Getting Your Team in the Zone

Glenn Pasch

I was watching one of the press conferences at the Masters and they asked the Round 2 leader Lee Westwood "was he worried that Phil Mickelson had caught up to him?" He answered (paraphrased) that he could only worry about the shots he hit.

This got me thinking of two different types of employees. Those that focus on what they can control and those that focus on what they cannot.

Have you ever worked with someone who always had a reason why they did not hit their production levels? When you speak to them they usually give you excuses why they could not be successful, usually sounding like this:

  • "It was the list of people you gave me to call"
  • "I’m getting the people who just want information"
  • "No one listens"
  • "It’s just not my day"

Just as any great golfer tells you they get in the "Zone" which means they focus on what they are doing and block out everyone else, you can help your employees get into their own "Zone" and what to do to stay there.

So how do you change the focus of these employees?

To improve the training and performance of any employee, be it customer service training, sales training or management training, you need to add in a section that helps your employees to focus on what they can control instead of the what they can’t so they will be more successful.

Let’s say you are supervising a team of callers in a call center. Here is what you can tell them that they can you control on the phones

Tone of voice: They need to make sure their tone in pleasant, clear and volume matches who they are speaking to.

Attitude: Are they focused on the call they are taking and on how best to serve this customer? Or are they still focused on a frustrating call three calls ago. If the agent carries this over into another call any chance of delivering great service will be killed.

Focus: Where are they looking when speaking to the customer? Are they focused on their screen, as if the person was sitting right across from them? Or are they more concerned with what is happening next to them or across the room. You may not realize it, but if you are looking across the room, a distracted tone will come across in your voice and the customer will feel that you are not listening or giving them your full attention.

Listening skills: Nothing frustrates customers more than having to repeat themselves. Make sure your team is taking the time to listen, and ask the correct questions to make sure they get all of the information they need the first time.

It is very easy to speak to someone over the phone at the same pace, as you would face to face. The problem is that people understand a good deal of what you are saying by your body language. Over the phone you do not have that benefit. I recommend having them speak at half speed. It will slow them down enough so people over the phone can follow your agent.

Making sure you are understood: Agents read their script over and over during the course of a day. Many of them will begin to go into an "autopilot" mode where they are not focused on making sure the person fully understands what is being asked. Take the time to repeat information back to the person or summarize the information you took before ending the call.

Here are things your agents cannot control on the phones.

  • You are the 5th person to call them today
  • Their child just spilled their milk
  • They just sat down to dinner
  • They are walking out the door

You as their coach/supervisor must listen in, and give them your feedback as to point out when they are focusing correctly. This will help to train them to monitor their own progress.

A helpful Tip: To help my sales teams I created and posted these five questions on the bottom of all of the terminals. To this day, some of the mangers who worked for me still remember using questions to help their agents and have used the same idea when managing their own employees.

  1. Did you open the call correctly?
  2. Did you present the body of the script correctly?
  3. Did you present the offer correctly or get the correct information needed?
  4. Did you listen to the customer and present the correct response?
  5. Did you do everything you could on the call?

If my people said yes to these five questions, that call was as good as a sale. They did everything they could control. Does this sound counterintuitive? Many times we focus on results instead of the effort.

It may take a lot of encouragement to convince employees that excellent effort will turn into sales, but the end result will create a more productive and motivated work force.

Let me know your thoughts.

First published on Call Center IQ