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Knowing Beats Hoping – the case for hacking employees

Q: When is it ethical to listen to other people’s phone conversations?

A: When it’s in the best interest of both parties. Making sure customer gets what they want, and helping staff achieve their objectives.

Maximising Customer Experience is the buzz expression these days. But less obvious is the benefit to the employee. But benefit they will. By identifying how they can improve their performance, we can not only help them achieve greater success and therefore greater job satisfaction, the resulting increase in customer satisfaction will assist profitability, which in turn translates into better employment conditions and good morale amongst work mates. They’ll be delivering for their employers and pulling their weight in a team. So what is at the heart of what ‘hacking’ or listening-in to calls to and from your organisation meant to achieve? What are we trying to measure?

It’s all about really knowing what your customers are experiencing. And it’s about knowing for certain, quantitatively, which of your sales staff are working hardest to find and keep customers. And it’s about understanding, qualitatively, how they’re managing to have more success than their colleagues. It’s also about discovering, for yourself, whether you’re selling what people really want to buy, and what else you might be able to sell them. Gold-dust from the horse’s mouth (excuse mixed metaphors). Of course you have to take care you don’t make a Summer out of each swallow, or knee jerk dealing with bad apples (mixing loads more metaphors). But, to continue the theme, there’s rarely smoke without fire.

These are such important factors for the success of your business, you simply can’t rely on keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that the information is going to find its way into your management. If you don’t ‘hack’ your customer contact staff, you’re relying on faith, hope or wishful thinking. The only way you can really know for certain what’s going on is to experience the way your organisation deals with customers, both reactively (ie in response to an enquiry or complaint), and proactively (making sales calls - whether the customer was previously interested or not). I’ve blogged elsewhere about the growing problem of Call Reluctance, so detecting it and resolving it is vital for all businesses who rely on sales staff making phone calls.

Listening in on your staff is not for the faint hearted. You’re on tenterhooks when you hear a salesman stumble over a question, get something wrong, or miss an opportunity to close a sale. But you swell with pride when you hear a customer service operator turn a complaint into a satisfied customer, or a salesman turn a cold call into a result. You immediately want to share their expertise or techniques with the whole of your organisation. You want best practice to pervade, and you want all your staff to be aware that interacting with customers is the lifeblood of your organisation and it can’t be done by halves. My previous company had a motto – Good enough is not good enough. Everyone has to be on their toes, and by recording calls you’ll develop a library of best practice examples to inspire and educate – and plenty of examples where better training or more care might have avoided damage to your brand and employee confidence.

This is the final frontier of Analytics – the human element of business. The bit computers can’t yet easily measure, but the bit in the supply chain that matters most – how your customers are treated and how well you persuade them to become customers in the first place. Keep your fingers crossed at your peril.

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