Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Surely you have big plans to celebrate. Groundhogs are actually more commonly known as wood chucks and WE draw some wisdom from the animal, the annual celebration and the popular movie made in 1993 (a year before our inception).
We have mentioned our company’s duality several times in our blog. We have an Illinois presence but most of our staff lives/works in Oklahoma. Groundhogs/woodchucks are actually very rarely seen in Oklahoma so we need to provide some detail here about the animal to those readers in Oklahoma and other places not familiar with the animal. The groundhog is a lowland creature widely found in North America but most common in the northeastern and central USA. It is a rodent that belongs to the group of large ground squirrels that can grow to thirty or so pounds. Groundhogs are diggers that have short/powerful limbs and curved thick claws and have an incredible sense of hearing. Groundhogs raised in captivity can be socialized relatively easily and quickly. What an incredible animal really. They know how to dig in, they are good listeners and they learn fast.
In dozens of cities in the USA and Canada, there will be Groundhog Day celebrations. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. The largest Groundhog Day celebration (up to 40,000 celebrants) is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The star of the show is of course the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. According to records kept since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil's weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time. Not exactly a reliable predictor but always a heck of a good party. And people travel from all over for this party. “Prognostication” happens at Gobbler's Knob in the early morning and though the event is free it brings a great deal of revenue into the region. Those of us in the travel business know that this is a good thing!
Bill Murray stars in the 1993 comedy movie Groundhog Day which takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania though mostly the movie was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois. Murray’s character is forced to relive the day over and over again until he can learn to be more selfless and become a better person. And he does. It’s a great film that is referenced frequently in popular culture.
So what does all this have to do with our contact center? A fair amount actually. This week we welcomed a new group (class) of employees. Sarah Adair leads our Learning and Development team and shared that 17 of the 20 candidates we extending offers to are actually employee referrals and shared, “To me that says people like working here and are sharing that sentiment with their friends and family. After a full week, I’m seeing active listening, bright personalities and people who are excited, eager and willing to learn.” Wow - They know how to dig in, they are good listeners and they learn fast.
Also this past week, the phones got very, very busy. We broke a few of our own records and it was nearly an overwhelming week really. Because our team has so many selfless people – We were able to keep up pretty well. Our clients appreciate these kinds of efforts and we the leaders of this business appreciate the sacrifices that so many of our good people make when it gets a little crazy. Veterans; THANK YOU and new recruits; WELCOME to the Trase Miller family.
Ya’ll have heard of empty nesters but this week we wanted to chat a little bit about eager nesters. We have a group of eager nesters that joined our company about a month ago to take calls for a leading airline. As part of their training and orientation, they are currently “nesting” in our contact center. Marisha, Terri, Shona, Marlon, Jessica, Erin, Kent, Steve, Meryssa and Dana – You are about to graduate and remember - we’re here to help YOU be successful in your careers. Woo Hoo!
Nesting is best described as the transition period between classroom and graduation to the phones. During this time, new agents take calls with additional supervision and at a slower pace. Nesting Agents get the assistance and feedback to give them the confidence to be on their own. The practice of nesting is a relatively common training practice in contact centers these days. It’s a great way to extend learning beyond the classroom with the stated goal of increasing learning efficiency and effectiveness. Ultimately nesting translates into decreased attrition and increased loyalty. That is; both employee loyalty and customer loyalty.
We managed through a few other milestones this week. Our experience tells us that there is a direct correlation between higher quality scores and a number of key performance metrics such as conversion, first call resolution and customer satisfaction. About 100 days ago, we instituted several new quality initiatives including a change in our coaching structure. The results add up to a Woo Hoo. One of our brand teams increased their aggregated quality scores by more than 10%. And guess what? They also broke a sales record in August. Our client partner is delighted.
Trase Miller provides premium contact center fulfillment solutions to major travel brands and their loyalty programs 24/7/365 and we are again hiring. Contact us to learn more about joining our team and for a short period of time being an eager nester yourself. Woo Hoo!
Mothers Day is on Sunday and since 79% of our workforce is women (many of which are moms) we wanted to reflect on a few momisms that guide our work as a contact center fulfillment business.
- “If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all” This was good advice and it plays very much into our golden rule sensibilities around here at Trase. Thanks, Mom!
- “I don't know is NOT an answer” This taught us all to be prepared not with excuses but with information. This is especially helpful as a contact center that specializes in travel.
- “Now, say you're sorry...and MEAN it!” Empathy. Mom was teaching us about empathy and how important it is to be empathetic towards people that are calling us.
- “Watch your language!” One of the key attributes we regard in monitoring our agent’s quality performance is to avoid jargon or slang. Mom’s edict really stays with us on every single call.
- “I'm going to give you until the count of three...” We contract with our clients to very specific service levels so counting is a big part of our day. Mom instilled the importance of doing what she told us to do – right away. Or else… It's all about accountability.
- “I can always tell when you're lying” Moms really can and so too can customers. So we NEVER lie to customers. Telling the truth is important and that’s what we do around here.
- “How many times do I have to tell you?” This transcends mother/child dynamics - Moms know lots about the human condition. Repetition is important to learning and that’s why we invest so much in redundant training of our team members.
- “Be careful what you wish for, it might come true” We wish all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day! And we hope success is a wish in the minds of all that work here at Trase Miller 24/7/365.
In our blog last week we mentioned our Quarterly Quality Forum. Here we go again. Part of our QQF includes case study of companies that we admire. Chick Fil-A was our most recently featured QQF company in part because their leadership has such fantastic vision and crystal clear insights about how to run a great company. Dan Cathy is Chick Fil-A’s CEO and “SOB” (son of the boss). His father S. Truett Cathy founded the company over 40 years ago. They sell a ton of really yummy chicken sandwiches ($4 Billion) and have been profitable every year since their founding. Dan Cathy asserts something that our management team really latched on to in our QQF:
"If we have to keep telling people what to do, it means we're not modeling the behavior ourselves and if we're living it every day, we don't need to talk about it”
What a profound simple truth. Keller and Love for Harvard Business Review recently blogged about modeling and modifying behavior. It’s all about mindsets. In their article Keller and Love use the story of four monkeys…
Four monkeys are sitting in a cage with a bunch of bananas hanging from the roof, accessible by a set of steps. Whenever the monkeys try to climb the steps to get to the bananas, they are blocked by a blast of cold water. After a few days, the monkeys give up. Researchers then remove the water hose and replace one of the original monkeys with a new one. Seeing the bananas, it starts up the steps. What happens? The other monkeys, being social creatures, pull it down before it gets blasted with water. This happens again and again until pretty soon the new monkey doesn't bother to go for the bananas either.
Over the next few weeks, the researchers remove the rest of the original monkeys one at a time and replace them with new monkeys who've never seen the jet of water. Even though there's no longer anything to stop the monkeys from reaching the bananas, each new monkey is always pulled down by the others.
By the end of the experiment, not a single monkey has ever seen a jet of water, but none of them tries to climb the steps.
As leaders of a contact center fulfillment business, we know it is important to do our best to model good behavior. And we are thoughtful about making sure our processes and policies are not perceived as cold blasts of water by our people. It’s a great place to work and we’re here to help you.