Focus Direct Inc. – Philippines Joined Masskara Festival

Masks

Bacolod City, Philippines is know for Masskara festival which takes place for 20 days from Oct. 1-20. It gives the people of Bacolod as well as the tourist a time to enjoy 20 days of merry making, beer drinking, and street partying. The term Masskara is coined from 2 words: mass meaning crowd and spanish word kara for face. It was coined by Ely Santiago, a painter, cartoonist, and cultural artist who devoted his show in his art of many faces of Negrenses overwhelmed with various crises. Today, Masskara Festival uses the symbol of smiling masks to depict the Happy Spirit of Negrenses despite of the difficulties.

Focus Direct Inc. an outsourced contact center of Focus Services, is located at 22nd street, Lacson which is where the street party is exactly located. During the hype of the festival, Focus Direct Inc. and it’s employees participated in the festivities. The management has it’s own Masskara Bay Making contest.

Masskara Bay Design Contest 004

Masskara Bay Design Contest 012

Masskara Bay Design Contest 006

Camera 360

Camera 360

Camera 360

Friday night, Oct. 18, 2013, the employees wear masks and colorful costumes to join the street party outside with the beat of electro-dance music being played by different DJ’s on the big stage set up in the middle of the street. On the second day, a caravan of the different establishments on the City of Bacolod, Focus Direct Inc. also participated with it’s colorful float and it’s employees marching on the street, giving candies and other perks to the spectators. But the most fascinating event was the paint party held just outside the office of Focus. In these pictures, you will see how amazing the festival and how the employees joined the fun activities.

Day 1:

Outside Focus Direct Inc.

Coffee Break during Masskara

Day 1

Day 1- kae

Day 2:

Parade

Giving candies to kids2

Cody

Paint party with Cody and Landon

Focus Paint Party

And the Masskara continued till dawn. I think you can now guess what happened next morning after whole day of partying.

This just proves that engagement doesn’t just in the form of monetary payment or perks and incentives. Engagement in this particular event is when the management involves themselves with the employees activities. It’s nice to see that the Director down to its employees celebrates together.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

The Method of Micro Pacing

The Water Gun Game

In the call center where I work, we try to build a good working relationship especially the relationship between the supervisor and their agents. We know that our closest link to the agents is their immediate superior and to empower our agents, we have to let their supervisors motivate them. We don’t want to judge the capacity of our people by just looking at the numbers (e.g. QA scores, AHT, service level, etc.). Gallup latest survey found employees who agreed that their supervisor focused on their strengths and personally motivates them, active disengagement fell dramatically to 1%. What’s more, nearly two-thirds 61% of these employees were engaged and only 38% are not engage. Whereas, those employees who are ignored by their supervisors, 51% are not engage, 40% are actively disengage, and only 2% are still engage employees. In the same manner, we believe that if we empower our agents to do better, the numbers that our software is giving us will be a lot more pleasing to look at.

Today, I’d like to talk about one way how we improve our agents performance. One responsibility that our supervisors play when they are on the calling floor is what we call “micro pacing.” Micro Pacing is managing the agents by every half-hour increment to maximize results. This is the process in which coaches can effect the now, or in other words, every hour of the day. This can be done in a variety of ways. Some include:

  • Set small hourly goals with each agent

  • Initial small hourly games with only a couple of individuals

The key to micro pacing is setting individual goals with agents. In goal setting, it is important to remember the following six steps:

  1. Create the Desire

    1. This is the great motivator that pushes people to achieve their goals

  2. Establish a Belief

    1. Help the agent believe without a doubt that they have the ability to achieve the goal

  3. Write it Down

    1. A good rule of thumb is this: until a goal is committed to paper, it is not a goal. Writing it down solidifies the goal.

  4. Analyze

    1. Help the agent determine where they are currently in regards to the goal, and determine what help they need to accomplish the goal.

  5. Set a Deadline

    1. Set the point when the goal can be accomplished.

  6. Follow-Up

    1. By following up with the individual regularly, it will help them remained focused on the goal so that they can accomplish it.

In addition to goal setting, Micro Pacing involves constant interaction with the agents. This interaction, though remaining professional, will help establish a fun energetic atmosphere that encourages high performance.

This means that supervisors don’t just sit in their stations looking at their computer screens with no human interaction to their agents. If you pay a visit to our calling floors, you will see supervisors roaming around, sitting beside the agent, doing side by side monitoring and coaching, and sometimes, you will even see supervisors laughing with the agents when they are avail. A good call center software that provides enormous real time performance data, with increased level of visibility is great for a call center. But if we don’t know how to interpret those data and make use of them, we still can’t improve our performance level and our productivity.

You might say that this work is too much for one supervisor managing several agents to finish. You might even think that maybe the stress level of our supervisors are higher than most. With all the reports they need to submit, all the agent metrics they need to monitor plus their own stats that they need to pass, I can say our supervisors are pretty busy than the most. However, since they are happy with what their doing, stress is not even at their vocabulary. I know this because I’ve been in the calling floor also and until now I’m still connected with my previous supervisors. I still attend to all those team-buildings even if I’m not at their team anymore. I must say, I’m quite a busy person too because those team-buildings and team night outs happen very often, almost every weekend or every day off. And we don’t care much if those events are company paid or not. In fact, I can’t call those trips as team-building but site-building because the attendees are not only from one team or one campaign. It’s always comprise of different people from different teams, different campaigns, from manager down to agent level. You can add to my schedule the chit chats with a cup of coffee. One of my supervisor before even volunteered to be my watcher when I was hospitalized even if I wasn’t on her team any longer.

Stress is always present wherever you go and whatever work you do. But if there’s also one thing that keeps on motivating me, that is here, I didn’t only find a job. I found real good friends, I found a family. Thanks to the “company culture” that we share, for teaching us that no matter how improved the technology we are using, good human interaction and good relationship with each other is still the best way to motivate us to do better. 

The Human Side of Customer Service

Have you received a call from a very upset customer where you can actually feel the anguish down to your bones even if he/she is not really in front of you? Your customers actually knows that your product or service is not perfect and it’s not what really angers them. It’s no secret that most irate (upset) customers are upset because of long holds, tons of automated messages advertising the brand before they can actually talk to a live person only to find out that the representative they were able to get hold of cannot help them and they need to be transferred to different other departments where they’ll have to explain their concern over and over again. If you’re the last representative to receive the call, then you need a BIG GOOD LUCK because you will suffer the wrath of the universe!

Truths about customer service and call centers

  • 72% of all customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent – Harris

  • 94% of customers do not want to be transferred to another representative more than once – Mobius Poll 2002

  • 84% of customers are frustrated when a representative does not have immediate access to their account information – Mobius Poll 2002

  • 69% said they were on hold for too long – Harris

  • 85% of consumers are dissatisfied with their phone experience – Gartner

  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience – “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

  • Research shows that a 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company – Bain & Co.

Now let’s review how we are providing solution to these problems. I’ve seen supervisors and managers who judges their agents by the metrics (Management by Spreadsheet). Brands pressure’s their agents to pass the average handling time which is sad to say, sometimes unrealistic. Encourages their agents to empathize to their customers by providing them word for word scripts and punishes them when they do otherwise. Highlights the importance of first call resolution but fails to provide all the information that their agents need.

You mights say I’m a little pessimistic especially for someone who works in a call center but do you think the customers dissatisfaction mentioned above just sprang up from nowhere without any reason at all? Contrary to what you maybe thinking, I love my job, I honestly do. What I am saying is that there are loopholes in the current customer service process and those holes will continue to get it bigger and bigger if not solved. Customers are getting more and more upset each day for those who continuous to be adamant in the matter. But for those who will get it right will surely gain a lot of loyal customers and brand advocates and will be the next big thing in the world of business.

Today we have a lot of crm systems and call center software’s that provides huge amount of data that will enable us to predict customer behavior, develop better trends and practice in customer service, strengthens our workforce management strategies, provides real time performance data, suits our business needs in a lower cost, etc. There are also huge amount of information circulating online on how to retain customers and attract new ones. Like reward your loyal customers. Give them freebies and perks for signing up to you and a discount if they renew their contract. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to contact your customer service department and make sure you have enough representatives to help them with their concerns. It may cost your business a little but as a marketing strategy, it’s free! I’m sure you would really love to see more customer advocates that refers your product or service to their friends and relatives like you’re more controversial than Gossip Girl. And all these because your customers know that YOU never stop trying to provide the best customer experience to them.