A Closer Look Inside: A Review and Reminder of What Matters
by James Cammareri
In addition to development in the practical elements of the role that will be specific to the organization, the following soft skills have been the most prevalent in the organization for which I've worked when looking to develop the competencies of their team leaders:
Leadership skills - the ability to delegate, affirm and adjust performance, providing direction, leading courageously, influencing others, fostering teamwork, motivating others, working with human resource professionals to manage any agent sickness absence and persistent poor performance. Be able to motivate and inspire agents through an effective and consistent leadership style and make communications with the team effective for cascading information and generating ideas.
Organizational Knowledge - time and self-management, planning and organization, managing conflict, personal effectiveness, setting and meeting goals, targets and timescales, know the business, use financial data, and use technical and functional expertise.
Communication Skills - speaking effectively, foster open communication, listen to others, deliver presentations, prepare written communications running effective meetings, networking, working across teams and departments, connection with the wider organizations and the vision, mission and purpose and the role of the contact center in the achievement of deliverables.
In all cases, any leadership development needs to be delivered in an interactive way, utilizing principles of accelerated learning. In order for any learning to be effectively transferred to the job it should be followed-up with effective coaching, support and opportunities to practice. In the case of the team leader, this is usually best done by the contact center manager/director, training professionals and with good peer group support.
James Cammareri is Vice President of Business Development at Knoah Solutions, responsible for new client acquisition, supporting client program implementations and client relationship management in the BPO Industry.
James has 24 years of experience within the call center industry holding positions at SPI Global as VP of Business Development, and at Alorica (formerly PRC) as a Client Services Director. His career has noted emphasis in wireless, IT and telecommunications industries.
James and his team have built strong client relationships with a philosophy of mutual business success through focus on Employee Retention, Client Satisfaction, and Economic Success.
NY Metro and Philadelphia Chapters Unite for Interactive Event Discussing Social Media and Customer Care
More than 80 members from the New York Metro and Philadelphia SOCAP chapters enjoyed lunch, conversation, and lively discussion about Social Media at the inaugural co-sponsored event held in Princeton NJ on September 13, 2013. Frank Eliason, Director of Social Strategies at Citi gave an inspiring presentation about his experience building social networking strategies to enhance the customer experience - and what has worked (and not) for him during his tenure with Comcast and Citi. Following the presentation, social strategy leaders Augie Ray, a popular speaker and author, Valeria Maltoni and Marc Monseau, co-founder of the Mint Collective, led a panel discussion. Each panelist, brought a unique point of view to the table and engaged the audience with real-world stories, applications of social media, and questions for one another.
Key Takeways from this event include:
- Talking at your customer about yourself won't work.
- Listen to the "chatter" about your company to do a better job of keeping clients happy and positive.
A lively back and forth between the panel and the audience ran the gamut from members challenging some of the points made and creating a healthy dialogue for the group about real-world applications of social media strategy to solve business communication problems. Overall, the co-sponsorship of the two chapters led to many new business connections, a healthy attendance, interesting program and very successful afternoon. It's very likely that we can look forward to more the New York Metro and Philadelphia SOCAP chapters combined!
SOCAP 2013 Annual Conference
We have received lots of positive feedback about the 2013 SOCAP Annual Conference in Scottsdale Arizona. I am proud to say that from all accounts, we can confidently call the meeting a success. As CEO, I have a unique perspective on many different facets of the meeting and especially the community that comes together that makes an event like this a success.
First and foremost, the SOCAP culture is special. The sense of community and the deep relationships formed by our members are both authentic and unique. I am always amazed to see how our how veteran members go to great lengths to welcome and get to know "first timer" attendees.
Additionally, there are so many communities that have contributed to our success highlighted our annual conference. First, our Board of Directors, led by our Chair Linnea Johnson, has been steadfast and strategic in guiding our association forward and keeping our volunteers and staff focused on a bright future. Also, our Education Committee produced a world-class program that managed to keep attendees networking in meeting rooms within an amazing property overflowing with amenities such as pools, golf courses and spas. Our Automotive Steering Committee produced another focused and intense Automotive Summit that engaged automotive manufacturers in active, productive consumer-focused sharing. Finally, our 40th Anniversary Working Group provided our community with numerous opportunities for SOCAP members to both reflect on our past accomplishments but also to look ahead to the bright future for customer care.
Finally, our professional staff team does an excellent job of working together to produce a high- quality event that is both educational and fun for our attendees. Although we have a small staff at our National Office in Alexandria VA, our team's common commitment to professionalism and SOCAP motivates them to produce outstanding events annually that are both memorable and valuable to our members. I am proud to work with them and appreciate their effort and talents.
So, for those of you who joined us in Scottsdale, thanks and see you again in 2014! We hope that you felt that "stickiness" of our community and that you will be back again and again. If you didn't, please call me and let me know why not or how we could have improved your experience.
For everyone, we are working to bring key elements of the content to you and your staff teams. Through online learning portal, available through our website, we have loaded some of our conference sessions that are available to members at no charge. Additionally, we will be packaging and delivering key learnings from the event in our e-newsletter, CRM Magazine, via the website and through our Webinar Series.
Community is the glue that holds our association together and is the key driver that helps us build the profession and your career. Your investment in this community is critical to your continued membership in our association. So, as you received your membership renewal invoice, I hope that you will renew immediately and you will also reach out to discuss options to also upgrade your corporate membership to ensure that we continue to engage with more of your colleagues at your organization and grow our community!
To Have Power Means To Have Responsibility
I had the absolute privilege to attend the Trumpeter Award Dinner on Tuesday night hosted by the National Consumers League. NLC, founded in 1899, is an inspiring organization. They have been fighting the good fight for important causes such as workers' rights, consumers' rights and equal pay for equal work. Although the organization is well over 100 years old, this year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Trumpeter Awards Dinner which, of course, made me think about the interesting connection between this celebration and SOCAP's own 40th anniversary.
Organizations like NCL have been a critical player in important movements in the history of our country, such as the consumer movement which helped create new legislation, practices and accountability which ultimately led to the creation of SOCAP and literally the customer care profession. I believe that leaders like Florence Kelly, the first general secretary of the NCL (and the namesake of one of the Trumpeter Awards), would be thrilled to see the power of consumers today. I believe she would be challenging organizations like SOCAP and our members to ensure that the Voice of the Consumer is alive, strong and elevated within companies on every issue. Ms. Kelly once famously said, "To buy means to have power, to have power means to have responsibility".
This responsibility is born by consumers, by customer care executives and by organizations like SOCAP and NCL. To that end, SOCAP has worked hard to build a partnership with the National Consumers League to ensure that we are living up to Ms. Kelly's challenge of taking our responsibility seriously to consumers. For example, SOCAP-working through our local chapters and our national members-actively supports NCL's LifeSmarts program which works with young people in grades 6 - 12 to help them learn important skills to better and more educated consumers. Our members help write questions, volunteer their time, and donate funds to help the LifeSmarts program grow. As SOCAP's President and CEO, I also serve as a member of the Advisory Board.
We have also been working with NCL on other programs such as their Fraud.org project protecting consumers from bad players who mean to do them harm, the very opposite of customer care. Additionally, we have started important dialogue with NCL about the issue of consumer privacy. Privacy is an important topic for customer care and business, especially as we see the great opportunities to use Big Data to build meaningful, authentic relationships with consumers. It is through these important partnerships like this that SOCAP can contribute to your internal conversations. To that end, I invite you to participate with us at our 2013 Annual Conference (October 27-30 in Scottsdale, AZ) where we will convene a panel session with NCL leaders as well as industry representatives from Microsoft and Publishers Clearinghouse to discuss issues around consumer privacy and what we can learn from consumer organizations and industry working together. This will be the first of many discussions on this important topic and we hope you will join us.
I am proud of SOCAP's history of supporting customer care experts who are the heart and soul of industry and who bring the voice of the consumer to decision makers. I am also proud to share a bit of our history with the consumer groups like NCL who have fought to push for the transparency and openness that customer care provides. As we look to the future, our partnership will ensure that SOCAP members remain at the forefront of pushing our profession and service to customers through listening and engagement.
Key Take-Aways from Heartland
The SOCAP Heartland Chapter hosted an exceptional event on September 9 featuring keynote speaker, Cy Wakeman. The well-attended program included more than one-quarter new and first time members who were engaged and excited about the association and the presentation.
Wakeman's presentation was centered around her two New York Times Best Selling Books - Realty-Based Rules of the Workplace and Reality-Based Leadership was both a thought provoking keynote speech and a hands-on workshop with practical tools and techniques to build more effective teams and leadership skills.
I had many personal take-aways. Here are a few of my favorite:
- Leaders inspire employees and engage them in the vision and purpose for the organization. Be a leader not a manager. Your job is to inspire not to do the work of your employees. Employees should always leave your office with more follow-up items then the leader.
- An Employees Value = current performance score + future potential score - (emotional expense x3); employees. An employee's emotional expense is a huge drain on the organization in many ways, and active coaching needs to identify employees with high emotional expenses.
- Change is inevitable in every organization. Employees and organizations that are resistant to change are those that are not prepared for change. Leaders have to build a workforce that is prepared to perform in changing environments.
- Empathy is a key skill to develop in managing teams and sympathy is not! Understand, learn and practice the differences between sympathy and empathy!
- Leadership is a skill that needs to be practiced. Practice with your most engaged employees first and be open about the process with your employees and yourself.
I am looking forward to reading Cy's books and practicing these techniques! For more information on Cy Wakeman and resources, visit Realitybasedleadership.com