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Q&A: Building a Contact Center Experience That Turns Calls into Sales

Shawn Siegel

Electrolux Appliances has experienced great success in recent years converting calls into sales opportunities. Jane Pearson-Wray, CSG - Sr Manager of Continuous Improvement, discusses this initiative, process improvement and call center analytics with Call Center IQ reporter Shawn Siegel.

You can next hear from Pearson-Wray at the 14th Annual Call Center Week. She will be presenting at the only legitimate must-attend event for contact center professionals.


Call Center IQ: Can you briefly discuss the success Electrolux has had converting calls into sales opportunities?

Jane Pearson-Wray: The obvious success was the increase in revenue. In 2012, we delivered almost $5M in revenue due to the focus on converting calls into sales (up over $3M YOY). Agents are able to earn additional money through commissions. Additional funding is provided for rewards and recognition programs.

Call Center IQ: What are some of the ways that process improvement strategies can positively impact customer relationship efforts?

Jane Pearson-Wray: The more we can do to service the consumer while we have them on the phone, the better. The consumer is able to have more of "one stop" shop vs. making multiple phone calls to receive a part /accessory / extended warranty. As the manufacturer, we are able to develop a relationship with our consumers much better when we interact with them directly.

Call Center IQ: Call centers can be overwhelmed with data and analytics. How do you go about turning these numbers into stories that can be acted upon?

Jane Pearson-Wray: For many years, we have worked by a specific managing process, which involves using data… converting it into information (that can then "tell a story")… developing initiatives and actions that can be tracked on a routine basis... to deliver continuous improvements... that benefit the customer/consumer, shareholder and employee. By following this managing process, it forces you to focus on a few top initiatives otherwise you will find yourself in the weeds. Simplification is key. This also helps you gain buy-in from your team because they do not feel overwhelmed by "all the things that must be done."

Call Center IQ: What are some of the biggest challenges of keeping employees engaged and excited about their work?

Jane Pearson-Wray: Working in a call center by nature is challenging. Most consumers are not contacting you to tell you how great you are (although we do occasionally get those calls). Most are contacting you because they have an issue requiring your attention and resolution. So this means, as a leader, you are often faced with attrition, absenteeism and morale issues. With this in mind, we often have team and individual contests. We have monthly and quarterly rewards and recognition programs. When special projects come up, we reward high performing agents with an opportunity to work on those projects. This presents a huge opportunity for cross-functional learning. And when we hear or see an agent doing a good job, we make an effort to acknowledge it right then and there.

Call Center IQ: Lastly, you’ve been with Electrolux for over 14 years now, what continues to excite you about your role there?

Jane Pearson-Wray: I actually celebrated my 15th anniversary on Sunday [February 24]. I have had the opportunity to work in many segments of our business (including those outside of customer service). However, I have always been fond of customer service primarily because of the people. We have a great team in Augusta. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. Even though that is not the path I took, I find that I have a lot of opportunities within the call center to "teach". You help your team members learn a new function, you watch them grow and develop and often you can see your teachings help them not only at work but also in their personal lives. I find that very rewarding!