Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The ideal Customer Care Agent Profile

Have you also heard that the ideal Customer Care candidates profile should read something like this:
"Not too young, woman is preferred as we all think women are better at caring, children are good (as long as they are in school) - basically somebody who is happy to have a 9-5 job (or whatever the hours), who is happy to have a job they can combine with Family life (meaning: forget when they go home) and have no major aspirations to grow in the company".

I lead a multinational Customer Care organisation in Europe where we price ourselves on having native speakers of all the 13 languages we supports. We have people from all over Europe in our team (which makes it a fabulous team to work in).

Naturally most of the people we employ are not native to the country we are in. So getting native speakers can be tricky. It is not at all political correct - but the men and women who leave their native country to pursue happiness and fulfilment (privately and professionally) are not your "ideal" CC profile, these people are generally looking for love either new (thanks to Internet dating we see many people here) or more mature (trailing spouses). They would probably never have applied for a CC job in their native country, and they do not fit the profile at all but we hire them anyway.
And what we have discovered is that although these people generally are overqualified for the job, they thrive here. The teams benefit from the International feel and atmosphere and the ideas for improving our service and procedures are never ending.

The only exception to this is the team supporting the country we are based in. Here we have a team that matches the profile for at least 80% of the people. This provides us with a team with many conflicts (I am a woman so I feel OK saying this - "maybe too many women on one team is not cool"). Needless to say the conflicts are rarely work related and incredible personal (sometimes it is almost like living a soap).

OK, for the over qualified men and women on my team we need to keep them happy with more interesting projects, special responsibilities and such, and once in a while (but rarely) do we loose one of them because they find a job in their own field of specialty. So we have to find those projects and special responsibilities... but I think it is a small - and very interesting price to pay, for conflict free teams full of positive energy.

So I have stopped caring for the Ideal Customer Care Agent Profile.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crazy measurements

If you work in a call center you are most like to have lots of KPIs. Answer rate, max wait time, average call time , average hold time , ring on no answer, I could go on and on… that combined with scripts makes an agents job really limited and frankly not so interesting if you have some brain (which let’s face it most of the customer care agents have).

Whilst a script might be good to lean on if you are new it is very limited in really interacting with your customers. And why is average call time even a measurement anybody sane want to use, is it better to jab through a call in 1.5 minutes and leave a customer unsatisfied and chances are he will call back again or spend that extra 1 min to ensure that customer is happy and understand the next steps? I know what get my vote.

I my ideal world the agents will get enough training for them to feel comfortable to actually talk to the customers and give them good and proper advice/help…..hey let go crazy here and provide some real service!

Let the call take as long as it should….. not a whole lot of things which are worse than if you as a customer feel rushed. I bet you will not only see an improvement in the customer satisfaction but also in the number of issues handled in the first call, and most importantly you will also see a improvement in your employee satisfaction.

I work in Europe; everybody on my team speaks at least two languages fluently but most speaks four or five. Around 85% are not native to the country we work in – but the country we work for. And let’s face it, it is probably the more openminded and indepent ones who move abroad to start a new life long away from friends and family. Most of the team is actually overqualified for the job… and the ones which have the “ideal” profile are the ones who really cause issues, so in my eyes there are no more an ideal profile…… If I ask these super clever people to only tell the customers what is on the script and that they can only spend 1.5 min on the phone, instead of letting them talk to the customer who needs for 5 min and give a service the agent as well as the company can be proud of and the customer can be satisfied with.