Mike Aoki of Reflective Keynotes shares his favourite customer service goals, while highlighting how they can benefit your contact centre.
Sir Richard Branson once said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
How you take care of employees has been greatly transformed by the switch to work-from-home (WFH). This has brought new challenges and opportunities.
With that in mind, here is a set of new employee-focused goals for contact centres.
1. Listen to the “Voice of the Employee”
I worked from home for the past 19 years. For the first 18 years, I spent the workday alone. However, my wife and son began doing work and school from home seven months ago. As much as I love them, that created additional stress.
On top of having the entire family at home 24/7, some contact centre agents may also miss face-to-face support from co-workers and supervisors. Other WFH stressors include technical problems such as Wi-Fi challenges.
On top of having the entire family at home 24/7, some contact centre agents may also miss face-to-face support…
There are also ergonomic challenges when using a coffee table as a desk or eye strain from squinting at a single 13-inch laptop screen instead of the dual 21-inch monitors agents may have had at the office.
Do you know how your employees feel? Do you have a system to gather that information so their voices can be heard? Do not wait for a company-wide “annual survey”.
Find out how your contact centre team is doing right now. Work with your Human Resources department to gather monthly employee feedback. That could take the form of surveys, focus groups or team discussions.
The key is to listen to your employees. Find out what is bothering them and take action to support them.
2. Make Employee Wellness a Priority
Are you working from home or “living at the office?” Work-from-home has blurred the line between “work hours” and “home hours”. Burnout can result when employees feel obligated to respond to late-night emails from their boss.
Are companies doing enough to support their employees? Apparently not.
Only 46% of employees “Believe the organization is supporting the physical and emotional health of its workforce,” according to a recent report from the IBM Institute for Business Value.
Focus on supporting your team with WFH wellness programmes. Examples range from offering virtual fitness classes after work, to providing information on stress-management techniques, to providing professional counselling.
For more examples of how to improve employee well-being, read our article: Employee Well-Being: How to Reduce Contact Centre Stress
3. Help Work-from-Home Employees Share a Sense of Connection
A side effect of working from home is losing a sense of connection to colleagues. We miss seeing friends at the office. We miss having a face-to-face chat or seeing a colleague’s supportive smile when dealing with a challenging customer interaction.
Provide opportunities for your team to interact informally with co-workers.
It is easy to feel isolated, and even forgotten, while working from home. As a contact centre leader, provide opportunities for your team to interact informally with co-workers.
Common examples include Zoom “Happy Hours” where agents log into an open video-conference line to interact with other people on their break.
Another example is having “study buddies” or pairs of agents take an eLearning module together via video-conferencing.
For more examples like this, check out our article: 15 Great Ideas to Make Remote Working Fun
4. Reimagine Workforce Management
According to the “Remote Employee Experience Index” from Slack’s Future Forum study: “Workers who have the option of working a flexible schedule score higher across every element of the Index than those made to continue working 9-5.”
While most contact centres are no longer open from just nine-to-five, WFH provides more opportunities for shift flexibility.
Pre-pandemic, most shifts were in four- or eight-hour blocks because people would not commute to an office for just one hour of calls.
With work from home, it is possible to schedule agents in smaller increments of time, if your jurisdiction’s labour laws permit it. That allows agents to offer their available hours to match their lifestyle.
So, a part-time student could offer to take calls between noon and 2pm, do their university class from 2:00–4:00pm, and then take calls from 4–6pm. That allows the agent to attend class, while still earning four hours of income. It also lets your Workforce Management team fine-tune scheduling to match projected contact volumes.
For instance, if contact volume is light between 2 and 4pm but, heavy from 4 to 6pm, you can schedule for that.
Of course, this makes scheduling more complex. So, your Workforce Team’s tools and processes need to evolve to match that opportunity.
5. Upgrade Team Leaders’ Coaching Skills
Coaching via video-conference is a new skill. Train team leaders and quality assurance coaches on how to do it properly.
Have them focus on building a great coach–agent relationship, in addition to developing an agent’s skills. That means investing time during a coaching session to ask how the agent is doing.
Let the agent know how much they are valued. Share any positive feedback from customers or colleagues. Spend time reviewing what they are doing well, before discussing what could be improved. So they feel recognized and appreciated.
For more on the topic of developing team leaders, read our article: Train Team Leaders Well
6. Upgrade Your Collaboration Tools
Are you tired of the same old video-conferencing meetings? A traditional face-to-face team meeting agenda becomes boring over video.
Meeting attendees can write ideas, draw diagrams, create flowcharts and set deadlines.
Instead, take advantage of collaboration software for mind mapping and group discussions with WFH team members. Meeting attendees can write ideas, draw diagrams, create flowcharts and set deadlines.
In addition, gamification apps make team huddles and meetings more fun, as you use an interactive interface to score points while reviewing process updates or answering quizzes.
7. Celebrate Successes
It has been a challenging year! Many contact centres compressed seven years of change into the past seven months. How can you celebrate that hard work?
One of my clients arranged to have a takeout dinner delivered to each WFH employee’s home. They did not just send a single portion. The company provided dinner for each employee’s entire family, since leaders felt the whole family was affected when employees were sent home to work.
Another client, with a lower budget, leveraged video-conferencing and a potluck dinner. During that dinner, each team member went on camera to share what they cooked and why that food was important to them. That built a sense of camaraderie as people swapped family cooking stories.
However you celebrate, praise your team for adapting to sudden change while still supporting your customers!
More Tips From Our Readers
To make it a nice round ten customer service goals, let’s take a look at our favourite three goals that have been sent in by our readers centred around focusing on your people.
8. Know Your Website
It is really important and effective to ensure that agents know the company website and content, as this is not only a knowledge base but it is also important for supporting customers to self-help.
By spending a little time at the end of an interaction talking to a customer about the self-service available, you can signpost an easier way for the customer to solve their queries in the future. This helps to improve customer experience, while lowering future demand.
Thanks to Seema
9. Analyse Your Demand Drivers
Focus on why customers contact you. This allows you to identify waste, which can easily be 50–60% of your contact centre demand.
If you don’t know your top five reasons for contacts – in the customer’s language – you’re missing out on a key method of increasing call centre efficiency.
Thanks to Paul
10. Success, Effort, Emotion
When evaluating contacts, remember SEE (Success.Effort.Emotion). This means: Successful contact, little or no Effort. Great rapport and an Emotional connection.
These are great targets for team leaders. Remember, well-supported team leaders with clear, unambiguous objectives and freedom to optimize the performance of their team.
Thanks to Dan
Thanks to Mike Aoki, Founder of Reflective Keynotes, for sharing this article with us.
For more articles on the topic of goals for customer service, read our articles: