RILEY YOUNG: Now that we have covered the fundamentals of conversation reviews, you are almost ready to unleash your new program to your department. One particularly important factor
that you need to consider is how you will communicate your new review program to your team.
A conversation review program is only successful with consistency and engagement. If your support reps are unaware of your review program or if it is unclear, it will come to a halt before it even really gets going. To help avoid this cat-astrophe, we are joined by Klaus’ Empress of Product, Valentina Thörner, to discuss some approaches you can take when launching conversation reviews. Valentina, welcome!
VALENTINA THÖRNER: Thank you for having me!
RILEY YOUNG: Oh, thank you so much for being here. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and how you ascended to the role of Empress of Product at Klaus?
VALENTINA THÖRNER: So currently, indeed, I lead product at Klaus. But what in this case is even more important is actually my background in customer support. So I have been working in customer-facing roles for the past almost decade, and I’ve led teams in customer support, and I’ve also implemented quality programs for customer support teams. And I actually implemented Klaus at a previous company. So I’m very aware of the possibilities and opportunities that such a program can give you. And also of the setbacks or the dangers that there are if you don’t really plan the launch good enough.
RILEY YOUNG: Yeah, absolutely. Oh, it’s brilliant to have you here. Today, we’re going to pick your brain a bit about a pre-launch communication plan. We’ve got a four stage pre-launch communication plan we’re going to discuss and we’ll start with the first stage and that is what we call the awareness stage. Now, the goal of the awareness stage is, of course, to make sure that everybody is aware of your program. How can you best go about this stage?
VALENTINA THÖRNER: The most important thing is to start communicating about your quality program the moment you decide that this is going to be a thing, because this gives you a little bit more of ramp-up time to get people to think about what actually quality means for the company, how you’re going to do this, what you’re going to do, and that this is now a thing. That is you’re moving from only looking at quantity to also looking at quality internally. And the more you can talk about it, the better. Put it into your newsletter or put it into your blog, put it wherever you can see internally so that your support reps actually get used to the idea that there will be some kind of quality management happening. When you think like, I can’t hear myself anymore, like, I’m so tired of talking about this, then you’re starting to get to
the level of communication that you need to achieve.
RILEY YOUNG: Alright. So you can’t really overdo it in this stage.
VALENTINA THÖRNER: Not really, no.
RILEY YOUNG: Yeah, that’s, that’s great. So our second stage that we have is holding some workshop sessions with team leads and managers, and sort of the goal there is to pass on a lot of the knowledge to the managers, but also to get their feedback on the program that you’ve put in place. What else can you tell us about these workshops?
VALENTINA THÖRNER: This is a crucial stage to get buy-in from your managers so that it doesn’t really feel like somebody from above had a good idea. And now you’re going to do this
because “this is what I decided”. But really to look at the assumptions, the ideas that you have, go to the managers and say, “Hey, this is how I would like to set this up”. “Does this work for your teams?” “Does this match the reality that you’re working with in your day-to-day?” So these workshops are partially “This is how I would set this up”, and partially “I need your feedback on whether this is actually feasible”. And that way you can also figure out which of the managers actually like the idea, because some people are more risk-averse than others. And if you can find the people who really enjoy this – “Oh, there is this new thing, we can try something new, this is amazing, this is like a change in what I usually do.” Use these people to spread the word
and to set up a really, really positive image of this new program that you’re trying to implement. So get them on board!
RILEY YOUNG: Get them on board. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, it is really important that you have to buy-in of the team leads and managers because I mean, if support reps go to ask their manager or questions their manager about a review program and the manager either doesn’t answer or answers kind of negatively, then it can have a real bad impact, really, on the review program before you even get it started.
VALENTINA THÖRNER: Exactly.
RILEY YOUNG: And our third stage of our communications plan is all about creating and delivering a training before the launch. What else can you tell us about trainings?
VALENTINA THÖRNER: So you can do only a training, which is basically “this is what is going to happen, this is how it works”. Or you can couple it with a trial run, or like, “we are going to do quality reviews for one week and those don’t count”. This is just so that you can figure out how this works. And both training and trial run are your main tools to get agents on board, to reduce the anxiety, to really make sure that every single support rep knows what’s coming and that this is not something that’s meant to punish them, but this is actually something to help them.So by bringing everybody into this trial, you can also get like a little bit of last-stage feedback so that you can adjust whatever is still missing in your program before you then really go into full launch mode.
RILEY YOUNG: Yeah, yeah – and it’s also very important that, make sure that everybody has a chance to do the training or the trial run before launch. As you said, it reduces that anxiety of change a lot, and that really helps.
So our fourth and final stage of our pre-launch communications plan is potentially even the most important stage, and that is documentation. So what can you tell us about good documentation and how can this help your conversation review program?
VALENTINA THÖRNER: So up to this point, the information is very much based in whoever is designing the program. So if that person leaves, you’re stuck – or gets sick or goes on vacation or whatever because they are the person who’s answering all the questions. So the idea of documentation is that you have some source where anybody who’s lost, anybody who’s confused, anybody who doesn’t remember what does ‘Solution’ actually mean as a rating category, can go and just read examples, read how to use it, read up on what happens there. A little bit like an FAQ for any program that you’re using. The first – when you create this documentation, there is a really big chance that it will not be entirely addressing all the problems that can come up because you have been working on this for so long that you take for granted a lot of information. So the idea is you put the documentation out there and then you collect what people ask you so that you can refine this documentation. So in the end, documentation is never really done. It’s like a living, breathing thing that you have to update whenever there are changes, but it really takes away you as the bottleneck because you won’t be the one who has to answer all the questions. You can just send people off to the documentation.
RILEY YOUNG: Absolutely. That’s brilliant. Thank you so much for today, Val. It’s been fantastic to have you here.
VALENTINA THÖRNER: It was a pleasure.
RILEY YOUNG: And please join us for our next video where we will discuss our four stage post-launch communications plan. We’ll see you next time.