If you’ve ever managed a Reservation Sales Contact Center, you know that it is not for the faint of heart. It requires a rigorous mindset as the constant pressures ensue around hitting budget, staffing, call quality and profitability. Implementing the following 5 essentials can not only help win these battles but if applied regularly, can also position you to hit new levels of success in your operation.
1. Staffing Optimization
In an environment where calls equal revenue, having the right staffing levels to capture every call and convert it into a booking is crucial. The trick is to disperse resources the exact same way that calls arrive. Easier said than done. Calls arrive randomly and come in bunches so it can be a challenge to get this right. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overstaffing or understaffing, which both come at a great cost to your reservation center.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overstaffing or understaffing, which both come at a great cost to your reservation center.
It’s also critical to be careful not to react to either extreme. For example, some managers hyper-focus on daily abandon rates and often make knee jerk changes to schedules based on single events that spike abandonment. This tendency will cause constant unwarranted schedule changes and is a guarantee to crush the morale of your team.
Instead of reacting to your calls closely watch for consistent patterns and respond accordingly. Start with matching your schedules to your existing call patterns by looking at how calls are distributed by day of the week and hour of the day. Make minor adjustments when new patterns are created and then add staff as you identify any holes. If you have a back-up resource such as NAVIS RezForce™, then it’s not as critical, but still very important to have your agents clustered in the same manner as the way your calls arrive. Managing your schedules to continually match call volume patterns can be a bit arduous, but NAVIS Reservation Sales tool provides the calls analytics to make it much easier. In short, get your staff optimized otherwise, you’ll be losing precious calls, or worse, watching your agents file their nails while waiting for them to come in!
2. Effective Coaching
Agents need regular coaching to develop their sales skills and closing techniques. The problem is often times coaching sessions turn into metric-making sessions. “You’re not hitting your conversion metric…what are you doing to change this?” Sound familiar? Don’t get me wrong, metrics are important when running a contact center and measuring agent performance, but they should not be the focal point of a coaching session. An effective coaching session is when a coach gives the player an opportunity to practice plays that win sales.
An effective coaching session is when a coach gives the player an opportunity to practice plays that win sales.
This coaching style requires a lot of role-playing and repetition. The coach’s job is to identify where improvements need to be made in the agent’s presentation by listening to calls and modeling how to best execute a sale on each call. A best practice is to take call samples of your highest performers, listen to them with your agents, replicate these scenarios and then conduct repetition role-playing drills. Following this process will develop their sales presentation and techniques around the agents that produce the most sales. Practice these drills over and over again to build muscle memory so when the agent gets back on the phone these sales techniques become second nature to them.
3. Real-Time Reporting
Monthly reporting that allows you to look back and see how you did in the past is good. It’s just not good enough in a reservation center. This is because each hour of each day has revenue potential, and if you do not have the visibility into whether you’re making the most of your opportunity by the hour, you could be losing precious dollars. You need real-time reporting that allows you to quickly see trends in your operation and gives you a chance to take action right away. This allows you to course correct if something is not going well, or even better, capitalize on something that is going great. Having real-time reporting is also important at the agent level. Agent’s need to see how much money they are making for the company and themselves on a daily basis. Without this, it’s like asking them to play a game without a scoreboard. The agents won’t know if they are winning or losing as they work towards hitting their goal for the month which could easily lead to complacency and/or a drop in performance. Once you have the scoreboard, make it public and rank each agent based on their individual scores. Showing your top performer’s booked revenue and earnings can be a great motivator for agents to turn up the heat so they hit their full potential.
4. Monetization Formulas
Remember the old saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure?” This saying still stands true to this day, but what’s also true is that if you can’t monetize what you’re measuring, nobody cares. Virtually, every metric you are measuring should have a value. This will help you to make better decisions and understand the level of impact each metric has on the business. Take abandoned calls as an example; each call that comes into the new reservations queue has an average revenue value. To calculate the value of these calls, simply take your total booked revenue from your voice channel and divide this number by your total new reservation calls. Use this average revenue per call and multiply it against your total calls that abandon. Having this number will help you understand the impact your abandoned rate is having on your business. You can do the same thing for your leads. Leads actually have two values. One is while the lead is still hot for booking and the other when it goes into your CRM for future marketing when it’s gone cold. Once you assign a value to your leads, track how many leads go untouched and you’ll quickly see how much money is being left on the table.
5. Agent Connection
Great leaders consistently engage their teams to achieve outstanding performance. How often do you connect with your agents both at a professional and personal level? This is easy to overlook because we are so busy as leaders, but what we sometimes don’t realize is our front line agents directly interface with the guest as they decide to give their money to our business, or not.
Great leaders consistently engage their teams to achieve outstanding performance.
For this reason alone, it’s crucial to stay connected with your agents to make sure they feel valued and understand what a vital role they have in the overall success of the company. If they feel valued and appreciated, they will inherently pass this sentiment on to the guest and increase the chances of earning their business. Try connecting with your agents on a weekly basis, and at the minimum on their birthdays and anniversaries. Conduct regular feedback sessions with your agents by simply asking the question, “If you were me for a day what is the one thing you would change or do differently?” You’d be surprised how much valuable insight you will receive from your team by asking them this simple question. Validate them as needed and be sure to listen intently as they share. Random acts of kindness and expressing genuine interest in who they are as people (not as employees) can also go a long way with keeping your agents engaged and performing at an optimum level.
Adopting the above essentials as a leader in your organization will empower you to positively influence your team and grow the revenues and profitability of your operation. Ultimately, making you the hero of your organization.