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"I am thankful for all those that said NO to me. It's because of them I'm doing it myself."
~ Albert Einstein
Reports from the NACC
NACC has been burning the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are
sore to bring out reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you
are interested to see what we are writing about, click on the links
below and download the executive summary of each. If you like what you
see, join the NACC so that you can view these reports and others that
will be coming out soon on our website. These reports will ensure
that you know the latest trends in the industry.
month we meet longtime NACC member Britt Swilley, Customer Service and
Call Center Manager at Walton EMC in Monroe, GA. Britt is an
active member of our NACC community and a solid supporter of our
research through his volunteer membership. Working for a
utilities company gives Britt a different perspective on customer
service, which we were anxious to learn more about.
Before we start talking about your career, I’ve got to ask about
your first name. It’s quite unusual. Is it a family name?
Any story behind it?
It’s not a family name. My name is John Britton Swilley and I have
always gone by “Britt.” My dad came up with the name on the way to the
hospital the day I was born.
NACC: How and when did you begin your career in customer service?
I have always been in the customer service industry. I worked at a
peach stand during the summers while in high school, worked in the food
service industry while doing my undergrad studies and have worked in
retail management and call center management ever since.
NACC: What is your role at Walton EMC?
JBS: I am the Consumer Service and Contact Center Manager.
It wasn’t that long ago that the terms “utilities company” and
“customer service” weren’t often used in the same sentence. What
has changed in the utilities industry that has made customer service
such an important function today?
For us, natural gas deregulation in Georgia was a major factor. When
you’re not the only game in town, you tend to hone your customer
service skills in order to keep your customers from leaving. Although
electric power is not deregulated in Georgia, I train my team to treat
our customers like it is. Folks remember how they’re treated.
has customer service in the utilities evolved during your tenure in the
industry? Do you see any parallels with other industries?
I believe the evolution of customer service in the utilities industry
has been slow but steady. I think that may be because of the fact that
so many utilities are used to having a built in customer base that has
no other options. However, as more and more deregulation talk occurs,
the utilities are realizing that fantastic customer service is an
NACC: What sparked your interest in the NACC?
JBS: I believe NACC to be the premier member organization for contact center folks.
NACC: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Spend quality time with my beautiful bride of 24 years, Andrea. I like
listening to local musicians here in Athens including my oldest son
John who is a singer/songwriter. We also enjoy watching our beloved
Georgia Bulldogs play football, especially one particular player -- our
youngest son Thomas.
Sounds like music and sports are a big part of your life. What
kind of music does John write and what position does Thomas play?
Are you a musician yourself?”
I taught John the only three chords I know and he took off with them. I
would describe his sound as a mixture of southern rock, blues and light
funk. Thomas is an offensive lineman. He’s a redshirt sophomore.
The whole family enjoys singing. Around here, we’re known as The
Swilley Family Song-A-Rama!
NACC: Any advice for someone considering or just starting a customer service career?
I tell anyone who asks that customer service is the most rewarding
career to have IF you put everything into it that you can. It takes a
special type of person to be able to put on a happy face and greet each
and every customer with a smile, either face to face, via chat, email
or phone. You must be willing and able to leave your world outside and
make sure each customer gets your very best every day.
you’d like to discover for yourself why Britt thinks the NACC is the
premier membership organization for customer service professionals,
please consider joining us as a volunteer member. Details are in
the brief article following Mark Fichera’s article below).
First Call Resolution: The First and Most Important Customer Service Performance Metric
Mark Fichera, CEO, OnBrand24, [email protected]
from Paul: This article was written by NACC volunteer member Mark
Fichera, who is the owner and CEO of OnBrand24, an outsourced call
center services provider with offices in Beverly, MA, Portsmouth, NH
and Savannah, GA. We encourage all NACC members to submit
articles and essays for our monthly newsletters. If you would
like to discuss an article idea for submission, please contact me. Your contributions will be welcomed.
Call center services performance can be measured in many ways, but too
many managers, believing that efficiency and quality are mutually
exclusive, put too much emphasis on the former at the expense of the
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Good call center oversight means a balance of both. And there is at
least one quality metric that contributes significantly to lower costs
while also boosting customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and,
ultimately bottom line revenue.
We are speaking of First Call Resolution (FCR), possibly the single
most important measure of call center performance. First Call
Resolution is a cross-over call center metric, one that reflects the
quality of support that your customer service representatives deliver
as well as a critically important efficiency measurement.
A high rate of First Call Resolution indicates several healthy trends
in your call center. It means your representatives are well
trained, highly knowledgeable and can explain complex information
clearly and comprehensibly.
all, most customers are fair-minded. They don’t expect vendors to be
perfect. But they do expect attention and assistance when problems crop
up. When they encounter poor support – that is, lack of First Call
Resolution –the negative impression arising from the original problem
is compounded and seriously undermines the customer relationship.
- It means strong knowledge of company processes, products, culture, services and brand.
demonstrates an ability to establish a good dialogue, including
placating angry callers, in a way that identifies the issue at hand and
delivers the right solution.
indicates the call center has good communications with the client
partner, that there is ongoing contact and information exchange
happening – in short, that the partnership is a healthy one.
means that you probably have a low rate of employee turnover, because
agent longevity means the accumulation of deeper knowledge over time.
it means that customers are favorably impressed with the quality of
support they receive, a highly valuable metric given the increasing
competitive advantage of good customer service.
This is not to say that efficiency metrics – such as call volume, call
length, call abandon rate, average talk time, average handle time and
average time to pick-up – are not important. But it is to say that too
much focus on these metrics can lead to a highly efficient call center
that is staffed at the right level, but which may be full of unhappy,
under-skilled and over-burdened representatives who don’t deliver
What’s the right rate of FCR? This depends on the program, the degree
of complexity of the product or service involved and the unique
requirements of the company and of its customers. But as a
general guideline, approximately 90 percent of inquiries should be
fully processed to the customer’s satisfaction on the first call.
How is this rate of FCR achieved? We’ve already touched on
several ways. It starts with open communication and a belief in ongoing
skill development and knowledge transfer between the call center and
the client partner. The more the call center knows about the client,
its products and processes the better will be the quality of customer
service and FCR.
This means giving the client open access to the call center, its
managers, program supervisors and the agents working on their program.
It means regular meetings, updates, program testing and program
improvement. It means recording all phone calls, emails and chat, and
sharing those that serve as model examples with the entire team.
It’s about having an open and “living” FAQ document that is constantly
expanding, is accessible to agents and organized in such a way that
allows agents to easily find the answers they need.
It’s about having an ethic that agent training and education never stops.
Good FCR also is supported by a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that
provides representatives with a single, comprehensive view of the
customer, including purchase history, previous interactions with the
call center and other historical insights.
And it’s supported by a strategic framework designed to achieve FCR
objectives. This means examining customer interactions in which FCR
failed to happen and identifying where the break-downs occurred. Were
representatives briefed on the relevant aspect of the product,
procedure or service? Does the agent have the tools at hand to find and
deliver the required information quickly? Was the agent new to the call
center, and therefore could not be expected to have the required
knowledge? Is there a free-flow of information open to all
representatives? Are supervisors and managers readily available to
agents who have questions? Are representatives given rewarding
incentives to achieve FCR objectives?
Strong FCR has an additional efficiency advantage that senior managers
truly appreciate: Lower call volume. Studies indicate that up to 20
percent of customer service inquiries are repeat calls due to, yes,
poor First Call Resolution. So a healthy FCR has the double benefit of
improving customer satisfaction while also reducing call center costs.
Join Us and Help Us Help The Industry
Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, [email protected]
you’d like to experience firsthand what members such as Britt Swilley
and many others gain through their volunteer membership with the NACC,
consider joining us. Volunteers join the NACC at no cost other
than 30 minutes of your time each year, plus whatever time you wish to
contribute to helping other members as need be throughout the
year. E-mail me directly with the word “Volunteer” in the subject
line and I’ll provide you the details of a no-cost volunteer membership.
Our biggest project of the year is always our year-end survey of
contact center professionals. The results of this survey form the
foundation of the research we conduct for the rest of the year so we
need a good response rate. My sincerest gratitude to those of you
who have already participated and, if you haven’t yet taken the four
minutes or so that it takes to complete our survey, please do so
now. You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NACC2015
Survey results will be shared in this newsletter throughout 2015 so please make sure your voice is heard by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NACC2015 and completing the survey.
By the way, we ask for no identifying information from respondents so
you are guaranteed that no salesperson or anyone else will bother you
as a result of your participation. We only ask for demographic
information so we can categorize and cross-tabulate results. Your
confidentiality is absolutely guaranteed.
The NACC is a not-for-profit, University-based research and membership
organization and we work on a shoestring budget. We don’t have
the funds that the media marketing companies have so we rely on the
kindness and cooperation of our readers to help with our
research. Please help us help the industry by participating in
our survey and we’ll continue to do our best to provide you with
relevant strategic information that we hope will enhance your
professional development and industry knowledge.
CEOs and Twitter: A Lesson For The Rest of Us?
Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, [email protected]
consider myself to be fairly active when it comes to social
media. I try to get on Twitter daily and pass along industry
information that I think other contact center industry professionals
will find interesting. Something compelling I’ve found along the
way, however, is the fact that when I tweet something about a company
CEO and try to mention him or her by their Twitter handle within the
context of my tweet, nine times out of ten they don’t have one.
This phenomenon is explained by a recent article I read in the Financial Times
(FT) newspaper. According to the FT, relatively few CEOs,
especially at large companies, have joined Twitter. Only 14
percent of CEOs of the world’s largest companies use social media as a
way to communicate. Of those CEOs who do participate in social
media their activity, for the most part, is sparse. Also telling
is the number of followers versus the number following for the CEOs who
were discussed in the FT article.
I have found
that among those tweeters that I follow, the ones with the most
followers are also following about the same number of people. For
example, if someone has around 2,000 followers, they nearly always
following around 2,000 people. Looks kind of like a tit-for-tat
game to me. How does anyone read the tweets of thousands of
people each day? Obviously no one can read that many posts so it
occurs to me that these people probably don’t read many, if any, of the
tweets of the thousands of people they follow.
CEOs, on the other hand, are quite different. For example, Apple
CEO Tim Cook has 910,000 followers but he only follows 38. Elon
Musk, CEO of Tesla, has 1.51 million followers but he follows only 40
people. Can someone reasonably expect to follow the daily tweets
of 38 or 40 people? Absolutely. Apparently CEOs have yet to
fall for the Twitter shell game. Perhaps that’s why they’re CEOs.
As more and more contact centers monitor social media as a customer
service channel, and companies shift their marketing tactics to digital
media I find it a curious phenomenon that the vast majority of the CEOs
of these same companies don’t bother with social media channels
themselves. As more companies mandate social media involvement
among their employees in the contact center and elsewhere, top
executives appear to be staying out of the fray. Seems to me this
is a clear case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
If you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at [email protected] and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm
or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC
appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
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