Thursday, July 23, 2015

From Customer Agent, to Customer Advocate

By Cippy Seidler

Call Center Director
Banner Health

In this session highlight from the 11th Annual Customer Contact 2015, East: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, Cippy Seidler, Director, Contact Centers, Banner Health, shares the philosophy and practical takeaways that guided her organization to an 8% turnover rate in 2014.

Staff comes in at entry level – we need to train! What do they want? What do they want to do? Do they have the skill sets we need? Do they have the professional experience? – for example, do they know how to act in a meeting? How to make eye contact, use open / inviting body language, ask questions, show engagement and respect the meeting leader?

This training is really about skills that they can take with them anywhere they go. This is for them PERSONALLY. This isn’t related to their actual work, it’s about tools they need to be successful in other areas of the company or even at other companies.

“As director of the call centers, I am almost a recruiter.” We take the people in, train them, get them excited, they become advocates by telling others about their cool job and how much fun they have there – we want them to tell their like-minded, like-personality friends about it.

What is the effect of your non-job related training?

Audience answers included:

Recognition for top performers – they go to the different office with a mountain view, to see the product manager so they can see what they’re really pushing. They are treated like ROCKSTARS there and it gives them confidence. They are told to go with a voice. It exposes them to different folks, jobs, etc.

  • Emerging Leader Program – In house leadership training in consideration for management roles. There are certain requirements but it motivates them, this is for THEM. They are spotlighted, have opportunities to interact with other leaders in organization and have additional opportunities such as attending classes etc….
  • Internal cross training opportunities: Staff can get entry level experience working in a different area within the call center.  An area of interest for them but also to gain experience
  • Know your Agent –What are their strengths? What do they want to do? Then we give them those tasks. Want to be an event planner? Plan a department event.. Like interior design? Decorate the office. If they want to do these things though, they need to be hitting a certain work performance criteria.  So it pushes them to do well so they can do what they want

  • Career mapping
  • “Coaches” vs Supervisors
Why do call center routinely have 50 – 60% turnover? Why isn’t this working? Is this what the employee wanted? Did we ask them?
  • What is something that they really want to do? The presenter gave an example of someone who she really wanted to make a “coach” but the lady was hesitant. Then, she was asked what she really wanted. She said CPR training. Cippy said okay fine – do it and this made the employee very happy. It’s not really related but because they gave her the opportunity, the retention of the employee was so much higher because she LIKED the company. The employee now has added responsibility because of her skill set in the office. Opportunity for growth, recognition and then she tells other people about it.
  • What does it cost to replace a call center agent? Weight that against what it costs to give her two 8 hour shifts to go to CPR training? Partially engaged employee became 100% engaged employee.
  • “I just saved us 30 thousand dollars today. Nobody quit today!”
  • One of the audience members offered this input about their own company: Every employee in the company, every agent, is allowed to have a stake in policy and process making – by the end of the year there will be no managers in the company at all. It’ll be full democracy. They can go to and have a seat at any meeting.
Ask yourselves: What’s in it for them? Does it make their job easier?

People want to feel like what they do is meaningful and matters. Imagine what would happen if we closed our doors (call centers) for 1 day. You need to make it so that their job is so meaningful that the company literally cannot go on without them.

Moving staff from agent to ambassador.  Ambassador is more of a role model --someone who welcomes new people etc…  Advocate is someone who truly believes in your company’s mission, strategic initiatives, etc.


An employee road map is what the agents can expect from their leader– 30 days, 60, 90, 1 year. RATHER THAN their road map of what they’re expected to wear, what they’re expected to do, etc. Customer agents are met with once a month in a one-on-one to make sure this is happening, let them know they have someone to talk to if customers aren’t always nice, etc.

It’s key to your team that you take calls every now and then so your team knows you are not removed.

Real proof – in 2014, Banner Health’s turnover rate was lowest in 10 years.

EXIT QUESTION: If your BEST employee told you they were leaving today? What would they say as their reason to leave?

Audience input - Even if you aren’t offered a promotion while someone else is (internally or not) –you will receive a in-perosn meeting explaining that in your interview we saw these strengths, here is how we think you can work on those. And, do you have an idea of how you want to work on those? Instead of leaving, there are little ways we can recognize an employee’s strengths and make them want to stay.

Cippy Seidler is an enthusiastic leader focused on providing a high-level customer experience through employee engagement and a commitment to excellence.  In the span of 28 years, Cippy has served in leadership positions with retail organizations such as Liz Claiborne, Allen-Edmonds, and Zayre with a specialized focus on front-end customer engagement and retention, and employee training and sales development. Currently a Director of Call Centers with Banner Health, one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country, she is responsible for driving performance across multiple service lines. 

No comments:

Post a Comment