Case Study: RCDA’s Quality Conversation Methodology and Continuous Improvement Process (CIP)

Company Profile

Client is a regional telco and provider of advanced broadband services, digital TV, high-speed Internet and phone services to rural and underserved markets in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. They started business in 1902 as a small phone company serving Virginia’s Northern Shenandoah Valley.

  • Previous Year Revenues: $572.5 M
  • Subscribers: 722,600
  • Employees: 1,200

Challenges

RCDA discovered the following challenges in the client’s call center organization.

1. Call Center Reps

  • Very few call representatives are true sales people. Most come from retail and customer care backgrounds.
  • Legacy customer service and tech support reps are the most resistant to change.
  • Reps don’t take a genuine interest in the customer.
  • They have trouble transitioning from a service to a sales conversation.
  • They don’t know how to ask questions to determine the customer’s wants and needs WINs.

2. Supervisors

  • One-on-one coaching is one-sided and dominated by the supervisors telling the reps what to do.
  • Most supervisors need to improve their knowledge of the industry and the client’s products and services.
  • Coaching focuses on metrics, not behaviors that drive change. Supervisors coach to tips and tricks, instead of a process.
  • Supervisors do not have skin in the game, as none of their income is tied to team performance.

3. Reporting

  • The call center lacks detailed, daily reporting on RGU and upgrade close rates. Reps are provided with sales results once a month. Many reps manually track their sales results.

Solution

RCDA provided the client with a two-part approach to build a world-class sales culture.

1. Create, train and implement a call flow geared at having a Quality Conversation with customers.

RCDA enhanced current client processes and procedures by utilizing RCDA’s OnSite model and exclusive Quality Conversation methodology and robust call flow. The Quality Conversation is a meaningful and mutually rewarding dialog that occurs when a person takes and clearly conveys a genuine interest in another individual’s wants, interests and needs (WINs). It goes beyond building rapport to make an emotional connection and establish real trust. Practicing The Quality Conversation with authenticity and proper skills shows others that you truly care and are genuinely interested in them.

RCDA integrated the Quality Conversation into the client’s current workflow called GUEST (Greet, Understand, Educate, Solve and Thank). During the Understand part of the call flow, we trained the reps to conduct robust discovery to understand the customer’s situation fully, so they can get to the root cause of the issue and solve it once and for all. It is also important to understand the customer’s WINs. This way, when it is time to transition to sales, the rep is on solid ground and can make recommendations based on those WINs instead of just throwing out a pitch. RCDA developed questions that uncover the WINs for faster Internet, additional RGUs and additional services.

RCDA trained more 80 reps, call center leadership and the learning and performance team (trainers and quality Advocates). Over six weeks, RCDA consultants and client supervisors continued the training and coaching on the call center production floor, observing live calls and conducting just-in-time side-by-side coaching sessions.

2. Implement a leadership continuous improvement plan (CIP)

RCDA implemented a robust CIP framework by engaging leadership at all levels, training them on sustainable feedback and a development loop focused on identifying and coaching to desired behaviors. All CIP activities are designed to:

  • Improve performance, increase sale performance and reduce attrition.
  • Improve communications.
  • Improve manager, supervisor, team lead and TSR/CSR development.
  • Create a sense of belonging.

The CIP tactics included:

Tactic 1: Week-in-the-Life-Of (WILO/Structured Day)

The strategy included a WILO/Structured Day specifying the daily schedule for all managers and supervisors and facilitating daily plans for completing three critical activities:

  • Administration activities (eliminating time wasters)
  • Performance management (activities that drive performance, whether with people or production)
  • People management (coaching, interacting, and identifying behaviors that lead to employee growth)

The benefit of WILO/Structured Day is that it eliminated activities that took leaders away from weekly priorities such as poor planning and unnecessary meeting. RCDA and the client were able to restructure the Supervisor’s day so that 75% of their time is spent doing the most important thing: Representative coaching and development.

Tactic 2: Skill Transfer

The Skill Transfer tactic is based on establishing a positive learning environment that provides encouragement and accountability. RCDA taught and managers and supervisors how to introduce and teach new behaviors and selling methods to the reps by providing opportunities to practice in a safe environment, develop the new skills, and build confidence and commitment.

Tactic 3: Side-by-Side (SBS) Coaching

RCDA taught and coached managers and supervisors on a proven coaching process built around an agenda that guides it. This is a 15-minute to 30-minute interaction during which the coach meets with a rep to provide feedback regarding strengths and areas of opportunity observed during a live or recorded call. This time reinforces the mindsets and behaviors critical to improving KPI performance. It also allows the coach to develop a rep’s call-handling skills while closing performance gaps over time.

RCDA recommended four SBS Coaching sessions per month with each rep, and the client agreed readily. The WILO/Structured Day plan held supervisors accountable to conducting SBS Coaching.

Tactic 4: One-on-One Goal Setting Meetings

RCDA trained and coached client leadership on One-on-One Goal Setting Meetings to conduct monthly with each rep. The objective is to establish rapport with the rep, praise past performance, review current KPIs and performance, build a game plan to the desired situation, affirm confidence in the rep. The One-on-One Goal Setting Meeting is also the forum to have a conversation with the rep around career goals and personal development.

Tactic 5: Quick Laps

Quick Laps allow supervisors to keep the reps’ stated commitments in the forefront of their minds and guide them toward top performance. Coaches get up from their seats, make the rounds and speak to each rep two times per day, again congratulating reps for their accomplishments and reminding them of their commitments when they’re falling short.

RCDA worked side-by-side with each manager and supervisor to model Quick Laps, observed live Quick Laps, and provided real-time coaching and feedback.

Tactic 6: Monthly Team Meetings

Monthly Team Meetings allow coaches to focus the team, build self-confidence and excitement among reps, and conduct training on specific tasks or processes. These meetings incorporate the skill transfer process and a prescribed agenda incorporating recognition, KPI review, business updates and focus on hot topics.

RCDA’s Unique Approach

Getting best practices delivered in training to take hold and become part of the culture is no easy task. It takes weeks of coaching and reinforcement. RCDA didn’t leave after the training was completed. RCDA consultants got out on the call center floor for four weeks, coaching client managers, supervisors and reps one-on-one until they achieved sustainable skill transfer. The consultants modeled ideal behaviors with managers, supervisors, trainers and quality advocates, coaching and mentoring them on these behaviors until they could carry them out with excellence.

This is the most important component of the program in terms of mastery and sustainability. During adoption period, RCDA stayed onsite with the staff using a tri-level observation approach (Consultant-Coach-Agent). RCDA consultants observed supervisors and managers conducting real-time coaching and provided immediate feedback to them on their coaching strengths and opportunities. Repetition of the learned coaching skills was critical in making behavior coaching a habit for the managers and supervisors.

Benefits

The client’s customer service sales performance is measured by RGU close rate. The vice president of customer service reported she was 50% closer to her December RGU goal by mid-month compared to previous months that year.

With the tactics and coaching put in place by RCDA, the client’s RGU close rate increased in December by 468% over the average close rate from September-November.

The client’s tech support sales performance increased from a 2.98% close rate in October to 4.14% in November, an increase of 139%.

Additionally, the Technical Support department’s sales of value add products such as line protection and data security increased significantly.

Individual reps experienced personal successes as a result of RCDA’s coaching and GUEST call flow training:

  • A senior CSR met her December RGU goal of 26 by December 20. By comparison, she had 8 RGUs in November. She was originally resistant to The Quality Conversation but is now a convert and champion.
  • Another rep had his personal best-selling day with 10 RGUs and 4 upgrades on December 20.
  • One of the lowest performing sellers had her personal best-selling day on December 13 with 9 RGUs and 4 upgrades.

Robert C. Davis and Associates
Bob Davis, Founder and CEO | 678-548-1775 | bob@robertcdavis.net
Brad Baumunk, President and COO | 512-695-2511 | brad@robertcdavis.net