It is often said that happy staff lead to happy customers. So what are some good ways to improve staff happiness and ensure they enjoy coming to work?
At a recent discussion we asked a number of contact centre managers and directors for their ideas.
1. Free tea, coffee and chilled water
This has become the de facto standard for most American-owned companies but is still missing from many U–based contact centres. It does not cost a lot to implement but is a simple way of showing that you care about your employees.
2. Free fruit or breakfast cereal
Some companies go a step further and provide free fruit or breakfast cereal. It has been proven that people are less tired and concentrate better if they have had breakfast in the morning.
With so many contact centre employees skipping breakfast, you could find low energy levels late in the morning. Ask around your team to find out how many have had breakfast. You may be surprised.
3. Hold an open forum for agents
“I hold an open forum every few weeks where agents can drop in and vent or comment,” said one contact centre manager.
“We make a bullet-point list of the main themes and have them viewable to all in the main office. These are followed up directly and updates are posted on the call centre wallboards. It makes everyone feel like they are listened to, and improves overall engagement a lot.”
4. Explain the reasons behind the rules
Many contact centres have rules. These can often be seen as petty. But if you can show agents the reasons behind the rules they are more likely to fit in with them and not resent them.
5. Engage agents in the change process
Companies have a great deal of change going on, much of which is simply imposed on the agents. But if you talk to people about the changes and involve them in process change you are more likely to bring people on side.
6. Share great feedback with the rest of the team
Most contact centres get loads of great feedback. Make sure that you share this with the rest of your team, and if possible put it up on the wallboards or notice boards.
7. Produce a monthly newsletter
A monthly newsletter written in house by agents themselves can be a great way to help with communication.
8. Staff surveys to measure happiness
Want to measure happiness? A staff survey can be a great way to measure how happy the staff are, and also to find out if there are any underlying issues.
9. Employee of the month awards
A simple technique is to have an employee of the month award.
If you want to give your employee of the month awards a bit more visibility, then why not send a short write-up and a photo in to Call Centre Helper. We run a monthly column on this.
10. Prize incentives around major events such as the World Cup
Major sporting events are a great way to create a bit of buzz. From a prize incentive around an event like the World Cup to a simple sweepstake around the Grand National, these can all be good ways of making a good talking point.
11. Look at the work environment
“I think environment is very important – we give our agents freedom around the contact centre to sit on sofas, work off laptops – we’ve invested heavily in Macs so they don’t have slow systems,” said one customer service director.
12. Team spirit
Outside activities are a good way of helping to generate team spirit. This can drive the social element and encourage better cohesion.
Social events such as 5-a-side football, shopping trips, Christmas parties can all help to pull the team together. These can be done outside of work hours, but will all get a bit of a lift if you can subsidise them in some way – for example, laying on the transport.
13. An agent wellbeing team
“We have an agent wellbeing team that rotates every quarter, and they are charged with delivering 3-5 improvements every quarter for their peers,” said one customer service director. “The improvements are things like getting to work – cycle schemes, shared pool cars.”
“It’s 4 agents at a time – they rotate every quarter, they are given a budget and they are accountable to their peers. The agents see it as a great positive and it’s great for us to spread the customer service mission around the company – it removes silos.”
“It also promotes the art of responsibility across the entire customer service organisation – not just top down.”
14. Chill-out areas
Getting away from the desk is important and on many business parks there is nowhere to go for a walk.
Many contact centres have solved this with a break-out hub or chill-out area with an Xbox, drinks fridge, and comfy sofas. This allows staff time away from their desks on lunches and breaks and the opportunity to recharge.
15. Staff can book their own time off
Booking time off is a major cause of discontent. A simple way round this is to allow agents to book their own time off through the workforce management (WFM) system.
16. Work in another department
Every quarter give one agent the chance to go and work for a week in another office. You can allow someone back to your department in return. As well as providing some variety in the job it is also a good way of building bridges with the rest of the company.