The main goal of most contact centers today is to interface with customers and vendors in a productive and efficient manner that builds and retains relationships and improves the company’s public-facing image. But that goal is not likely to be readily accomplished by a contact center filled with unmotivated and dissatisfied employees. When staff members are motivated, they take higher ownership of customer issues, are more productive, and have better job satisfaction. Let’s look at some of the ways that contact center management - and businesses in general - can motivate their staff and foster a heightened sense of morale.
1. Put an End to Call Volumes as a Measurement of Success
Back in the day, I worked in a call center as a customer support representative for a major automotive manufacturer. As you can imagine, people reach a high level of frustration rather quickly when it comes to their vehicles. As agents, we were given a goal of handling a certain number of callers within a designated period of time. That put a lot of pressure on the agents, giving us few breaks, and making us feel that making our numbers was more important than helping the customers contacting us for assistance.
For today’s contact centers to achieve a high-level of effectiveness and keep their employees motivated, they need to keep the focus on resolving issues and retaining customers. And employees stay motivated when they have the time and capability to genuinely help their customers and resolve their issues with as close to 100% satisfaction as possible. To accomplish this goal, management must empower agents with the ability to resolve issues in a way that is acceptable to customers and leaves them with a positive impression of the agent and company as a whole.
2. Celebrate Employee Successes
Most people I interact with are motivated by their accomplishments and the anticipation of things they are looking forward to. People thrive with praise, and by setting goals and achieving them. Contact center management can help create a positive working environment by giving out rewards for positive customer surveys or feedback. Celebrating birthdays and holidays are always welcome breaks that help rejuvenate employees and bring on a renewed and improved outlook to their workday.
I can also recall being motivated by earning free merchandise as incentives when various goals were met back in my call center days. And what better way to advertise your products or services than through your agents. Let them use company products or services at a complimentary or discounted rate so they are better educated on their use and can convey personal experiences and benefits to the end user.
3. Listen to your Agents and Implement Suggestions when Appropriate
A key part of management that is too often left by the wayside is collecting feedback for job improvement from employees in the trenches. This can be accomplished through a Suggestion Box or by holding weekly or monthly round-table feedback sessions for improving customer service. Also, management might simply ask employees what motivates them. That way the prizes or rewards will be something they will value and be willing to strive for.
4. Have Attainable and Clearly-defined Goals
When the average person sets out to handle a task or request, they typically have a clearly-defined list of planned actions to take on their road to completion. And few things cause more frustration for employees than when they are given a list of tasks without any clear objective, reason or goal. Most people need to know the why of what they are doing and the end goal in order to realize the value behind what they are trying to accomplish.
One tool that management can use when clarifying agent expectations, is to record calls for training purposes and compare them against sample calls to improve quality and customer satisfaction. When expectations are clear, employees are less frustrated as they have clear examples of what to do or say and what not to do or say to help keep call outcomes positive. And at all times, beginning with initial agent training, team leaders should lead by example and demonstrate the tone of voice that’s appropriate, phrases that can help diffuse difficult situations and show how to make customers feel truly valued.
Sometimes, the larger goals of customer satisfaction - even when explicitly-defined - can seem un-achievable. Setting small goals that lead up to the larger goals will help show steady progress toward a goal that may appear daunting at first. Significant but attainable goals should be set by everyone on the team, and agents should be given reachable individual goals as something to strive for, with hopefully some kind of reward achieved once the goal has been attained.
5. Vary the Day-to-Day
Part of what contributes to dissatisfaction on the agent side of a contact center is the sheer boredom of feeling like you’re living the same day over and over again, like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day. That kind of situation will either make you crazy or lead to complacency. To help alleviate this situation in the contact center, scripts can be changed and desks or scenery can be varied to steer away from monotony – a productivity and positivity killer.
Contact centers with omni-channel environment