I. Recruiting and Retention
At Northwest, we know that selecting our employee agents correctly is a key first step in being successful on your campaigns. They are the ones who will deliver sales performance, great customer support, and in all cases a great customer experience. That requires hiring the right people, training them appropriately, rewarding them appropriately, and placing them on the right campaigns. Our businesses depend on it.
Recruiting and Selection
We employ a structured recruiting and selection process. This process includes pre-employment testing, post testing interviews (two at least), a post-testing pre-employment class video followed by a question and answer period,combined with a staff experienced in assessing a candidate’s potential for multiple client campaigns. We often use post test role-playing to assess a prospective employee’s aptitude for sales or customer service. Periodically, it is appropriate to tailor recruiting for a specific client, but for the most part we only recruit with multiple campaigns or clients in mind. Background checks are performed on all new hires.
The importance of retaining the right talent is vital. Northwest offers incentive and benefits designed to be on the higher end of call center service bureaus in proximity to our locations. Sales agents are often driven by a different set of motivation and incentive packages that combine significant financial rewards for performance and quality as well as competitive recognition. Customer service agents that interact with your customers have different skill sets than sales agents, and in order to support the retention of these agents we typically provide incentive packages based on comprehensive knowledge, quality of the interaction, and client-driven metrics for handle time and first call resolution. In the end, experienced and motivated agents deliver a definable and ideal customer experience.
For those agents who wish to advance into positions of evaluation, supervision or coaching, we start with a testing phase on core competencies to identify coaching and communication styles. This process, coupled with their success on client campaigns, helps us to best place them in the appropriate leadership position. A role within the Quality Assurance department is considered equally as important as
the role of team lead or supervisor. All NDM supervisors and QA staff have risen through the ranks from their first role as a call center agent, which gives them an enhanced sensitivity to the agent experience.
II. Training and Development
Finding the right people at the onset of a new project is critical to its success. So too is providing those agents with client-specific training. It is our goal for agents to reach a certain level of competency and accomplishment before ever leaving training. Our agents continue to grow and improve as a result of honest communication, client feedback, refresher training, advanced continuing education, company and client-specific performance reviews, career advancement planning, a clean and safe work environment, a positive and empowering atmosphere, and a comprehensive rewards program for reaching and exceeding client-specific performance objectives.
Coaching for Superior Performance requires training and experience. Our coaching program is successful, in large measure, because it is structured and developed with adult learning in mind. We have developed a proprietary, 6-step, training and certification program for Supervisors, Team Leads, and QA department staff. The result is floor leaders who deliver outstanding performance results by communicating effectively with our agents. Agents respond because there is a consistency of approach, understanding of mutual goals and focus on client metrics.
III. Performance Management
Our approach at Northwest for call center program management requires constant communication with our clients and call center managers. We do not embrace a single point of contact unless that is what you, our client, desires. Our account managers are the lead contact for our clients but not the exclusive contact by any means. Regular contact with our call center managers is encouraged.
We engage new clients at the onset by providing a new project checklist and implementing joint project development sessions with the teams who will be leading their success. Our goal is to bring all key parties responsible for the program together to develop and fine tune implementation requirements and a time line for project launch.
Experience & Access
Northwest Program Managers have, on average, more than 12 years of call center program development, scripting and deployment, reporting, and client communication experience. They interact with all members of the Operations team, from Call Center Managers to IT department staff, from QA staff to Executive Management. In most instances, they act as a single point of contact for the client. Program Managers have the responsibility of evaluating campaign performance throughout the day and are empowered with the authority to effectuate change immediately. Clients are free to contact anyone within our organization as we believe they should have full and transparent access to our staff.
IV. Quality Assurance
Understanding the Assignment
One of our first tasks is to work closely with our client to define program objectives and develop the monitoring and evaluation form, which will be used to evaluate agent performance. Evaluations are maintained for several years. Once the evaluation form is developed, it is up to the Program Manager and QA department to communicate and implement the client’s quality standards within our organization. Weekly monitoring and calibration sessions between our QA team and our clients results in an ongoing, fine-tuning process of QA standards and implementation. All inbound and outbound calls are recorded which lends itself to a healthy amount of data for performance enhancement, training and compliance.
Members of our QA staff must go through a certification process before they are allowed to score calls and give advice to supervisors and team leads. They are not permitted to give advice directly to our call center agents. One of the tools our QA staff uses is email and intercompany chat with our supervisors and team leaders, which allows them to communicate to the floor in real time.
Quality Assurance is more than a compliance and measuring tool. Quite often we identify opportunities to package product or service offerings based on customer feedback. Our program managers are particularly adept at identifying these opportunities.
At Northwest, we maintain and continually reinvest in cutting-edge technology that allows us to provide a multitude of interactive call center and BPO solutions, to include:
- Fully redundant Open Scale ACDs, with Advanced call center reporting capabilities,
- Inbound Platform with a robust range of IVR solutions including voice recognition and automated transfer,
- Powerful scripting, skills-based routing, flexible call transfer, chat and email,
- Outbound Predictive, Preview and Manual Dialing. Not all Outbound dialers are equal. Many are no more than power dialers, falling well short of the better dialers on the market. We have selected our dialer for a reason and only after significant on-site testing,
- State of the Art Digital Recording with blind monitoring, campaign specific performance evaluation reports and trends, easy and secure access to recorded calls,
- Redundant voice, data, hardware and telecom. Physical and data security systems meeting PCI certification requirements.