How should you motivate call centre staff at what can be some of the most miserable times of the year?
Martin Brinklow offers up a few tips.
Employee motivation is key to any business, but none more so than the call centre industry, which traditionally has to deal with high staff turnover along with high levels of customer expectation. Motivating call centre staff can be particularly difficult in the new year when, even though people might have new year’s resolutions – the reality is that it isn’t a great time for most call centre agents.However, the new year can provide a great opportunity to overhaul a lot of things in your call centre, including its motivation strategy.
The first step towards achieving and maintaining a motivated workforce lies in understanding the differing factors that motivate individuals within a team.
After all, something that one team member considers an inspiring force may have the exact opposite effect on another call centre employee.
The motivations of your employees can be determined in many ways, but the most successful way is simply to ask them.
All employees like to feel valued and appreciated, so knowing their managers are concerned with making possible changes to their advantage will encourage them to be forthcoming with their feedback.
Once you have identified exactly what motivates your staff, the next step is to decide how to go about setting up a motivating call centre environment. The following five steps might help:
1) Team-building exercises
Team-building exercises have real advantages in terms of getting employees to work together in an environment outside of the office. They give individuals a chance to be part of a winning team, within a challenging situation, with each team member placed on the same footing from the outset. Strengthened relationships as a result of this type of exercise can improve productivity, morale and motivation, resulting in a happier working environment.
It is possible to train a workforce to become more motivated. By showing them how to break down challenges into achievable tasks and using instruction and demonstration, the team should feel less fearful of future tasks and projects, more able to cope and, therefore, more motivated. This type of training can either take place in the workplace or outside of it, for example, combined with a team-building exercise.
3) Positive imagery
Walls and notice boards in a call centre are ideal places to host signs with motivational messages. This could be a slogan or a quote from inspirational celebrities or professionals, or even positive pictures or posters. Positive imagery can be key to empowering your workforce as it can encourage confidence and motivation. If employees can visualise achievement in themselves, they are more likely to demonstrate that crucial desire to win.
4) Setting targets
Most people tend to perform better when they have a target to work towards. This helps to drive them forward and keep them motivated and, if they achieve it, can have a significant effect on self-confidence. However, it is essential that the targets are challenging as well as realistic. An employee who works as hard as they can to reach a target that is increasingly looking unreachable will eventually become demotivated and may end up under-performing.
The call centre environment lends itself to best practice in incentivising staff. With Management Information and employees easily contactable via company intranets, it is possible to reward more people more often for their achievements, perhaps with a points system online, rather than awarding prizes to the top one per cent of staff every quarter.
A call centre environment is also perfect for rewarding staff as teams, promoting collaboration as groups work together to achieve targets between them for rewards designed to motivate them all. Providing an effective rewards programme need not be expensive or difficult.
In general, the most successful, motivated and productive workforce is one that feels valued, supported and challenged, with a clear direction and understanding of the important role they play in the achievement of company objectives.
The time and effort you have invested in ensuring your call centre is successful will reap benefits when team members begin to demonstrate increased levels of productivity. Encouragement towards autonomous decision-making, and additional responsibility, will also help to make sure the team remains motivated by reassuring members of the value of the contribution they are making.
Martin Brinklow was previously a General Sales Manager at Argos (Home Retail Group PLC)