Likert scale for content, length of session, exercises, support material, as well as essay-type questions to complete, i.e., what did you like best, what did you like least, what will you do differently as a result of today’s session, and suggestions for the trainer.

A motivational/inspirational story closes the session, with a reminder of what will be covered next meeting.

At the last session of the series, we invite management (middle and upper) to attend the last half hour to partake in acknowledging and celebrating the participants’ completion. Certificates are presented and management usually acknowledges participants as well.

Following the training sessions, we graph the categories mentioned on the evaluations, specific to the question: What will you do differently? Subsequent to each session, a summary of the evaluations is forwarded to management so they can clearly see the impact of (ongoing) training. At year end, we provide an overview slide comprised of all impacted modules. For one particular client, training was presented every other month, six times a year, two four-hour sessions per day, providing 24 hours of training per CSR. The categories impacted include the following:

Stress management
Time management
communication
Choices
Attitude
Teamwork
Accountability
Resiliency
E-mail management
Motivation
Challenges
Adversity

Not only did each participant acknowledge their improvement in each of these areas, but middle and upper management not only noticed but were complimentary in their feedback. Specifically, communication radically improved both verbally (over the phone) and with the written word whether via e-mail, on notes to the file, the ticket entries, text chat, and inter-office or departmental correspondence.

CERTIFICATION

Certification can make the difference in advancement and hiring decisions. From an organizational standpoint, certification elevates employees to a higher level of service and dedication, leading to an increased ROI. What are the benefits?

  1. Recognition/acknowledgement from the industry, employer, peers

  2. Career development opportunities

  3. Increased ability to perform

  4. Boosted efficiency

  5. Increased responsibilities

  6. Professional accomplishment

  7. Credentials

Benefits to organizations:

  1. Increased customer satisfaction

  2. Increased credibility with customers

  3. More productive employees

  4. Measurable results and improvements

  5. Out-service the competition

  6. Reduce turnover, retain motivated staff

  7. Increased morale

Experience tells us that university-certified agents are more committed, feel more confident, have higher self-esteem, and feel acknowledged by their companies for supporting them through the process. Our certification is a 2-day university certification training from Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality. At the conclusion of Day 2, participants sit for an exam, and upon passing, receive their certificates. We find it truly raises the bar in the area of customer service. The latest statistics are that approximately 22% of centers currently certify their agents and/or facilitators; and 6% plan to do so in the near future.

TRAIN THE TRAINER FORMAT

We include this section for those of you with in-house trainers. To successfully present, the following techniques heighten the skills and role of your trainer.

  1. Become a fixed point. Do not move around when presenting. On the other hand, do not become”‘podium bound.”

  2. Effective movement includes gestures such as eye contact, leaning toward your audience, or simply pausing between lines.

  3. Be modest with your participants — share your moments.

  4. Have fun with your voice — vary its tone.

  5. Always face your audience; don’t show them your backside!

Always encourage audience participation. Ask questions. Have them role play so you can see exactly where corrections, improvements, or phraseology is needed. When giving feedback, first tell them everything they are doing right, followed by suggestions on other options. Don’t ever make anyone wrong!

Have the new facilitators up on their feet presenting almost immediately. Assist them in finding their own style.

Share personal experiences to illustrate points and connect with the audience. Be authentic. Don’t tell anyone else’s story as if it were your own. Tell your own vignettes, or “I heard a trainer tell a story that really impacted me and I want to share it with you today.”

Establish the ground rules: confidentiality, safety, and a non-threatening environment so the participants can be fully contributed to. Self-consciousness stops all action, isolates people, and sometimes is even boring. If people are bored, you lose their attention and permission to lead and train them.

When you communicate with others, the words you speak are only a part of the message. Your tone of voice, gestures, and intonation also speak loudly. You communicate with your bodies as well as with your spoken language, i.e., body language.

Keep in mind that your success as a trainer rests on how you present this material, not on what the material says word-for-word. You must be aware of what your are communicating, not just what you are saying.

On page 54 is a table of body language and the messages it delivers. Remember that words are only 7% of communication, your body language speaks volumes.

Maslow’s Self-Mastery Process

Unconscious Incompetence – don’t know you don’t know

Conscious Incompetence – know you don’t know

Conscious Competence – know your communication styles/skills

Unconscious Competence – naturally communicate at a mastery level

Body Language

POSITIVE NEGATIVE
BODY Arms Apart Body Erect Leaning Forward Legs Crossed Arms Crossed Turned Away
HAND GESTURES Open Hands Steeple Hands Hands to Chest Touching Tapping Fingers Hiding Mouth Finger Wagging/Pointing Closed/Clenched Fist
HEAD Straight Nodding Up/Down Shaking Back/Forth Tilted/Bowed
FACIAL EXPRESSIONS Smiling Relaxed Mouth Alert Raised Eyebrows Tight Lipped Jaw Clenched Grim Reaper Smile
EYES Pupils Dilated Eyes Wide Open Looking Down Nose Avoiding Eye Contact Narrowed Eyes

The Goose Story

Next fall, when you see geese heading south for the winter — flying along in V formation — you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone — and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are. When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind?

Finally — and this is important — when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies; only then do they launch out on their won, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.
— Angeles Arrien, based on the work of Milton Olson