Picture if you will the daily, and all too familiar pressure of having to – answer calls within the shortest number of rings – answer each call in the correct way (‘Good Morning, My name is…how can I help? Can I have your account number? etc..’) – ask the right questions – listen – provide the right answers or advice (sometimes within a tight time frame) – log the conversation on an ever slow computer system – be polite – close the call – to name but a few procedures that call centre operatives have to go through a 100 times a day.
Then there are the nice big television screens on the wall that are installed by management to flash and beep and constantly show lots of data like call volumes and response times, which are sold to staff as a way to improve their performance, but actually just serve as a distraction as you look to see how much longer your next toilet/cigarette/lunch break is going to be delayed as there are 50 calls waiting in the queue and there will be no chance of escape before then.
The UK call -centre industry currently employs 2% of the UK workforce, yet over 60 % of these people leave their job within two years. Although some businesses boast a significantly lower percentage, it is still a problem that I believe needs to be addressed, especially in this current climate where the need for staff retention is truly significant.
Why is staff turnover so high in call centres? Is it because it is monotonous or unrewarding? Or is it, as I believe, that the call centre culture is so significant to the people that work there, but it is the last thing managers think about. Think of the job that you have enjoyed going to the most and I can pretty much guarantee that a big part of that was the people that you worked with. No-one likes to work completely alone without social interaction or conversation. As an employee this is a great environment to be in, but as an employer it’s going to come a poor second to your focus on the maximising of profit. I believe this is a mistake.
A big part of any successful role is also how much emphasis, time and quality is placed on your personal development; no-one wants to be stuck in the same position day after day, year after year without learning something new or expanding their skill set, being promoted or being given more responsibility. Time and again in this climate employers want to reduce cost and drive efficiencies, so budgets not the training are always the top priority.
Culture, Culture, Culture!!!
A new high performing environment where the management can see improvement in achieving targets, lowering costs and staff retention, and where employees feel valued and empowered to perform as well as they can, and where perhaps most importantly the customer (whether they be internal or external) feels they are getting an excellent service.
I want to hear from people who have worked in the Call Centre environment and to know more about your cultural horror and success stories. What has and hasn’t worked for you? How can we improve them for everyone?