It can be difficult to find ways to motivate employees in the call centre, but motivating staff will boost the work rate and productivity of your employees.
Here we suggest a few tips and ideas for how to motivate staff in the contact centre.
1. Happy Workforce = Happy Customers
Provide a great environment to work in and look after your staff the way you expect them to look after your customers.
Why should they be nice to customers if they are getting a raw deal at work themselves?
Keep employees happy by providing what they need in terms of training (soft skills as well as technical knowledge) and genuine support with positive messages where appropriate and constructive feedback where development is needed. This will motivate the team to work better.
Learn more about keeping advisors happy in the article: Top customer service strategies – No. 2 Happy Staff = Happy Customers
2. Senior Manager Feedback
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your staff feel motivated and valued. Quite often a telephone call from a senior manager congratulating a team member on a ‘good week’ is equally as effective as an offer of a training course or gift voucher.
You can’t be seen to be withdrawing from investing in your people. Of course, you may have to make decisions to protect the profitability of your business that may not be popular, so the messages you communicate are extremely important.
We must continue to celebrate success, coach people on specific challenges and address any difficult issues they face.
Follow the link for: Five Ways to Share Good Customer Feedback with the Rest of the Team
3. A Positive Attitude
It is vital that team managers realign their expectations and take into consideration the economic climate when setting targets and objectives.
Whilst I don’t believe it is all doom and gloom out there, it is definitely tougher to convert leads into sales and there are fewer opportunities.
That said, team leaders must encourage their staff to raise their game and sell themselves out of the credit crunch.
4. The Right Tools and Skills for the Job
Regardless of whether you are operating during a credit crunch or not – staff motivation is influenced by the following factors:
- Having the right person in the job who is capable of doing it
- Equipping them to do the job by giving them the right tools and support
- Setting realistic targets that they believe can be achieved
Each of these three points are vital in making advisors feels supported. This is key because, if this support isn’t there, that can very quickly become a demotivator for not wanting to get on with the job at hand.
With this in mind, take a look at the video below, where Caroline Cooper, a Trainer and Consultant at Naturally Loyal, shares her advise for giving advisors the tools to best do their job.
5. Don’t Be Tempted to Carry Anyone Who Is Not up to the Job
Leadership skills are ever more important during difficult times and you must lead from the front and inspire the team. Make sure you have the right leaders to motivate staff, and read our article on how to Train Team Leaders Well.
Concentrate on how to motivate your best staff and don’t be tempted to carry anyone who is not up to the job – this can be highly demotivating for the rest of the team.
6. Keep Things Fresh
As obvious as it may sound, the key to motivating your staff is to keep things fresh.
Any job, however much you enjoy it, can become monotonous. This is even more true for the call centre environment.
So, refresh your old incentives, awards and motivational games to keep the contact centre lively.
7. Rewarding With ‘Quick Fix’ Prizes and Experiences
Monthly bonuses and incentive schemes are always useful, but what will keep staff motivated throughout the month is the small ‘quick fix’ stuff, the here and now, if you like. The little prizes they can take away with them as soon as they win them (or hit target).
Whilst this works well to provide quick boosts to motivation, for your bigger prizes it could be a good idea to reward with experiences. AO do this so that winning advisors create positive memories that can be associated with the workplace, thus adding passion to the job. An example of this was rewarding a winning advisor with tickets to the Manchester City vs Barcelona Champions League Tie, as the employee was a Manchester City fan.
For more tips from AO’s contact centre, read our piece: 17 Things You Can Learn from the AO Contact Centre
Also, follow the link for more ideas of: Staff Incentive Schemes That Work
8. Use Training to Keep People up to Date and Focused on the Job
Regular, effective and relevant training is massively important and a great motivator. If you want staff to perform properly and consistently then you have to give them the tools to do so.
Training is always good; it keeps people up to date and focused on the job at hand, their skills at the forefront and shows them that management are obviously concerned with how well they do their job.
If advisors are given good-quality training, which covers the topics and issues they are faced with, then they will respond and, to a certain extent, motivate themselves to stick with what they learn.
Discover more on this topic by reading our article: 50 Call Centre Training Tips
9. Offer a Nice Clean Working Environment
You need to make sure that the environment that staff are working in is conducive to good performance. Everyone likes to work somewhere nice, with clean carpets, working computers and phones, a couple of nice plants, etc.
Find out how you can improve the contact centre environment in our article: Six Clever Ways to Design your Call Centre
Consider this: which team do you think would give the best performance, the one who works in a scruffy office, where the equipment only works half of the time and the managers never offer any support, or the team that works in a clean, friendly office, where everything works properly and managers spend their day patting them on the back?
I appreciate that I’ve given an extreme example, but the fact remains that if your call centre is clean and welcoming then your team will want to be there and motivation will be much easier to come by.
Not only will this improve staff motivation, but it will improve mental health in the call centre.
10. We all Like to Be Rewarded or Praised for Doing It Well
A good reward scheme is a great way to motivate staff, especially if your team are conducting outbound calls. Human nature dictates that no matter what job we do, we all like to be rewarded or praised for doing it well. Have a read of this article for advice on How to Reward, Empower, and Inspire Advisors.
Sales people live by that, generally because the better they do, the more money they get. What you have to do is have more than one programme running at any given time – immediate, daily, weekly, monthly – it doesn’t really matter what timescales are involved – the key is to run a programme that suits all members of the team.
Basically, the thing that might motivate the top sales person won’t necessarily work with an average performer, and vice versa. So, if you have different options then you should be able to give all of them something to aim for.
Here are our: Top 10 Ways to Show Agents They’re Appreciated
11. Publicise Career Progression Opportunities
As the average age of advisors in contact centres is low, providing employees with a visible route of progression from their current position can be a great source of motivation.
Promoting these future opportunities where advisors can earn more money, hold a position of leadership and acquire new responsibilities, helps advisors to maintain enthusiasm in their current role.
PhotoBox do this by publicising job openings that advisors may have the right skill set for throughout the company. The company do this by sending staff members job adverts via email, as illustrated below.
To find out more from PhotoBox, read our article: 18 Things You Can Learn from the PhotoBox Contact Centre
12. Introduce Shift Swaps
The rigidness of the working schedule in many contact centres can cause a significant drop in motivation, as advisors often struggle to get the required time off for a fast-approaching christening, funeral etc.
If such an incident occurs, the job satisfaction for the affected advisor can be severely dented. One way around this is to introduce flexible shift swaps.
Whilst doing this could have negative effects in terms of workplace dynamics, service quality and supervisor–advisor rapport, it could very well bring a major surge of enthusiasm into the contact centre.
To introduce a flexible shift pattern as seamlessly as possible, read our piece: Top Tips on Flexible Shift Patterns
13. Listen to Your Team
We have found that the simple yet very effective “secret” to motivating a call centre team effectively comes through how one views motivation. We run with the premise that it is impossible to impose motivation upon people, you need to create an environment within which they can (and will) motivate themselves.
This environment comes through really listening to your team and understanding the call centre from their perspective. You do not need to agree with everything they are thinking, but you do need to understand why they feel this way. Understand what problems/worries they are encountering, what opportunities they see, what is important to them.
Find out how to harness the voice of your contact centre by visiting our page: Top Customer Service Strategies – No.5 Listen to Your Customers and Staff
14. What Does Success Look Like?
One area (often overlooked) is providing absolute clarity in “what success looks like”. All employees must be able to understand their goals and determine whether or not they are achieving them.
A good way to do this is to set advisors performance-based goals during quality monitoring sessions which change every week/month. These goals could be to boost certain metric results or quality scores, use empathy statements and so on.
For more on the topic of quality monitoring, visit: 30 Tips to Improve Your Call Quality Monitoring
15. Positive Immediate Consequences
Rewards that come at the end of the period are too late to produce ongoing change and a “well done” at the end of the week can only have a short-term impact.
Sustained change in behaviour comes when agents are told right through their shift, every minute of the day. Let advisors know precisely how they are performing and being rewarded for that performance. Some great ways to motivate staff can be as simple as making your agents smile.
When they see the positive and immediate consequences of what they do, they do it better, faster, more often.
16. A Team Huddle at the Start of the Shift
A bit of fun can go a long way towards motivating staff and helps to energise the contact centre.
At the start of shifts, a quick ‘huddle’, not only to pass on bits of key information, but also to share a topical joke or ‘vote’ on a true/false, can really wake people up! This is far more effective than email bulletins that are rarely read! Follow FatFace’s lead, who huddle every morning and strike a power pose.
Forming a huddle also helps to transmit a sense of community and team spirit, as advisors realise that they each share a common goal in optimising the performance of the contact centre.
17. Be Careful When Promoting People into Management Roles
One of the most common mistakes, and one I have never understood, is moving consistent, well-performing call centre staff into management roles and away from the frontline of customer service.
Often when these top performers are promoted to managing others, they are replaced by less talented individuals. But many good call centre staff are wilfully independent workers so can find management roles stressful and demotivating. Ultimately, the result is the business loses out on two fronts.
This was talked about in our article about promotion problems, where industry experts give advice on how to thrive in the position, and motivate the people around you.
18. Get the Systems Right
The best way to motivate contact centre staff is to ask for their direct input. A key area for consultation is the re-evaluation of the area where advisors spend all of their time: the desktop.
Advisors frequently cite dissatisfaction with systems as being a major source of low morale.
So, it’s important to have smooth-running systems that minimise advisor frustration and sustain enthusiasm.
Find out how to do so in our guide: Slow Computer Systems – It’s Not Rocket Science, Is It?
19. Use Motivational Games
Whilst many of the tips this article “dangle a carrot” in the hope of spurring advisors on, motivational games can also help to break up the repetitive routine of the advisor role.
For some examples of motivational games to play, such as contact centre dodgeball, cell wars and survivor island, visit our page: Motivational Games for Employees
These games help to revitalise an advisor’s day, offer healthy competition between staff and, especially if paired with an attractive incentive, can spur on advisors to boost performance. For more ideas on motivational games, read this article for five more motivational games.
20. Rewards to Share with the Family
Motivation and reward schemes need to have a high satisfaction level and appeal.
We are finding more and more that staff want rewards that they can share with their family and that give them a sense of well-being.
After all, if you are considered to be looking after the family of your employees, and not just the advisor, staff will feel greater security and you may earn greater levels of respect.
For more reward-based ideas, read our piece: Fifteen Great Ways to Improve Your Incentive Programmes
21. Find out What Makes Staff ‘Tick’
Find out what motivates each employee, and make each individual feel that they have a part to play in the overall success of the business.
An annual employee satisfaction survey won’t even scratch the surface. To find out what makes staff ‘tick’ on an ongoing basis you need to measure employee attitude at ‘key moments of truth’ for each employee.
The best way to do this is to use employee feedback software, which can provide a regular opportunity for employees to ‘air their thoughts’ in a non-confrontational way. You can think about staff feedback in the same way you would customer feedback, so have a read of this article on encouraging customers to give feedback, and apply it to your employees!
This method also provides that information to team leaders, so that they always have an up-to-date picture about how an employee feels.
22. Reward Good Work
When someone does a good job, it’s important to recognise their achievements. Offering commission on sales targets or promotions based on performance gives staff something to strive for and also shows you will commend good work. In a poll of industry professionals, 56% voted that recognition is the best way to motivate agents.
Even just a simple thank you can improve motivation, as feeling recognised and appreciated is important for any staff member, in any profession.
Remember, you don’t always need a large budget to acknowledge good work, as we discovered in our article: How to Motivate Employees for Less than £50 Per Week
23. Hold Regular Review Sessions
In every role, people want to develop their skills to help them progress. All members of the team should have regular review sessions which help staff and employers to identify both areas of strength and skills gaps.
At the end of each of these sessions, targets are set for the employee to work towards, helping them develop in their career.
24. Encourage Staff to Dress Smartly
Even though customers rarely come face to face with call centre staff, it is important for them to act and look professional at all times. Click here to read an article explaining Call Centre Dress Codes.
All our staff must dress smartly. Putting on smart clothes for work puts you in a professional mindset, which can also boost your business confidence and motivation.
Remember the old cliché: if you look good, you feel good.
25. Introduce Colour in the Workspace
Inspire your staff to work hard and strive for success. Call centres can be bland, so you can create a more vibrant atmosphere by introducing colour in the workspace, using motivational images and pictures to brighten the area. These little, low-cost improvements can make a significant impact on your workforce.
You know your staff better than anyone else; if you have new motivational ideas for your call centre workforce don’t be afraid to try them. Sometimes the simplest of changes can make a significant impact on employees’ working culture and attitude.
Siniat’s contact centre do this by involving advisors in the creation of artistic wordclouds, which are then displayed next to the workstations of those members of the contact centre team.
For more tips from Siniat, read our article: 11 Things You Can Learn from the Siniat Contact Centre
Thanks to the following for sending in the pieces of advice that have been used in this article:
Tricia Jephcott, Melissa Carslake, Stuart Pearce, Neil France, Stephen Ferrey, David Brown, Carolyn Blunt, Harry Eastman, David Davies, Francis Carden, David Butler, Gary Schwartz and Chris Earle.
Originally published in June 2012. Recently updated.