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Call Center Operations

5 Tips to Improve Customer Loyalty and Retention

improve customer loyalty

improve customer loyaltyIn today’s ever-competitive business environment, it’s imperative for every business owner to build sound strategies that positively impact customer loyalty and retention.

To do this, special emphasis needs to be placed on great customer service.

Why? For starters, a 2009 survey suggested that the most common reason why customers cancel a service is because of poor customer support.

There’s no surprise there, really.

After all, the customer service agents is a business’s front line when interacting with customers. It’s how a company can establish a relationship with its client base.

Listed below are tips to improve customer loyalty and retention

1. Interact with customers on a personable level

Customer service agents play a crucial role when it comes to “humanizing” a business entity.

This bit is crucial since people highly prefer to deal with people — and not companies or brands.

Customers in general want to feel that they are valued as people first, not just for the business opportunities they provide.

There are many ways your customer service team can pull this off, but perhaps the shorthand of it is to employ effective “soft skills.”

This can mean everything from greeting the customer by name, to showing courtesy at all times during each call, to thanking the customer for calling.

If recent studies on customer interaction are any indication, it is that clients are more likely to stay loyal to your brand if they are treated by customer service personnel in a personable manner.

2. Reduce customer effort

Customers grow frustrated when their issues are not resolved quickly, even more so when the resolution offered requires them to do some of the lifting.

According to a study published in Harvard Business Review, reducing customer effort positively impacts customer loyalty.

Train your employees to resolve issues more efficiently and chances are your customers will be less likely to cancel the service on a whim.

3. Go the extra mile for your customers

Another way to make customers stay with the company is to regularly offer them rewards and incentives.

By rewarding clients, you are showing them your appreciation for their business. More importantly, you are giving them good reasons to continue purchasing your services.

Another important strategy you can adopt is to regularly offer goodwill gestures to customers who have issues with the service.

For instance, you can offer customers a refund to compensate for the inconvenience they experienced on account of, say, a technical issue.

It’s important to note that goodwill gestures have more positive impact to customer loyalty when they are offered even if customers didn’t ask for them.

4. Be proactive

An amazing strategy to boost customer loyalty and diminish churn rates is to be proactive at all times.

What this means is that you have to anticipate the customer’s needs at every available opportunity.

Will the service be undergoing a service maintenance which could cause technical problems for customers? Inform them at least a few days in advance through all available channels.

Being forthcoming with customers in regards to information that concerns them inspires confidence and brand loyalty.

5. Foster customer-centered behavior into company culture

Emphasizing to agents that the main thrust of the company’s strategy is to deliver great customer experience can go a long way into making sure that every hand on deck is on board.

It makes for an easy integration of customer-centric policies and procedures into the company’s operations, resulting to positive results in customer support interactions.

Final Word

Increasing customer loyalty and retention is essential in securing a business’s long-term goals.

We at Executive Boutique know this all too well, which is why we are committed to training our agents to be well-versed in the best practices that have been proven to improve customer experience.

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Stress Management Tips for Team Leaders

Stress management tips

Stress management tipsExperiencing stress is part of the job when you’re working in a call center. This isn’t at all surprising given the fast-paced environment the nature of the work requires.

When you’re cramped in a cubicle for 8-10 hours a day, the job has a way of taking its toll on you.

While stress can’t be dealt with entirely in day-to-day operations, a company’s leaders and managers should foster a working environment that helps employees manage stress better.

It’s been widely proven that a stressful work environment doesn’t only negatively impact a call center agent’s mental health and well-being, it can also hinder a company’s productivity.

This is why every team leader should take on the responsibility of managing his or her team’s stress levels.

Allow me to share with you several tried-and-tested tips on how you, as team leader, can manage your employees’ stress level with considerable success.

1. Foster a culture of transparent and open communication

As a team leader, you should always encourage your agents to express their thoughts openly without fear of consequences.

You should value your agent’s opinion whether you agree with it or not. This not only makes them feel valued, it also fosters a sense of community and shared purpose.

2. Reward and Praise Best Performers

When an agent has done an exceptional job, make sure that you give him or her a word of praise.

Do this and that employee will most likely be inspired to stay consistent or even do better.

Rewarding agents with incentives and formal recognitions boost employee morale, making them feel that their contributions are integral to the team’s success.

When agents are rewarded for their efforts, they are able to manage stress better. More importantly, the company will be able to retain its best employees.

3. Show empathy and compassion

As a team leader, expressing empathy is a critical skill that you need to develop.

When you show your team members that you acknowledge their feelings, they tend to trust you more.

If they trust you, they are more likely to follow your lead.

When you show an agent that you’re always willing to listen and are committed to helping them with their challenges, they become more receptive to your suggestions and advice.

What’s more, agents who feel that their feelings and needs are acknowledged by their leaders are motivated to work harder and exceed your expectations.

4. Encourage team bonding

If you want your team to work effectively as a group, each agent should be made to feel that the team itself is a support system he can rely on when the tough gets going.

By fostering trust, accountability, and good teamwork within a team, each agent will feel empowered working in a team environment.

Just the thought that the team has his back is a major stress buster.

As a team leader, you can organize team-building activities and conduct weekly catch-up sessions to ensure that the team shares a strong sense of purpose.

5. Conduct one-on-one meetings with your team members

Setting up regular meetings with each member of your team allows you the opportunity to directly address stress-related issues that are hampering their performance.

It’s important that each session should feel open and relaxed. Otherwise, you’ll just exacerbate the stress an agent might already be feeling.

When the agent feels acknowledged and respected, you can get him to open up more.about issues that are having a negative impact on his performance.

Final Word

By employing the techniques above consistently, you’d be able to skyrocket your team’s productivity.

Remember that happy employees are productive employees.

It’s a cliche because it’s true.

What’s next?

What are some of the best stress management tips that you can share as a team leader?

If there’s anything that you’d like to share with our community, then please comment below. Cheers!

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Preventing PHI Data Breaches in Contact Centers

PHI data breaches

PHI data breaches

PHI data breaches can cause a lot of problems for both the medical organizations and for the patients to which the protected health information (PHI) belongs to.

PHI holders whose information have been breached can experience severe social damage to his or her career, reputation, family, and even lifestyle.

The impact of PHI data breaches are so severe that it can even lead PHI holders to sue the organization and demand compensation for the damages that occurred.

Because of these repercussions, it is highly important for medical establishments to only work with contact centers that are HIPAA compliant and that practice a high sense of PHI data security.

This blog post will cover two important tips on methods that HIPAA-compliant contact centers can use to prevent data breaches.

Our goal at the end of this post is that you’d be able to identify contact centers that use methods and strategies that are aligned with preventing data breaches.

Employing Risk Assessments

Risk assessments involve utilizing a third-party security expert to conduct a thorough check up on the kind of safety and security level that is used in a contact center’s operating procedures.

These experts then give feedback to the agency on how they could improve their safety standards to prevent becoming a victim of possible data breaches.

Consider some of the following scenarios:

  • Agents leaving their desktop computers open and accessible while taking a break, allowing unauthorized individuals to view and even access the PHI.
  • PHI storage devices not utilizing any encryption software, thereby leaving the data easily accessible in the event of the device either being stolen or lost.
  • Agents discussing confidential PHI details among their peers, colleagues, and other individuals who are not authorized to know these details.

Because lapses such as these can sometimes be overlooked, investing in risk assessments would help pinpoint vulnerable areas in a contact center’s information handling and storage.

These lapses and vulnerabilities can then be corrected by the agency via proper employee training or by using the right cyber-security and encryption tools.

Utilizing Uniform Training

Another way of reducing the likelihood of a data breach is to ensure that all employees go through and pass a uniform training program that focuses on HIPAA compliance.

These employees should be fluent with the HIPAA compliance guidelines and should be kept up-to-date with any changes and updates to the Act’s regulations.

The agency’s management should also regularly remind and emphasize to agents the important operating procedures and policies that they need to maintain as they go about their daily tasks.

Some of these procedures could include the following:

  • Agents ensuring that their screens have to be protected from the view of other unauthorized individuals at all times.
  • Agents storing files in secured locations and utilizing secure emails and phone lines when disseminating sensitive PHI.
  • Agents encrypting files before sending them and utilizing password-locks when taking breaks to ensure that unauthorized individuals could not access their devices.

Emphasizing these guidelines and setting consequences for compliance-failure would lessen the chances of data breaches happening because of any lapses on the agent’s part.

What’s Next?

If you’re looking for a HIPAA-compliant contact center to outsource your patient’s PHI handling, storage, and management needs, allow us to help.

Executive Boutique is a fully-compliant HIPAA call center that is well-versed with patient privacy and never overlooks data security.

For more information, click the contact button on the upper-right part of this page to contact us today.

Also, got any questions, concerns, and feedback?

Comment below. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Four Reasons Why Contact Centers Need to Have a Positive Work Culture

Contact Centers

 

Contact CentersDo you ever wonder how customer-oriented call centers continue to maintain excellence in providing quality service?

Three words: Positive Work Culture.

Merriam Webster defines culture as a shared set of values, beliefs, practices, and goals within an organization.

Simply put, it is our shared identity — who we are whenever our bosses aren’t in the room, or how we respond whenever faced with forks in the road.

Here are four good reasons why contact centers need to have a positive shared identity in the workplace.

1. Corporate unity

Creating a shared positive culture allows agents to align their heartbeats to that of the organization.

Whenever these employees are placed in conflicting situations, these individuals can always make responses that benefit the agency despite the lack of clear-cut instructions on what exactly to do in the employee handbook.

Because the company practices a lifestyle out of embracing organizational values and interests, these agents are able to exercise discretion that forwards company goals because of their awareness and constant application of such.

2. Increased motivation

Sharing a collective identity makes agents more concerned about the success of the entire organization and not just their personal interests.

A study published in Harvard Business Review show customer satisfaction levels to be linked to employee motivation factors as determined by strong workplace cultures. The same article also revealed a connection between organizational drive and increased revenue production.

Patty Vogan, a leadership columnist of Entrepreneur.com, believes that creating an atmosphere of positive culture in the workplace starts and ends with top management.

Agents look towards company leaders when forming their ideas and beliefs of organizational culture before adopting and integrating these norms into their personal drives.

3. Improved retention

Stronger company cultures result in more employee talents being retained.

Departments of an insurance company that aligned its workplace environments to company culture were found to have 30% less turnover as compared to the other units.

The lower churn rate would translate into lesser organizational expenses spent on hiring and more chemistry among your team’s agents.

One reason why individuals immersed in company culture choose to stay is that of the feeling of being part of an extended family. An article from Catalyst.org shows that almost 50% of employees who shared organizational values feel a greater sense of inclusion at work.

4. Brand image

The type of identity we share inside our organization can be seen by potential employees and customers from the outside.

Treating employees well and having a light and fun workplace environment may cause prospects to see and believe that your company’s brand is filled with laughter and generosity.

One study shows that college students are willing to accept 7% less starting pay just to be in organizations that have cultures they appreciate. Another article in Forbes shows that millennials are willing to trade $7,600 worth of salary per year for better work environments.

Even another publication showed that 70% of millennials would opt to spend more money on brands that support causes that these individuals care about.

What are your thoughts?

We believe that positive culture is essential to the developing excellence in the contact center workplace. It is because of these values and beliefs that we hold and practice that we are confident in providing outstanding customer service to our clients.

How about you? Do you agree with the importance of positive work culture in the organization? And what values and practices do you uphold in your company?

Let us know in the comments below.

(If you are looking for solutions to improve your workplace culture, then contact us.)

Resources:

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Frequently Asked Questions Business Owners Have on PCI Compliance

PCI Compliance

PCI Compliance

Let me guess: You want to learn more about the Payment Card Industry (PCI), don’t you? However, with all the things that you need cover, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed. As a PCI DSS compliant call center, we’re here to help you with just that — learning about PCI compliance.

We’re going to walk you through some of the basics of the industry, hoping that we’ll be able to address the burning questions that you have about it.

Today, we’re going to do this by answering ten common queries that a lot of first-timers have on PCI compliance.

Without further ado, let’s hop right in.

1. What is the PCI DSS?

PCI DSS stands for the “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.” This is a set of security protocols and guidelines designed to make sure that all companies that accept, store, process, or transmit any credit card information would maintain a secure environment.

2. What is the PCI SSC?

PCI SSC stands for the “Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.” This council is a body launched last September 7, 2006 for the management of the growth and changing dynamics of security standards in the PCI.

The PCI SSC administers and handles the PCI DSS and focuses on enhancing account security through the payment and transaction process. This body was made by leading payment card brands, namely: MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, and JCB.

3. Is the PCI SSC responsible for enforcing compliance?

No. The acquirers and payment brands are responsible for compliance enforcement, not the PCI council.

4. Does the PCI DSS apply to my business?

If your company transmits, stores, or accepts any cardholder data, then the PCI DSS applies to your organization no matter its size or transaction amount.

5. What is a merchant?

A merchant is any entity that accepts any payment card that bears a logo of any of the PCI SSC members for payment of goods or services.

6. What is an acquirer?

An acquirer is an entity that processes transactions for merchants. These entities are usually financial institutions and are explicitly defined by a payment brand as such. Other names that it may carry include “acquiring bank,” “merchant bank,” and “acquiring financial institution.”

7. What is a service provider?

A service provider is any entity

  • That is not a payment card brand; and,
  • That is directly involved in cardholder data storage, processing, or transmission.

8. Can a merchant also be a service provider?

Yes. If your company stores, processes, and transmits cardholder data, and if your organization also accepts payment cards as a payment for services or goods, then your business is both a merchant and a service provider.

9. Are there penalties for non-compliance?

Yes, there are. If non-compliance is spotted, payment brands may fine a bank $5,000 to $100,000 each month for every violation. The bank would usually pass along the fine until it would eventually reach the merchant.

Also, banks may either increase transaction fees or terminate your relationship depending on the violation performed.

10. What happens if my business chooses not to cooperate?

PCI DSS is not a law and just a standard. However, merchants who do not comply with PCI DSS may receive fines at the discretion of service providers and acquirers if a violation was spotted.

Also, any breach events that occur may incur forensic audits and card replacement costs from these acquirers or service providers.

What’s next?

Do you still have more questions about PCI compliance?

Let us know about them in the comments below.

(Note: If you’re looking for a PCI DSS compliant call center to help administer your customer’s sensitive authentication data. Contact us now.)

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What Every Business Owner Needs to Know About PCI Compliance

PCI Compliance

 

PCI Compliance

Regardless of the type of industry that your business is in, security is one of the crucial things that you shouldn’t neglect. As a PCI DSS compliant call center, we’d like to share this guide with you to help you in keeping your business secure with PCI compliance.

If you’re new to PCI compliance and are wanting to learn about how it works, then this guide is certainly for you.

Let’s hop right in.

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS means “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.” This was created by the PCI Security Standards Council — a global body comprised of five major card brands located worldwide.

These five companies include:

  • Visa Inc.
  • MasterCard
  • JCB International
  • Discovery Financial Services, and
  • American Express.

This standard aims to reduce credit card fraud by placing safeguards on how sensitive authentication data is stored, processed, and transmitted. Any companies using any one of the five card payment systems are required to comply with the regulations set by the council.

Why is telephone card payment security essential?

Many regulatory bodies require companies to record and store phone conversations in different situations. In line with this, many fraudsters are currently shifting towards the telephone-order medium to steal data due to increased security and risk-mitigation factors in e-commerce environments.

Because of this regulatory compliance to other authorities, organizations who take customer card details over the phone may be exposing the obtained cardholder data to unnecessary risk due to being in contravention of the established PCI DSS requirements.

What are PCI DSS compliant call centers?

In a nutshell, call centers who comply with the PCI DSS standards have to ensure the following requirements:

  • Implement and maintain an appropriate sensitive-authentication-data retention policy;
  • Mask the primary account number of customers whenever it is displayed;
  • Render the customer’s primary account number as unreadable whenever being stored;
  • Encrypt the cardholder data before transmitting it through public networks;
  • Implement proper user authentication for agents, staffs, and administrators;
  • Adhere to a security policy on information;
  • Label, inventory, and render unreadable any media that is used to record information as guided by PCI DSS requirements; and,
  • Implement all PCI DSS requirements.

How do I know if a call center is PCI DSS compliant?

You can identify if call centers who take over-the-phone credit card details are PCI compliant or not.

Ask them to prove how they comply with PCI DSS regulations, and ask them to explain to you how they eliminate any sensitive authentication data from their recordings. This removal of data ought to be automatic and with no manual intervention from the staff.

What’s next?

If you’re looking for a PCI DSS compliant call center to help you with administering your customer’s sensitive authentication data, then contact us now.

Resource

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/PCIDSS_QRGv3_1.pdf

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4 Time-Tested Tips to Reduce Background Noise in a Contact Center

reduce-background-noise

reduce-background-noise

One distractor that can hinder your employees from performing at their highest capabilities is noise. The OSHA reports that every year, twenty-two million workers are exposed to harmful noise. They also report that in the previous year, U.S. businesses paid over $1.5 million in penalties for failing to protect their workers from noise.

Although it’s unthinkable to put an exact number to the human toll of hearing loss, it is estimated that $242 million is spent yearly on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.

If your employees work in an open environment like a contact center, the noise comes from all different directions and in all shapes and volumes. How do you reduce background noise in a contact center? Listed below are a few time-tested tips to reduce noise drastically.

Train employees to keep their voices down

Perhaps one of the most efficient and obvious ways to reduce noise in a contact center is to train your staff to lower their voices. In coaching and training, be sure to iterate to your employees the importance of balancing their volume levels. Teaching your staff to speak at lower volumes that are respectful to other employees will drastically reduce noise levels in the contact center.

Install white noise machines

Installing white noise features such water machines and other features can help reduce unnecessary background noise often found in a contact center. Also, adding plants and other similar features such as fabric screens and putting artwork on walls contributes to fill voided space and lessen distracting noise.

Separate employees with partitions

Installing barriers to separate employee’s desks is a very efficient manner to reduce noise levels. The more separation that can be put between employees in a contact center, effectively creating more barriers for sound to cross, the more probability there are that employees will be less distracted by noise and will have an easier time focusing on their work.

Reduce staff density

The most efficient way to reduce contact center noise is to reduce staff density. The more agents are packed into small space of an office then naturally more noise will be created. The ideal scenario is to have about 120 square feet per employee. Giving agents more room to breathe makes the contact center a more relaxed and natural feeling environment, reducing employee stress levels and in turn reducing noise levels.

What’s Next?

Before moving forward to implement any of these tips, be sure to speak with your employees and collect their ideas on how to reduce noise levels in your company’s contact center. Your employees will often understand best where the sound comes from since they are present in the office throughout the day.

Lastly, if you know of any time-tested tips on how to reduce noise levels in a room, please share them whether they are new or old. Your contribution will help to create a better and more efficient working environment for all.

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Improve Your Customer Support Operations Using These Tips

Customer Support Operations

Customer Support Operations

Instead of looking at optimizing your customer support operations 10,000 feet above ground, you might want to tackle your endeavors one simple task at a time. As you can probably imagine, once you’ve gotten several small enough wins, your entire operations will end up becoming optimized.

So the game plan is, just focus on doing the next right thing. Once you do enough of these “right things”, you’ll be in a place where your customer support operations will run like clockwork.

What “right things” am I talking about, you might ask? Read one…

Regular Meetings and Q&As

This is a big one. Many customer service agents are relegated to the desk and computer for extended periods of time- not only is this boring, but it can result in lowered morale, which in turn affects performance. It’s important to have your employees interacting with each other and with you face-to-face.

Regular meetings are necessary to learn from your employees on the ground what customers are thinking, what they’re having problems with, and what you can be doing to improve.

Encourage Collaboration and Communication

Don’t try and keep your employees locked into single-desk cubicles. Open it up a bit- give them room to maneuver and space to breathe. No matter how good your customer support agents are, a single one might not know all the answers. Allowing your employees to work together and in groups not only has a positive impact on morale, it allows them to get help if they need it while helping your customers out.

In addition, open communication means that problems can be noted as soon as they begin and dealt with promptly. While regular meetings are great, a problem arising in the office can be more quickly fixed, on the spot, through the usage of good communication between employees.

Keep Morale High

You’ve seen morale mentioned a lot in this article, but let’s take a moment to talk about why it’s important. Low morale means that your employees aren’t engaged with your business and their jobs. People working in customer support need to be upbeat and engaged in order to be effective, so as to avoid making a poor impression on a customer that’s already frustrated and needs help.

Keeping morale high means that your employees are motivated, which encourages higher productivity.

Identify Employee Weaknesses

Unfortunately, your employees may not be suited for their jobs. Ask supervisors or coworkers about how various employees are doing, and take a look at performance statistics. Employees who are performing poorly should be evaluated. Ask them what’s hindering their performance, and what you could do to help them improve. Your customer support team is full of people with all kinds of different strengths and weaknesses- arrange them properly, and good things are sure to happen.

Closing

While there are certainly other strategies that you employ to optimize your customer support operations, the above tips I shared above are a good place to start.

To learn more about customer support, service and satisfaction, read our blog or contact us for a consultation.

Photo Courtesy – © Rawpixel.com / Dollar Photo Club

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EB Call Center Helps Calamity Victims

Calamity
Calamity
© lom742 / Dollar Photo Club

Executive Boutique Call Center, through its corporate social responsibility, has managed to donate over $1,500.00 worth of food, makeshift tents and other supplies to the victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that devastated Bohol and Cebu.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in making this Philippine call center effort possible.

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How to Become a Green Establishment

Green Establishment
Green Establishment
© Rawpixel / Dollar Photo Club

These days, many Philippine call center offices and businesses are already eager to create environmentally sound and safe work places to make it better for the employees and the environment. There are just so many ways to become a green call center and it won’t even cost you extra. Here are a few tips on how to be one.

E-mail and instant messaging make interoffice communications quicker and easier than distributing paper memos. E-mail newsletter distribution means your customers or clients receive information about your business sooner. Instead of printing out e-mail messages, file them in Outlook or another e-mail system. File the attachments on your hard drive or on a shared drive. Convert an e-mailed invoice to a PDF. Print any documents only if absolutely necessary. Change all of your light bulbs to CFLs, LEDs, or other energy-saving alternative light bulb solutions. Turn off and unplug all computers and electronic devices after office hours; because even when these devices are turned off, they will continue to use electricity unless you unplug the power cord to keep them from charging all night.

Likewise, you should also unplug coffee machines and other appliances at the office when they are not in use so they don’t pull electricity all day. Reduce office trash as much as possible, and compost or recycle the rest. You may not consider commuting to be a part of your office’s environmental impact, but your transportation policies can make a large difference. Make walking or riding a bicycle an easier option by offering showers and private changing areas at your office. If inbound call center agents and outbound call center agents agree to walk, bike, or take public transportation to work, offer them a small bonus for encouragement. Use recycled products everywhere you can around the office. Reuse folders, boxes and all other office supplies for as long as possible before purchasing any new ones.

Going green at Philippine contact center can be very effective in demonstrating practical benefits of being environmentally friendly as well as saving business money.

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