You can’t fix your phones without fixing performance gaps among those handling your calls.
Fixing anything, especially employee skills, can be a daunting task. Changing behavior is difficult because employees are different and have varying levels of strengths, opportunities for improvement, motivations, learning preferences and aptitude.
Managers don’t always know where to begin when it comes to identifying training needs and developing employees. But you can level the playing field by creating a culture of improvement.
To accomplish this, first establish your commitment to each team member’s success and development. Continuous improvement is built on trust and relationships. Employees get up and go to work every day, not necessarily for the company, but definitely for their manager.
Often considered a softer side of leadership, showing appreciation and interest in your employees is critical to establishing trust. Just as employees work to establish connections with customers, employers must dedicate themselves to establishing meaningful connections with employees.
Next, let data help you make better decisions. Review phone performance data with your employees and ensure that they understand current performance levels in relation to performance goals. Share data and trends with staff and let them be a part of the process in uncovering the areas of opportunity for improvement. When reviewing data, ask your team what they notice and what questions the data sparks. Allow them to weigh in on the development of goals and possible ways to achieve them. Nothing spurs buy-in like being involved in creating the plan.
If you do consider implementing a certification program, stick with it. Provide feedback regularly and consider rewards and incentives that align with the program criteria. This ensures that you are helping your employees meet and exceed goals by first supporting them with the education and skill development required for proficiency.
Consider this: there is usually an incentive every month for sales consultants or service advisors. Some provide carrots in the form of cash to meet specific objectives, but all the money in the world isn’t going to change results or make anyone in your store hit a number if they lack the skill to achieve your goals. When you incent someone to do something they can’t do without training, it actually has an opposite effect and they end up resenting you for it. Incorporating training into your certification program and layering in a reward and recognition component gives employees the skills necessary to achieve.
With achievement comes mastery, which can then move a skilled employee into a mentoring role. This helps to close the onboarding gap through peer-to-peer collaboration and training, supporting new employees and rewarding top performers with more responsibility.
The bottom line is that continuous improvement isn’t about looking at data at a weekly meeting or at review time. It’s not an event but instead an ongoing practice that everyone is engaged in and committed to.
Leverage some of these tips and best practices for creating a thriving culture of continuous improvement:
1. Ask employees to start bringing their best call to team meetings. Focus everyone’s efforts on having the best call and the positives.
2. Use peer collaboration and feedback and ask everyone to bring a call to solicit feedback for what could have been improved. Openness creates openness.
3. Take it up a notch by developing a self-certification program for your team, collaborate with your employees to create criteria that when met, means that they are regularly providing an outstanding caller experience and achieving their goals. Incorporate criteria such as:
a. Skill Development: Provide training resources for upskilling your team.
b. Phone Performance: Incorporate the metrics that matter. Need a great place to start to determine which metrics to measure? Email me at the address above.
c. Appointment Set/Show: Measure the behaviors that you want to reward. Appointment sets are good; appointments that show are gold. Reward behaviors that will result in appointments that show, which happen as a result of a great phone experience that genuinely excites a caller about coming in to visit your store.
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