Unless you have fresh ingredients, following a great recipe will not lead to a delicious meal. It doesn't matter which Michelin-starred chef penned the recipe or how well you follow it, the stars of the show are the ingredients, and they can make or break your dinner.
Similarly, the stars in any company are employees, making hiring the right people and giving them the needed training, as well as constant retraining, an essential factor in creating a fantastic customer experience. This was a recurring theme during the second day of the IQPC's Call Center Week Summit, with experts underlining the need to invest in this precious resource--their workers.
ING Direct USA, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, and Intralox LLC put a lot of emphasis on hiring the right people, making sure that every step in the recruitment process is executed to perfection. Jason Heupel, head of sales for ING's eastern region, says because the company doesn't use an IVR system, it is even more important to have the right team of people. ING allows its customer representatives be the drivers of their own careers, and empowers them to take ownership of calls, especially since the organization doesn't use scripting.
But most importantly, executives listen to their employees through monthly roundtables and town halls as well as individualized coaching sessions. The agents are also challenged to do different jobs and receive constant training, including through podcasts.
Similarly, the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company has implemented a year-round training plan to "keep the blade sharpened," said Justin Robbins, the company's manager of training and guest experience. This includes training in the different areas of the organization, so that a customer planning a stay can speak to one agent to check on his booking, make dinner reservations, book a massage at the spa, and make a reservation to play golf. "We wanted to create a guest-centric, one-call reservation experience," Robbins explained during the conference this morning.
In order to achieve this, Hershey had to put more focus in employing the right people, who could be trained across the different departments of the organization. Robbins said the company modified the interview process and educated recruiters on the expectations, including allowing them to shadow the position which they were filling.
Furthermore, employees are provided with ongoing coaching and feedback on where they can improve. However, they are also rewarded and recognized for their successes, Robbins said.
Intralox has an extensive hiring process which takes some time to complete, but Debbie Maniglia, the company's global customer service and commercial operations manager, said this is necessary to hire great people who have a passion for work and are a good cultural fit. The company looks for particular traits, including values, mission of service, and a discerning character and invests greatly in training. In fact, new hires spend up to six weeks in a classroom environment and training continues for 18 months. Maniglia explained that the recruitment strategy has helped the company hire great employees who stay with the company for many years.
"[A company] needs to have a good strategy and structure. But more importantly we need great employees and culture," she said.