Reevaluating How to Increase Call-center Employees’ Productivity and RetentionDecember 20, 2019 • Tal Valler
Reading time: 5 min 32 sec
Whether they like it or not, companies need to come to grips with the following reality:
Disengaged employees are very often the face of their organization.
Commonly hailing from departments that aren’t revenue sources, these workers come in contact with company clients far more frequently than higher-ranking employees. Hell, they are often the first company representative a client encounters when deciding to engage with a service or product provider.
This can be problematic.
An agent working at a call-center is limited in his or her understanding of company strategy, vision and overall direction. Yet, he or she are tasked with dealing with representing the organization to the world; whether by providing service to an existing customer, or by attempting to lure a new one.
This is a common Achilles heel for companies; placing customer interaction duties, that often require finesse and an acute sense of responsibility (gained primarily by having a real stake in the company’s continued reputational success) in the hands of employees whose scope is limited to their comparatively narrow roles.
Lacking skill and training, coupled with the nature of the job itself, call-center agents often fail to live up to their employers’ expectations.
Companies know that a single negative customer interaction can make or break them.
This industry-trope has never been truer than it is today. Titans of industry can be brought to their knees by a disgruntled customer venting his or her frustrations on Twitter. Companies must assume that any form of interaction between employees and customers is being documented. They need to brace themselves to properly deal with the aftermath of incidents in which the optics are bad, despite their own conduct being justified. United Airlines is still attempting to mitigate the PR-havoc wreaked by the infamous passenger-dragging incident from 2017. Tweets of the event went viral as it was transpiring and have since become immortalized in the annals of popular culture. The damage was significant.
So, what measures can organizations take in order to try and minimize them? What methods or approaches can managers and decision-makers adopt in order to guarantee maximum customer satisfaction?
Here are a few essential steps you should take:
- Create a culture of Employee Engagement
This one almost goes without saying. A recent Gallup research found that 67% of the American workforce is not engaged in their work; that stat includes those who work as fire-fighters, movie reviewers and beer-tasters. If we were to focus solely on call-center employees, it would be fair to guess that the number would be considerably higher.
The havoc a disengaged call-center employee can wreak on an organization is considerable. A company that relies on swiftly answered and energetic call responses cannot afford to have its customers correspond with lethargic, slow and inefficient representatives. It is management’s responsibility to create a culture of Employee Engagement.
It is easy to disregard the traditional call-center workforce as interim by nature, and to adopt a cynical approach toward aligning and engaging it with general company vision. Avoid that pitfall by proving the value of your agents’ work to them. If you approach team-members, (preferably in a personal face-to-face meeting) and offer cold-data indicating how their personal output effects revenue, they will be far more inclined to be engaged at work. Additionally, make recognizing employee achievements a staple of your working environment. When your worker is praised for successfully meeting his or her assigned goals (no matter how mundane and unglamorous they may be), it will reflect in his or her long-term commitment to the role, and in the company’s ROI.
Successful call-centers require all employees to perform according to a set standard. Having a few top-performs is natural, and their presence is always going to be welcome by managers. However, statistically, a random customer is more likely to engage with an agent who is a member of the workforce majority, comprised of employees ranging from good, through adequate to less than that.
By adopting gamified platforms, you can create a standardized working environment. Tapping in to basic human elements such as competitiveness and the desire for self-fulfillment, gamification effectively wills employees to adhere to desired working guidelines and expectations.
Gamification loans elements that entice participants to enthusiastically take part in them, and channels them toward employee engagement. Call-center workers will be prompted to take part in games and quizzes, adopting necessary behaviors and knowledge in the process. These will come in the form of individual or group competitions, and will reward participants upon successfully completing levels and games by presenting them with badges and points.
Because these platforms rely on a continuous feed of real-time data, employees can benefit from immediate assistance and guidance when they encounter a roadblock. Besides enabling them to successfully deal with the issue in hand, these tutorials will equip them with valuable skills and knowledge. Managers will be given a clear and immediate view regarding their team-members’ performance. They can properly gauge which areas a certain employee excels at, and which require developing.
- Rethink feedback
Drawing employees’ attention to their shortcomings, and explaining how you expect them to improve, can be difficult and uncomfortable. As long as they have not egregiously violated company policy, or exhibited a pattern of unacceptable conduct, chances are that you will want to hold on to your call-center employees. Conducting an IDEA-based conversation has proven to yield significant results. This method entails beginning with an Introduction, followed by Descriptively detailing what you heard or saw your employee doing. Then, you, as the manager should Explain how your employee’s actions affect you and your team. Lastly, describe the Action you would like to see the reprimanded employee adopt.
Complement this method by owning your criticism; ditch phrases such as ‘you were seen doing A’ in favor of I statements, such as ‘I saw you doing A’. In addition, pay acute attention to when and where you plan on providing negative feedback. There are advantages to delivering feedback at the beginning of a work day as well as opting for doing so as work commences at the end of the day. As for the desired location, it is highly recommended that negative feedback should be delivered somewhere private.
In summary, call-centers employees, much like other gatekeeper service-providers are charged with a tall-task. To have them properly represent your company, you will need to continually work toward finding and implementing new approaches to will agents toward adhering to standards, and to empower them to exceed them. To achieve that, you will need to look beyond traditional (some-what uninspired) approaches such as adopting run-of-the-mill call-center management software. Opting for gamification-based platforms, reevaluating the way you relay negative feedback, and fostering a culture of employee engagement are ways in which you can enable agents to leave a long-lasting positive impression among new and returning customers.
Gameffective is an Employee-Centric Performance Management Platform – the “fitness tracker” for the Connected Workforce of the Future. Gameffective empowers employees to boost their work performance through hyper-personalised goals, real time tracking and data-driven feedback and coaching. Deployed with the world’s leading organizations Gameffective helps managers drive up employee value day by day. To find out how Gameffective can help transform your organization go to www.gameffective.com or book a live demo.