Employees today have more choices and flexibility about where and when they do their jobs. While working from anywhere has its advantages, it also means leaders have the extra challenge of managing contact centre agents in multiple locations.
Working differently means that leaders must also think expansively about the agent experience and how to keep teams engaged.
What Is Agent Experience?
Agent experience refers to the journey an employee takes with your company. It starts with being recruited by your organization, progresses through time on the job, and concludes with the exit interview when departing.
Agent engagement refers to an employee’s mental and emotional connection to your company. According to SHRM, it also includes an employee’s willingness and ability to contribute to the company’s success.
While the employee experience is impacted by the broader organization, agent engagement is largely influenced by an employee’s manager through job assignments, trust, communication, and recognition. Agents who are engaged in their work are more focused and operate with a sense of urgency that drives customer satisfaction and loyalty.
A great way to determine if your contact centre team is engaged is to watch for behaviours commonly displayed by disengaged employees. These include:
- Distracted and unmotivated at work
- Negative attitude toward managers and colleagues
- Disinterested in promotions or stretch assignments
- Unresponsive to emails and chats
- Contributing the bare minimum during meetings
If warning lights flashed as you read this list, it’s time to consider ways you can improve the agent experience for your hybrid workforce. Try these tips to keep your contact centre team engaged – whether working remotely or in the office.
Your company will reap the rewards that come with a better employee experience, including higher staff retention rates, happier team members, greater customer satisfaction, and a more enjoyable work environment for all.
Communicate Consistently and Clearly
The successful leadership of a hybrid workforce starts with clear, consistent communication. It’s easy to do this when your team is located in the same building. But when your agents are scattered across locations, managers have to be diligent about communicating regularly.
Be sure your team meetings involve the full team, not just those who are on-site that day. Conflicts inevitably arise so if you must miss a meeting, reschedule it in a timely fashion. And don’t forget to send follow-up emails to recap what was discussed and the key deliverables.
This will ensure everyone knows the expectations and next steps and it will clear up anything that may have been misconstrued during the meeting.
Video chats let you assess agents’ body language and provide more information on their state of mind than a quick email or chat can.
But exercise moderation when it comes to on-camera meetings. More time on video can increase the risk of agents feeling mentally zapped at the end of the day. Plus, Zoom fatigue can have a greater negative impact on women and people of colour.
Regular and clear communication are fundamental to a positive employee experience and to ensuring your team feels connected, informed, and engaged.
Equip Your Team
Another important piece of the employee experience is making sure your agents have the tools they need to do their jobs. After all, you can’t expect your hybrid team to deliver top-notch customer service if they can’t access the information or solutions they need when working off-site.
A cloud-based workforce management solution is a must-have for hybrid teams. It’s critical to provide agents with tools that address every channel, reduce complexity, and help advance your organization and KPIs.
Reward and Recognize
Let’s face it: Most of us would gladly accept a raise or a bonus for a job well done. But there are other ways to let your agents know they’re appreciated.
Don’t underestimate the power that a simple “thank you” can have on the employee experience. Consider sending your team members handwritten notes to their homes. It shows more care than an email. Plus, it will likely be an unexpected surprise that leaves a lasting impression.
Your message doesn’t have to be long. It can deliver positive feedback on a client interaction, recognize an agent’s strengths, or simply express appreciation for their contributions to the team.
Another fun way to recognize your team is through gamification. You can foster learning, collaboration, creativity, and healthy team competition with these types of tools. Agents can earn rewards for successfully completing challenges.
Another boost to engagement is achieved with public recognition. Kudos for agents going above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service can be viewed, shared, and commented on by others on the team.
Just as you should include remote agents in your team meetings, remote employees shouldn’t miss out on training opportunities either. Research shows that the most reliable drivers of job satisfaction are tied to the training and coaching employees receive, and whether there’s an official process in place for career growth.
Training takes time away from an agent’s customer-facing job function. But your organization will see the payoff when these employees provide enhanced customer experiences and are more engaged overall.
Ask for Feedback
It’s critical to measure agent engagement and job satisfaction on a regular basis so you can identify issues – and capitalize on opportunities – in a timely fashion. Your agents will likely feel valued when you ask their opinions, plus they’ll have a unique perspective that may not be apparent to you as a leader.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask agents these five questions to find out what they think is working well and what could use a little work:
- Do you have the tools you need to do your job?
- How often do you and your manager meet for one-on-one meetings?
- Is your supervisor flexible with your work schedule?
- If you work remotely, do you think you receive the same consideration from your manager as your in-office team members?
- Do you feel like you’re a part of the team? If not, what improvements could be made?
Agents today have more choices about where and when they work. With team members scattered across locations, leaders must think differently about the agent experience and keeping teams engaged.
When you’re diligent about how you interact with, train, and recognize your entire team – whether they’re in the office or remote — your organization will realize the benefits of having happier, engaged agents that deliver top-notch customer service.