Look around your call center. Do your agents seem tired, frustrated, or fed up with work?
Call centers have a reputation for being difficult places to work, especially for front-line agents. This results in high agent churn or disengaged employees. A poor work culture inevitably has a direct impact on your customer experience ─ in other words, if your agents aren’t happy, your customers won’t be either.
Agents are the heart of your call center, so it’s in your best interest to ensure they are satisfied and motivated in their daily work. Start by exploring our list of agent engagement strategies below.
The Challenge of Driving Agent Engagement
Working as an agent can often be exhausting and discouraging. It is common for customers to be frustrated when contacting support, and agents are the most likely to catch the brunt of their rage. It takes someone with great self-control and tremendous disposition to be a successful call center agent, but even the most natural customer service professionals are susceptible to the effects of low morale.
It is up to your leadership team to cultivate a positive and engaging work environment where your staff can perform at their best. With the right tools and training, a positive work culture, and proper incentives, you can help your agents thrive.
5 Agent Engagement Strategies for Your Call Center
1. Involve your corporate culture in the call center.
There are still businesses that view their contact centers as “cost centers”. But many successful companies are now discovering the importance of maximizing customer interaction and instilling this value for all departments and employees.
Online retailer Zappos is a great example. They achieved legendary status for their customer service by focusing on employee culture. In fact, their former CEO Tony Hsieh is famous for saying, “we’re a service company that happens to sell shoes.”
Call center workers at Zappos receive seven weeks of training on company culture and customer happiness. Plus, employees at all levels of the company are required to spend time on the phone so they understand what it’s like to serve their customers.
2. Reward your team regularly.
Given the repetitive nature of call center work and the metrics-based approach used to track performance, it can be challenging to keep agents focused and motivated. Providing rewards is a common way to incentivize them ─ however, be warned that when applied improperly, this approach can backfire and cause resentment and rivalry in the team.
Get strategic with your rewards. Consider offering additional compensation (bonuses) based on group-wide performance. This emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration and encourages your agents to work together and even mentor one another.
On an individual level, get into the habit of recognizing agents for achievements, milestones, and going above and beyond in their work. Regular acts of public recognition can really improve morale and bring out the positive spirit in everyone.
3. Invest in the right tools and technology.
With technology evolving at a rapid rate, many call centers are understandably hesitant to invest in new upgrades. However, providing your agents with the proper tools helps them feel valued, and makes their daily work easier and more enjoyable.
Worried about the budget? Remember that the right technologies can actually lower your operational costs while improving the experience for both customers and call center staff. Removing the more monotonous and frustrating parts of the job allows the agent to enjoy the better parts of their role, like engaging with customers and solving issues.
Don’t be afraid to explore newer technologies. Speech analytics is a great example, as it can help companies create more accurate profiles for customers, leading to better quality conversations and happier employees. Call-back technology is another popular option for its ability to lower call spikes and ease customer frustration by eliminating the need for long hold times. These solutions shorten handle times by ensuring conversations start off on a positive note.
4. Measure what really matters.
If you tell your customers that they’re your “top priority”, you should tell your staff the same thing. Otherwise, your call center reps are likely to spend their time worried about how many calls they handle, instead of making sure customer issues are actually resolved.
Sarcasm aside, the specific motivation of agents is often at odds with the marketing directive of the company. So why not measure metrics that are more aligned with corporate goals? For example, use CSat scores as a function of productivity. Allowing staff to see this data and understand how they contributed to a customer’s satisfaction can go a long way in keeping them motivated.
5. Let your agents shine.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true: one of the best ways to empower employees is to give them autonomy outside of answering customer calls. Your agents are on the frontlines of customer service every day, which makes them a great source for fresh ideas.
Give them opportunities to participate in the planning and training process and create channels where they can provide feedback. Agent engagement surveys are a great way to collect this information. Trust us, your agents will be a lot more motivated knowing their employer values their ideas and contributions.