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In a strong economy, it’s not always easy to tell if your business is firing on all cylinders. Sure, profits are up and the stock is going through the roof, but sometimes the good times can mask problems. Unfortunately, those problems seem to come to light when the economy isn’t flying high and you can least afford them. It’s when times are tight that credit unions need their employees to be at their best, because winning new business and keeping members satisfied can often be more difficult during these periods. That’s why it’s so important for employees on the front lines of a business to connect with members and prospects. Contact Center Representatives are not only the voice of the company, but they are also the pulse of the business, the lifeblood in that critical bond between credit unions and their members. Good customer service is more than the speed of answering calls. It is the manner and tone used when speaking to members combined with product knowledge and empathy. In essence, it’s making sure that members’ calls are being handled effectively, efficiently and professionally. So how do managers know if their members are getting top-notch customer service? One of the best ways for managers to keep their fingers on the pulse of business is through monitoring. Credit unions can analyze and track the effectiveness of their contact centers’ programs through monitoring inbound and outbound phone calls, email and correspondence. A good monitoring program allows you to not only track the effectiveness of your Customer Service Representatives (CSRs), but also track what your customers are saying. Moreover, a monitoring program can help determine if there are call flow or scripting revisions needed or if there is a need to conduct refresher training. Methods of Monitoring There are three basic methods of monitoring: voice, shadow, and side-by-side. All three can be effective. However, it is up to your company to decide which is the best choice for you. In the first method, voice monitoring, supervisors or quality assurance personnel, located in a different area from the CSR, listen in on customer service calls and make notes of their observations. This method has one big shortcoming: when taking a call, CSRs typically have computer screens they follow for scripting and information. Voice monitoring misses this part of the interaction. The second method, shadow monitoring, allows your team to not only to listen to the call, but to also watch the screens CSRs are accessing and filling in. Quality assurance personnel can determine if CSRs are following the appropriate call flow, and if they are taking the correct actions to resolve member needs. The third method is the oldest: side-by-side monitoring, in which the supervisor sits next to the CSR during the call, double-jacked into the CSR’s phone, and monitors both verbal interaction and the computer screen. Voice and shadow monitoring are effective methods, but side-by-side monitoring is the best way to provide immediate feedback to your CSRs. With side-by-side monitoring, supervisors can coach the CSR during the call should a tricky situation arise and, perhaps more importantly, they can discuss the call after it is over and use the interaction to establish a bond with their employee. Unfortunately, with the other responsibilities most supervisors have, side-by-side monitoring is generally possible for only a very few calls each week. The most effective solution is to monitor a sample that truly reflects the CSR’s performance in conjunction with shadow monitoring by trained quality assurance personnel and side-by-side monitoring by the supervisor. Using quality assurance staff to conduct shadow monitoring will allow you to monitor a larger number of calls to track the overall effectiveness of your customer service program, while side-by-side provides CSRs the one-on-one time they should have with their supervisors. Selecting a monitoring program that fits with a call center’s schedule is key to the program’s success. Shadow monitoring can be done in real-time, or calls and data screens can be recorded using a variety of available call logging products and played back as time permits. With real-time monitoring, managers can address problems as they occur and intervene if necessary. With recorded monitoring, CSRs and supervisors can sit down together, play back calls, and identify issues in a more deliberate manner. Side-by-side monitoring can only be performed in real-time. Implementing a Monitoring Program There are 4 basic steps in setting up any monitoring program: * Develop a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish with your monitoring? Most credit unions want to measure the success rate of completing specific tasks, the overall behavior exhibited by the CSR, and the reaction of the customer. * Determine the best way to conduct monitoring-voice, shadow or side-by-side. * Develop reporting. It is important to develop monitoring reports that provide actionable data. Are you meeting your goals? Are overall scores within an acceptable range? * Evaluate your technology platform. Based on the monitoring you’d like to do, you’ll need to evaluate your company’s technology platform to determine whether or not it needs to be upgraded to meet your needs. Today’s most advanced contact monitoring systems also allow supervisors to monitor email correspondence and web chat sessions. Web-enabled monitoring is no more time-consuming than call monitoring, but the criteria are usually different. For example, writing skills are critical in these situations. A credit union can also implement a monitoring program by utilizing third party monitoring. Independent firms have started to offer this service over the past several years, and more and more companies are choosing this option. The outside firm links into your systems, much as your own supervisors do, observes the voice and data screens, and prepares reports for your use. The beauty of employee monitoring is that it is not just a tool that helps credit unions keep an eye on their employees, it is a tool that helps your members too. When call center employees on the front line of business are operating at peak performance, the business itself is more likely to execute at optimal levels.

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