It seems like a pretty standard process – post the job opening, sift through countless resumes, invite candidates for interviews, and hire the individual that’s the best fit for the job. That is commonly followed by training, onboarding and educating the new hires. Done? Not really. The key ingredient in creating a valuable workforce comes next – where’s the ongoing motivation?
In today’s contact center, keeping call center agents engaged and motivated is more important than ever before. As the contact center is becoming a more strategic part of the overall customer experience, it is increasingly being seen as a revenue driver rather than a cost center. Critical data is exchanged during each customer interaction within a contact center, which can unlock incredible value when it’s tied to an overarching CRM effort. Contact center agents facilitate these interactions as they man the front lines of customer contact and have slowly become the face of todays’ brands. Agents need to be properly invested in to help them deliver a unique experience. But what do agents really need?
Understand the Plan
Employees need to understand how their day-to-day actions influence their overall performance and how it impacts the larger team and company as a whole. Business executives now have more tools and metrics to monitor each agent; likewise, agents have daily performance tools to monitor how they’re trending against their own personal goals. This type of transparency, between the company and the agent, results in increased agent motivation.
According to a 2012 Forrester (News - Alert) survey of customer service strategy decision makers, about half of the respondents agreed that agents lack the right tools to monitor their performance, with 52 stating reporting is suboptimal. Adequate performance metrics and reporting tools give companies concrete criteria to determine the next set of agents deserving of a promotion and upward movement within the business.
From an agent perspective, what’s more motivating than knowing more prominent, leadership roles are in your future if certain performance metrics are met?
Cultivate Good Culture
Building and sustaining a culture of company trust can promote agent empowerment and motivate employees to collaborate and work together as a team. By investing in employees, promoting open communication, and behaving in an ethical and socially responsible manner, organizations create a feeling of trust and job security that creates higher employee engagement, which is often reflected in their interactions with customers.
Studies have shown that when employees like their jobs, they are more productive and deliver better service to customers. Granting agents control over their own schedule where they manage their own time, which is shown to reduce stress levels on the job, is one way to create this type of employee satisfaction. This policy also fosters a healthy work-life balance and can help reduce agent attrition, which has direct impact on the company’s bottom line. According to Dresser & Associates, turnover costs can run anywhere from 25-250 percent of a position’s salary, so reducing agent burnout could serve as a significant cost savings for the company. In fact, Alaska Airlines implemented an at-home agent initiative to allow company agents to work remotely from home and manage their own schedules. As a result of the at-home agent program, the airline has seen an increase in productivity and company revenue in addition to improved levels of customer service.
Love from Leadership
Embedding wellness efforts, such as setting incentives for healthy behavior like maintaining a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet, are effective ways a company can show agents an appreciation for their well being. However, to create sustainable employee energy, employers need to think beyond these core initiatives and embrace the idea of workplace energy from a broader perspective. Employers need to make sure tasks and shifts are assigned based on each employee’s skillset and workload. By treating each agent with respect and sustaining a process of ongoing appreciation can generate high-productivity and positive workforce moral.
At the end of the day, a key driver of whether or not a company is successful in retaining and acquiring customers is its reputation with customers. In today’s contact center, customer interactions can take place on several different platforms but each one starts and ends with the agent. In fact, a few Aspect (News - Alert) customers who have been successful in motivating their contact centers agents report their average attrition rates to be less than 3 percent, customer service levels increase on average 20-30 percent and operational costs reduce approximately 16 percent. Having a focus and formal process for motivating agents is a business investment that will deliver valuable returns. Companies who are dedicated to this type of encouraging work environment gain loyal customers, who ultimately become company advocates and drive more business back into the organization.
Erik Hagaman is senior product manager for workforce optimization at Aspect Software (www.aspect.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi