Here are some examples of the Point of Contact Group’s unique training approach in action with real clients:
1. “We towed your car away. Can we help you?”
The Point of Contact Group was invited to work with the parking and traffic bureau of a major university, to help improve their service quality.
The problem: So, what does a parking and traffic bureau do? Among other things, they tow people’s cars away! Their standard responses – such as “I’m sorry, sir, you were parked illegally” and “You’ll have to pay a fine” – frequently led to angry and unpleasant confrontations with people. They found that traditional customer service training – with its emphasis on attitude change and “creating magical moments” – did absolutely nothing for them when they were toe-to-toe with people whose cars had just been towed away.
The solution: We taught them about a powerful principle of behavioral psychology known as social cognition – a survival instinct that causes us to decide in the first few seconds whether someone is a “friend” or a “foe” – and then helped them re-engineer phrases that would trigger this friend versus foe reflex in their favor every time, such as:
• “Your car is in a safe place.”
• “I know where your car is.”
• “I can help you get your car back.”
• “I get frustrated when things like this happen to me, so I understand how you feel.”
The result: In role-play – and later, in real life – this team discovered that by making simple changes to what they said, people could not stay angry with them. This, in turn, dramatically changed their service quality.
2. Creating “hometown” service for a global help desk
A major international consumer products manufacturer brought the Point of Contact Group in to work with their global call center operations.
The problem: This firm had relocated some of their call centers offshore, and found that customer satisfaction ratings for their offshore agents were lower than those of their North American agents.
After monitoring phone traffic to their offshore call center, we observed a group of polite, intelligent, and hard working agents who were often simply following the norms of their culture – for example, not acknowledging a caller’s emotions for fear it would represent a “loss of face” for the customer. This led to encounters like this:
Customer: “Help, my product crashed and I’m on a deadline! I’m really upset about this!”
Agent: “Sir, what is your serial number?”
The solution: The Point of Contact Group delivered a custom training intervention via videoconference where we taught and coached simple, procedural techniques – such as paraphrasing the caller, or substituting specific phrases for their normal “boilerplate” responses – to automatically show interest and empathy to all callers.
The result: Follow-up call monitoring showed nearly two-thirds of the team had improved their skills, with the best offshore agents now sounding virtually indistinguishable from North American agents – and an end result of improved service quality at lower costs.
3. Coaching people to a new level of communications skills
A large West Coast social service agency brought in the Point of Contact Group ahead of a meger to help them improve their internal communications skills, as well as sustainably maintain those skills within a broader mission of using a strength-based approach with each other.
The problem: Different departments had different “cultures”, and it was often hard to motivate employees – many of whom had been there for many years – to change the ways that they interacted with customers and each other.
The solution: Over the course of a nine-month effort, we developed a training approach for the entire organization, and worked with their managers and supervisors to set a new standard for how to coach and motivate people – by moving to strength-based coaching techniques aimed at developing each team’s own interpersonal and leadership skills. Later, following on-site training for both leaders and employees, we helped them develop performane rubrics that helped them quantify internal and customer communications skills, for use within their performance evaluation process.
The result: A successful merger, leading this organization to become one of the West Coast’s largest social service agencies, and strong rating for this training approach. The communications skills explored and developed as part of this consulting project led directly to the approach used in Point of Contact Group founder Rich Gallagher’s 2009 book How to Tell Anyone Anything.
4. Transforming your workplace
Our best case study is yet to come – the one where we quickly and inexpensively change the performance of your workplace! For more information, please contact us to discuss your own specific training needs.