A little taken aback by the request, I asked for some of her reasons and quickly learned that, while Slack certainly improves communication, there’s also the fear that as a customer service team scales, leaders won’t be able to keep up with the questions and flow of information. I posed this question to our program managers at FCR and compiled seven tips for keeping Slack organized.
1. Set up specific channels
The first thing you’ll want to do in Slack is to set up multiple channels with each having a specific purpose so they don’t all turn into a free for all. “We have three channels, one for updates, one for escalations, and one for general conversation,” says Rachel Perry. Andrew Farley adds, “Dedicating specific channels for escalation assistance has provided us with a good way to keep things from getting missed.”
We recommend keeping the number of channels to a minimum as it gets more difficult to monitor the more channels you have. “Less is more. Only invite those who need to be in a channel, to a channel,” says Laura Daniel. For example, on one of our programs, the quality assurance (QA) team has a channel to discuss their work and only team members responsible for QA are assigned to it.
2. Make sure someone owns the channel
If Slack is used as an escalation channel, it’s important to take a systematic approach to ensure that all questions and issues are addressed. These questions likely represent real customers waiting for an answer and therefore are time sensitive. As your team scales, “assign support staff to monitor these channels during scheduled times,” recommends Gordon Brannon. “And the person that first answers that inquiry,” adds Dawn Smith, “owns it until it’s completed.”
3. Use threads effectively
In Slack there are two options for responding to a message. You can add a message below the one you’re responding to or you can create a thread which opens a separate window to view the conversation on that topic. Vallorie Petersen prefers “creating a thread that all can see if needed, but doesn’t clutter up the main room.” Dawn Smith adds that this specifically might be a practice you have to work with the team on to make sure they’re consistent.
4. Leverage search ability to store important questions and answers
When support teams use Slack, it becomes a treasure trove of information including many frequently asked questions and answers. Courtney Love has a practice of editing posts where a question is asked to also include the answer once known. She then coaches team members to use Slack’s powerful search feature to search for their question before asking it. This reduces the number of repeat questions. To take advantage of the unlimited search, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version of Slack which was recommended by a number of my colleagues.
5. Pin important items
Do you have an important update that the entire team needs to see? Kenneth Vibert pins items in Slack so it’s the first thing the team sees when they login, giving him confidence that important messages get a high level of visibility.
6. Set up notifications
Perhaps there are specific topics you know get discussed from time to time. Let’s say you want to know any time someone mentions “upset customer.” Leslie Molloy suggests setting up keyword notifications so you’re notified any time a keyword or phrase is mentioned in Slack.
Troy Green adds that he also reviews emails on a daily basis recapping any Slack conversations where he was mentioned so he can read and respond in a timely manner.
7. Be clear and consistent in your purpose
In my previous post I shared some words of caution about the use of direct messaging in Slack which speaks to the importance of having a clear purpose for what the tool is used for. In order to make the most of the above mentioned features while minimizing the clutter, Gordon Brannon stresses the importance of consistency. He’s seen a terrific pay off by laying down and enforcing the ground rules early and often with his team.
These are seven incredible tips for keeping Slack organized from our leaders at FCR who are in there all day, every day, with their support teams. And it’s clear that Slack helps them serve customers better. As I so often conclude my posts, if you have anything to add to this list, please share.
We know what’s eating Gilbert Grape…but what about your remote support team? Weird vibes, passive aggressive comments, and general disregard for the customer experience aren’t just bad form – they can absolutely tank your company’s reputation.
So, what do you do? First – you have to identify the problem, or in this case, problems. According to Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, they are:
Inattention to details
Avoidance of accountability
Lack of commitment
Fear of conflict
Absence of trust
Let’s dive deeper into these remote support team pitfalls.
1. Absence of Trust
This is the base layer of Lencioni’s dysfunction pyramid (yes, that’s a real thing) because without trust, any team is doomed to fail. Think of it this way: have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you couldn’t trust your colleague to carry out a task, or give you accurate information? How did it make you feel?
If you work on, or manage, a remote support team with people you can’t trust, then you know how difficult it is to ask for help, express vulnerabilities, and bond with them. That makes it much harder to excel at your job, which is to deliver an awesome customer service experience.
2. Fear of Conflict
A wise, pointy-eared Jedi Master once said: “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Maybe fear of conflict with your remote support teammates isn’t that dramatic, but when you break it down (like I’m about to) you’ll see that a fear of conflict is a real threat to a healthy, high-functioning team.
Looking closer, remote support team members need to feel comfortable talking through issues and disagreements with one another. Great ideas for process improvement, service delivery, and more can come out of conflict when other teammates feel safe to express their opinions and perspectives.
Members of high-performing remote support teams are eager to learn and take pride in being the one to solve an issue, and then share how they succeeded with the rest of the team.
What you can do about it: High-performance teams stay in constant communication with their peers. So, create an environment at work where people don’t feel intimidated to speak up, even on sensitive work-related topics. Hosting daily standups can help with this, and is an effective practice of Agile Methodology.
Encourage everyone to participate so no one gets overlooked and everyone’s opinions can be observed. Make it part of their daily tasks to document their notes, and make those notes accessible to the rest of the team for reference when they need it.
3. Lack of Commitment
Ambiguous priorities…missed direction…these are the contributors that breed lack of commitment in remote support teams. When it’s not clear who’s supposed to be doing what and when they’re supposed to be doing it, it’s easy for team members to bow out of their daily responsibilities
What you can do about it: Remote support teams need to be in alignment when it comes to goals and objectives. Provide clear direction and help other team members move forward together without confusion or hesitation.
4. Avoidance of Accountability
We’ve all worked with that one person that can’t be depended on to uphold their end of shared responsibilities, and even refuses to admit fault when doing so. And one person’s poor performance on a remote support team can quickly spread if it’s allowed to go on for too long.
What you can do about it: Encourage accountability between teammates, set goals, and hold regular performance evaluations on those KPIs. Make it known that poor performance won’t be tolerated, and then stick to your guns.
5. Inattention to Results
So, you’ve checked the boxes on dysfunctions 1-4, but you’re not out of the woods yet. Members of remote support teams whose performance is measured solely on their individual performance will always fall short of their growth potential, and here’s why:
Great teams grow together. Remote support teams who are tied to mutual goals are more likely to work together to ensure commitment, good communication, and accountability to reach that shared goal. Teams that reach their goals can enjoy success together, which is a fantastic motivator to get stronger, better, and faster.
In our 50th episode we break the ice with Kaye Chapman, Content and Client Training Manager at Comm100. We first discussed whether or not we’d rather spend time at the lake or the beach and then we share strategies for reducing customer friction, making it easier for our customers to do business with us.
Here are the questions for this week’s episode:
Icebreaker Question: Do you prefer the beach or the lake and what’s your favorite activity there?
Customer Service Question: How can companies reduce friction for their customers?
This article was originally published on the FCR blog on February 16, 2018. Click here to read the original.
Slack has taken the world of communication by storm and seems to be doing a good job of slimming down the inboxes of many professionals. A quick internal poll finds that 60% of our programs at FCR use Slack to communicate internally and with clients in comparison to 9% that use Google Hangouts and 7% that use HipChat.
It’s the preferred method in support organizations for bubbling up important concerns from the front lines as well as quickly resolving customer escalations and questions. We consistently find that this method of communication with clients helps our agents to be more engaged in their work and feel more a part of the company they are providing support for. This is a win for the customers they’re serving.
One of our clients recently asked us if there’s anything better than Slack out there and I didn’t have a great answer. I’ll get into some of the reasons the client asked this question in a later post but first wanted to survey our leaders at FCR to understand what communication tools they use and how they use them. While I was hoping to hear about some of the alternatives, all fourteen of the leaders that responded use Slack.
What are the top ways your team uses Slack?
There are so many cool integrations for Slack. With a little bit of searching your mind will be blown by the variety of types of data and information you can feed into the platform. I was hoping to uncover some of these in my questioning but our usage at FCR tends to be fairly simple. Here are the top three functions all of our teams use Slack for:
Broadcasting important information and updates to the team – Getting information to everyone in a timely manner is a critical challenge for all support teams and it impacts what’s being communicated to customers. In a contact center environment, this communication often needs to be as real time as possible. While I’m not sure this entirely replaces email, in person communication, web/LMS, and printed messages it certainly improves communication, especially when the team is distributed over multiple locations and shifts.
Escalation and floor support – All support teams have an escalation process for handling questions from team members and escalating customers to a supervisor. There’s an added layer for outsourcers where some escalations might be handled internally and others might go from outsourcer to a contact at the client. It’s clear these tools do a better job at creating a distributed floor support model. Whereas in the past, agents might have to go to one supervisor at a time (a process I refer to as fishing for help) to getting the attention of whoever’s available.
Group Collaboration – One thing that’s easy to lose as support teams scale is the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the front lines. When issues occur, it’s not uncommon to hear about them from customers. Slack provides a way for agents to let their colleagues know when they see something abnormal or just need to share a better way of handling a particular scenario. Furthermore, having a forum for agents to interact and support one another takes some of the pressure off leadership. Polls are a great way to enhance group collaboration. Bobby Herrera, Site Director in our Veneta center recommends Polly as a way to quickly poll your team for their opinion on an issue.
To a slightly lesser extent, here are two additional uses we see among our teams:
Social Conversation – Memes and animated GIFs are the lifeblood of support team communication. A little fun makes un-fun situations fun while also helping important updates catch the eye of the desired audience. Giphy is another great Slack integration according to Bobby Herrera.
I asked my colleagues to share some of the challenges they face when using Slack and by far the greatest was around direct messaging. While it’s great if used to accomplish work, it can also devolve into a time suck for team members and blur the lines between personal and professional if not properly monitored. Here are a few important pieces of advice from our team:
Establish a clear code of conduct. Your agents should understand what direct messages are used for, and like any interaction with colleagues and clients, communication should be kept productive and professional. There should be no tolerance for unprofessional behavior regardless of the communication channel. And yes, it’s still OK to have fun and be friendly while focusing on getting things done.
Monitoring productivity in other areas helps curb unproductive behavior in Slack. It’s nearly impossible to police direct messages in Slack. If agents are held accountable for a productivity standard in their other work, concerns over direct messages should dissipate a bit.
Evaluate whether you need direct messaging at all. Remember, Slack has taken a hold on the market because it’s a more effective communication tool than email and instant messenger — tools often used for one to one communication. That being said, take an honest look at whether or not direct messaging enhances team communication and productivity. A few of our teams at FCR don’t allow direct messaging for that very reason and use other means within Slack for effective communication.
The consensus from my colleagues is that Slack has significantly improved the way they communicate and has helped facilitate better communication with our clients. My survey yielded significantly more information than I shared in this post. Stay tuned for my next article where I reveal advice for structuring Slack so as not to miss important information. In the meantime, how does your support team use Slack or similar communication platforms? Do you have anything to add to my list?
Breaking the Ice Episode #49: Non-business Books & Great Customer Service Emails - YouTube
We’re huge fans of customer service and customer experience but sometimes it’s fun to read about something else. For example, Jenny is reading Food Sanity by Dr David Friedman and Jeremy just finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck. We highly recommend both.
In Episode 49 we also share some of the key ingredients for great customer service emails. We invite you to listen in and share some of your own keys for great email. Here are the questions for this week’s episode:
Icebreaker Question: What’s the last non-business book you read?
Customer Service Question: What are the essential ingredients to great customer service emails?
Working from home. So many people dream about getting the opportunity to ditch the cubicle for the couch.
Are you one of them?
It may become your reality in the near future.
According to a Gallup survey, in 2012, 15% of employees worked remotely 100% of the time. Flash forward to 2016, 20% of employees are working remotely 100% of the time.
The survey findings also uncover the impact this demand has on leadership. “With a goal to enhance performance, many leaders want to offer flexibility, opportunities to work remotely and open floor plans that meet the demands of the modern workforce.”(1)
In fact, according to Gallup, 37% of employees say they would quit their job to take on a new job that allows them to work remote, even if just part time.
Sure, while you’re at home, you’re not dealing with your annoying desk neighbor, your boss creeping over your shoulder and a freezing office with the A/C on high. Instead, you’ll welcome a whole new buffet of struggles. You seem to notice all that dirty laundry, the dog poop to pick up and trying to figure what to do with your child who just stuck PlayDough under the spacebar on your MacBook.
Motivational speaker, comedian and writer, Jeff Wozer works from home on a regular basis. He says, “There’s a misnomer amongst 9-5 office folk who view working from home as occupation Shangri-la. They only focus on the benefits – no commuting; no contending with rush hour traffic; no wondering who stole your Greek yogurt out of the employee fridge; no having to feign interest listening to a co-worker talk about her evening spent shopping for wainscoting panels – without ever considering the discipline working from home requires.”
So, how can you take advantage of this generous opportunity to work from home and actually get work done?
Whether you’re already working from home, about to start working from home or about to have a conversation with your boss about adding remote days to your schedule, here are some common work from home challenges and advice from myself, a current work-from-homer, and my work-from-homer colleagues on how to be successful.
When it comes to health…
Eat healthy. A healthy diet fuels both your body and mind. Having access to a fully-stocked kitchen (i.e. your kitchen) really means there should be no excuses for eating poorly. Your body and mind will appreciate this in the long run! Jeff Toister, Author of The Service Culture Handbook
Block off 30 minutes on your calendar for a quick walk or lunch. If not, you’ll probably find yourself on back to back conference calls. Suddenly you’ll realize it’s 3 pm and you haven’t had lunch yet. Erica Marois, Content Manager at ICMI
Jenny’s Thoughts: Meal prep the weekend before and have your lunches ready to go, just as you would if you were at the office. And, take your lunch break and eat away from your desk, ideally at the dining room table without your phone alerting you to emails arriving in your Inbox.
When it comes to scheduling…
Establish office hours for yourself. Without a commute, it’s so easy to get up and start working and then keep working well into the evening. Decide which hours work best for you and then stick to them! If you find yourself working too late, consider scheduling evening commitments like workout classes, happy hours, or dinner with friends. Erica Marois, Content Manager at ICMI
Embrace flexibility! It took me awhile to get rid of the 9-5 mentality. Now, I plan my day around my life, not my work. So I might get up and spend a few hours writing, answer some emails, work on a project, then take off for a few hours in the afternoon to go on a hike or do some errands. I might be back at work in the evening if there’s still work to be done. The point is blending work and personal life is so much easier than trying to create a hard schedule. Jeff Toister, Author of The Service Culture Handbook
You also don’t want to fall into the trap of working 24/7 as you will be less productive, stick to your normal business hours. Reward your successes and track your failures or where you can improve. Working from home can be a challenge or a gift in disguise. Matthew Demaree, CEO of HTDNET
Jenny’s Thoughts: It’s so easy to say you’re going to log on for 5 minutes to check an email. An hour later, you’re neck deep in a customer situation and there’s no way out. Stick to the schedule you have created.
When it comes to distractions…
Friends and family won’t ever get it. If you were working in an office they would never call to chat or stop to visit. Yet when working from home they harbor no second thoughts to disrupting your work day with phone calls or “quick” catch-up bull sessions. And what’s odd is that they will often preface their disruption with “I know you’re working so I won’t keep you” and yet then proceed to carry on as if you’re at a backyard social. Jeff Wozer, motivational speaker, comedian and writer
Far too many people believe working from home is going to be less stress or even more productive. However if you allow yourself to be distracted by the countless disruptions you could have in a home setting, it won’t work out very well. Matthew Demaree, CEO of HTDNET
It can be really tempting to intersperse your work with housework etc… all very well until you realize you’ve spent all day tidying the house and haven’t got much work done at all. I tackle this with pomodoro technique – work during 25 minute blocks and use breaks to do house stuff. I find it’s good for my work quality to take lots of little breaks too, and it’s definitely good in terms of my productivity! Kaye Chapman, Content and Client Training Manager at Comm100
Jenny’s Thoughts: Some of the distractions end up being on the computer or your phone. Without others around you to hold you accountable, you may find yourself browsing Facebook, Pinterest or texting with friends without even realizing that you’ve lost your place in that email you were writing to your boss.
When it comes to clothing…
Resist the temptation to wear your PJs or yoga pants every day. Dressing for the day helps me feel more productive. It also means I’m more likely to leave my home for a quick lunch break. I have casual Fridays. On those days, I embrace the yoga pants and hoodies. Erica Marois, Content Manager at ICMI
Having a setup that gets you in a work mindset is very important to me too. For me, that means sitting at a desk, wearing proper clothes, starting my day at 8am. When I first started working from home I assumed that I’d have the time of my life starting work whenever I felt like it, working in my PJs, sitting on the sofa. But I quickly learned none of those things are conducive to actual good work! Setting is super important for getting in the right mindset, so do what you can to make sure your environment and your headspace are prepped for work. Kaye Chapman, Content and Client Training Manager at Comm100
Jenny’s Thoughts: It’s incredible how putting on real day time clothes can increase my productivity. You may not want to wear a business suit while you’re working from home, but at least change out of your PJs into a pair of jeans.
When it comes to space…
Create a workspace. I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office in my home. If you don’t have that room, create some space that’s your “work” space. It helps mentally transition to work time. It’s also better long-term to have a good ergonomic set up than to be slumped on your couch all day. Jeff Toister, Author of The Service Culture Handbook
Jenny’s Thoughts: I reserve my desk for work and avoid working from the couch or bed, simply because it isn’t comfortable. Even at home, I still keep regular rhythms, such as Fresh Friday where I tidy and clean my desk once a week.
Find ways to network virtually. One of the downsides of working from home? It can feel isolating. Look for online forums, communities, and Twitter chats as a way to connect with industry peers. Erica Marois, Content Manager at ICMI
Jenny’s Thoughts: If you can, try to talk about non-work stuff with your coworkers via Slack, Google Chat or however you communicate with your team. Get out of the house to meet friends or colleagues every so often for coworking at a coffee shop or to grab lunch. And, I love connecting with others in the customer service industry via the weekly #ICMIChat held every Tuesday on Twitter.
When it comes to pets…
I have a cat who’s really fond of meowing frantically at me if he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough attention – which is all very well until you’re on a client call and sound like the maddest cat lady with constant meowing going on in the background. So make sure you mitigate for interruptions during important calls. Kaye Chapman, Content and Client Training Manager at Comm100
This article was first published as a featured contribution on the ICMI blog on January 30, 2018. Click here to read the original.
Right out of college I was hired to work on the customer service team at a small, rapidly growing startup. In our industry, which happened to be web hosting and domain name registration, it was en vogue to slap 24x7x365 support on our website, which we offered. Another thing that I can remember was the words “Award-Winning Customer Service” appeared in big, bold letters on our site.
It’s entirely possible that an actual award had been received, warranting that claim. I don’t know for sure. I do know that customers sure loved to hold it over our heads when we didn’t deliver award-winning customer service. In fact, failing to deliver on our reputation often fueled their fire.
When I reflect on those occasions, there were most certainly areas we could have improved upon, and there were other times we may have achieved award-winning service entirely by accident. Rather than spending the next few paragraphs talking about everything we did wrong, however, I’m going to share what was right about our culture of customer service that made us deserving of such an award.
Here are the five reasons.
1. No one is too high or mighty for customer service.
This is probably typical of many startups, but our small company always maintained a culture where anyone in customer service could approach anyone else in the organization with a question. In fact, it was expected. Escalation channels were fuzzy at best with the sentiment that if you had a pressing customer issue, you could go directly to the programmer that introduced that bug or that executive that made that policy decision.
As companies grow and scale, some semblance of a flat organizational structure can still be preserved, so people at all levels feel the same pain the customer feels. This might involve things like walking around and talking to folks in the contact center, taking time to be trained on support and handling live support cases, listening to actual phone calls in meetings, and reading customer feedback. Heck, just keep your door open or don’t have a door at all. The goal is not to lose touch with customers and also make sure everyone in the organization knows you haven’t lost touch, so they follow your lead.
2. Never stop asking how an issue could have been prevented or improved.
My boss and I often called our one on one meetings “Dev Time.” He happened to be a programmer by trade and encouraged me to take an analytical approach to our support team. I was responsible for understanding our top contact drivers and coming to him with ideas for either preventing those contacts or improving them. Back in the day, this led to improved documentation, better product, fixed bugs, better self-service, and a slew of other things.
This is called innovation, and now we have things like speech analytics and machine learning to kick improvement into hyperdrive. Whether you have cool tools to work with or you’re living in spreadsheets, innovation can still happen when you continuously ask how the customer experience can be improved. This question should enter the mind of everyone serving customers on every interaction.
3. Empower your team.
Speaking of innovation, are you innovating the work your agents are doing? I’m embarrassed to say how many times agents had to come to me because they weren’t authorized to push a button or allowed to issue a certain credit to a customer. We were at our best when we were keenly aware of the questions our agents were escalating to us and empowering them to solve those issues on their own — or at least increasing the number of people who could help with those problems.
In full transparency, there may have been times where I found comfort and security in pushing that button or authorizing that credit. I’m not sure if it was a lack of trust or just the security in having something easy to do. Who doesn’t like to feel important? Ultimately, I was better off properly training and empowering the brilliant people I hired to do their job better. If you’re looking for innovative ideas around empowering your team, check out #FreeToHelp movement.
4. Be easy to reach.
Back in the day, I didn’t even know what a service level was. When I did learn the term, I looked back and found that we typically answered about 90% of our calls in less than a minute. Were we a bit overstaffed? Probably. But this was mostly by design. We didn’t want wait time to be an aggravation for our customers because guess what? Aggravated customers tend to aggravate your frontline support team, putting them constantly on the defensive, and that’s before we’ve ever dealt with the real reason they called. This isn’t sustainable and has consequences like lower customer satisfaction and increased attrition.
For the record, back when I started in support we still sent and received a whole bunch of faxes. Things have changed in recent years, and there are now many new ways customers can reach support including chat, social media, and a variety of other messaging channels. Workforce planning is more complicated than ever, but just as important so that customers can reach you quickly and get their issue solved. Also, don’t forget that beefing up self-help and continuously improving your product can help prevent the need to contact support in the first place.
5. Be easy to work with.
In our line of work, customers might call for a variety of reasons, sometimes complex and out of the scope of what we were typically equipped to do. It would have been easy to say, “No,” but we wanted their business. Time and time again I’d go to an engineer and collaborate with them on a solution, and we figured out how to do what the customer needed. Sometimes this led to innovations that benefitted other customers.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for simplicity, but not all customers are going to fit into the same box. Instead of saying, “No” or “It’s not in our policy,” find ways to say, “Yes” or “I’m sure we can figure something out.” As leaders we should continuously be looking for ways to test the limits of creativity — and while these don’t come up all of the time — these are occasions where you can really wow a customer.
Looking back, I sure loved being on and eventually leading a support team that espoused to these five things. While I still have no clue if our award-winning customer service team actually ever won any awards, I am sure that if you do these things consistently, you’ll be well on your way. I hear ICMI will be handing out some awards very soon.
This article was originally published on the FCR blog on February 9, 2018. Click here to read the original.
I’ve been known to dabble in the kitchen. Two of my favorite dishes to prepare are fried rice and frittatas. Why? Let’s take fried rice for example. I’ll open my refrigerator and grab a bit of leftover rice, some ham from the night before, that half onion in the Ziploc bag, a couple scrambled eggs, garlic, olive oil, some extra veggies, seasonings, and soy sauce. Fry those all together in a pan and in no time you have dinner. Making a frittata isn’t all that different other than using eggs instead of rice. It’s all about taking disparate parts, things that you have on hand, and turning them into something cool.We recently got a Nintendo Switch for the kids (and me) and I must say that it’s incredible. I’ve spent a several late nights playing Super Mario Odyssey and have even spent a bit of time strategizing ways to beat certain challenges around the water cooler with my colleagues. The game has many different levels or worlds, with each level requiring Mario to collect a certain number of power moons to power his ship on to the next level.
One thing I’ve come to love is the way so many things are placed in this game for a reason. For example, it’s not uncommon to happen upon a giant seed laying on the ground and then later find an empty pot of dirt. The two objects might seem totally random given their placement in the game, but pick up that seed and throw it in the pot and up sprouts a giant beanstalk that Mario climbs to find a power moon in the sky. It’s such a fun challenge to follow these clues and even more fun to watch my kids think critically and solve problems.
But what do Super Mario Odyssey and fried rice have to do with each other? Furthermore, what’s the tie back to customer service and contact centers? One word: Resources.
As a customer service and experience leader at a startup much of my success early on was due to my ability to be a jack of all trades — to know a little about a lot of things and be able to solve problems. One thing that was tricky as the company grew was relinquishing certain responsibilities and using the resources available to me. For example, we didn’t have a human resources manager for a long time which meant that I recruited, interviewed, and hired new members of my team. That all changed at one point and I had to learn to collaborate effectively with an HR team.
I could go on down the line and talk about reporting, training, workforce management, quality assurance, IT, and more. I could spend even more time talking about tools — perhaps what once lived in spreadsheets and required a bunch of complex formulas now needs to live in a nifty piece of software. It’s only natural as organizations grow and mature to hire people and use better tools for these specialty areas. That can come as a huge relief for some — but for the jack of all trades it can be seen as a threat and require significant adjustment. I quickly learned that my ability to survive and thrive in my own career and development required that I learn to use the resources available to me and excel at collaborating with others.
This is a fairly simple analogy and a lot of words to illustrate the importance of using the resources available to us whether it’s in the contact center or while playing Super Mario Odyssey.
I should also mention those folks in small companies that have no choice but to be jacks of all trades. Here are a few resources that have been a huge help to me:
Hire an outsourcer. One of the many benefits of an outsourcing partner is the wealth of resources, services, and experience they can offer to take your customer service operation to the next level. I can recommend a really good one.
Join a couple Slack communities. CX Accelerator for customer experience and Support Driven for support are both vibrant, growing communities with people willing to share expertise.
Check out Twitter chats. #ICMIChat on Tuesdays at 10am Pacific, #Custserv Chat on Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific, and #CXChat at 11am Pacific on Thursdays are a few of my favorites.
Whether you’re a jack of all trades in a small organization or you work in a large organization, the key is using the resources that are available to you. After living in a bubble for a long time where I didn’t know what I didn’t know, the move to network effectively both inside and outside of my organization kicked my development and effectiveness as a leader up a huge notch. May it do the same for you as well!
After that, we talk about annoying customers — you know — those ones that are either argumentative or just don’t get it no matter how many times we explain it. Make no mistake, without customers we wouldn’t have jobs, but that doesn’t make a customer service job any easier. Tune in as we share our thoughts and ideas on this topic.
Here are the questions from this episode:
Icebreaker Question: Do you prefer your kiwifruit with the skin on or off?
Customer Service Question: How do you keep it real in customer service when you’re really annoyed?
We’d love to hear your answers to these questions below.
CX Accelerator – In case you haven’t seen it yet, my friend Nate Brown started a new customer experience community called CX Accelerator. Check out this article he pulled together including some terrific customer experience quotes and be sure to join the Slack community.
CustomerThink Top 10 Author – After writing a monthly column for Customer Think as an advisor in 2017, I was ranked in the top 10 authors for the year. Furthermore, I continue as an advisor for 2018. Click here to see all of my articles.
Future of Customer Experience on Lumoa – I joined 14 customer experience experience in contributing to an article on the Lumoa blog discussing the future and challenges of customer experience for 2018.
Comm100 Live Chat Benchmarking Report – I had the opportunity to comment on the latest benchmarking report by Comm100 Live Chat. Of interest to me was the fact that chatbots are able to handle 20% of chats from start to finish. I recommend downloading this report.
Super Office Customer Service Benchmark – I was included in this cool study where Super Office tested the email support of 1,000 companies. It’s interesting that only 39% of companies respond to emails with their name.