Filed under: Leadership, Management, Relational Leadership, Social Media, Uncategorized
New Orleans in mid-June redefines the word humidity. I am from Memphis and we thought we invented the word, but a week in NO let me know we are B-league at best. So, it was hot… but so was the sharing and learning at ICMI’s ACCE Conference. Traditionally one of the best call center conferences, there was a buzz this year in the sessions and on the trade-show floor. I heard that attendance was up (perhaps a leading indicator for the economy) and the hot topic was social media.
Having been in the industry for more than 29 years, there have been years when everything seemed to be status quo. I remember being excited about quality systems in the early ‘90s. The technology went on to revolutionize the call center industry and I believe has been a key element in the consistency in centers. The IVR had a huge impact on centers in the mid-90’s. IVRs are now a part of every-day life (although they can be a HUGE point of frustration for those companies that don’t do it very well).
In the late 90’s CRM was “all the buzz.” It was everywhere. I even remember seeing a headset company that advertised their headsets were “CRM approved.” If you were a vendor in the 90′s you had to find a way to be a part of the craze! Of course the success has been undeniable. CRM systems are now a part of centers as small at 10 agents and as big as 10,000. Email management, chat and speech analytics were the next hot topics.
Well, this year the buzz was Social Media – and I say that not just because I had the opportunity to speak about it in three different sessions. It was the topic of conversations at breakfast and lunch – and on Bourbon Street when attendees put down their hurricanes to talk shop at night. One guy at lunch said it best, “Jezz, it is all I hear.”
ACCE is always an interesting blend of all levels of call center leaders. I talked with VPs of Customer Service for large corporations and to a lady leading a team of 25 in a small health practice.
It is cool to think about the possibilities of Social Media. There’s no doubt that companies with an online presence are the early-adopters and are leading the way for the rest of us. Actually I think we are all on a huge learning arch. In our session on Monday, I was happy to hear a story of one leader who said their small doctor’s group is “dabbling” in social media. Mike Pace with Constant Contact was a great resource in the session – sharing many success stories from his center. 1-800-Flowers, Dell and Intuit also shared best-practices. It comforting to know that even these companies, who are leading the way, have been doing this for less than two years so we all have time to ride the Social wave behind them.
Salesforce.com knocked it out of the park again at the sponsored lunch event. They may not be the only vendor doing Social CRM but they are definitely leading the way in teaching us how to do it right.
The trade show floor was lively. There were the usual suspects in the area of CRM, Outsourcing and Quality Management. I continue to be intrigued by CallCopy. I have several clients that have their systems and all have been VERY satisfied.
Many may have not noticed it but there was a new vendor in the mix this year with a totally new concept. He is actually an industry veteran. Michael Tamer (a previous Call Center Pioneer winner for his contribution to Quality Management while at Teknekron/etalk) was there representing his company Tamer Partners Corporation. They are offering a new SAS application that provides a way for customers to give feedback directly to the call center agent. The system allows the customer to become a direct “coach” for the agent. It is pretty cool stuff. I might add that I have worked with Mike and his top consultant Scott Thomas for many years – so while my comments may include some bias, they are still relative.
The ICMI team should be congratulated for a great conference. If you choose only one conference in 2011, this is the one to attend.
Finally, here are some great Social Media links that we shared in our session. If you have questions or want to talk more about how Social Media might affect your center, please give me a call or send me an email:
Learning more about Social Media:
http://mashable.com/ – Understand more about Social Media
http://www.socialmediatoday.com/ – great blog
http://mashable.com/2009/01/21/best-twitter-brands/ – 40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=22754 – Directory: 100 technology experts on Twitter
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=916 – Techies: The top 10 people you should follow on Twitter
http://mediasosial.com/socialnetworking/the-ultimate-list-of-people-to-follow-on-twitter/ – The Ultimate List of People To Follow on Twitter
http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ - the guy I read consistently…
http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php – great site for policies.
Thanks to Faith LeGendre for the opportunity to co-present on several sessions. She always makes me look smart!
I am excited to be less two weeks away from speaking at the HDI Annual Conference and Expo in Orlando. My session is scheduled for Friday morning at 10:15am. If you will be there, please let me know – I would love to meet you in person. Send me an email and we can schedule a time to talk! http://www.thinkhdi.com/hdi2010/
As I stood in line for my daily shot of caffeine, a guy walked in the door with a coffee in his hand. He sorta stepped to the front of the line and said, “I just went through the drive-through and this is not what I ordered.” Being a customer service kind of guy, my expectation was that the lady behind the counter would apologize – nothing big or dramatic but a simple “Oh, I’m sorry – how can I make it right?” But the answer did not include one of the most simple tenants of customer interaction; instead she asked him what he ordered? He told her (I cannot remember the details because it was one of those silly multi-word coffee orders that included “extra hot.”) She then said, “what is wrong with it?” He said he was not sure but that he ordered it almost every day and that in addition to not being extra hot, it did not taste right.
Again – she had the opportunity to apologize but failed again – saying, “OK – I will remake it for you. They must have not included the caramel.”
Now, the funny part was that there were only two people working – she, as the coffee barister and the person working the window – which means she was the “they.” With that, the conversation took another turn. Instead of taking responsibility for the mistake, she was blaming others for the problem.
In a workshop recently I had an employee tell me that she did not think she should ever say she was sorry because that was admitting that the company had done something wrong.
Here’s the question of the day – do your employees feel the same way? Is it OK for them to take responsibility for mistakes? Do they have permission to say they are sorry? If I were your customer – and I walked in and said that my coffee (or product/service) was not the right one, would your employee instinctively say, “I’m sorry” and then attempt to solve my problem? I hope so! You should know so!