Ideally you want people working in your contact centre that want to be there. You want agents that like people, that enjoy speaking on the phone and who genuinely enjoy interacting with customers or problem solving.
What you don’t want are people that are there because they couldn’t find any other kind of job, or because it was the best paying work they could find.
But sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sometimes you inherit people in your team that don’t perform or aren’t happy, but they also don’t plan to leave. What do you do then?
As a starting point one of the things you need to consider is the culture of your business. How is the Contact Centre viewed by other departments and managers? Is it seen as a cost or a problem solving hub? Or is it seen a pool of potential talent for the business?
Contact centre agents are required to know so much about the business. They need to know the products or services and they deal with customers daily so they get to know what customers want. Therefore it is the ideal place to develop future talent for your business. This works well if there are opportunities for promotion within the organization. Are you building relationships with other team managers so that you can put forward talent when opportunities arise?
Your team will be a mix of personalities and talents. This is a good thing because each person has the potential to add value in their own unique way. The challenge for a contact centre manager is to know which agents to coach and develop, or discipline if needed. Get to know your agents, what their skill sets and ambitions are. You may just discover some untapped potential in your organization.
There are three aspects to creating a dream team that I’d like to explore with you:
- Attracting the right people
- Growing and managing the team
- Maintaining the team
Attracting the right people:
Hiring can be a hit and miss affair if you’re just going by feel or instinct. A competency based approach with a structured interview process provides you with a much better chance of hiring the right kind of people. If you have the time or resources available you can run an assessment centre for new recruits. This will give a group of candidates an opportunity to work through tasks, interviews and assessments. The best are then selected and trained together to become new contact centre agents.
When hiring, transparency is really important. Let candidates know the terms of employment. Go through all the details such as salary, leave, benefits, transport or parking facilities. Give them a tour of the company including the contact centre floor. They are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. Knowing what to expect will help them decide if this is a company where they can fit in and do well.
Growing and managing the team:
How you develop your team will depend on what skill sets you have in your team. Your stars demonstrate high potential and high performance. They may not need much training, but will still need encouragement and support.
Rising stars are people that perhaps aren’t performing now, but show potential for being star performers. These agents will need specific training, coaching and guidance.
Your ‘rocks’ are people that do well but aren’t really looking to go much further. They perform well and are generally happy. Be available if they need support and let them know they are appreciated.
The last two groups in the matrix will require the most input. They show both low performance and potential. Sponges are typically new recruits, people that are still finding their feet. If you have a good induction and training program and spend time with them, they can become rising stars. The last group is ‘monkeys’. Yes the name describes them well. They typically aren’t really interested in developing themselves and can often be quite disruptive to a team. They need to be managed.
When you are developing your team there is one key question you can ask. It can shed light on how satisfied your agents are. Alternatively it can highlight areas in your contact centre or organization that need work. The question is: “Would you recommend a friend or family member to work here and why?” If the answer is yes you can find out what the key elements are that make working there attractive and build on them. If the answer is no, it’s an opportunity to improve some aspects of the business.
Maintaining the Team:
A question I often get asked is “What if I train people and they leave?” My answer is ‘What if you don’t train them, and they stay?” What other choice do you have as but to train and invest in your team? It has taken resources to recruit them. You need to be developing people in your organization.
A contact centre is really the heartbeat of an organization. When people are promoted out of this into other areas of the business, in finance, marketing or management, they take with them a perspective of the real value of the contact centre. They don’t just see it as a cost, but rather as a potential source of customer loyalty and retention.
The real value of a contact centre can be realised when adequate resources are invested in it and when it has a respected voice in the wider organization. Your contact centre stars can reward your business with loyalty, bundles of motivation and performance that makes a real difference to your business growth.