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Clear Communication is a Key to Customer Service Success

headshotEvery year, ICMI supports a Strategic Advisory Board composed of industry thought leaders, practitioners, and solution providers. We work with this board to focus on customer insights and contact center market developments, ensure our content offerings and products best serve the community, and strengthen industry relationships.

We want to introduce you to our board members. Here, we ask a few questions to Hannah Steiman, president of Peak Support, which provides customer service and business processing outsourcing for high-growth companies.

1. Thank you for agreeing to be a part of ICMI’s Strategic Advisory Board. Why do you think it’s important to give back to the contact center community?

I can't think of another industry that offers so many opportunities, to so many people, all over the world - whether you have a college degree or not, whether you work from home or in an office, whether you live in the East or the West, the North or the South. So many leaders in this industry started as agents and worked their way up based on their work ethic, critical thinking, and analytical skills. It's an honor to be a part of this industry and I want to do my part to help others.

2. What lesson did you learn from your biggest success in your career? And from the biggest challenge (that you’d like to share)?

My biggest success and my biggest challenge are the same story! Peak Support started out with a contractor model, but in 2019 we decided to transition our team in the Philippines from contractors to employees. We had 100 people at the time, and I thought, "We need to do this now, because it'll be so much harder if we wait until we have 500 people." COVID slowed us down, and by the time we finished, we had transitioned more than 1,000 people.

The biggest factor in the success of this initiative was communication. It was a huge change for our entire team. Some of them wanted to remain contractors. Others wanted to be employees, but it's still a big deal to change their entire compensation structure. We really had to explain why we were doing it, and why it was important for Peak Support, for our clients, and for our team members, as well. We took small steps, making sure to over-communicate the entire time and gather feedback.

The first time we transitioned a group of people to our Philippines entity, it was a major challenge. We got feedback, iterated, and transitioning the second group was much easier. By the time we finished, it was smooth as silk. Taking the time to do it right made a huge difference.

3. In your opinion, what skill or skills will be most needed in the next decade in this industry?

Critical thinking. Good communication is good thinking. Grammar is the easiest part of communication - and it's the part that is going to be disrupted by AI. But you can't write clearly unless you've done your research, clearly understand the problem, and clearly understand the solution. The people who can do that will continue to succeed even as AI disrupts the easy stuff.

4. What are you most proud of in your career, and why?

I'm proud of the team we've built at Peak Support and the fact that we've created an environment where our employees are truly happy in their jobs. We have the highest Glassdoor rating in the industry. In our annual survey, when we ask our team if they'd recommend Peak Support as an employer, the average answer is 9.5 out of 10. To me, that's the whole reason I'm in this business. I want to positively impact people's lives.

5. You find yourself in a room full of contact center professionals, and you have the opportunity to give them just one piece of advice to set them up for success. What would you say?

If they are leaders, I'd say that you should talk to your team. Talk to them in small groups, in large groups, and 1:1. Reach out to them on Slack. Say hi. Say thank you. Ask them for feedback. That's how you'll start creating an incredible company culture.