The strain of repeated calls throughout a shift can hamper your agents’ enthusiasm and could lead to a poorer standard of customer service.
George Dixon offers five suggestions on how to keep your agents fresh and energised.
The team briefing
It’s a good idea to deliver a motivational address to each of your teams just as peaks set in. Your presentations need last no more than five minutes each, and should be used to demonstrate both acknowledgement and appreciation for your agents’ continued commitment.
Explain the reasons for the amplified workload, along with an estimated, realistic date of return to normality; once the goalposts are set in stone, your agents will find themselves with added inspiration – especially if they’ve been presented with a list of practical ways in which they themselves can help prevent repeat calls and, in turn, expedite their advancement towards the tranquillity of the peak’s end.
Remember, a healthy rapport between management and agents is no less valuable than that between the agents and the customers themselves. With that in mind, your pep talk will be the ideal opportunity to announce any measures (such as the tips below!) that you plan to implement to ease the chaos of your agents’ days and incentivise your workforce into optimal performance.
Implement competitions during the less hectic hours of the day, and invite the winners to take part in “extra-curricular” activities away from their workstations. Whether it’s supporting a sister department, taking on managerial tasks or contributing vocally to a rendition for use as a piece of hold music, such prizes will inject the victors’ working shifts with a healthy dose of variety – without reducing your corporate productivity.
Take note, though, that call-time-based competitions often lead to a lapse of customer service quality; if you urge your agents to handle their calls as quickly as possible, they’ll naturally neglect to pay their callers the attention they deserve. You’ll therefore want to implement contests which reward, primarily, the maintenance of soft skills under pressure.
To identify the winner, just allow each agent to submit a call of their choice once the competition period has ended, and have a QA representative score each performance in accordance with your pre-set criteria.
Needless to say, peak-size volumes of incoming and outbound calls can make it difficult to justify incentivising your agents with extra breaks. The implementation of a break bank system, however, can prove extremely useful in maximising both your workforce’s productivity and their level of morale.
Under the system, any agents who exceed their daily targets – by achieving a certain number of customer retentions, for example – will be granted a bonus break, to be taken after the chaos of the peak has died down. The more targets each agent reaches, the more extra breaks he or she will bank and store for future use. Before long, your most impressive agents will have found themselves with a considerable balance, perhaps adding up to an afternoon off or even an extra day of leave.
But don’t forget that the agents themselves are not the only ones to suffer the agonies of increased call volumes; team leaders and shift managers are often affected just as dramatically, with increased escalations, one-to-ones and call monitoring to contend with.
In some ways, it’s even more important that your supervisors remain motivated than the agents themselves. To avoid triggering an avalanche of contact centre demotivation, ensure that the floor managers are endowed with a break bank system of their own.
By keeping an eye out for your individual employees’ efforts, and delivering praise wherever appropriate, you’ll show your agents that you’re well aware of their exertions and that you appreciate their hard work.
Admiration really is a powerful motivator, and when it’s given by a figure of senior or executive authority, its value can spiral to whole new realms of inspiration. So spread the word of your employees’ accomplishments, and invite your superiors to express their personal recognition to the agents by email, via telephone or even in the flesh.
Physical trophies should also be awarded to the highest achievers. Whether in the form of a meal out on the company, an actual medal of accomplishment or just a bag of your agent’s favourite sweets, these will act as the embodiment of your praise, and introduce some hearty competition into the workplace. Just make sure that your awards don’t become an everyday given; when it comes to praise, good timing is essential, and if your tributes are given too late or too often, their effectiveness will dwindle into insignificance.
If there’s one thing sure to have your employees rubbing their heads with disenchantment, it’s a bland working environment; even the most out-of-touch manager will admit that grey, sterile walls and the occasional stat-filled wallboard are hardly likely to help alleviate the strain of repeated calls. But just a little extra effort in the environmental department can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your agents’ outlook healthy and productive.
First off, ensure that each member of staff’s workspace is comfortable, well-lit and within reasonable reach of a waste-paper basket; a tidy workstation is, after all, a productive one. Then, make sure that the temperature is regulated to maintain a fairly stable room temperature – your agents are human beings, not lab rats, and they won’t appreciate their working climate fluctuating rapidly between Himalayan and sub-Saharan conditions.
Ensure that a healthy stock of seasonal drinks and snacks – cheese and crackers, for example – are available to your staff during this trying time. Since nothing hampers a good old run on the dialling treadmill quite like an uncomfortable uniform and pair of shoes, you may also wish to temporarily relax your contact centre dress code. Such gestures of kindness require little monetary investment on your part, and will be returned to you many times over via the currency of cheerful productivity.
Once the fundamentals are in place, build some team spirit by dressing those dreary walls with a mixture of agent achievement certificates, decorative pictures and photographs from your employees’ out-of-work activities. These last will act as a steady anchor of optimism when the endless waves of calls threaten to sink your teams’ morale.
George Dixon is a regular contributor to Call Centre Helper.
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Gamification is also a good idea here! Game platform as a reward might solve the problem of boredom and break the constant stream!
sirf english hai..isse repeat kam nahi hoga