For Heather Peace of Superior Contact in Marquette, Michigan the light bulb moment happened in a workshop she attended of mine in Orlando Florida at the ICMI leadership conference in 2017.
The ICMI workshop had 60 middle and senior leaders attending from contact centers across North America. In all of my time training, I can’t remember a more attentive and engaged group.
Heather’s style is very much hands-off. She spends a lot of time hiring competent staff and believes that they are in the role because they have the skills. She is there to support them, not over-manage them.
Her ah-ha moment came in the workshop when they were asked to discuss a segment from my first book “TRUSTED” where the protagonist Hunter blows off a meeting and can’t understand why his team is upset.
She remembers sitting in the group and thinking, “Well, he probably had a really good reason.” Not being a fan of meetings herself, she listened to others who shared different perspectives. It made her realize that some of her staff needs meetings and when she went back to her office, it was with a new perspective and a desire to incorporate what she learned.
The workshop introduced the 5 Tenets of Trust to the participants, and Heather refers back to them throughout the week.
Those five tenets are caring, commitment, competence, consistency and communication.
When a new hire was having difficulty, she spent time showing that she was committed to their success and met with them daily to go over what the tasks were to make sure they understood.
One of her initiatives after the workshop was to conduct a job-shadowing group. It was completely voluntary and the Customer Service Representatives were allowed off the phone to join her for a casual interactive presentation.
They had an opportunity to understand different roles in the company, what the key performance indicators were (called KPI’s), who their clients were, and finally a review of the 5 tenets – caring, commitment, consistency, competence and communication – that showed up in how they trusted each other.
Heather loved watching them interact, and witness the light bulb moment when they realized why the metrics and targets were so important.
“They saw me as someone who wants them to succeed rather than a person who looks for mistakes.”
Heather said, “Now when I walk out on the floor, people are communicating with me. They aren’t turning away.”
“It’s a really, really tough job to be on the phone some days. We tell them to make sure they have a smile in their voice when they are talking to people. But sometimes, the agents are getting yelled at over and over again on the calls. Being able to talk to them and their supervisors, and letting them know you care and you understand goes a long way. So does telling them to go for a break or sometimes springing for pizza as a show of appreciation.”
For Heather, knowing those extra steps she could take to incorporate trust has made a big difference to her and her team.