SOCAP International

And the Silo Walls Came Tumbling Down

Here is a case study that shows how the Three-Party Promise can change how you do business by creating a culture of caring.

A New Way to Look at Relationships

Click here to view the full issue of CRM Magazine.

A culture of caring is born by making promises that you intend to keep, and you can do this by making promises that work for all. The Three-Party Promise is created when everyone receives what they want: The customer obtains a service or products they enjoy in a happy environment. The agent/management promises to produce the results for the customer as well as for the company. The company reaps the rewards of profits and happy employees. With the Three-Party Promise, all solutions that really work, work for all three parties involved in every interaction.

Policy changes are always hard. New marketing plans and their implementation across the silos of different departments can be tricky. Everyone wants their plan to win. Everyone wants their good idea implemented. Everyone wants to be right. Difficult to accomplish, right? Well, let’s look at a case study to see how this is achievable.

Case Study

Here’s a simple example from Spokeo. As a business, Spokeo did not want to have to refund a customer for a prepaid subscription. The business solution is to turn the subscription off and have the customer keep the service through the end of the term without renewing that subscription. The customer would like a full refund, likely retroactive to the beginning of the current subscription term, even though they have prepaid for the service and possibly used the service. The agent has the job of trying to satisfy both parties. In addition, the agent wants to do good work for the company and be kind to the customer.

Here are our three parties: the company, the customer and the individual agent. To meet the Three-Party Promise, we must retain as much of the subscription as possible for Spokeo; the customer must be satisfied to some degree with the solution; and the agent should be comfortable implementing the policies while feeling good about taking care of the customer.

Here’s how the Three-Party Promise works:

The company promises to give the coach/manager and agents training and tools to get the job done. It also promises a paycheck in return for doing their jobs. The win: Spokeo is now profitable and stays in business.

The CSR:
The agent promises to support the business goals and policies, while promising to be willing to accept feedback, training and coaching to facilitate constant improvement of personal performance.

The win: The company reaches its financial goals; the agent gets personal development and job skills, builds self-esteem and, of course, gets a paycheck. The customer: Hearing the confidence in the CSR’s voice, the customer feels they have been well taken care of, with nothing being held back. Even if they didn’t get the full refund they were looking for, they can still continue using Spokeo’s services, which makes them feel like they have won.

And the result? A win-win-win. This is the Three-Party Promise in action.

Here’s How We Solved It

Spokeo made changes in three main areas that we identified: train all customer care agents in intentional communication, train all supervisors in behavioral profiles where “everyone is a coach,” and implement the Three-Party Promise with a safe environment. There were some difficult moments, of course, because culture changes are always hard.

Silo Walls DownThe initial retention training course was built on the four steps of a proprietary training program called the LAMA Training for all customer care agents. Following up with positive coaching throughout the call center included examining behavioral styles, and the foundation that everyone is a coach. Spokeo’s core values blended with the Three-Party Promise and creating a safe environment for all.

Spokeo took a quantum leap and made some huge operational shifts as well. It shifted away from scripts and moved from quality analyzing to quality coaching. This made a huge difference in the attitudes reflected by both the quality assurance department and the customer care agents. All employees were trained in the LAMA Technique as part of their on-going and initial new hire programs.

Helping Spokeo build effective teams involved individual communication skills for personal and professional development. Each member of these teams must be responsible for personal development. As an employer, the company must provide the avenue and tools.

The Proof Is in the Numbers

At Spokeo, changes are easier now because the company gets a buy-in for the new ideas right away by presenting everything in the context of a safe environment. Every person in customer care knows how to look for benefits from three sides. The company created a culture of caring that is proving to be the best possible way to grow company:

  1. Successful employee retention
  2. Customer satisfaction
  3. Company revenues

Aaron Taylor of Spokeo says, “Without a ‘safe environment for all’ the new shift could not have taken place. The concept of caring for the company, caring for the agents, and changing our complete focus on a culture of caring for our customer … made us money, reduced turnover and our customer satisfaction results increased by 85%.”

Changing the focus to a culture of caring for Spokeo helped … you guessed it …
the bottom line. Here are the numbers and the results:

  • At-risk dollars: $1.5 million/month
  • Baseline save rate: 34%
  • After retention communication training save rate: 65%
  • $450,000/month of incremental saved dollars
  • Cost of poor quality: a reduction of $5.2 million
  • Customer satisfaction results: 85% increase within three months
  • Charge backs: under 1%
  • A+ rating BBB

So How Can You Implement It?

The big question is always: How can I do this in my organization? It can be broken down into two main concepts:

Concept 1: Create and maintain a safe environment for all.
Accomplishing that means following one simple rule that is not easy or always natural to apply: “Never make anyone feel wrong or stupid. Always make everyone feel right and smart.” Yes, but here comes the argument: “But, Sally, he is wrong.” I know, but keep in mind the “All for one, one for all” thing. Alexandre Dumas got it right! We didn’t say it was easy; we said it was simple.

Concept 2: Build everything around the Three-Party Promise. Following it may be difficult, but we promise that when you practice application of this rule in every interaction, those interactions:

  • build solid comfortable relationships
  • break down silos
  • create a safe environment for communication
  • lessen miscommunication

… and the walls will come tumbling down. We promise!

Cordova_SallySally Cordova is a partner, author and lead trainer with The LAMA Training by McKee Consulting. Her philosophy of education and commitment through positive expression is evident in her training programs. Her goal is to motivate and inspire trainers, managers, coaches and frontline agents to be successful. She has been with McKee since 2003, after 25 years in the retail food industry. Her client list includes Aetna, Spokeo, Radial (formerly Ebay Enterprise), Toastmasters International and Intercontinental Hotel Group, among others.