In This Issue
Tip of the Month - Coaching to Inspire
ICSA April Chapter Meeting
Ten Tips to Build Customer Retention
Does Attitude Impact Behavior?
2012 Top 5 Call Center Trends
Quick Links

tip of the month

10 Tips for Creating Positive Momentum   

  1. Take some time to clarify your desired future outcome. Success is seeing what you want and moving toward what you see.
  2. Visualize. Use visual reminders of your intention.
  3. Set clear goals with clear timelines.
  4. Be action-oriented. Get involved. Ask yourself, "How much and what kind of fun will I have with this project?"
  5. Fill your mind with inspiration. Go to seminars and attend conventions related to your goal.
  6. Take one risk a day. Get out of your comfort zone.
  7. Create a "customer focused" environment.
  8. Consistently review your top three intentions. (Via Customer Surveys & KPI's)
  9. Reward and celebrate.
  10. Have fun!




Date:  April 19, 2012  

Time: 11:30 - 1:30  

Location: AGL Resources Corp HQ, Ten Peachtree Place

Atlanta, GA  30309, 2nd floor auditorium  

Cost:  $15.00 early registration or $20.00 at the door. (lunch included)
Guest Speaker:  

Sherry Redden Evans 

Topic: Successful Customer Retention Strategies and Best Practices to Retain and Bring In New Customers.
The purpose of this presentation is to provide successful customer retention strategies and best practices.   Learn how to develop a customer retention program that fits your organization's needs to show your customer that you value their business. Learn how to take a more holistic view and measure the quality of service and support devoted to every touch point.  


To register for the April 19, 2012 by Credit Card Click Here  


There is limited free parking across the street from AGL Corp HQ.  Early registration is recommended.  Also, the MARTA Station is right next door.  We strongly recommend MARTA for easy access to downtown.    



June, 2012- Summer Social - Details to follow.


August 15, 2012 - Chapter Lunch & Learn Meeting Guest Speaker, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler AboutYOU, Inc. Topic: Managing UpPeter Drucker said that "you don't have to like your boss but you do have to manage him." The purpose of this meeting is to learn how to pose the right questions of managersWork with introverted and extroverted bossesWalk in step with company goalsHelp your manager succeed.


September 16-19, 2012  THE POWER OF SERVICE� ICSA Conference� Richmond, VA

Click Here for more information! 


October � ICSA Georgia Chapter AWARDS GALA -

Our chapter's annual GALA, an opportunity to provide extraordinary recognition for front line customer service professionals at companies throughout Georgia, will highlight National Customer Service Week (October 1-6, 2012). Does your company celebrate customer service wins? Let us know, and we'll share the news with our chapter members.  

For more information, or to reserve your table, please contact Roosevelt Stripling [email protected] or Al Doeve [email protected]


December Silent Auction � Chapter Social Event - Details to follow!


Be sure to check for details to upcoming events at

Ten Tips to Build
 Customer Loyalty
top 10 mistakes
  1. Experience what your customer experiences!  Walk in their shoes and experience your organization's customer touch points as they do. Stand in line, call your call-center, try going through the technical infrastructure (and menu options.) Send an email inquiry, visit the website.  Cover all social media options that your organization offers the customer to contact you.
  2. Make customer service a company-wide mission and LIVE IT. Those of you who know me, either through my training classes or have read any of my articles, know my mantra... "Each part represents the whole."  Please make sure everyone in your organization understands they are in customer service.  Any employee in your organization can impact the customer experience, from customer support staff to back office personnel.
  3. Be prepared to help upset customers.  Generally, you cannot solve a problem if you don't own the problem.  It's our job to help.  Stay involved until the issue is resolved; please don't pass it off and wash your hands of the situation.  Follow-up with the customer.  This builds customer loyalty and credibility for your organization. 
  4. Acknowledge that each and every complaint is an opportunity NOT an interruption to the work day!  Complaints are a great tool to collect feedback and problem solve your policies, procedures, and processes, right?  I have actually heard people say, "If they would just stop calling, I could get my work done."  (Need I say more?)
  5. Acknowledge and EMPOWER staff. Make sure your employees feel that they are a part of the team and realize their contribution to the organization's bottom line.  Don't make them feel like "warm bodies" placed there only to fill a position.
  6. Act QUICKLY when there is an issue. Don't make your customer feel like it takes an act of congress to receive help.  And please, don't transfer them more than once.  If more people or departments need to get involved, become an advocate and be a part of the process.  Don't leave them stranded. 
  7. Be sensitive to the technical infrastructure.  If you continue to receive complaints about the ease of use, acknowledge there could a problem.  Don't make excuses or blame the "end user" or the customer.  The system should easily guide the customer through the process.  The user should not have to work for the technical process; the process should work for the user, right? 
  8. Provide on-going customer service training and employee development.  Don't have the "one and done" training mentality.  Encourage everyone in your organization to continue to develop their customer service skills.  There is so much more to customer service than just "being nice."  Invest in training programs and if you are a manager, be prepared to coach your team and inspire them to become customer focused.
  9. Be enthusiastic and inspiring!  Don't be that person that everyone is glad did NOT come to work that day.  We are professionals and we are paid to be friendly, knowledgeable, and able to help, not to be rude and uncaring. Remember, however we treat each other in the workplace spills over to how we treat our customers...  that's called CULTURE.   
  10. Have FUN! Have fun with your customers and co-workers.  It builds customer loyalty, strong business relationships, and makes for a service- focused work environment. Customer relationships impact your organizations bottom line!   

For information on this powerful workshop contact us at [email protected] or call 770.772.7377!    

Service Matters Handshake
March 2012



Ten Steps to Active Listening

This months article is about listening skills. As managers, we all know that in the long run, poor listening habits WILL make you work harder NOT smarter, right?  So, I want to reintroduce you to "ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS 101."  I have prepared a list of ten easy steps to utilize throughout the workday to keep you on track when dealing with multiple tasks and issues all at the same time!  


I hope you find this article useful and that you will want to forward to your staff members!







 P.S. Check out #5 of the 2012 Top 5 Call Center Trends (look under feature articles).  Would love your feedback!  

The Power of Active Listening for Managers
By Sherry Redden Evans
power of listening
10 steps to active listening.

Listening skills continue to be the number-one skill hiring managers identify as most important to effectively conduct business.  Poor listening skills impact the problem solving and interpersonal skills process from the front line to top management. Poor listening skills will almost ALWAYS result in lost time and revenue and effect the organization's efforts to form strong service-oriented teams to compete in today's market place.  As we all know, service behaviors have a direct impact on the organization's reputation, and active listening skills are an intricate part of the puzzle to better service delivery for both the internal as well as the external customer.


There are two types of listening methods we tend to utilize while listening:  Attitude Listening and Active Listening.   Attitude Listening is when we don't really want to listen, and then are often confused by the negative outcome of a conversation.  You might choose this approach to conversations because you're too busy, or you think you already know what is going to be said.  We have closed our minds and jumped to conclusions, interrupted others, and even rolled our eyes or motioned for them to finish up.  Any of these bad behaviors and habits sounds familiar?   If you are not actively listening, you're not actually going to know what was said.  You're only going to THINK you know what was said.   Logically, this will most likely have a negative impact on the outcome of the conversation.


What is Active Listening? Active Listening takes practice AND effort.   It is a set of specific skills you CHOOSE to utilize during a conversation that improve your listening ability as well as your aptitude to respond appropriately. When you're actively listening, you are then able to give a sincere response, not one that makes you look like you're just "going through the motions" or offer a completely inappropriate response to the other person(s).    Better listening and communication will surely have a more positive impact on the end results, right?  Just a few of the benefits of becoming an active listener are:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved interpersonal skills
  • Avoidance of conflict, both with internal as well as external customers
  • Fewer complaints and misunderstandings
  • Positive increase in team and department morale. This "behavior" will hopefully spill over to others, which in turn could begin impacting the entire culture of the organization

As you can see, the benefits of deciding to become a better listener are huge.  The list is endless.  I'm sure you can add your own benefits to the list!


Now - there is no "magic bullet."  Remember what I said earlier - NO ONE can teach you to become a better listener until you 1) DECIDE you want to become a better listener, and 2) take RESPONSIBILITY for your own bad habits, behaviors, and attitudes.  Once those two things are addressed, you're well on your way to better listening and improved interpersonal and communication skills!


So keep reading!  Below are ten tips addressing attitude, behavior, and active listening.   And remember, you must be able to merge all of these together to become a good listener.


Ten Steps to Active Listening                           

  1. First - check your attitude.  Understand that, as a manager, it's one of your job requirements to be open and approachable - always - no excuses.   If you want honest, open communication from your employees, you need to be available to them when they need you.  Being available to your employees will increase morale in your department more than you could possible believe.
  2. Address any behaviors that get in the way of you becoming a better listener.  Don't allow email, texting, or phone calls to distract you while interacting with your employees or coworkers.  Stay focused on the conversation.   Remember, your behavior and attitude greatly influences your staff and their morale as well as your reputation within the workplace.  Make sure they know that you are interested and "in the present" with them always.
  3. Making good eye contact is key.  When you speak with someone, remember to look them in the eyes and smile.  It lets them know that you really ARE listening to them.  Also, it validates their importance as a human being. 
  4. Keep an open posture.  Don't slouch or "fold into your body" - it makes you look bored and disinterested or uncomfortable communicating with others. Relax and participate with the other person - ENGAGE in the interaction. 
  5. Gesture. This ensures others that you are participating and have feelings and opinions as well.  Gesturing allows your emotions to project throughout the conversation.
  6. Don't jump to conclusions.  Concentrate on the conversation and the person, not your next comment or rebuttal.  Don't interrupt or use negative gestures or sounds.
  7. Paraphrase and clarify.  The purpose of paraphrasing is to give you the opportunity to verify what you think you heard.  Here's an example:  Employee:  "Oh my gosh - I can't believe this.  I don't know WHAT to do!  I've been working on this report for days, and now the computer just crashed!  The information in this report needed to be to Mr. Anderson by 5 p.m. TODAY!  But, IT said they don't have time to retrieve the files for me. I guess I'll just have to start over and wing it in the meeting."   YOU:   "So what you're saying is if IT can't retrieve your files today, you will miss your deadline, is that correct?"  Paraphrasing and clarifying is critical during the problem solving process.   
  8. Request verification.  This, too, is a part of the problem solving and interpersonal skills process.  Once you have paraphrased and clarified, make sure that you request verification that your perceptions and assumptions are correct.  If you don't take this simple additional step, you could still have a miscommunication that will continue to cause additional problems.  Always verify. 
  9. Summarize the conversation. This shows that you've been actively listening, it provides you an opportunity to bring the conversation to a close, and allows you to address next steps and ongoing ideas, as well as getting your pulse on the "feelings" side of the conversation. 
  10. Show empathy.  For instance:  Employee:  "I just don't see how I can get this project done before Friday.  Susan is out and I'm already covering her calls as well as my own. I don't understand what your priorities are for me."   You:  "Sherry, I can tell you're feeling overwhelmed, and I know we've added a lot to your plate.  I'll see if we can have Susan's calls directed to HR until Friday.  During those times that the phones are covered, you can work on your project.  If you are available for OT any day this week, let me know.  How does that sound?" 

Please understand how important it is to be an empathic listener.  It shows that you care.  Once the person you're speaking with understands that, then you'll be able to move from the emotions on to other issues that need to be addressed.  If you don't address those emotions first, you're going to have a much harder time getting to the "bottom line."


Ok, so there you have it!  Remember - listening skills are one of the core competencies for successful interaction with others, and they are the number one skill that seems to be lacking in both front line employees and managers.


Good luck with your journey toward new listening skills!  Start practicing these simple steps that address active listening.  As a manager, your team takes your lead.  When you take the time to sharpen and improve your own listening skills, you will, more than likely, see them spill over to your staff.  The next thing you know, your staff is listening more actively to your customers and then everyone becomes a winner!  

Top 5 Call Center Trend Predictions for 2012

This year has seen a lot of changes in the call center space. Within an industry that is notoriously slow to change and embrace new technology, 2012 is going to buck that trend and show some major shifts in the industry. Predictions for 2012:

  1. Shift from premise-based systems to the cloud. In 2010, experts were predicting a shift to the cloud. And so it has come to pass and will continue to pass in 2011. Forrester is making optimistic forecasts for analytic, cloud computing and smart computing, based on their tracking of 40 Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vendors. Now that solid reports are available showing operating costs savings averaging 40% over five years, the only holdouts are those who have sunk too much into capital expenditures on newer infrastructure. Even so, many are dipping a toe into the cloud with hosted virtual desktops and other SaaS options.
  2. Heightened speed of transition from TDM to SIP. The SBC (Session Border Controller) market grew by 45% in 2010, increasing that market to $271 million. SIP trunking is the primary service provided by these SBC adopters and will continue to be through 2012. Let's face it; IP hardware is more reliable and flexible than old-fashioned TDM ware, and with more call centers requiring data streams to support multi-channel approaches to customer service, TDM is no longer an efficient solution.  SIP is rapidly becoming the standard, and it carries cost savings benefits as well.
  3. Technology winners will be providers of big data visualization. Analysts have estimated that 80% of business data is unstructured. Leaders in the trend towards big data will be those that can provide an analyst-in-a-box, with simplified data visualization that reduces the signal-to-noise ratio and provides curated, actionable information streams for the average user. While the specialized eye of a trained analyst can't be boxed, key data points required to make a decision can be. The frontrunners in the call center space will be those that can break and restructure the system of data visualization so that it can be used on a daily basis.
  4. Increased adoption of work-from-home model. In a 2010 survey of contact center decision makers, Forrester found that 35% of companies had plans for expanding their home agent program over the next year. And those who had already adopted the remote agent model reported expanded skills recruiting, decreased attrition, higher productivity and lower infrastructure costs. The case has clearly been made for the remote agent model, and 2012 will see an expansion of at-home agents. And why not? Organizations can even make the argument that their at-home workforce is greener and more environmentally friendly than a brick and mortar center.
  5. Return of focus to customer service over technology. While each trend listed above is a technology solution, what we will see more of in 2012 is technology enabling a return to customer-centricity. As more organizations adopt cloud and SIP technology, send their workers home to be happier and more productive and use big data to drive decisions, the ultimate result will be counterintuitive: more time to focus on the original value of the call center, which is the opportunity to provide cutting edge customer service that keeps customers loyal.

Article taken from Spoken Communications News, opinions and information on the state of call centers, virtual contact centers and IVRs worldwide.




If you would like information on our services, webinars or on-site workshops, please give us a call at 770.772.7377 or shoot us an email at sherry@evansconsultinggroup.  We'd love to hear from you!



Sherry Redden Evans
Evans Consulting Group
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