A call center’s effectiveness depends on one very important factor: the productivity of its agents. When teams are happy with their job, feel fulfilled and are motivated, they are able to deliver great customer service. And when they’re tired, overworked and dissatisfied, it reflects on their job output as well.
Call centers are often seen as cost centers within their businesses and have been judged solely on the numbers they put out, chief among them cost per contact. As a result, the industry is known for being one of the most competitive and demanding industries to work in to date. This means ensuring agent productivity can be difficult and an overwhelming task for managers.
By making a few adjustments on how you run your call center, you can increase agent engagement and spark motivation. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Give your agents autonomy
Working in a call center can sometimes become monotonous. In a lot of cases, agents follow a set system of responses, often canned ones, and processes that make them feel their job is tedious and repetitive. Even worse, agents can get stuck not being able to help valuable customers because of those processes. Giving your agents a certain degree of autonomy when it comes to how they approach customer service and some leeway to make decisions themselves can have a major impact on their productivity. They get to hone their skills, genuinely feel like they’re helping more often than not, learn to relate better to customers and become more adept at thinking on their feet.
2. Allow agents to take frequent, short breaks
There are numerous causes of tension and stress in a call center — irate customers, deadlines, meeting quotas and very stringent protocols that need to be followed. All of these aspects of working in a call center can add up and affect day to day productivity and job satisfaction. A quick solution? Give your agents the option to take short but frequent breaks throughout their shift. Whether it’s to use the restroom, grab a snack or a quick cup of coffee, or simply to take a breather, doing so can help give them some sense of control over what’s causing their stress and improve productivity. Not to mention, breaks give agents a chance to simply reset and meet the next customer confidently with a smile.
3. Measure agent performance and reflect together
In addition to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that have been traditionally used to measure how well agents perform, you can also utilize newer technology to provide more specific, individualized insight into an agent’s performance and where they can improve. Today, you can integrate technology that studies speech analytics, time spent on calls, response times and other critical elements to assess what areas need improvement and coaching.
The most important part of measuring performance is to allow agents to reflect on it themselves. Being part of that process as a manager usually exposes inefficient processes and other causes of agent dissatisfaction (which correlates well with customer dissatisfaction too).
4. Be sure to recognize a job well done
Providing agents with positive feedback, incentivizing great performance and recognizing even small achievements are great motivators for some agents. Knowing that they are making a difference to customers and the company they work for highlights their relevance and importance to the business.
Incentives can also be an effective way to spur motivation, whether you are offering major bonuses or free lunches. Incentives can give agents an extra push to continually strive to be their best. However, if you decide to provide incentives, make sure they encourage behavior that won’t ultimately cause your business harm. For instance, incentivising the ability to take many calls won’t always have a positive effect on performance: in some cases it can cause agents to rush through calls, often failing to adequately solve a customer’s problem, which in turn just causes the customer to call again.
5. Develop multichannel agents
In an industry where repetition is impossible to avoid, developing multichannel agents not only provides agents with a more diversified workday, but it also provides agents the opportunity to expand their skill set. Developing multichannel agents increases employee retention and reduces fatigue due to the variation in tasks.
By training agents in providing customer service on multiple channels, agents have the opportunity to uncover more of their strengths, which you can utilize to refine skill-based routing. It also allows your customer service department to deliver higher quality service, increasing customer satisfaction. All of these benefits improve agents’ overall work experience, sense of fulfillment and productivity as a result.
It’s important that employees feel valued and relevant in an organization so they remain committed and motivated to do their jobs well. Investing in your agents will help your call center perform consistently better and retain employees. Start by implementing some of these tips and consider the benefits of running a multichannel contact center to keep morale and productivity levels consistently high.