Making Meaningful Connections

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Live to Learn: Share to Grow

So who thinks Scan.me has a future? Check this out and please comment.

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McDonalds Hypocrisy on the Customer Experience: I’m NOT Loving it

Ok I admit it, I like a McDonalds every now and then; it’s not a crime.

What I am less keen on is the fact that they have sub contracted their parking services to a Draconian bunch of jobsworths.

So when I received a fine for over staying my welcome I sent the following letter and cc’d it to Steve Easterbrook’s office (President, McDonald’s Europe) and Jill McDonald’s office (CEO  McDonald’s UK & President Northern Division), thinking that they surely would understand the legitimate plea of a regular customer……..NOTHING, not a dickie bird, or a tweet for that matter.

So I’m asking you to help, if you agree that common sense should rule and that the customer experience should be at the centre of the relationship between a brand and their customers then please share this with your network.

Letter in response to fine:

Ref: MP8245XXXX

Date: 09/09/2011

To Whom it May Concern,

With regard to your Notice dated 01/09/2011 I would like to set out my reasons for challenging the charge.  Having visited the site since the notice was received I concur that the signage is, in retrospect, clear and obvious, so I have no issue with this, although as a point of fact I would encourage you to note that I was not aware of this prior to the offence.

At 08:30 on the 11th July 2011 I was due to meet my client in Osterly, as I live near Huntingdon in Cambs it is a nightmare trying to negotiate the M25 in order to arrive at 08:30, so I tend to set off early to beat the traffic. As a loyal and repeated McDonalds customer I have frequently parked in the car park and had my McBreakfast whilst dozing, emailing or taking calls as I did on the 11th. Granted I normally only spend 20-40 mins in the car park so staying for 119 mins was an anomaly.

I appreciate that there may be people who abuse the free car parking whilst they wait for flights etc, and I can see why you would want to encourage them not to take advantage of this service, however as a loyal McDonalds customer I feel that it is unreasonable and counter-productive to fine me for using the restaurant.

Far be it from me to threaten to withdraw my custom, not sure I’d have the will power in any case, but I do want to make clear that this fine goes against the ethos and customer service that I have come to expect from McDonalds. In fact, as an aside, I had a not dissimilar experience with Tesco, however rather than fining me they wrote a polite letter informing me that if I stayed for over 2 hours, without making appropriate provision, in the future then they would fine me. Surely a much better experience all round.

I hope that having read this and understood the situation, common sense prevails and you are willing and able to rescind this notice.

Kind Regards,

Edwin Stonestreet

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How to be heard in a noisy (digital) room

We have evolved into the digital environment, but with so much noise, how can we make sure that our target audience hears what we have to say?

It started like this:

MD says ‘Look Jeff we need one of them there website thingies, make it happen’

So dutiful Jeff goes off and employs the best creatives and design agencies to deliver the mother of all singing and dancing websites. It is delivered on time, over budget, but golly it looks great.

Some time later:

MD says: ‘Well Jeff how much money are we making from that web site we invested the staff pensions in?’

Poor Jeff has to run around to various departments, create spreadsheets, invent metrics that didn’t exist before and hash up a presentation. Great…..but…

After the presentation:

MD says: ‘So Jeff if we currently have 200 visitors a week and that delivers us £2,800 of additional revenue what would happen if we had 20,000 visitors a week? Make it happen’

Jeff duly toddles off and invests thousands in adwords, analytics and ‘SEO’ to improve the Google listings, he hires a company who specialise in this and hey presto would you believe it the company pop up near the top against their key words.

So far so very normal, however the world continues to turn and other companies also want that top slot and they are finding other channels of communicating with their audiences. More money is poured into SEO to retain the ranking, but what to do about all the back channels and the emerging ‘Social Media’ opportunites?

MD Says: ‘ Look Jeff, I don’t really have a clue about this but my God Son seems to think we should be on Twitpad or somesuch; make it happen’

Poor Jeff trawls around and sets up Facebook, Twitter and ropes three departmental heads into writing blogs, he assigns people to keep these tools up to date and employs a digital consultant to work out how to extract value from them.

Not long afterwards:

MD Says: ‘I say Jeff you seem to be using an awful lot of resources to do this, shouldn’t marketing handle this? Oh and by the way what is our return on investment on these things?’

At which point Jeff smartly steps aside and hands the problem on to his marketing colleagues.

Now that marketing have the project, no expense is spared and teams of people are set to man the Twitter feed, report on trends, analyse the competition, drive more people through the website, put their holiday photos on Facebook, run competitions on Four Square and write entertaining blogs.

Wow! But wait did anyone every stop to think about the audience? What we see above is a company finding a way to shout above the general noise that afflicts us all. Consider this; when you turn up at a party, full of people you don’t really know, do you find that jumping up on the table and braying about who you are, what you do, why you’re so great, is the best way of building friendships? Having tried it a couple of times I would suggest not. In real life the best way of building those relationships, those friendships, is to find the people who have a common interest and to build a rapport, why oh why should the digital world be any different?

The tools that the company above used can be deployed as sledge hammer or scalpel and over time, as the amount of noise increases, the companies who refine their strategy to deliver a tailored, precise message to an audience they understand, will be the companies who win.

Whispher softly in my ear and I will follow you anywhere.

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Staff Retention and Productivity; ‘The Power of One’

Synopsis

Call centres are returning to the UK and are one of the key elements to growth in the economy. Finding and retaining good staff is the difference between success and failure and yet the industry has the worst attrition rates in the UK.

How can call centre operators improve their staff retention and increase productivity? This is the question that we set out to answer in this article.

What the big boys say

From the horses mouth

For further details about the author please refer to the note at the end of the article

Call Centre Staff Retention & Productivity

In today’s painful economic situation the need to retain top-performing staff has never been more important. Shockingly the Call Centre / Contact Centre industry has one of the highest attrition rates in the UK with 50.9% staff turnover compared with a UK average of 16.1% (Source: CIPD).

The industry continues to grow, with many companies pulling their call centres back from offshore to the UK. Therefore, the staff retention problem continues to grow.

There is no silver bullet that will allow you to retain your best call centre staff or increase the productivity of your lower-percentile performers; but there are some simple steps that you can take which will lead to dramatic overall improvements.

The Power Of One

One powerful methodology is the ‘Power of One’ which looks at your top 6 KPIs and focuses on delivering a 1% improvement in each of them. Consider, for example, an organisation that succeeds in:

  • Increasing staff productivity by 1%
  • Increasing sales conversions by 1%
  • Increasing customer satisfaction by 1%
  • Reducing staff attrition by 1%
  • Increasing cross-sales by 1%
  • Increasing transactions per hour by 1%

The compound effect of these seemingly minor changes will be significant, in fact the cumulative effect can be as high as 52%. A single Carphone Warehouse business unit, for example, experienced a £9.5m increase in contribution to profit thanks to its adoption of a ‘Power of One’ performance improvement strategy.

The Power Of One for the Call Centre industry

An engaging training strategy will achieve dramatic results in all six of the above KPIs as applied to a call centre business:

Increasing staff productivity

Three factors directly contribute to the productivity of call centre agents:

  • Technology. Is the technology allowing staff to deliver at their potential?
  • Soft skills. Do the agents have the soft skills to maximise every opportunity?
  • Motivation. Are the agents motivated to succeed?

Increasing sales conversions

Increasing sales conversions is more an art than a science; however two key elements can support an improvement in this area:

  • Role modelling of successful staff.
  • Improved training to build sales skills.

Increasing customer satisfaction

The current levels of customer satisfaction (statistics blended across inbound and outbound call centres) show that the benchmark is set fairly low in this area, at 68% according to the Global Contact Centre Report. This suggests there is ample room for a successful call centre operation to look to differentiate here. But how?

  • Measure, monitor and manage the levels of customer satisfaction.
  • Tailor training around the problems that you uncover.

Reducing staff attrition

This is one of the easiest areas to measure within the business and one of the most harmful if not managed correctly. As we mentioned earlier, the rate of attrition in call centres in the UK runs at over 50% and, using the Talent Drain retention calculator (www.talentdrain.com/Calculator/StaffTurnoverCostCalculator.asp), the annual cost to a business of 100 employees would be over £214,000 and for a large business of 1,000 employees would be just over £3.8m. Realistically, a 1% improvement here is eminently feasible and the implementation of a basic 4 stage plan should deliver significantly more:

  • Recruit. “It is difficult for employers to retain good employees if they do not have a strategy to hire the right people in the first place”
  • Induct. “If we can get staff up to speed quicker, there is a net benefit to the whole organisation”
  • Train/Motivate/Engage. “A program which involves the agent and allows them to participate online and offline reaps huge benefits”
  • Reward. “Salaries, commissions and career opportunities are the decisive factors for both front-line and management staff”

Increasing cross selling

In order to ensure that all staff are taking every opportunity to cross-sell your products and services, you need to ensure that everyone from the CEO to the postroom clerk has a clear understanding of each product and how to position it. This does not happen by accident.

  • Training, training, training. Only training which takes every CSA out of the comfort zone of their individual operations and uses an engaging experience to immerse them in the company’s sales culture will lead to enthusiastic ambassadors for sales.

Increasing transactions

Allowing your staff to process transactions more swiftly without having a negative impact on the customer experience will drive an improvement to the sales line. Two areas must align to enable the agents to achieve this:

  • Technology. The systems and processes need to be in place to streamline the ordering process.
  • Agent Skills. Agents need to be able to shepherd the caller through the transactional process without being pushy or losing empathy.

Resolving the training challenge

The high rate of employee attrition in the contact centre business means that it is one of the industries in which formal provision of training is most deeply embedded. Yet most call centre operators are failing to use training effectively beyond the induction process to drive ‘Power of One’ style performance improvements. This is as much the fault of training providers – here we are going to look specifically at how training can have a measurable impact on outcomes and why it so often fails.

Skills training, in many sectors, has become far too cosy an industry with a few known players trotting out the same courses and tools that they have been delivering for the past 3 years or more. A training “comfort zone” leads to:

  • Box-ticking: when training is driven by policy rather than outcome, it becomes a box-ticking exercise – so long as staff have worked through a process, the job is deemed to be done.
  • CPD on autopilot: many professional disciplines require ongoing development training as a non-negotiable to maintain qualification and the right to practice. That’s all very well, but because these training courses are mandatory, there is no incentive to make them genuinely engaging.
  • Training at the top, nothing for the masses: perhaps most destructive of all is the fact that most training is only engaging for a thin layer of top and line management – people whose energies are already invested in a company and its objectives. There is a signal failure to produce engaging, entertaining and nurturing training materials which change behaviours where it matters most: the engine room of a call centre, its ground-level workforce.

If training is to justify its budgets and translate not only into measurable outcomes, but also outcomes which visibly affect productivity and operational efficiency, HR managers have every right to demand more from their training providers. Here’s a checklist. Demand that your training offering is:

  • Engaging: we can’t do much better than Lord Reith’s original specification of the BBC way back in the 1920s, when he wisely pronounced that the Corporation should “educate, inform and entertain”. Today, that means training which is media-rich, using video, audio, quizzes, demos and walk-throughs. If staff enjoy the learning experience, they’ll absorb the knowledge.
  • Respectfully professional: employees don’t need to feel like they are back in school. It’s entirely possible to remain credible without being stodgy.
  • Accessible and relevant to all: training platforms should allow a degree of customisation, personalisation and granularity so that everyone from the postroom clerk up to the CEO receives a learning journey which precisely meets their needs and aspirations.
  • Instinctive: the days of multiple logins and clunky interfaces to online training platforms must be gone. Online learning should be natural and intuitive, even for those with low computer literacy.
  • Ongoing and durable: one-off training yields results for a matter of weeks at best. Effective training systems engage employees in an ongoing pursuit of excellence – which translates into their daily operations.
  • Measurable: the outputs from training need to be agreed before it is commissioned; they should link directly to your KPIs, and they should form the basis of a bespoke development. Off-the-shelf training will only ever yield off-the-shelf results!

In Summary

‘Employee engagement’ has become an HR ‘buzzword’ but it is more than this – it should be rooted in a central set of values and purpose that drives the organisation. Andy Bond, Chairman of Asda, agrees, “Employee engagement has a very hard commercial edge to it. The simple rule is, if you’ve got people engaged in your company, they’ll serve people well and be more productive. Communication is hugely important in achieving this. Asda is a company with 170,000 people, and everyone needs to understand where we’re going and their role in it… and you can only engage people by great communication. Engagement is up there as one of the biggest priorities for a successful business.”

If you can provide training that engages your staff at every level and delivers not only information and skills but also inculcates each employee with your brand, vision and values then this can have a measurable effect across all of the KPIs discussed above. If all parties – from front-line agents on the phones to board-level directors – align and sign up to delivering against these formal KPIs, even a shift of just 1% greatly improves profitability.

Yoodoo provides a Platform that supports companies in each of these areas, augmenting and in some instances replacing instructor-led training and providing valuable metrics for measuring participation, accreditation and employee satisfaction. To learn more about Yoodoo go to www.yoodoomedia.com or contact us on 020 3130 1645.

About the author: Yoodoo is a company which provides a means of engaging broad and diverse audiences, whether they be staff, customers, partners or the citizenship at large. We are content agnostic, our primary focus is on ensuring that the message is delivered and absorbed.

Yoodoo was set up to solve a major problem; how to change behaviours in large, diverse and less engaged audiences.

We find that on average only 20% of any given audience will make an effort to find and understand key information; the other 80% tend to be passive or indifferent unless engaged in a way that makes it relevant and interesting to them.

There are 5 ways that Yoodoo makes a message engaging:-

  • Make it relevant. Each users experience will be defined by their profile so they only get content relevant to their situation
  • Make appropriate use of multimedia formats (video, animation etc)
  • Make it intuitive and easy to use
  • Make it interactive
  • ‘Skim & Dive’ approach allowing users to find further information where their interest is sparked

This means that the audiences engage with the content and absorb the information; ‘knowledge by stealth’.

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The Cloud has the answer

A picture speaks a thousand words:

The Cloud

Improving information flow and participation

Yoodoo provides a superb platform for delivering information through an engaging user experience and reporting on audience participation.

http://www.yoodoomedia.com or call 020 3130 1645 to find out more

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Just another acronym should you Pass on PaaS?

We’ve had SaaS, we’ve had IaaS, we’ve got SoHo, we’ve got 3rd generation outsourcing, we’ve even got Web 4.0. What do you need to do to justify the birth of a new acronym or ‘buzz’ word?

If it serves a purpose and allows for a common understanding in linguistic currency then I would suggest that not only is it appropriate to coin a new phrase, but it will have some reasonable chance of utilisation and longevity. However if it is coined to paper over the cracks in an existing concept or to add to your own arcane in house ‘we know something you don’t’ mentality then not only won’t it be of benefit it will never catch on.

From my point of view I was struggling to see the benefit of PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) as compared to other ‘as-a-service’ offerings. That was until I realised that in fact the core product of Yoodoo Media is in fact best classified as a Platform delivered as a service to clients.

We had been quite narrow in our focus when we first launched, Yoodoo provided on line knowledge delivery. This meant that we thought our target audience was people driving knowledge transfer, you know the sort; eLearning, marketing types who have a broad and diverse audience and need to provide key knowledge tailored to the end user….perfect. And indeed this message was incredibly well received and taken up. However we have had people coming to us asking if they could use the platform to do other things, run bid management, support change management in businesses, provide customer surveys etc. And you know what….we can! Yoodoo don’t care what the content is, all we provide is a content creation process, which we can do more cheaply and effectively then anything comparable and a user experience which is a cut above anything currently available.

So we move from being a knowledge delivery tool to being an open platform that can be used by our clients for providing interactive, tailored information to their target audience.

The reason Yoodoo came into existence was to address the ubiquetous issue of how to engage, motivate and enable people who would otherwise not have an incentive to participate. To achieve this, Yoodoo operates on 3 main principles:

–      Engage and entertain the user

–      Create interest, build confidence and inspire

–      Provide only relevant content and experiences

The fact, as underscored by independent research from Deloitte & Touche*, is that current communications techniques are not effective. The main reason for this is that only the motivated minority within any group will naturally engage with a programme and learn. How can the rest – the latent, unmotivated majority – be reached and engaged to facilitate key knowledge transfer?

The fact that Yoodoo can do this effectively in the eLearning and marketing space means that as the issue exists across the board, there is a huge opportunity to use the same platform for other purposes.

Next time we’ll be looking at how to measure and drive a return on any investment. Until then I look forward to your feedback!

For further information have a look at http://www.yoodoomedia.com or email enquiries@yoodoomedia.com

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