Who said call centers can’t be fun places to work?
According to 92% of customers interviewed for the ICMI report Overcoming Productivity and Efficiency Challenges in the Multichannel Contact Center (it’s an oldie but we absolutely love it) a happy contact center agent plays a huge part in how they experience a company. This makes total sense. Think back to the last time a customer service agent made your day. How did it affect your perception of that company?
So, what can be done to put a smile on an agent’s face? Lots actually.
The link between agent experience and productivity
That ICMI report is full of golden nuggets of wisdom such as ‘a happy agent can be instrumental to optimized efficiency in the multichannel contact center’, ‘65% of contact centers have identified links between an agent’s engagement/satisfaction and a better customer experience’ and ‘85% [of contact centers] truly believe that happy agents do make happy customers’.
But what we found most interesting is the report’s claim that introducing additional channels to a contact center can have a marked negative impact on agents. ‘The negative impact on productivity from offering multichannel points of contact stems from the initial learning curve related to a new process.’
It all comes back to the agent experience (Ax). Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if a higher-up suddenly decided that in addition to answering phones, you now had to answer webchat queries and emails? Now imagine if this directive came with a whole new unfamiliar solution to understand. Chances are you’d feel a little sting of resentment. This is totally normal.
Proper change management and training can cancel out the negative impact of new systems and policies, and will ensure agents are properly introduced to and comfortable with these changes. Suddenly, the addition of new channels provides new interest and learning opportunities, and more interesting work.
We would recommend applying this strategy to all new processes.
If you don’t love your job you’ll never be happy at work. Period.
According to Forbes, Keller Williams Realty takes the 2018 top spot for the Happiest Company to Work For. The company, which employees 175 000 realty agents, prides itself on empowering employees to take control of their own career growth. In fact, most employees claim that they never want to leave.
Job satisfaction can’t be forced, but there are certain things you can do to help your agents get there. Use positive reinforcement to instill a sense of meaning in your team. Acknowledge their hard work, communicate openly about business goals and performance, and show your appreciation for the contribution your agents make to achieving those goals. Celebrate every win, even the smallest ones. If your agents feel like they’re contributing to the bigger picture, that sense of value will translate into job satisfaction in no time.
There are many corporates out there that place a lot of importance on professionalism and reputation. There are good reasons for this. It inspires confidence in your business, and when you’re eyeing clients with deep pockets, this counts for a lot. But while a uniform contact center looks great when you’re giving a client a tour of the building, it’s – uh, how do we put this gently? – a little soulless, especially for the agents working there. We wouldn’t be far off linking an inflexible, clinical environment to feeling like a number. According to The Happiness Index, the key to workplace happiness is creating a welcoming environment.
Allow your agents to personalize their desks with pinboards for family photos and inspirational images, or use bright colours on walls or doors to create a vibey environment that inspires creativity. Imagine your ideal workplace and go to town.
If you absolutely have to have a rigid and ordered contact center, make sure you make up for it elsewhere – in a state-of-the-art entertainment complex or gym, for example, or an awesome cafeteria with plenty of chill-out space.
No one wants to feel like a number. And if your agents do, so will your customers.
Incentives, incentives, incentives
Every year, SITE – the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence – host their Crystal Awards, which recognize business tourism operators that specialize in company incentive programmes. These can be anything from a game drive in Zambia to a five-star stay in Italy complete with Ferrari rental.
What interests us about the case studies coming out of the Crystal Awards are the lessons companies can learn about rewarding and engaging employees.
We’ve picked one example. In 2016, Optus, Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company, enlisted the help of incentive travel company Solterbeck to reward 400 employees with the highest sales results and who best exemplified the company’s values of customer focus, challenger spirit, teamwork, integrity, and personal excellence.
These 400 employees received an all-expenses paid trip to Vietnam, where they partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for the needy in Ho Chi Minh City. If you’re thinking, ‘Why on earth would a company reward hard-working employees with more work?’ we’ll explain.
The aim of the program was to inspire teamwork, a sense of community and empowerment among the employees. Needless to say, the program was a resounding success. The company reported a high level of commitment and engagement among staff during the program as well as back at the office.
If you can’t afford a trip around the world, a team lunch or activity would work just as well. There’s nothing like a six-day hike in the middle of nowhere to bring a team closer together.
So remember, when it comes to fostering happiness at work, a little love goes a long way. Never undervalue your Ax and you’re golden.
Interested to read more in our Ax series? We’d recommend you start here.