Catherine DeStasio of Serenova shares her advice for keeping your contact centre productive while everyone is working from home.
Now that your contact centre agents are safely working from home, it’s time to focus on the business of managing and coaching to ensure productivity.
Motivating agents and helping them stay productive is possible, and critical, during this crisis and for long-term success once it’s behind us.
Keeping agents motivated to do well despite the stress and distractions of new routines, processes, challenges, and life, takes effort. Here are six tips to help.
1. Embrace the Positive
Not only are contact centre agents now missing the social interactions that served as filters for the global bad news, they are handling more calls than ever before, often from customers who are themselves frustrated, angry or experiencing any number of negative emotions.
During these times, the idea of staying positive may trigger thoughts of trite affirmations or flat one-liners, but positivity is more important than ever before. Human beings are hardwired to focus on bad news, and this depletes the energy we have available to be productive.
It doesn’t take much to add positivity back into an agent’s day. A study by Harvard Business School found that 28% of the time, an incident that had a minor impact on a project had a major impact on people’s feelings. Taking the time to celebrate success, no matter how small, can yield major results.
Celebrating wins in an on-site contact centre environment was easier. You could ring a bell when a target was achieved, give a gift card or recognize someone on a wallboard. In the work-from-home (WFH) environment, you’ll have to get more creative, or leverage the right tools.
Whether it’s performance dashboards, real-time feedback or virtual announcements, contact centre reporting helps contact centres recognize good performance no matter where it happens.
2. Help Employees Connect
Messaging helps employees easily connect with each other. It can feel daunting to suddenly find yourself working alone after getting used to taking calls in the contact centre.
Agents accustomed to bouncing ideas off each other in the breakroom or immediately waving over a supervisor may now find themselves unmoored.
When they can connect with each other while working from home, your agents feel like they’re still connected to the organizational culture.
Encouraging people to connect via messaging apps not only keeps them working as part of the team, it also replicates the informal communication that is an essential part of organizational success.
3. Provide Easy Access to Supervisors (and to Agents)
Encouraging the use of communication tools also improves communication between agents and supervisors.
The informality of messaging mimics the social media tools that Millennials and Gen Z agents (the majority of employees in most contact centre) are accustomed to using, making them feel more comfortable reaching out to their supervisors with questions.
With advanced reporting, agents and supervisors can use a variety of tools that support two-way messaging. Agents can ask for assistance via chat; supervisors can provide feedback through team meetings, suggestion boxes or surveys.
When agents feel they have support, and their voices are heard, they are far more engaged and motivated.
4. Keep the Focus on the Customer Experience
Agents can also get easily overwhelmed working from home. They have a customer on the phone, they’re entering or researching information and they have a chat open asking for feedback. Expecting them to also focus on dozens of performance metrics will only add to the feeling of overwhelm.
When managing agents, remote or otherwise, supervisors should focus on a few key metrics that tie directly to customer satisfaction.
Dashboards and games can be customized to help agents focus on behaviours that directly influence metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).
These dashboards give agents visibility into how they directly impact the customer experience and the health of the business.
5. Challenge Your Agents
Competition motivates people. It’s the reason adults play sports and video games in increasing numbers. Contact centres can tap into the same motivation.
Gamification, when done correctly, has been proven to motivate employees because it speaks to our competitive nature. It adds variety and excitement to a job that can be tedious or frustrating.
Gamification technology includes the features that make online games addictive – customized avatars, goal achievement, connection with others – while tying those motivations to the ultimate goals of the organization. Just like online gamers, agents return to the game recharged and motivated to reach the next level.
6. Be Authentic
Among the greatest motivators for agents is authenticity in their supervisor. If you aren’t the sort of person who feels comfortable sending notes of encouragement, don’t.
Your agents will see right through that. The best motivation for any employee is an open, real relationship with a supervisor who is invested in their success and shows them how they have an impact, each and every day.