Customer Experience Featured Article

Offering Agents Flexibility and Customization Leads to Better Customer Engagement

May 01, 2014

Many companies spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to please their customers. They put the latest technologies into their contact centers. They offer stellar self-service options and multiple channels. They track social media and responses to posts.

Where many companies go wrong, however, is in not pleasing their agents before they try to please their customers. There is a powerful correlation between agent (employee) engagement and customer engagement. In a word, happy agents make for happy customers. And interesting enough, it’s not only about how much you pay your agents, according to a recent blog post by Exony’s (News - Alert) Rex Dorricott. It’s about far less tangible factors than money.

“Research has shown that an employee’s sense of self-worth, engagement and ability to control their working environment are more important motivators than financial incentives,” writes Dorricott.

But promoting self-worth, engagement and opportunities to further abilities is rather abstract concept. Some companies get there by using regular employee evaluation sessions in which the manager focuses on opportunities for the employee to grow, and works with the agent to set lists of professional goals. Other companies find “gamification” of call center solutions to be effective. These allow employees to have a little fun in their work, earning points or “badges” and competing against their own personal bests as well as other agents or teams. According to Dorricott, it can also be about customization and personalization of the virtual workspace.

“Imagine how empowering it would be to allow agents to customize their own dashboard with the tools and information sources they feel are important,” he writes. “This may sound far-fetched but we believe a little flexibility would go a long way.”

When employees feel they are not jammed into a space that doesn’t fit them by the powers that be, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. Employees who are given flexibility over their work schedules and vacation times by advanced workforce management solutions, for example, report being happier and more in control of their working lives. It makes sense that employees given some governance over their working methods and desktops would feel more comfortable in their professional lives. This doesn’t only apply to in-house applications, but also to outside applications, says Dorricott.

“Customer facing roles are more enjoyable when agents feel they are able to connect with customers,” he writes. “By selecting external apps, for example with the weather, local news and latest football results where customers live, agents can engage more. This is useful, particularly for agents in contact centers overseas, as they can gain an understanding of where customers are calling from and use the information to chat.”

Because when employees can truly connect with customers, they start to realize they have a purpose – helping people – rather than existing as a posterior in a chair and an employee ID number. This is the fastest route to true customer satisfaction. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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