Power to the People! – Maintaining a positive culture in the Contact Centre
Magnus Geverts of Teleopti shares valuable in sights on how to change the culture whilst improving performance of both the agent and the contact centre
Working in a contact centre is a constant challenge. While the introduction of self-service and automation has removed many of the simple, repetitive tasks from the frontline, the remaining enquiries are increasingly complex, requiring greater skills, patience and knowledge. At the same time, mobility and the Internet of Things mean customers want an immediate response and expect to interact using a variety of channels at a time and place to suit them.
Managers who fail to grasp these fundamental changes are likely to experience constant staff turnover and diminished customer loyalty.
So, what’s the winning formula for a successful contact centre culture? It all comes down to creating the right environment that puts power into the hands of the people. Get it right and you’ll be rewarded with happy staff that deliver consistently outstanding customer experiences.
Humanise the workplace
Ask any employee what they want from their place of work and besides a decent pay package, they are most likely to cite working with people they like and the opportunity to develop. Other bonuses are flexibility and the authority to solve customer issues in their own way. However, many organisations are failing to humanise the workplace.
Follow these 10 steps to avoid falling into the same trap:
1. Be approachable and visible: and staff will come to you if they have problems. You’ll also gain a better understanding of what makes your team tick. Even if you work from home, and only do so if agents can do the same, have an open-door policy, albeit a virtual one.
2. Be constructive with criticism visible: address weaknesses and mistakes in a positive way but make it private. Admonishing agents in front of their colleagues is demoralizing and potentially damaging when it fosters unhealthy competition that pits agents against each other.
3. Build camaraderie: through informal and interactive communications such as weekly huddles or online chat facilities but make sure the pressure is off by scheduling these sessions during quiet times.
4. Share learning: from the very beginning. Give new joiners a welcome pack that includes an introductory e-learning module and pairs them with a mentor. Then keep the momentum going with methods that encourage colleagues to talk to each other, share ideas and achievements, at all levels and across different parts of the business.
5. Make agents part of the decision-making: turn “this is what you are going to do” into “what can we do to fix…?” Involving agents and allowing them to contribute to running the contact centre in a strategic way promotes a productive, thinking culture.
6. Make recognition and rewards accessible to all: remember to recognize newcomers and improved performance rather than just outright winners. Then, reward them with a greater number of smaller prizes such as theme park tickets or a dinner for two rather than an all-expenses trip to the Bahamas. That way, everyone feels they have a chance of winning. Don’t worry if you can’t afford prizes – giving people time off when it is quiet can be a reward in itself.
7. Flexible scheduling for work/life balance: help contact centre agents strike an efficient work/life balance by using the latest forecasting technology to right-size your contact center now and in the future. Features like rule-based self-scheduling allow managers to reschedule their workforce during the day taking into account unplanned changes in customer demand and unplanned agent absences in a matter of minutes. Then run a series of ‘what if’ scenarios to predict staffing needs for regular seasonal fluctuations like Christmas or new marketing campaigns.
8. Self-service for empowerment: allow agents to self-serve their own working lives, to trade shifts, voice their preferences for overtime and request time off. Setting up auto-approvals means staff don’t have to wait till the next day for an answer should their manager be out of the office or on holiday themselves. What is more, agents can log in at any time and from anywhere to see who they are working with and let their manager know when they are available for work.
9. Gamification for motivation: encourages healthy competition and rewards good performance in a fun environment. Add an additional boost by making the most of advanced WFM reporting and dashboards to provide a real-time snapshot of employee and team performance against specific contact centre KPIs or customer SLAs in a fair and transparent way.
10. Knowledge sharing for personal development: use WFM to create a virtual library of agent talent, knowledge and qualifications that can be used to build tailored training programs along with meaningful career paths. If your team consists of several generations, be mindful of developing a portfolio of different learning styles to meet everyone’s needs and promote inclusivity.
Let Technology do the rest
Of course, technology should deliver cost savings and efficient customer service but in a humane way. Some of Teleopti’s customers are real-life success stories of employee engagement. Rentalcars.com, the world’s largest online car rental service, depends on WFM to schedule hundreds of advisors, managers and support staff. Agents enjoy the luxury of seeing their shifts well in advance while self-service gives them the ability to plan their lives.
Fortunately, the latest WFM solutions enable all organizations to achieve work-life balance, empowerment, motivation and personal development, the cornerstones of employee engagement and the very foundation of a positive contact centre culture.
Magnus Geverts is Chief Business Development Officer at Teleopti
Business Systems (UK) Ltd & Teleopti
As top global providers of Workforce Management, Business Systems (UK) Ltd and Teleopti work together to provide across the board services in Workforce Management for operational consultancy, technical implementations and training, culminating in improved customer satisfaction, employee engagement and maximised ROI.