Durban South Africa, February 26, 2021 – Ec3 today announced that the company has placed 1st in the annual Global Contactcenterworld.com Awards in two categories. Competing against 2000 entrants from 70 countries after winning the EMEA Awards in 2020 saw them go through as Finalists in two award sections: Best Outsourced Contact Center (med size) and Best Use of Social Media .
Clint Waltman (Director) represented Ec3 at these virtual awards who described the event as unbiased and highly competitive for national pride. “Being a small Durban-based boutique contact centre, it was truly humbling to hold up our South African flag for fellow outsourcers at this event. We really hope that more business comes the way of South Africa after proving we can go toe-to-toe against international competitors.”
“These recognitions in the EMEA and World markets underscore the agility, innovation and flexibility of Ec3 to provide world-class services on the greater stage.”
Now in its 15th year, these awards are regarded by many as the most prestigious awards in the industry and a few even refer to them as being like the Olympics for our industry as it's not just company competing against the company, but nation against nation!
The Top Ranking Performers Awards are the ultimate industry awards for the contact centre industry and are exclusively available from ContactCenterWorld.com - the Global Association for Contact Center & Customer Engagement Best Practices with around 205,000 members in 200 countries.
The association is the World’s largest association for Contact Center & CX professionals with over 205,00 professional members. ContactCenterWorld.com was founded in 1999 and runs the largest awards program for our industry, the highest rated events, offers networking for members, has over 40,000 documents online and offers daily tips, benchmarking data, employee engagement and customer experience programs.
Be careful of what you wish for. Have you heard this prophetic warning before somewhere? Never before have so many people who wished for solitude; isolation; time-out and a break rued those wishes.
Working from home (WFH) has been a dream of many people across cultures and boundaries, often ending in despising non-officebound colleagues for the freedom gained by having a flexible lifestyle. Flexible often showing up as flexi-time at the office, or even being based at home and never schlepping into the work environment. Many an envious eye was glanced the way of sales reps and mobile / independent contractors and fellow employees.
What a few weeks have have done to change perceptions, and the novelty has probably started to rapidly wear off with ever evolving Covid-19 lockdown extensions! Why?
Human beings are naturally social beings, loving and hating interactions with people in offices around the globe.The gossip at the coffee machine or water cooler; the instant message texting under the boardroom table mocking the manager giving another boring lecture on XY or Z. People don’t enjoy the long commutes every day, let alone the costs involved to get to work yet life demands that we follow the routine to earn a living to survive and bring up our families and educate our children. Rince. Repeat.
It’s been fascinating observing dynamics in our own environment with staff attempting to adjust to this new normal of working from home. Having being home-based for 7 years already, I’m loving the new and more frequent interactions on House Party with staff whom I ordinarily don’t spend much time with, being that my real office is 1,600 kms away! It’s this unique voyeuristic vantage point that I’m observing some realisations afresh.
No technology or great communication apps can totally bridge the gaps and keep our beloved staff entirely happy. Look, it’s made a heck of a difference and we’re super-fortunate to keep everyone employed and our partners happy… don’t get me wrong. But, it’s becoming more and more apparent that work and the space it physically takes up is really the great escape for many people.
Being in this unique solitary confinement with families has possibly more cons than pros. Tempers are flaring more often between spouses and children just due to boredom and the forced physical co-location. It’s no longer possible to nip down to the shops / bar / surf / mountainbike / run for a few hours to let off that steam. Normal social interactions like BookClub or Boy’s Night Out have gone into limbo, with no natural easing of tensions or venting possible. Add fuel to this fire is the inability to smoke or have a light tipple.
This is where empathy and balance of routines to check-in with staff at a different level becomes essential. Emotional intelligence of even the best leaders is now being stretched further than ever due to necessity. The pressures of work, financial insecurity and uncertainty about the future requires a gentler way, balanced with a reminder that work must go on and standards are standards.
Encourage your guys to plug into their favorite music on their earbuds, watch enlightening YouTube or TED Talks and read (downloading) versus getting negative information media overload. The current Corona 24×7 news on every channel does nothing to lessen our stress hormones, which in turn wastes precious bodily energy best saved to fight off viruses and the like.
BREATHE. RELAX. This too shall pass.
An excellent article discussing new technologies including artificial intelligence and niche operators.
It is well known and generally accepted that the cost of acquiring new customers is 5x more costly than retaining existing ones.
In the typical sales funnel, when you factor in marketing costs & sales headcount this is becoming increasingly challenging. To top it all, very few prospects are amenable to moving suppliers or products unless the pain of change is worth it. In other words, margins are cut in the acquisition race - unless you have a great salesperson who sells on service/value etc. Ultimately this means it's tough to get a decent ROI.
The iceberg effect especially when acquiring B2C clients, is the associated risk of unknowns. New clients who are often first-time-buyers, bring the highest risk of credit default. Ironic then that most businesses still deem it prudent to upping the ante and throwing the angel, tree and tinsel at new clients.
Breakeven acquisition costs are being pushed into uncharted territories every day - it's not uncommon to see in breakevens only after two years! This is bad business however you slice and dice it. Sadly, where customer base size is still being seen as the primary yardstick for success, the red-headed stepchild of average revenue is truly where the gold lies.
Do you want bottom line profit or the vanity of a bloated customer base that costs you more to keep growing and servicing?
The elephant in the room is retaining what you have, and nurturing that like you would you own child. Would you over-feed them until they become sick and obese? Would you neglect them and only give them the bear minimum to survive? Probably not.... Balance is required, but the primary intention is that they grow into the adults you would be proud of.
Customers leave when they feel they are being abused or neglected, and the underlying essence of this is TRUST. By not proactively engaging with them to understand what they really want, you are laying yourself open to being ravaged by the Viking hoard! In the blink of an eye your hard-acquired customer base has leaked out like water from a bath.
So how do you keep the bath plug in place, or at least secured enough to minimise the leakage?
The fish rots from the head. Until the shareholders and Boards have RETENTION at the core of the business and are committed to throwing everything at it, this will only be a buzzword. Paying lip service to customer retention strategies are unfortunately commonplace, and they continue to default back to chasing the new numbers of acquisition. Don't get me wrong - it's critical you keep topping up the bath and growing, but it's so much easier when your boat doesn't have leaks!
Mix Telematics and Ec3 sign strategic partnership
Managing Director of Mix Telematics, Gert Pretorius and Clint Waltman concluded a strategic retention partnership agreement in Durban 2018.
It is the first time in Mix's illustrious history to outsource a portion of it's business to an external provider, and is testament to the faith that a dual listed company like Mix Telematics has with the reputation of Ec3. A long and successful partnership is envisaged, with a win:win outcome for both parties.
It’s well known that folks born in economic prosperity of that post-war aftermath are called Baby Boomers. Their children comprise Generation X, born in the 60s and 70s, who grew up in the 80s. I fall bang in the middle of this, loving the fact that I can say I’m a 69er…
New Romantic music like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and U2 still fill my playlist daily as I drive to graft. I need this to put me a in a better mood whilst I ponder the day’s challenge of herding cats. No, not quite. Managing Millennials isn’t really like this, but certainly feels this way to most “ballies”!
Don’t give up hope, you just need to know WHY they are the way they are….and gurus like Simon Sinek have it pretty much taped that WE are to blame for creating Frankenstein! WHAT? SHOCK! HORROR!
This part certainly resonates the most with me…“failed parenting strategies” he calls it. I agree – we WERE told we were special – like Pinocchio? A real boy?
The age of the 80s and 90s meant we were inundated with business books like Tom Peters and positive thinking YES!YES!YES! speakers. Just because you want it, means you must go and get it. Did you necessarily deserve it is beside the point….
We in turn have told our children that everyone like would be getting something under our chair ala Oprah…everyone is equally special and clearly deserving. Just believe in the Secret, put it “out there” and the universe will automatically deliver you genie-like wishes. LOL if only it was so simple.
So what do we as employers do?
#1. Manage their expectations. They WON’T change the world in three months, feel enlightened or get promoted by just showing up.
#2. Seek prospective employees who have the grit and old fashioned “no quit” gumshen!
#3. Do give them “likes” and encouragement. “Old men die for it and babies cry for it” hasn’t changed across the generations even though Instagram seems to define how much they feel they are valued in society.
#4. Definitely try to adopt a more flexible working environment if you business allows for it. These precious creatures love flexibility and probably value this above commissions and other long term perks like medical aid.
#5. Do embrace their difference and dependence on social media, gadgets and travel experiences they crave. The longer you try and force feed traditional carrot and stick methodologies the more frustrated you as cat-herder will feel!
If you LISTEN and are prepared to ADAPT, you make this work in a country where there is an abundance of unemployed (not unemployable!) youth.
Most of my over - 45 business colleagues have a belief that it’s only Millenials who won’t return phone calls, emails or messages. For a long time I’ve also been one of this group who stereotype young internet / Netflix-and-chill / online lighties as not having manners or respect to return messages. OK, I exaggerated a bit: Some people return messages—quickly and informatively. But most do not.
I understand that in this always on, wired-in world that there is so much noise out there that something can get lost in the matrix…. point taken. I also admit people are really busy – but seriously, too busy to pop a quick emoji of acknowledgement? What disturbs me is that people don’t seem too disturbed about this…
Call me a “ballie”, but I always felt that like opening doors for ladies, returning messages was important, a sign of reliability, a good thing in business. I’ve always made it a point to return all messages regardless of whether it was an unsolicited email or Whatsapp message. I might have left just a very short voice mail or a brief email, but I still returned them. I viewed it as a responsibility.
It comes down to two things that leave a bitter taste in my mouth: People are lazy or just plain rude.
Don’t you love these acronyms? CX, or Customer eXperience has morphed over the years from pursuing WOW (sorry Tom Peters) to simply giving better customer service. So what’s the difference?
Experience – the expectations that consumers have today have gone Warp Factor 5 since the advent of the internet, and more so mobility combined with social media.
Everyone has a voice, and more and more people want to be heard or at least feel that someone has heard them and has acknowledged their gripe. But being heard above all the noise and the 7+ billion people on the planet is difficult. The frustrations escalate – quickly. A mild emotion can go into full-blown rage if there hasn’t been a response on Facebook, Twitter or an online chat request. Gone are the days of waiting patiently for a few days as the ante has seriously been upped! HelloPeter here we come…
What’s the big boo-ha then? E-M-O-T-I-O-N. And this isn’t a Zulu word for “go”!
Emotions are directly linked to an experience, good or bad that clients have when they interact with you. But there are two important factors that influence their lifecycle or intensity. TIME and EMPATHY.
As time ticks on without any response to a request, invariably mild frustration leads to irritation which leads to anger. Unless tempered early on, companies are faced with the very real risk of losing a client or churning, and along with it the invariable foghorns on social media or around the dinner table. Sadly everyone’s patience has evaporated. This is not unlike seeing two blue ticks denoting read, when sending a WhatsApp message. This frustration of not even receiving a thumbs-up emoticon of acknowledgement drives people into a frothing frenzy. So, be warned – ensure you have a multi-channel strategy to service your clients, but don’t be a Doris…make sure they are MANNED with people who have EMPATHY.
Purely having a pulse and responding to these channel interactions is not enough. If you are merely ticking the box for the CX Director you are missing a trick. Without a sincere and deep understanding of the client’s emotional roller coaster they are going through, you may as well hire a bot or an auto-answer responder. With no EQ. these bums-in-seats are as useless as ejection seats on a helicopter.
TIP: there are thousands of experienced or even retired people out there who probably are desperate for extra income. Hire folk who have been around the block, and have years of being frustrated consumers.
If you want to retain your hard-earned customers, then get serious about the experience they receive at every touchpoint
Don't you hate it when you're excitedly telling someone a story, and before you've finished they've interjected and taken the wind out of your sails with regaling their own story?
It isn't merely being disrespectful for the person ....it's shockingly reflective of the me-myself-&-I narcissistic world we live in.
Are parents today teaching their children proper manners...or is it just me who is feeling exasperated at the insincerity of it all?
Has Instagram or hey-check-how-amazing-my-life-is-on-Facebook turned it's users into 3 second goldfish? Click-click-click-NEXT! Clearly it seems we're not getting enough dopamine or happy drugs with our likes and responses. :-( (emoticon)
This has filtered down into how we interact with people, be it face to face or over the phone. The impatience of it all in our rushed lives means we barely give people the real time and respect to tell their own stories with unbiased judgement, or "well-you-think-THAT's-amazing....let me tell you a story of what happened to ME!"
Here are a few tips to help you to not only improve your listening skills, but will result in you being perceived as a nice guy (or conversationalist).
Just being a good listener isn't hard work, but it does take discipline.
I detest using cliches, but on this topic one probably needs to use a definition at the very least to start some debate or thinking….Here goes anyway: What is DISRUPTION?
As a verb: Interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem.
Synonyms: throw into confusion, throw into disorder, throw into disarray, cause confusion/turmoil in, play havoc with, derange, turn upside-down, make a mess of;
It’s pretty bizarre when you read this definition that this adjective is used in such a negative way...
Where would we be today without streaming services – Netflix? Can you imagine not checking your smartphone 40 times a day to voyeuristically observe people on social media – Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn? UBER-ization has fundamentally shifted the old transportation paradigms so much that within a few years it’s become a verb like to “Google”?
High speed broadband (mobile) has essentially helped 3rd world countries leapfrog decades of slow fixed-line roll-outs. Without mega-shifters like Elon Musk and TESLA / SolarCity / SpaceX would we be even considering the real possibility of moving away from fossil fuels to the degree that we are, nevermind even contemplating trips to MARS!?
There are so many examples of new businesses and technologies that have added positively and massively to the development of our species. So why then are people so afraid of change? Is it too risky or scary for more traditional / conservative folk to try to avoid the slow evolution of man and skip a few steps? Or is it just fear of the unknown and where these new paths may us to?
Playing “safe” and not embracing what is possible has led to many cultures feeling angry at this radical thinking. In 2016 we saw the bookmakers making millions by betting against BREXIT. We saw the “silent majority” turn tail at the polls and elect the biggest disruptor to the highest office.
Back in the fifties, sociologist Lewis Coser advocated that change is good. However, in closely knit groups in which there exists a high degree of interaction and personal involvement, there is a tendency to suppress conflict. This suppression of frustration can play out in quite dangerous ways if there is no easy way to “vent” or debate. As we have seen recently in the anti-Trump rallies, there can often be occasions for hostility.The acting out of such feelings is sensed as a danger to intimate relationships, and hence there is a tendency to suppress rather than to allow expression of hostile feelings.
So if we are to embrace this disrʌption, what needs to change at a personal and societal level?
My view is adopting a new mindset – one that comes out of the closet and with glee screams out that the only constant in this new age, is CHANGE. As soon as you come to terms with living out on the “skinny branch” and that life will forever be unpredictable, you may start enjoying the roller-coaster ride. It certainly may be scary at times, but wow it can be fun!
In this digital and one-click-away world of email, instant messaging, pokes and likes how can one really say “well done” or “thank you”, better? Perhaps a bigger question is asking whether you are in fact recognizing your staff or colleagues at all…
“Babies cry for it…and grown men die for it“….. – an old saying which holds as true today as ever before. Human beings crave recognition, and the more personal the touch, the more impactful it is to the recipient. Not everyone needs public recognition, often tending to be in the form of an award, although certainly appreciated by those for whom status is a driver though!
But a deliberate walk to the desk by the boss giving someone a little squeeze on the shoulder or a whispered but sincere “well done”, can leave people motivated for years! You see it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference. A hand-written note trumps an email all day and everyday. If not done with heartfelt sincerity though, it will probably be seen for what it is – cheap manipulation.
Take the time and make the effort. It’s not always about a shout-out on the company intranet which makes one feel appreciated.