Case Study: RCDA develops and delivers a custom Quality Conversation training and coaching program for BPO Vertex and its client, a major utility in Georgia

Challenges

New leadership at Vertex, a BPO serving a major utility company in Georgia, saw that a nine-month strategy implemented at the site previously was not working. Vertex handles two types of calls for the utility:

  1. Service Turn-On: For the most part, these are easy order-taking calls
  2. Market Switch: These calls often call for strong selling skills that agents didn’t have.

Many customers were calling for pricing and hanging up and then choosing or switching to other providers. Some 2,000 relationships had been lost. Close rates ranged from 18% to 30%. Vertex and the utility were not happy with these results, and the cost per call was far too high.

A Need for Culture Change and The Quality Conversation

Vertex’s executive over client management and operations knew that culture change was required and brought in RCDA to deliver the change.

In mid 2014, RCDA performed a site assessment at the Vertex contact center in Kennesaw, GA, and created a customized sales training and coaching program. The purpose of this program was to create a world-class sales culture at Vertex for the utility.

The program was based upon RCDA’s exclusive Quality Conversation methodology. RCDA defines The Quality Conversation as a meaningful and mutually rewarding dialog that occurs when an agent takes, and clearly conveys, a genuine interest in a customer’s wants, interests, and needs. It goes beyond building rapport to make an emotional connection and establish real trust. Practicing The Quality Conversation with authenticity and proper skills shows customers that you truly care and are genuinely interested in them. The approach has been proven to drive more sales, higher customer retention and superior customer service and satisfaction.

RCDA built the sales training program to cover The Quality Conversation approach to the greeting, full discovery, solution and offer, overcoming objections, and an assumptive close. Participants learned how to use features, bridges and benefits to connect the utility’s offerings to the customers’ wants, interests and needs (WINs) disclosed in full discovery.

Coaching training around The Quality Conversation encompassed vision and values, a “Day in the Life Of” structured day model for supervisors and proven coaching tactics. The coaching tactics included:

  • Monthly one-on-one meetings
  • Skill transfer
  • Side-by-side sales coaching
  • Quick laps on the floor
  • Team sales meetings (huddles)

The Winning Approach

Vertex leadership attributes the success largely to how RCDA built The Quality Conversation approach into the program, starting with distribution within the site of copies of The Quality Conversation book authored by RCDA President and CEO Bob Davis. This began the dialog in the site environment around what the approach gains: customer buy-in, rapport, cross-selling, improved customer perceptions of the company and positive culture change leading to desired results in sales, retention and customer service.

Vertex reported that the other key to success was immersion. RCDA learned the business (the challenges of selling the commodity of utilities), listened to calls and built the program to fit in with clearly established guidelines and limitations. They listened, sat in meetings, discovered obstacles, built relationships and understood the voice of the company and its people. This help launch the culture change with immediate credibility.

RCDA delivered initial sales training and coaching program in summer 2014.

The company returned in summer and fall 2015 to reinforce the sales and coaching training with an emphasis on retention, using a robust discovery process and an overcoming objections process for cancellation calls. The secondary goal, after increasing close rates, was to reduce inbound cancellations.

Results

The projects drove exceptional gains in the close rate:

  • In February 2014, the close rate was 29%. After the first RCDA program the close rate rose to 38% (June 2014) and 47% (November 2014). After the second program the close rate rose to 54% (June 2015) and 58% percent (December 2015). So the close rate doubled from program inception.

In addition to the close rate gains, RCDA drove vast improvement in quality through the feedback loop established with agents.

  • In February 2014, before the RCDA program, 18% of the agents were failing quality assessments with scores from 0% to 40%.
  • Post RCDA, only 9% of the agents were failing, but even among those agents, the scores were no lower than 42%. The effort removed every agent from the previous lower third of performance.

The net results were much higher customer satisfaction scores as measured by JD Power, higher morale within the contact center, and millions of dollars in added revenue.

Vertex doubled its budget for RCDA in 2016 based on one critical measure: The return on investment (ROI) in RCDA’s program was in the neighborhood of 1,000%.