Come join us in our adventures! Enter your email address for the latest customer service training trends and tips.

Enter your email here to follow our adventures.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Are you Assessing for Success? Guest Blog on Behavioral Assessments

Note from Stacey

Many of my professional friends and clients swear by behavioral assessment tools.  I wanted to learn more, so I asked Gurus' friend Dolly Penland from Predictive Results to give us a peak into the tool she supports Predictive Index (PI).  Curious for more information, Dolly's contact information is at the bottom of the blog.

Take it away, Dolly....

By Dolly Penland - Predictive Results

The cause of most customer service problems is often related to one of two things. Option 1 is a lack of clear customer service standards with measurable, actionable strategies. Option 2 is having the wrong people in those customer-facing positions.

The latter is a disconnect in many organizations.  They go to great lengths to establish guidelines and procedures, but they fail to develop sound hiring and talent training processes. A behavioral assessment tool, such as the Predictive Index (PI), can help ensure the best customer service every time a customer interacts with your business.

The idea is to fill important talent gaps with “rock stars” to ensure the right cultural fit for your company, and ultimately, your clients. Businesses cannot afford to make hiring mistakes and be stuck with the wrong employees.

And, even if you hire rock stars, they must be placed with managers who have been trained to effectively motivate and communicate with them every day. Extraordinary customer-facing employees provide extraordinary customer experiences, and only when they are led by managers who truly know how to work with and motivate their people.

How to do this? First, visualize and define what the ultimate customer service rep is for your company. Great customer service is delivered by companies that build it in to their company culture. Do you need people who are fast? Attentive to details and accuracy? Perhaps someone who is genuinely friendly?  What makes YOU different from your competitors?

Turning that vision into reality means defining what the ideal is using a behavioral assessment tool, and then conducting a fit/gap analysis to understand exactly who candidates are for customer-facing roles in your company.

For your current employees, behavioral assessments will coach existing talent in a way that improves performance. Everyone has strengths, but you must know what they are to best use them. What you want to do is understand what truly motivates your people, hire the best and train them in the way that will ensure your customers enjoy that ultimate customer service experience.

There are many benefits of using a behavioral assessment tool. First, placing the right employees in the right jobs means higher customer service ratings and increased sales. Second, knowing exactly how to effectively manage those employees leads to higher job satisfaction and productivity.  Finally, more engaged employees lead directly to improved customer loyalty.  The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of retaining an existing one. It all comes down to great customer service.

  • Behavioral Assessments Drive Results
  • Decide which metrics you want to improve
  • Choose a tool that has proven success in that area
  •  Make sure you can customize the target pattern to your cultur
  •  Ensure that it is EEOC compliant
  •  Use it as a pre-interview screen to get the best results

Dolly Penland is a business adviser and speaker with Predictive Results who works with organizations helping them to hire and manage their talent to their highest potential. Dolly specializes in multiple areas including helping businesses grow sales, reduce turnover and develop leaders.

She can be reached at (904) 374 9914 or

Stacey's Final Thoughts

I am an unashamed HRD geek! 

I love to learn what is available and how to help organizations work better, smarter, faster, and happier.

One aspect of my geekness is reviewing the many exciting tools available to help hire and manage talent.  It is striking how the world changes, adapting to new technologies and research.

I have done the Predictive Index assessment twice, and it was eerily spot on.  The first time 6 years ago, my corporation administrated the test to our entire team, as a quasi-team building event.  But there was no follow through and it left me feeling deflated. 

We did the analytic debrief as a group, I had areas I would have liked to develop, but nothing, nada, happened.  (To be clear, this was not the awesome Dolly helping us). 

So lesson learned, when you use such tools, be sure your plan is comprehensive and dedicated to completing the experience.  That is the key to the maximum ROI.   

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Language and Service Part 3 – It’s a Small World: Serving All Your Customers

This is the last part in our series on the impact of language in the service industry.  

The first blog explored how service improves when the customer and service professional truly comprehend each other.   It’s not just basics of grammar and vocabulary, but a heartfelt connection.  (Read Here)

The second blog offered tips to help offshore call center representatives or non-Native English agents when they cannot understand the customer, if it is a USA based business. (Read Here)

Today’s blog covers when a call center agent cannot understand the customer because the customer does not speak the main language of the business.  Businesses are now global. Customer populations are diverse, and have to be for businesses to grow.   But how do we effectively serve this diversity?

Keeping It Real

I have a difficult time understanding anyone with accented English.  

It is no one’s fault.  They try, I try, but it unexpectedly extends any conversation by several minutes.  Part of it is I am partially deaf, and sometimes verbal communication is difficult for me.  Partly, it is easy to live in the United States only speaking one’s native language because of limited interaction with people outside of one’s cultural circle.  

But in this beautiful modern world, at some point when working in the service industry we will have to serve people we do not fully understand.

This is much easier in face-to-face interactions with the use of nonverbal gestures, and a smile goes a long way.  In a call, visual hints are unavailable, and many customers use cell phones to contact call centers, which can have unstable connections.  What can agents do to still create a successful service experience?  

The Gurus’ Training Solution to Serve English as Second Language Customers

1.       Immediate Take Action Now Solution – Be Nice first, and then Be Right

Always Be Nice.  Train your agents to be sensitive and have patience to this situation.  An agent’s job is to service any call, the easy and the complex.  Your organization has marketed to this customer that you will serve them with excellence, so it is up to the agent to deliver on this.
Ask the customer to gently slow down, and listen for key words.  When asking them to repeat information, be respectful.  There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than being asked to repeat information they believe was said crystal clear. 

It’s Critical to Be Right.  The agent must clearly recap to the customer what they said, and what action or information is being requested.  This is the only way to ensure both parties understand each other, and the agent is delivering the correct service.   Practice this repeatedly in role plays.  

2. Longer-term Organization Health Solution

Some companies strive to hire native speakers of all languages they serve.   Geographically, they are in a labor pool of international diversity and can do so.    

If you can do this, then do it. You will also need to investigate if a language pay differential is available.  In my Central Florida market, it is getting less common to pay for Spanish, but less available languages like Mandarin may still pay a compensation differential. 

Also understand as a business  who are your clients and customers.  If it is multinational, it would be an exercise to help your agents understand a little about different cultures.   Some cultures believe it is rude to ask questions, which can make a service interaction difficult.  Some cultures are very direct, and that can put an agent on the defensive.    Awareness can go a long way towards high customer service survey scores.

The end desire for customers and employees is to have a positive and effective service experience.   Challenges come in all sorts of wrappers at a call center.  This challenge is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition, by paying attention to niche segments of your customers.  This will only help you in the future, because it is a small world after all.