Conference Calls … They’re so 1995

June 24, 2014 10:23 by Rebecca Doepke
It’s Monday morning, time to lead your team’s weekly sales call. The agenda for the call is to give an update on sales, discuss what’s in the pipeline, and have the team share success stories. Everyone dials in and you’re ready to go. Sounds like a straight forward and simple group conversation, right?  Unfortunately, here is how this conference call typically goes down.Before you kick off the call and get to your agenda, you first need to find out who’s on the call. In other words, take attendance. This doesn’t exactly get the call started with collaborative enthusiasm and energy, not to mention burns another 5 minutes of everyone’s time. After you take attendance, hopefully everyone is still paying attention as you move on to share last week’s sales and year-to-date numbers. You’re not sure because no one has done much talking but you.Next, you open it up for success stories, and the real fun of managing communication on the call is about to begin. After a moment of silence, three people start talking at the same time. Then they all stop talking before saying simultaneously, “Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.” Followed by, “No, you go ahead.” More silence takes place. Then the three people start talking at the same time … again. Not only do you have to call out who should talk first, you also have to keep track of who has already shared their story and who still needs to contribute.Finally, you have to deal with those that didn’t speak up amidst this chaos. Time to call on them one by one.By the time the call is over, an hour later, there is a sigh of relief. Everyone is glad the time waster is over so they can get some work done.So, what other options do we have? Why not a virtual meeting?Let’s try it again and see what that looks like.It’s Monday morning, time to lead your team’s weekly sales meeting. Everyone logs into your virtual meeting platform and connects to the meeting audio as directed. The agenda for the call is to give an update on sales, discuss what’s in the pipeline, and share success stories. No need to take attendance, everyone present is listed right there on your screen. You also know who has connected to the audio. You’re ready to get right down to business. Now you can kick off the virtual meeting with enthusiasm and energy!You open it up for success stories and managing communication is easy. You can pose a question asking who would like to share their success story by raising their hand. You can simply call on the folks that raised their hand and avoid several people talking at the same time. If you want to stop putting people on the spot and make sure that everyone is prepared to share, give this idea a try. In your meeting invitation, ask everyone to come prepared with a success story to share summarized in the form of a written headline. Instead of having everyone share their stories one at a time, you would prepare a whiteboard exercise asking everyone to post their headline on a whiteboard. Once all headlines are posted, the group could vote on which headline they would like to hear more about first.  Virtual meetings offer participants the opportunity to interact, engage, and collaborate in multiple ways versus only verbal conversation. Through the use of collaboration tools, everyone can interact with your content, visuals, slides, web links, and video. Turning on webcams might be an option so that participants can see each other as they share their success stories, something that is not possible on a conference call.There isn’t an option for smaller groups to work together on a conference call, but virtually you could use breakout rooms.  Here’s a thought:Best practices can be shared and extrapolated through the use of breakout rooms. Consider breaking the large group into smaller teams by placing them in breakout rooms to share on-the-job experiences. These smaller groups can use a whiteboard to take notes, which can later be shared with the larger group when everyone comes back together and downloaded as a takeaway from the session. Keep in mind, breakout rooms offer a comfort level to those who prefer smaller groups when asked to participate. Switching gears to the end of the meeting:On most conference calls, there’s usually some type of follow-up. Whether it is to share notes from the call, sending out a document or white paper that was promised, or an email reminder of action items assigned in the meeting. In a virtual meeting, notes can be taken in real time right in front of everyone, and everyone can leave with the notes through file sharing. How efficient is that?Whether it’s the weekly sales update, a discussion around best practices, or a project management meeting, conference calls can be challenging and oftentimes are not as productive and efficient as you would like them to be. So, why not consider going virtual?

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Online Meetings | Sales | Virtual Meetings

Customer Experience Training Program Activity: Send Them Shopping?

October 1, 2013 12:09 by Dana Peters
When you think about designing, developing, and delivering a Customer Experience training program, you probably don’t picture your participants spending a few of those precious training hours out shopping at the mall. We would call that playing hooky, right? Maybe not. Last week I read about an activity Cambrex Corporation conducted, which turned frontline customer service representatives into customers. They sent them out shopping. This got me to thinking about how this idea could be adapted into our training programs. I thought you might see an opportunity as well. Our Current Activity We often incorporate the following small group activity in our customer experience training programs. The goal is to have the participants define what great customer service looks like, sounds like, and feels like. To get them thinking this way, we ask each participant in each group to discuss the following: Describe a time when you, as a customer, experienced outstanding service. What about this experience made it so outstanding? What pieces of this would you like to incorporate into your delivery of service? Describe a time when you, as a customer, experienced lousy service. What about this experience made it so bad? What lessons would you like to keep in mind as you serve your customers? As you can imagine, some rich stories are told. Taking all the information shared each group then breaks these situations apart to articulate their formula for providing top notch customer service. When we come back together as a large group, we debrief and work through a process which brings each group’s ideas together to define what the team’s overall customer experience vision is.  Maybe a Better Activity So what did Cambrex Corporation do? To summarize, customer service team members were divided into teams of two. They were given a list of items to purchase, cash, and sent out shopping at the local mall. The goal was to give these representatives the opportunity to benchmark their service against other organizations. While shopping they were asked to follow these rules: Only one item may be purchased per store. Each person on the team must purchase each item.  A salesperson must be consulted at each store.  A customer service evaluation form must be completed for each store. The customer service evaluation form included several questions to flush out the quality of the sales and service experience. After the shopping trip, the team reconvened as a group to review their completed evaluation forms. They discussed areas where improvement could be made, and to determine lessons learned that they could transfer to their own operations. If you want to read more details, this activity was featured on’s website. There is a lot on this page. This particular activity can be found under the heading “Reps become secret shoppers”. When I think about the applicability of this type of exercise to our customer experience training programs there are several adjustments I would make, but I liked the concept. It’s hands-on, experiential, and (if done right) relevant. What do you think? Have you done a similar activity? What lessons could you share? Don’t be shy, please comment below. You are also welcome to contact me directly through or tweet us @mondolearning.

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Customer Expereince | Customer Service | Rebecca Doepke | Sales | Training

Mission Possible Program Featured in Member Loyalty Group Whitepaper

September 23, 2013 08:40 by Dana Peters
I have some exciting news to share about our Learning Expert, Rebecca Doepke. One of the client projects she has been involved in over the past few years was featured in a white paper published by the Member Loyalty Group. Working hand and hand with Educator’s Credit Union Rebecca designed, developed and delivered a training and on-the-job coaching program called Mission Possible. The objective of Mission Possible was to improve service scores and increase sales (share of wallet) for the credit union. As you will read, it has been quite successful. The following is the link to the white paper. There is a lot here. You are welcome to read this cover to cover but the good parts are on pages 5 through 10. There you will find a description of the credit union’s challenge, the solution that Rebecca helped implement (Mission Possible) and the results that were obtained. Whitepaper Link Congratulations, Rebecca!

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Customer Expereince | Customer Service | Rebecca Doepke | Sales

Nurturing New Client Relationships: Observations and Ideas

March 27, 2013 12:20 by Rebecca Doepke
A colleague of mine is a small business owner and she is amazing at developing deep, long lasting relationships with her clients. We were talking about her recent experience at a bank. Since I consult with several banks and credit unions on their sales and service programs, she thought I might be interested in her observations. I was and I thought you might be too. [More]

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Customer Expereince | Sales