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Customer loyalty is hard to come by, and it’s even harder to keep. The two things consumers want most—omnichannel consistency and an effortless customer experience—are moving targets. Constant innovation is a brand’s best hope for survival and growth.

This explains the meteoric rise of the mobile app—the newest loyalty- and revenue-driving vehicle that enables shopping, self-service, and easy payment from any location.

Of course, given the high volume of online product searches, ecommerce websites aren’t going away anytime soon. Both established brands and startups continue to invest in making their sites more mobile friendly (layout design, navigation, voice search, etc.) and smoothing the path to purchase.

All of these initiatives can help fortify and grow a brand’s customer base. But if testing isn’t done properly—across all channels and touchpoints—brands could easily miss big problems and forfeit greater returns.

User Experience and Customer Experience: It Pays to Measure Both

Before they roll out new apps and website enhancements, many brands rely on usability testing to gauge ease of use and effectiveness at helping users meet their goals. For example, how easy is it to set up an account? Search for a particular product? Customize an order?

Usability testing plays a crucial role. But even the most extensive usability tests won’t tell you what customers experience in store after placing a mobile order. Nor will they reveal how the mobile or cross-channel buying process stacks up against your competitors’.

These are huge missing pieces.

To fill in the gaps, retailers and QSRs must take testing a step further. Holistic testing that combines digital, in store, and competitive benchmarking bridges the gap between UX and CX. The results

can be used to inform multiple stakeholders across the organization and align your teams—thus ensuring you’re delivering the right experience across all channels.

Become an Omnichannel Leader: 3 Keys to Success

To create a seamless, frictionless, effortless experience for your customers, you need to know how they experience your brand as a whole—and as one among many.

1. Think beyond your brand

Consumers don’t engage with you in a vacuum. They’ll hold you to a certain standard based on past experiences with other brands. Benchmark usability studies can help you understand how your app or website compares on any number of measures, from downloading speeds to ease of completing transactions.

2. Think beyond app/website functionality

Even if your platform is a breeze to use, there may be other (major) sources of friction. Is there conflicting or missing information that could impede sales? Are there gaps and/or redundancies in the buying process? Even the subtlest inconveniences and problems could drive customers away for good.

3. Think through the customer journey

A customer has placed a mobile order or found a certain product on the website. What happens next?

  • When mobile order-ahead customers arrive at the restaurant, is it clear where orders can be picked up? How long is the wait? Is the order ready? Is it correct?
  • Once it appears in search results, is the desired product in stock and competitively priced? Do customers have everything they need to make informed buying decisions? How quickly and how well are customer service agents responding?

From digital platform design, employee training, and store layout to policies and procedures, inventory, and order fulfillment, every facet of the customer journey requires careful consideration and regular testing.

How to Get the Answers You Need

To get a clear, holistic view of the omnichannel customer journey, you’ll need three things: 1) usability testing for apps and ecommerce; 2) a network of experienced, well-vetted mystery shoppers completing transactions; and 3) an experienced provider that can make sense of the results.

With the proper insights, you’ll know where critical improvements are needed today—and where the biggest opportunities for innovation lie ahead.

We’ve partnered with many companies to measure the UX/CX and help take their brands to the next level. Click here to learn more about how the process works.

The post Mobile Apps and Ecommerce: Why Usability Testing Isn’t Enough appeared first on StellaService.

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Just imagine what you could accomplish if call center attrition were a non-issue.

  • Customer service agents would be careerists, loyal to the brand and enthusiastic about serving customers.
  • As you built out your team, established agents would help guide newer agents and keep them engaged.
  • The customer service organization would take on a life of its own, generating loyal customers and revenue with little effort.
  • The brand would solidify its reputation as a customer service leader, to its competitors’ dismay.

If the above scenario reads like pure fantasy, you might think call center attrition is out of your control. Agent burnout is inevitable, right?

Wrong. You have the power to slow that revolving door, reduce the high cost of hiring and onboarding, and build an outstanding front-line team. But first, you need to see attrition for what it is: a symptom of one or more underlying problems.

The Root Causes of Call Center Attrition

It’s not the nature of the customer service role that drives agents out the door. It’s the call center culture (which doesn’t happen by accident).

In a high-attrition culture, agents feel like cogs in the machine—disposable and easily replaceable. The brand invests too little in contact center operations, and it shows. Agents feel undervalued, wither on the vine, disengage, and leave. And the cycle starts anew.

Here are five of the most commonly overlooked morale killers.

Feelings of isolation

A cohesive team is stronger and happier than a room full of agents who don’t interact with and learn from each other. Camaraderie reduces agents’ stress, keeps them energized, helps them grow, and reinforces their shared sense of purpose. But it’s completely absent in many call centers.

Emotional disconnect from the brand

If corporate HQ is the beating heart of the organization, the call center is often treated like the appendix: a nonessential organ that usually goes unnoticed. Without a sense of brand pride to keep the spark lit, agents’ personal investment in the job quickly fades away.

A lack of empowerment

Rigid rules of engagement, inadequate resources, and lackluster coaching and training leave agents feeling stymied and helpless. They want to solve problems on their own, but their hands are tied. The less capable they are of satisfying customers, the more deflated agents become.

Too little positive reinforcement

Many call centers focus on performance problems at the expense of recognizing outstanding service. The issue is either one of bandwidth (only so many team leaders and hours in the day), or one of tone deafness. Either way, great agents who hear nothing but criticism don’t stick around long.

Unfair QA reviews

QA reviews based on random, days-old, unrepresentative contacts—and a manager’s or QA leader’s subjective opinion on vague performance measures—neither benefit nor sit well with agents. They balk at negative feedback, dismiss their QA scores, and come to dread these encounters.  

Start Solving the Problem Today

“Our research shows that the publicly-held companies that appear on the Fortune 100 Best Companies [to Work for] list have delivered stock market returns two to three times greater than major stock indices. Compared to their competitors, great workplaces win when it comes to revenue growth, employee retention, productivity, innovation, resilience, agility, customer service, employee engagement, and more.”

Fortune magazine, 2/15/18

If you’re serious about strengthening your brand and growing your company, you need to get serious about reducing call center attrition. Starting today, you can begin building a culture that makes your agents feel capable, plugged in, and valued.

Focus on hiring the right people

The people you hire should be a good fit for your brand culture, personality, and values. They should also share important traits with your top-performing agents. And they should be career minded, with a genuine passion for customer service. If you focus on hiring well, you can scale your team without scrambling to replace lost agents.

Show them a career path

New agents may come aboard eager to serve customers. But if you want them to stay long term, you need to get them thinking long term. Show agents a career path in the contact center with clearly defined roles, and explain how agents can advance and how long they’ll likely hold each position.

Recalibrate coaching, training, and QA

Every coaching, training, and QA session should be a timely reflection of what agents experience on a daily basis. What types of scenarios are they encountering or likely to face in the near future? How well are they serving and satisfying customers?

If you have the internal and external data you need to answer these questions, you can build an effective performance management program that drives morale and progress. Here are just a few of the best practices we recommend.

  • When onboarding new agents, emphasize service priorities as well as the “why” behind them—the brand’s story, values, and larger goals. Keep agents a step ahead of launches, promotions, and other brand initiatives so they can better anticipate and meet customers’ needs. Make sure agents have direct, easy access to products so they can help customers make better buying decisions.
  • Micro-coach and communicate with agents throughout the day, aiming for a 5:1 praise-to-criticism ratio. Team leaders should be accessible at all times—if not in person, then by phone, email, or instant messaging.
  • Make sure your QA scorecard includes both objective data and subjective VoC data so agents understand their scores and what it will take to raise them. Reviews should center on recent interactions that relate to high-priority performance criteria.
Want to learn more about how leading brands such as Williams Sonoma and UncommonGoods keep agents sharp, engaged, and invested? Check out two of our recent eBooks, “How to Use Coaching and Training to Drive Contact Center Performance” and “Doing Contact Center QA the Right Way.” Give agents “brand superhero” powers

Agents are happiest and most effective when they have everything they need to take ownership of the service experience. Give them easy access to customer data, product and policy information, and subject-matter experts across the organization. Encourage independent thought and action on customers’ behalf.

As fewer calls are escalated or transferred, and first call resolution becomes the norm (along with higher customer satisfaction and CLTV), agents will take pride in the unique contribution they’re making.

Recognize and reward great service

Spotlighting agents who go above and beyond is key to strengthening the call center culture. Public and private praise, along with material prizes and/or work-related incentives, encourages top performers to keep up the good work. It also reaffirms brand standards and values for agents who aspire to become A-players. Whatever your budget or team structure, you have everything you need to inspire your team.

Stop Settling for Call Center Attrition, and Start Reaping the Profits

Outstanding customer service is now the leading brand differentiator and surest path to market dominance. You can’t become a service leader if your front line is a mix of new, not-ready-for-prime-time agents and agents who’ve already checked out.

If you take the necessary steps to minimize call center attrition, you’ll have the keys to the kingdom: seasoned brand experts who love and excel at their jobs and create customers for life. As you build out your team of brand superheroes, you’ll continue lowering costs, driving revenue, and gaining on your competitors—an accelerating cycle that will make your brand unstoppable.

The post Call Center Attrition: Why Agents Leave, and What You Can Do About It appeared first on StellaService.

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First Call Resolution (FCR) is the most important metric your contact center can measure. It captures the efficiency of your team, tells you how well you’re serving customers, and highlights what needs work.

Your FCR rate is the pulse rate of your organization. When it’s high, operating costs are minimized and customers are happier. When it’s low, your team is wasting valuable energy and resources on processes that aren’t working.

Why Is First Call Resolution So Critical?

Low FCR drives costs. High FCR drives revenue.

If your contact center’s sweet spot is where happy, productive agents and satisfied, loyal customers meet, you need to concentrate on FCR.

The higher your first call resolution rate, the more positive your customer experience and the higher your customers’ lifetime value (CLTV). FCR is also a good indicator of whether your agents like their work. And it directly impacts your center’s bottom line by improving margins, reducing churn, and turning customers into brand evangelists.

It’s as important as any data point you can track.

If your center is truly invested in producing sustainable results, all these factors matter. They matter so much, in fact, that the concept of “improving FCR” has been touted by CX experts as the Next Big Thing for years…but it’s not the Next Big Thing.

It’s the thing.

Digging in to discover why your process isn’t working is a complex but valuable exercise. Every extraneous customer service call your agents process costs your center money, and in many important ways. It’s a problem that simply won’t solve itself.

How to Improve Your First Call Resolution Rate

A lot of factors impact FCR. Improving your score isn’t as simple as scheduling a one-day customer service training session or implementing better software. Let’s talk about the actionable steps your center can take to consistently improve its First Call Resolution rate.

We’ve divided these First Call Resolution tips into five distinct categories:

  • Assess the Situation
  • Set Your Strategic Priorities
  • Equip Your Customer Service Team
  • Adjust Your Operation
  • Measure Your Progress

Let’s take them one by one.

Assess the Situation 1. Measure your First Call Resolution rate.

There are several ways to do this effectively. Tracking how many calls come in from the same number within a set period of time is the most straightforward. Speech analytics can also help by looking for indicators like, “Last time I called…” You can also use real-time, agent-level feedback requests to ask customers whether their issue was resolved.

2. Conduct a contact driver analysis across internal channels.

Which internal issues are causing customers to reach out? Misalignment among business teams and broken internal processes can create roadblocks for the customer down the line. Understanding the point at which the customer journey went off the rails can improve First Call Resolution from the inside out.

3. Get to the bottom of delayed resolution.

Do most customer calls seem like endless variations on the same two or three issues? Identifying the most common (and most problematic) customer pain points – tech troubles, instruction confusion, price concerns, etc. – is a necessary step in raising your FCR rate. Your customers’ problems become your agents’ problems.

4. Invest in the right platforms.

First Call Resolution is a highly nuanced metric; detailed customer histories, call tags, agent routing capabilities, and task automation are all critical to understanding exactly what’s causing FCR to flag. If you don’t already have access to the data you need to inform improvement strategies, invest in software that collects the kind of granular customer intel that can be useful to your agents on the ground.

Stella Connect Screenshot

5. Measure CSAT frequently.

Customer satisfaction is directly related to FCR. Consider the variables that go into your center’s Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) rating holistically, highlighting the relationship between FCR and NPS. When FCS goes up, most of the other metrics that matter to your business will too.

6. Segment customers by common issues.

Perform a deep-dive analysis on the customer “buckets” that result in the most repeat problems. Remember that a problem that takes too long to solve isn’t necessarily as inefficient as a problem requires takes too many calls to remedy.

7. Identify your weak spots.

Low FCRs don’t happen in a vacuum. They’re the result of bad policies, knowledge gaps, and ineffective cross-organizational communication. Try to a gain an understanding of whether or not low FCR is an agent problem, a technology problem, a positioning problem, or some combination thereof.

Set Your Strategic Priorities 8. Identify KPIs to avoid conflicting priorities.

Your sales team should be very clear on which metrics matter. If your center’s goal is to improve its First Call Resolution rate, the quality of each customer interaction takes precedence over your team’s Average Handle Time (AHT) per-call, for example.

9. Develop a cross-channel update strategy.

To keep customers happy, contact center management should always be in the loop on new marketing initiatives, updated products or services, price changes, and any other business shifts. Understanding what to expect from calls is critical for developing a successful process for issue resolution.

10. Strive for minimal customer effort.

By the time a customer reaches out to your team, they’ve already exerted considerable effort. Reducing friction on the customer journey leads to more satisfied customers and happier agents. Anticipating the customer’s needs before they call in reduces residual service contacts and directly improves FCR.

11. Improve your policies.

Great agents can be hamstrung by short-sighted policies. Monitor scenarios in which agents must say “no” and determine what usually drives that response. Empowering agents to solve more problems themselves can instantly boost First Call Resolution scores.

12. Avoid transfers whenever possible.

Give agents the authority to make decisions that speed up resolution and reduce the complexity of the customer’s issue. Agents with agency are always more incentivized to reduce call-backs.

13. Treat problems as sales opportunities.

Your team should always be striving for Service Delivery +1. That means going beyond “solving” the customer’s issue to create a customer experience that’s personal and memorable (and that might even include an upsell!) Data measurement and robust training are essential to turning a negative into a positive.

Equip Your Customer Service Team
14. Prioritize FCR techniques in training.

Emphasize the importance of in-depth product knowledge and cross-channel communication strategies in training. Identify which agents have the highest instances of repeat calls and devote micro-coaching sessions to improving FCR.

Agent Training vs. First Call Resolution  © 2011 MetricNet, LLC and United Business Media LLC. All rights reserved. 15. Cross-train agents.

Agents can’t be experts in everything, but they can be touchpoints for a lot of things. The more information agents are armed with, the better they can navigate a difficult customer or complex issue. Schedule regular training sessions that give agents a high-level picture of what other departments are working on, doing now, and considering for the future.

16. Make crucial info readily available to agents.

Software that captures customer history data is a great resource for agents to use before and after they encounter roadblocks. Give agents a handy list of support services (billing, tech support, etc.), so they can consult without ending or escalating calls.

17. Repeat and reflect.

Train agents to succinctly isolate the issue that led to the contact and talk it through with the customer before ending the call. This ensures everyone is on the same page regarding how thoroughly the problem was handled. It’s information that can also be used to predict future call-back rates.

Adjust Your Operation
18. Route customers to the right agents.

By analyzing contact behavior of different customer groups, you can more effectively route contacts to the right agent(s) for their particular issue. Consider demographics, purchase history, and even agent personality type.

19. Emphasize staying on point.

Customer contacts that are resolved the first time are usually the most straightforward. In training agents on FCR, teach them to isolate the reason for the call and stay on topic through the use of directive questioning.

20. Promote “Total Contact Ownership.”

When one agent follows the call from start to finish, first contacts are resolved more often. Agents should be able to collaborate with other personnel directly to solve issues in real time. Your contact center isn’t a silo; it’s a link in a chain.

21. Communicate clearly with customers.

Overkill is good for First Call Resolution. Agents should be trained to go out of their way to make sure customers are clear on all the facets of their case so they’re less likely to call again for more information later.

22. Focus on next issue avoidance.

Train agents to anticipate future inquiries based on the issue at hand. Develop a process through which management reaches out to customers directly if a repeat call is likely. This improves CSAT scores and reduces the number of frustrated customers agents have to work with.

23. Continually ask for agent input.

Agents know best what’s driving calls, regardless of what the data says. Schedule regular feedback sessions to gain insight from both high- and low-performing agents on why customers are reaching out (and what’s getting in the way of resolution). Adjust your strategy accordingly.

Measuring Your Progress
24. Touch base with customers.

Leave customer feedback tickets open for at least 24 hours. Always ask customers to confirm whether their issue has been resolved both on the phone and through post-contact surveys. The customer has the final say on whether a problem is “done in one” or destined to remain on the books.

25. Ask agents to evaluate one another.

Involving agents in mystery shopping calls is doubly enlightening: Hearing how other agents handle (or don’t handle) common customer issues can be an incredibly useful training exercise. These calls also provide actionable data to better train the unknowing agents who field them. Ask mystery agents to report their experience to their peers directly and/or anonymously.

26. Use FCR as an agent performance metric.

When agents understand their First Call Resolution performance is being evaluated, FCR rates go up. Agents with clearly defined goals are more proactive. They’re likely to go the extra mile to solve an issue the first time around and to report patterns they’re noticing to management.

It’s Time to Tackle First Call Resolution

It’s time to make First Call Resolution a DEFCON 1 priority for your management team. Unresolved customer issues are costing you money. They’re losing you long-term customers and they’re contributing to employee attrition.

High FCR is the all-important customer metric you’re not taking seriously enough.

Leading brands are investing in the platforms and technologies required to stay in tune with today’s customers. At the end of the day, your customers know best whether or not their issue was resolved. Are you asking them the right way?

Stella Connect clients include FCR questions in their real-time customer feedback requests. With a response rate that’s ten times the industry average, Stella Connect gives managers the First Call Resolution data they need within minutes. That data is catalyzing real change, fast.

The post 26 Tips for Improving Your First Call Resolution Rate appeared first on StellaService.

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If you’re in a contact center performance management role, you’ve probably invested a lot of time and energy in your customer service training and customer service coaching programs. You’re determined to build a team of brand experts who can connect with customers, resolve issues, and drive sales with ease. You also hope to keep agents engaged so they’ll want to stay put.

These are the top- and bottom-line benefits your coaching and training programs should deliver. If you’re disappointed with the results you’re seeing, it may be time to reexamine your approach.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 29 customer service training and coaching tips. These best practices will not only produce better results on the contact center floor, but they’ll help you bring far more value to your organization.

Coaching Customer Service Agents for Individual Growth

“A good coach plays a big part in determining whether an agent becomes a service nuisance and an early turnover statistic, or a long-lasting high performer.”

–Greg Levin, OFF CENTER, LLC (www.offcenterinsight.com)

Coaching, defined by MIT as a “partnership between the manager and employee that creates a shared understanding about what needs to be achieved and how it is to be achieved,” is a powerful performance management tool. At its best, coaching complements customer service training by reinforcing service ideals, continuously driving performance improvements, and boosting agents’ motivation and morale.

Here’s how to maximize the impact and value of your customer service coaching program.

1.  Coach your service team strategically.

Don’t focus too heavily on low performers. Make the best use of your time by delivering coaching to all groups (including top performers) while concentrating most on above-average agents—those who are best positioned to become A players.

2.  Micro-coach them throughout the day.

Micro-coaching, or coaching in short bursts, is the most effective form of customer service coaching. In these impromptu sessions, managers pull agents aside to discuss specific, real-time performance data, making the session both personal and actionable for the agent. Use micro-coaching to congratulate top performers, strengthen mid performers’ service delivery, and mentor agents who are struggling.

“Our employees are not amateurs. We pay them. So they are professionals. Ultimately, we want our employees to be just as great at their job as any star pro athlete. So we need to coach them daily”

Bill Quiseng, Chief Experience Officer, BillQuiseng.com

3.  Conserve your resources.

Using coaching to get individual agents up to speed on every change or service issue affecting the entire team is too great a burden for managers and too costly for your operation. Better to schedule group training sessions instead (see below for more on customer service training tips).

4.  Make coaching sessions 1:1, always.

Group coaching sessions are impersonal by nature. In a 1:1 coaching session, managers can focus on each agent’s most recent interaction and how it relates to their overall performance scores. Agents feel more comfortable opening up, and they come away feeling better equipped and more valued.

5.  Consider your agent’s point of view.

Be mindful of the agent’s attitude, awareness, and needs going into the session. Is the agent a high, average, or low performer? Do agents have access to the same performance data as their managers? Be ready to answer any anticipated questions.

6.  Use firsthand, specific, timely data.

Make sure you’re coaching on solid ground. Base the session on a call you listened to, customer feedback, or other performance data tied to a specific interaction. If the interaction is fresh in the agent’s mind, the session will be more meaningful and more impactful.

7.  Have a specific purpose for each customer service coaching session.

The law of diminishing returns applies here. The more you try to pack into a coaching session, the less the agent will get out of it. Limit your discussion to a single aspect of performance.

8.  Start off on the right foot.

Coaching isn’t about passing judgment or calling out inadequacies and failures; its purpose is to encourage agents and help them achieve their personal best. Start by highlighting the positive, ask open-ended questions, and focus on the behavior (not the person).

9.  Keep it simple.

During the session, it’s fine to remind agents of brand guidelines. But the focus of the session should be behaviors that can help them improve. Feedback should be clear and succinct so it’s easy to digest.

10.  Put things in context.

Showing agents how they compare with the overall team on a particular performance measure makes them more amenable to coaching and more invested in improving their performance.

11.  Give the agent the floor.

Don’t lecture; listen. Encourage agents to assess their own performance and identify any barriers to improvement (time, customer service training, tools, etc.). Ask them for their ideas on how to correct the problem(s).

12.  Show confidence in the agent.

You know your agents are capable of correcting performance issues and are eager to improve. Show this in the way you coach. Setting a collaborative tone will lead to better outcomes and pave the way for more productive customer service coaching sessions in the future.

“Feedback should always come in two forms: motivational – this is about praising what went well and is intended to acknowledge success and build confidence; and developmental – this is about explaining what could have been done differently or better and is intended to build competence. A crucial rule of a thumb is to motivate in public and develop face-to-face.”

Agnieszka Anna Jozwiak, CX Consultant, CXPA.

13.  Use the GROW model to develop goals and action plans.

The GROW model takes SMART goal setting a step further. By focusing on agents’ personal aspirations (not just high-level corporate objectives), you’ll not only serve your brand’s strategic interests, but also challenge and inspire your team.

14.  End on a positive note.

Show your appreciation for the hard work your agents do every day to represent the brand. This will remind them of their essential role and their value to the team and the company.

Continue reading below for 15 customer service training tips….

Training Customer Service Agents for Collective Success

“[I]f you care about customer experience . . . then customer service training is not optional. It is not an extra. It is an essential component of creating a Hero-Class® customer experience that is a competitive advantage for your organization.”

Adam Toporek, Customers That Stick

Group training isn’t just for delivering basic knowledge about products, policies, standards, tech platforms, and the other practical aspects of the customer service agent’s role. If you seize the opportunities group training affords, you’ll go a long way toward building a more cohesive, customer-centric call center culture—something that will shine through in every customer interaction.

Here’s how to start laying that new cultural foundation, brick by brick.

1. Make customer service training an ongoing effort.

Don’t stop with onboarding, and don’t let training fall by the wayside as you ramp up micro-coaching on the floor. Schedule customer service training sessions regularly and as needed to address team-wide performance issues, update agents on new policies and promotions, refresh skills, reduce agents’ feelings of isolation, and build brand pride.

2. Don’t overdo it.

If you over rely on customer service training, you’re not spending enough time spent coaching agents individually to help them progress toward their goals. Be sure to balance periodic one-to-many training sessions with daily 1:1 feedback from managers.

3. Determine your training priorities.

Salesforce’s recommended training priorities for customer service staff include product knowledge, effective communication, patience, efficiency (proficiency with tech stack, anticipating likely customer questions, etc.), and attention to detail for more effective troubleshooting and likelier first contact resolution. To this list, we would add service “highlights” that naturally encourage sales.

4. Align customer service training with brand values and goals.

If brand guidelines seem arbitrary, it will be harder to get your agents’ buy-in. Include the “why,” or the brand goals and values reflected in the desired behavior, so agents will feel empowered in their role and enthusiastic about representing the brand well.

Google, Zynga, and other tech leaders use Objective & Key Results (OKRs), a concept first developed at Intel, to build a culture of world-class customer service. OKRs help agents see the big picture and where they fit in. OKRs can also help improve product testing, customer training webinars, corporate content, employee coaching and training programs, help center resources, and customer experience design.

5. Clarify expectations at all levels.

Start with high-level expectations and work your way down (brand, department, then supervisor expectations). This helps agents think more critically about their role so they can identify opportunities to streamline operations and improve service quality.

6. Right away, recognize top performing service agents.

Recognizing agents who’ve represented the brand well has important benefits: it keeps top performers engaged, instills important lessons, and inspires other agents to achieve the same level of excellence. Be sure to share details of the call/chat/email and explain why those behaviors are important to the brand.

7. Address trending or anticipated customer inquiries.

Alert the team to any widespread challenges and/or inquiries customers are having or may soon have, perhaps due to website changes, a new promotion, new product lines, etc. This will leave agents better prepared to resolve issues on first contact.

With Stella Connect, you can identify specific areas, such as returns in this instance, where a service agent may need extra training. 8. Incorporate customer feedback into training.

If more than a few agents are struggling in a particular area of service (product knowledge, for example), schedule a group customer service training session to address the topic. This will help the team focus on specific problems that are impacting customer satisfaction.

With Stella Connect, customers can identify areas of improvement for agents they interact with. This can then be used to fuel customer service training topics. 9. Focus on agent empowerment, not limits.

Confident, enthusiastic agents are trained to take ownership of the service experience. Instead of strict scripts and rules, give them the knowledge, authority, resources, and tools they need to take charge of the situation, find answers, resolve issues on their own, and make customers happy.

“Exceptional Customer Service starts with hiring, training and empowering the right people. This takes an investment, but the rewards are worth it!”

John Boccuzzi, Jr.

10. Develop soft skills through “experience engineering.”

Experience engineering, according to The Effortless Experience author Matt Dixon, is the process of “actively guid[ing] a customer through an interaction that is designed to anticipate the emotional response and preemptively offer solutions that create a mutually beneficial solution.” It consists of three principles:

  • Positive language; and
  • Anchoring (nudging customers toward a particular product/solution by casting it in the best light).

To help agents engineer authentic experiences that drive profits, and to help them negotiate complex or tricky customer encounters, combine role play and other experiential learning methods with recordings and transcripts of ideal service interactions.

11. Make customer service training engaging and fun.

If training is not engaging, it’s not effective. Provide a mix of learning aids and experiences, including peer-led training (a team favorite). Regularly update the program so it never gets stale.

According to a 2016 Aberdeen study, contact centers using gamification (trivia games, peer challenges, etc.) saw bigger improvements than other contact centers in four important categories: agent retention rates, customer satisfaction, average cost per customer contact, and customer lifetime value.

12. Emphasize hands-on learning.

Renowned training and leadership expert John Whitmore once observed that by simply telling employees information, their recall after three months is about 10%. If you tell, show, and let employees experience what you’re trying to teach, three-month recall jumps to 65%.

Inside and outside of training, give contact center agents a real feel for the job. This includes the products you offer. Many leading brands have showrooms in their contact centers, where agents can see, touch, feel, and try on merchandise at any time. This builds enthusiasm for the brand’s products and empowers agents to answer customers’ questions more effectively.

13. Include self-directed learning.

Give new agents an initial to-do list of printed and/or digital resources to complete, and provide access to a library of recordings and transcripts of various types of customer inquiries (policy questions, product comparisons, problems with self-help tools, etc.).

What agents do on their own to advance their knowledge is equally important to their success.

Amazing companies empower their employees to find solutions for their customers. They train, motivate, & praise their employees for coming up with “Yes” answers for their customers.

—Shep Hyken (@Hyken) April 15, 2018

14. Measure program outcomes.

Determine how you’ll evaluate the effectiveness of your training. You could gauge employee satisfaction with the program, test their knowledge, measure behavioral changes, and/or track organizational performance and ROI. We recommend using all these indicators, along with real-time customer feedback, NPS, and other measures of customer satisfaction.

15. Give agents a lifeline between sessions.

Communication platforms such as Slack allow agents free and easy access to their supervisors and more experienced peers so they can get quick answers and helpful tips between customer service coaching and training sessions. A lifeline like this is important in a physical contact center, and even more so for remote teams.

Learn How Leading Brands Are Driving Results Through Customer Service Coaching & Training Programs.

Leading brands such as Williams Sonoma, RevZilla, Jet, Warby Parker, and Brooklinen have discovered the simple, powerful fuel that keeps coaching and training programs running..

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TechStyle Fashion Group, a Los Angeles-based online retailer of JustFab, Fabletics, ShoeDazzle, and Fabkids apparel, merges advanced technology with the latest fashion trends to offer a highly personalized, one-of-a-kind shopping experience to millions of members (including 5 million VIP members) across the globe.

TechStyle’s focus is delivering products “smarter, faster and better.” The company also aims to do more with less—particularly when it comes to managing its customer service teams, which operate out of five outsourced contact centers in the Philippines, Mexico, Serbia and Poland.

The distances that separate these teams from corporate headquarters would pose major challenges for any company. TechStyle’s corporate team knew they needed deep visibility to ensure agents on all three continents were performing consistently well and in line with the brand’s ideal service experience.

To achieve this level of visibility, TechStyle had two options: 1) hire dozens of additional employees and dispatch them to the five contact centers; or 2) collect and monitor real-time customer feedback via the Stella Connect platform. For this data-driven, resource-conscious company, the decision to go with Stella Connect was an easy one.

Managing Performance with Real-Time Visibility  

Before Stella Connect, TechStyle adhered to the typical performance management model. Team leaders relied on QA reviews, and on TechStyle member satisfaction surveys that generated low response rates.

After adopting Stella Connect, and seeing average survey response rates climb closer to 30%, corporate and contact center leaders had the real-time, reliable view of performance they needed to drive meaningful change.

Seizing Opportunities in the Moment

Stella Connect allows team managers to deliver in-the-moment micro-coaching on the contact center floor, whether to help agents learn and bounce back from negative feedback or to recognize outstanding interactions. As more customer data comes in, and managers begin to identify weaknesses in certain areas (recurring low scores related to product knowledge, for example), they know exactly what to focus on in periodic 1:1 coaching sessions.

Making QA More Meaningful and Impactful

Because Stella Connect star ratings are now incorporated in agents’ overall QA scores, these scores reflect both internal, objective quality metrics and TechStyle members’ direct assessment of service quality. For agents, the inclusion of customer feedback enhances the legitimacy and value of the QA process—meaning they’re more invested in QA reviews and more motivated to improve their scores.

Building a Culture That Drives Engagement, Excellence  

Despite being outsourced and thousands of miles away, TechStyle’s customer service agents have embraced Stella Connect and, as a result, taken ownership of the service experience. They celebrate positive feedback, and they use negative customer feedback to self-correct. They also approach managers when they want to provide context for poor reviews, ask how they can improve, or follow up with the customer to make it right.

The use of leaderboards, which display agent rankings based on average star ratings, has fueled steady progress as well. Friendly competition not only motivates agents to aim higher, but also gives them a sense of belonging and purpose as part of a like-minded team. Individual enthusiasm and team cohesion have changed the contact center dynamic in ways that translate into happier, more loyal members.

“Stella Connect is painting a much bigger, more detailed picture of what our members are experiencing, and it’s giving us the real-time performance insights we need to motivate and coach our teams more effectively. To get the same level of visibility into agent performance as we get with Stella Connect, we’d have to hire more than 50 new employees. I can’t imagine going back to the way things were before.”

–Omar Recendiz, Senior Manager, Global Member Services Training & Communications for TechStyle

To find out how Stella Connect can transform your front-line team performance and deliver positive ROI, get in touch today.

The post How TechStyle Uses Stella Connect to Supercharge the Performance of its Outsourced Contact Center Teams appeared first on StellaService.

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Contact center attrition is an expensive problem for customer service leaders. The cost to hire and onboard a new agent can be upwards of $15,000, and there is always a risk to the brand as new agents come up to speed. Any decrease in attrition is meaningful, but a 25% reduction can have a major impact. That was exactly the reduction achieved by Swanson Health Products, after introducing Stella Connect across its customer service team.

Swanson’s primary goals with Stella Connect were to:

  • Increase visibility into agent performance
  • Motivate and engage agents, and in doing so drive attrition down
  • Deliver agent-level coaching opportunities to team leaders
Building a More Effective, More Engaged Front-Line Team

Stella Connect’s real-time customer feedback streams gave team leaders exactly what they’d hoped for: a tool that motivated agents and delivered unmatched visibility of individual and collective performance. With average response rates of 35%, the team instantly started relying on Stella Connect feedback to drive agent-level performance management and help inform operational decisions.

Recognizing Agents, Reinforcing Values

Team leaders share positive feedback across the team on an ongoing basis. This helps reinforce the brand’s three core customer service values: 1) humanize the experience; 2) simplify the process; and 3) reassure customers their issues will be resolved correctly. When customer comments mirror one or more of these values, individual agents are called out and recognized. This practice gives agents a morale boost and helps reinforce the company’s customer service mission with the entire service team.

Relevant, Timely Coaching and Training

In addition to seizing opportunities for on-the-spot recognition, Stella Connect feedback is also used to drive in-the-moment micro-coaching with individual agents. Team leaders review the stream throughout the day and will deliver 1:1 coaching against individual pieces of feedback as they come in. Swanson’s contact center leaders also assemble daily digests featuring the day’s best and worst interactions and these are shared with team leaders to help drive more effective 1:1 meetings.

This ongoing pulse of agent recognition and more customized approach to training has resulted in agent attrition rates falling by 25% year-over-year since Stella Connect was launched:

“We live and die by the Stella Connect feedback stream. It gives us unmatched visibility into our agents’ performance and helps us deliver more effective 1:1 coaching. Agents love receiving the recognition and more tailored coaching and this has translated into higher levels of engagement, improved service delivery and a 25% improvement in attrition rates.”

–Greg German, Customer Service Center Manager, Swanson Health Products

Building a More Customer-Centric Company

As well as driving agent performance, certain pieces of customer feedback that come through Stella Connect have implications for other teams across the retailer’s business, whether it’s the marketing team, the web team or the fulfillment team. As issues bubble to the surface through the constant pulse of real-time feedback, the information is passed directly to the appropriate teams so they can reduce the customer burden and solve problems they might otherwise miss. Company-wide sharing of customer data not only ensures the entire company is aligned and attuned to the customers it serves, but also enhances the value of the customer service organization.

“The high response rates achieved through Stella Connect help highlight issues in our customer experience in real-time. Whether it’s an issue with our website, or confusion around an offer or promotion, we hear it in real-time and can share it immediately with the relevant internal team. Stella Connect has made the service team the eyes and ears of the company and we’re delivering a better customer experience because of it.”

–Greg German, Customer Service Center Manager, Swanson Health Products

The post How Swanson Health Products Used Stella Connect to Reduce Agent Attrition by 25% in a Single Year appeared first on StellaService.

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Scaling a customer service team isn’t easy, let alone for fast-growing startups. For brands such as Birchbox and Warby Parker, which were born to compete on the basis of service, the challenge is even greater. These companies must ensure they have the right resources in place to consistently meet the sky-high expectations they’ve set while serving a rapidly expanding customer base.

Are you in the same situation?

If so, this post was written for you. To help you move forward in a less haphazard, more confident way, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things you need to keep in mind as you build out your contact center.

Top 10 Things to Consider When Scaling Your Customer Service Team

As you read through the following questions, remember: there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can decide your priorities and weight them accordingly. As long as you factor in your branding and business goals, the products you offer, and the types of customers you serve, you’ll come up with the right formula for growth.

EBTH’s customer service agent at work 1. Will you use in-house agents and/or outsourced teams?

Keeping your service teams in-house will require significant, ongoing investment in hiring, customer service coaching and training, and infrastructure—both physical office space and technology stack (see question 5). But you maintain complete control, which means you can hire people who are the right fit for your brand culture and monitor them closely.

“[W]e don’t treat customer service as a cost center . . . and we don’t outsource customer service to save money. We apply the same rigorous hiring standards in that department as in any other function. We strongly believe that our service centers are a critical part of the customer experience and that if something goes wrong and we’re able to fix it, we’ll have that customer for life. And our data confirms that.”

Priceline CEO Darren Huston

Outsourcing, however, offers big savings and few administrative burdens. You won’t need to worry about HR responsibilities, employee pay and benefits, infrastructure, and all the rest. Nor do you have to worry about seasonal hiring to handle high volumes (see question 4). But relinquishing control means you can’t ensure agents will reflect (let alone embrace) your brand personality and values. If there is a disconnect, customers will feel it, resulting in a loss of brand equity.

That said, if you’re looking to outsource as a way to save costs at this early stage, it is possible to align outsourced teams with the brand and empower and motivate them to represent it well. Call center outsourcing provider TaskUs, for example, encourages clients to treat outsourced reps as part of the team—the benefits of which companies like Brooklinen have seen firsthand.

“Many companies fly their executives to TaskUs’ offices in the Philippines to get to know the people interacting with their users and to train them directly. After hiring TaskUs this year, Century City storytelling app Flipagram sent company shirts and signage to its 10 TaskUs reps, who used the swag to decorate their workspaces.”

Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times

Calculating how many agents you need as you scale your customer service team 2. How many agents will you need?

This is one of the biggest questions startup brands grapple with. If your team size is off by even a few agents, you’ll either waste precious resources or degrade service quality. We wrote recently about the Erlang C formula, which you can use to calculate the ideal number of agents—provided you have the right inputs.

When it comes to controlling operating costs as you scale your customer service team, we can’t overstate the importance of minimizing agent attrition. Erlang C can help you save money, but those savings are easily overwhelmed by the costs of continually hiring and onboarding new agents.

Everything But The House’s customer service team 3. What will your agent-to-manager ratio be?

We’ve seen agent-to-manager ratios run the gamut, from 1:5 to 1:20. Your ideal ratio will depend on how much your managers are tasked with on a daily basis.

If your management team is responsible for QA reviews, handling escalated calls, service recovery, coaching, and training, putting each manager in charge of 20 agents isn’t realistic. Managers won’t be able to give agents the personalized 1:1 attention they need, and morale and service quality will suffer as a result. To prevent this downward spiral, make sure adequate agent support—your managers’ primary responsibility—is the starting point for your calculations.

Calculating how you scale your service team for peak seasons 4. How will you hire for peak volume seasons?

Hiring for your brand’s peak seasons (holidays, back to school, etc.) may involve seasonal brand hires or temporary outsourcing. Regardless, timing is everything. If you’re preparing for the Christmas shopping season, for example, starting the hiring process in mid-September won’t leave you enough runway to get your fledgling agents off the ground.

Faster response times aside, hiring an army of new agents at the last minute will backfire on your brand. Without proper training and onboarding, your new hires won’t be effective at resolving customer issues. Managers will spend too much time hand holding and not enough time supporting the entire team. To survive this high-stress period with customer loyalty intact, be sure to start the hiring process early and prepare agents to take calls well in advance of surging volumes.

5. What kinds of technologies will you adopt?

Agent empowerment, operational efficiency, and an effortless customer experience all depend on the customer service stack you have in place. High-functioning contact centers rely on technology to manage call queues, route calls effectively, and manage live chat and email.

To strengthen customer loyalty as you scale, you’ll also need a CRM or ticketing system, which will give your team crucial context for every contact. The first time a customer calls, the agent who responds can see the reason for the call, log that information against the customer inquiry, note how the issue was resolved, and close the ticket. Each time that customer calls back, agents can pull up a detailed brand history and tailor the service experience accordingly.

6. How will your QA process work?

This will depend on the type of business you’re in. If you’re in a heavily regulated industry like financial services, you’ll probably need a dedicated QA team to ensure your agents are in compliance—asking customers the right questions, providing the right disclaimers, etc.

If compliance isn’t a concern, a dedicated QA team might be overkill. Having QA leaders compile score cards and pass them along to managers, who use them as a basis for coaching, simply adds an unnecessary step. Better to put QA in the hands of team leaders.

Want to get a handle on QA best practices? Check out our recent eBookDoing Contact Center QA the Right Way: How Leading Brands Use VoC Data to Drive Contact Center Performance and ROI.”

7. How will you manage call center coaching and training?

Many contact centers still treat coaching and training as interchangeable, deliver them in an imbalanced way, and/or get the frequency wrong. As a result, these programs have limited value.

While training is designed to impart brand knowledge to the entire team—products, policies, procedures, etc.—coaching is (or should be) a 1:1 encounter with a focus on individual performance.

  • Micro-coaching, which happens spontaneously and in real time following specific interactions, should happen daily to help agents improve on the spot.
  • Formal coaching should happen once or twice a month, depending on the amount of down time your agents can manage.
  • Tactical coaching helps agents get up to speed fast on new promotions or products.
  • Training shouldn’t stop with initial onboarding but occur periodically to refresh knowledge or address trending performance problems.

The data you use to inform coaching and training makes a big difference. Customer feedback collected on the front line in real time not only makes coaching and training more timely, relevant, and meaningful for agents, but also motivates them to improve on their own—thus taking some of the burden off of team leaders.

Download our Guide to Running a Successful Coaching & Training Program

ezCater agents at work 8. How will you instill passion for the job?

If an agent isn’t a good cultural fit for your brand or isn’t cut out for a customer service role, there’s little you can do to change that. As you grow your team, make sure you’re hiring people who meet these criteria and share key characteristics with your top performers.

If your team is outsourced, it’s important to emphasize your company’s story, values, and customer service ideal in the initial training period and keep an open communication channel (e.g., Slack) that allows agents to feel connected and grow with your brand.

Firsthand product knowledge is essential as well. Having a showroom within your contact center, where agents can touch, feel, and try on merchandise, will build their enthusiasm for the brand and help them educate customers more effectively (thus closing more sales).

Stella Connect Leaderboards are used to motivate service teams 9. How will you keep agents engaged?

You can’t achieve excellence, and keep attrition under control, without building a call center culture that inspires. But it’s a tough thing to do when you’re scaling your team from dozens of agents to hundreds in a short time.

Empowerment, recognition, and friendly competition are the big three drivers of agent engagement. Agents should be empowered to make decisions on their own on customers’ behalf, and they should be recognized for great performance—personally via micro-coaching, during training sessions, and/or with meaningful rewards (material or otherwise). Encouraging friendly competition through the use of leaderboards will reduce agents’ feelings of isolation, give them a sense of shared purpose, and motivate them to raise their performance scores.

The performance bell-curve for agents 10. How will you manage performance?

To understand how well your coaching, training, and QA programs are working—along with identifying your top and bottom performers and any program adjustments that need to be made—you must measure performance on an ongoing basis.

Leading brands rely on contact center performance management software to gather these insights, and they use the data to continually drive improvement. Traditional performance management tools tend to be cost prohibitive for startup companies; a nimbler solution that’s proven successful may be the better way to go.

To Scale Successfully, You Must Build the Right Foundation

If you carefully weigh each of these questions and make sure you have all the right pieces in place, you can continue scaling your team without compromising service quality or exploding your budget. In time, as your contact center culture and processes mature, your loyal customer base—and resulting revenue growth—will allow you to compete on a whole new level.

The post How to Scale Your Customer Service Team: A Brief Guide for Startups appeared first on StellaService.

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Employee engagement is one of the biggest drivers of customer service quality and employee retention. Most customer service leaders know it’s important (critical, even) to recognize and reward service excellence. But many of them don’t have a formal call center rewards program in place. They figure it’s out of their reach.

We hear this in our own conversations with customer service leaders. Some of them tell us, “I don’t have a budget for a rewards program” or “I’m not measuring performance systematically, so there’s no good basis for it.”

If you’ve nixed the idea of a rewards program for similar reasons, here’s the truth: there is nothing preventing you from recognizing your top performers. Your options are limited only by your imagination. Some of the best, most effective rewards require no investment at all. And there’s no “right” way to distribute rewards; you just need to determine which approach is the best fit for your operation and will deliver the most value.

Designing a Call Center Rewards Program: 3 Questions You’ll Need to Address

If you’re ready to get serious about motivating your top talent (and your top talent in the making), here’s what you’ll need to consider.

1. How Should You Structure Your Program?

There are two ways you could go about this: rewarding agents on an individual basis or highlighting team successes. You could combine these approaches, but by and large, you’ll need to choose one or the other.

Both program types have big upsides. If you reward individual agents, they’ll appreciate it more, and it will help with their career progression. If you focus on teams, you’ll encourage friendly competition and create a more cohesive contact center culture. Deciding which way to go is a matter of priorities, which may change over time.

2. Who Will Receive Rewards?

For many companies, this is the biggest sticking point: not knowing how to establish criteria for recognition and rewards. There are three basic methods for determining who gets what, and when:

Agents with the highest QA scores

If agents receive QA scores on a weekly or monthly basis, you could simply pick the person with the highest QA score for a given period. The downside to this method is the impersonal nature of it. QA scores are often based on metrics such as “Was the agent polite?” and “Did the agent offer to complete the transaction?” Quality measures like these can’t capture an individual agent’s uniquely valuable approach to service delivery.

Team leaders’ subjective picks

Managers might listen to a random sampling of calls, choose the interactions they judge to be the best, and reward agents accordingly. For the agents involved, this is more personal and meaningful than receiving a reward based on a QA score. But there are two downsides to this method: the subjective nature of picking winners (leading to perceptions of bias or favoritism), and the unrepresentative nature of randomly pulled calls. If top performers go unrecognized while other agents bask in glory, morale could take a big hit.

Agents with highest customer ratings

The third method is to use customer feedback, collected in real time on the front line, to guide your rewards program. Not only is the data personalized and plentiful (40% or more of customers respond to survey requests), but there’s never any question as to who should receive rewards. The combined benefits of a feedback-based rewards program make it a particularly effective way to drive employee engagement and performance.

3. What Types of Rewards Will You Give?

This will depend on both your budgetary constraints and the culture you want to build in your contact center. If budget isn’t an issue, physical rewards are excellent—a cup of coffee, a free lunch—as are points that accrue and can later be spent on larger rewards such as a five-star dinner for two, a weekend getaway, free airline flights, etc.

You could also offer your own brand’s products (as Brooklinen, Lane Bryant, and others do), which is a more cost-effective approach. It offers another important benefit as well: firsthand product knowledge that strengthens agents’ brand pride and results in a better service experience for the customer. It’s important, however, to consider the business you’re in. Are your products truly aspirational? If they don’t line up with your agents’ interests and lifestyles, they won’t light a fire under your team.

Job perks make great rewards, too. Give an agent the CEO’s parking spot for a day, a two-hour lunch break, an extra day of vacation, a late start on Monday, or an early dismissal on Friday. These types of rewards don’t cost much, if anything, but they have tremendous value for employees.

Your fourth option—the least expensive, and sometimes the most meaningful of all—is to give recognition-based rewards. They could take any number of forms: a high five, a callout in a team meeting, or ringing a gong in the call center and leading a round of applause.

Stella Connect’s Rewards Feature

You could also enlist senior executives, who aren’t in agents’ everyday orbit, to recognize great performance. The CEO might visit the call center personally, or call or email, to thank an agent for a job well done. This not only leaves a profound and lasting impact on the agent, but also elevates the profile of the service team and reminds them they’re making a meaningful contribution.

In a Gallup survey, 28% of employees indicated the most memorable recognition they received came from their manager; 24% of employees cited recognition from the CEO.

When asked which types of recognition were most memorable, respondents ranked physical or monetary rewards near the bottom of the list (5th out of six).

No matter which way you’re leaning, think creatively. Be daring. Even with limited resources, you can establish a powerful rewards program that energizes your customer service team and keeps them focused on larger brand goals.

The Best Call Center Rewards Programs Are Part of a Larger Effort

A rewards program can be a powerful motivator on the contact center floor. It also helps create a positive work environment. But it isn’t a cure-all for low morale and lagging performance.

If you’re serious about transforming your contact center culture, boosting call center employee engagement and improving service quality, you should combine your rewards program with other initiatives—including customer-driven micro-coaching, customer service training, and QA reviews—to help your agents succeed in their jobs, grow with the company, and distinguish your brand in the marketplace.

The post How to Design a Call Center Rewards Program appeared first on StellaService.

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Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSI) and StellaService have a long and successful partnership. WSI was one of the early customers of Stella Metrics, and continues to use the product to measure and improve performance across its customer service and fulfillment operations.

Building on the strength of the existing partnership, WSI became one of the first Stella Connect customers after the product launched in 2016. Craig Barnes, WSI’s SVP of Customer Care saw the potential the product could deliver for optimizing front-line team performance:

“While Stella Metrics was proven at driving operational improvements, we were looking for a complementary product like Stella Connect that could help us measure and improve the performance of our front-line team at scale.”

–Craig Barnes, SVP of Customer Care, Williams-Sonoma

Proving the Business Case

Before signing up with Stella Connect, Craig needed to develop a business case internally. Initial tests of the product delivered over 35% response rates, and with this volume of agent-level performance data, Craig saw an immediate opportunity to deliver cost savings across WSI’s QA function:

“As soon as we started testing Stella Connect we realized we could generate more representative visibility into team performance than our traditional QA program. The business case practically wrote itself—we could reassign our existing QA resources onto service recovery, which would deliver significant cost savings, while also improving our overall customer experience.”

Driving Service Performance

Alongside service recovery, the retailer’s key objective from Stella Connect is to leverage the agent-level customer feedback to motivate contact center staff, drive more customized training, and in turn improve service performance. The company also uses Stella Connect to measure Net Promoter Scores (NPS), a key internal metric for tracking customer satisfaction and advocacy.

Following an initial pilot, the company implemented the full rollout of Stella Connect across its contact center team. As part of this rollout, contact center managers were trained on how to leverage the real-time feedback to optimize agent performance.

Following the rollout, managers were able to instantly spotlight issues impacting customer experience and then implement in-the-moment micro-coaching to improve service performance. Leveraging agent-level feedback in this way delivered instant results. Average star ratings improved as agents worked with managers to address any areas of weakness. Importantly, this improvement in average star ratings was mirrored by an improvement in Net Promoter Scores.

Since the full rollout, the company has seen NPS improvements of more than 50%.

“The real-time agent-level feedback empowers our managers like never before and drives self-correcting behavior across our front-line team. The results: a more engaged and higher performing team, which translates into more satisfied and loyal customers.”

A more motivated and higher performing front-line team delivers benefits to WSI beyond improved customer satisfaction. Since launching Stella Connect, WSI has seen attrition in its contact center fall, and the overall volume of customer inquiries decrease as a result of more effective service delivery. These factors combined have delivered additional cost savings and ROI from WSI’s Stella Connect investment.

“Staff attrition is a challenge facing every contact center team. With Stella Connect, we can deliver more personalized training and development across our front-line. This makes team members feel even more valued and confident in their job and this positive impact can be seen through lower attrition. It’s a win-win for team members and customers alike.”

Powering Service Recovery

Following the launch of Stella Connect, WSI’s QA staff were reassigned to manage training and service recovery. This service recovery program is powered through Stella Connect using the following workflow:

  1. Any negative feedback received by a front-line team member is instantly flagged to WSI’s service recovery team
  2. The service recovery team analyzes the interaction to see if it warrants direct customer follow-up
  3. After service recovery contacts, follow-up Stella Connect requests are sent; these requests enable WSI to measure the impact of the service recovery program on customer sentiment

Since its launch this service recovery program has delivered a significant uptick in overall satisfaction with average star ratings following service recovery interactions 4× higher than customers’ initial ratings.

“Negative feedback can happen for a number of reasons; our primary focus is to make things right with the customer as quickly as possible. Stella Connect has given us the visibility we need to power a highly effective service recovery process. Triggering an additional feedback request enables us to directly measure the impact of this program, and the results to date have been really encouraging.”

What’s next?

Based on the success of the Stella Connect partnership to date, WSI is now also leveraging the product to measure the quality of in-home delivery services. WSI and Stella Connect are also exploring ways in which the product can be leveraged in the retailer’s brick and mortar locations.

“Stella Connect has driven positive and measurable changes in behavior across our contact center team. Our focus now is working with the Stella team to replicate this success across our other customer touchpoints.”

Find how Stella Connect can transform your front-line team performance and deliver positive ROI.

The post How Williams-Sonoma Leverages Stella Connect to Optimize Coaching and QA and Drive Cost Savings Across its Contact Center appeared first on StellaService.

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Jet launched in 2015 with a mission to make online shopping more transparent and efficient. In addition to offering the broadest suite of products at the most competitive prices, Jet is also laser focused on delivering best-in-class customer service.

As part of its commitment to customer service, Jet signed up for Stella Connect to support its public launch. The company’s primary objectives with the platform were to:

Optimize Service Performance

Collect real-time, agent-level performance metrics and use them to drive more effective coaching and QA programs.

Motivate Front-Line Staffers

Use customer feedback and customer-directed rewards to motivate and engage the front-line team.

Drive Brand Awareness

Use Stella Connect’s social features to drive social mentions that help to increase brand awareness and customer acquisition.


Jet has steadily increased the number of agents using Stella Connect. Today, the company has several hundred customer service agents leveraging the platform, and together they collect thousands of comments and responses from customers every week.

“Stella Connect is an amazing asset for our team and has totally changed the way we think about performance management across our contact center. Our brand is built for the customer, and Stella Connect is helping us take our service to the next level with a win-win for both our team and our customers.”

—Marc Lore, Founder of Jet.com and CEO of Walmart.com

Response rates to Stella Connect feedback requests for Jet are consistently over 40%. This high volume of real-time, agent-level feedback is used to power highly effective micro-coaching programs.

Average star rating is 4.6 out of 5.0. This positive feedback creates a virtuous cycle by continually motivating agents to deliver the best possible service experience during every interaction.

Tens of thousands of Jet customers who have responded to Stella Connect requests went on to share their positive service experience via social media, driving a valuable stream of earned media impressions.

The post Jet.com Takes Off With Stella Connect appeared first on StellaService.

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