Looking for some quick wins in the contact centre? Here are ten low-cost ideas that you could deploy in the contact centre in less than an hour.
1. Suggestion Box
If you’ve not established one already, the implementation of a contact centre suggestion box will provide an official medium for your agents to voice their concerns and highlight any areas for technical or practical improvement. If you already have a box, ensure that a follow-up response is promised and provided to each non-anonymous suggestion. Without this, your agents may begin to suspect that the box is little more than a symbol of corporate mock-interest in employee well-being.
Don’t forget, Reward is a close cousin to invention. So, be sure to empty your suggestion box frequently, examining the contents and offering a small prize to the most original, innovative or useful submission each month.
2. Wall of Fame
Give your highest performers the recognition they deserve with a dedicated, and frequently updated, Wall of Fame. You’ll give your agents a good sense of the business’s commercial performance and the areas upon which their skills should be concentrated.
Inject some fun into the scheme by allowing each winning agent to display a motto, picture, tip or catchphrase beside their blow-up, and consider playing a victory theme song of the new winner’s choice whenever a former champion is ousted. If nothing else, these will allow your employees to release some of their competitive traits, which often remain unhealthily suppressed.
3. Take a Call
To demonstrate your humility and improve rapport between agents and management, try taking an inbound or outbound call in the midst of your front-line staff.
Even better, spend a half hour or so on the dialler in exactly the manner of your “fellow agents”. This will allow you to sample first hand some of the frustrations – technical or otherwise – that your staff experience daily, and leave you in a stronger position to implement the appropriate fixes.
A word of warning, though: be sure to do your homework before taking to the phones; as an authority figure, your example will be followed, so now is most certainly not the time to forget the in-house script or software processes.
4. Smile Before You Dial
A genuine smile will be detected by your customers in an instant, so try to find ways to coax your staff into authentic cheer at random intervals throughout each day. Whether that means telling a joke, congratulating a success or handing around a bag of confectionery is up to you; all are effective options.
5. Team Trading
Without at least a small daily fix of good, old-fashioned variety, your staff could quickly begin to sound spiritless. By allowing them to cross-train and “moonlight” for supporting departments as and when those departments require extra assistance you’ll not only provide your corporation with a safety net for those unexpected periods of under-staffing, you’ll ensure that your telephone agents remain enthused and attentive, too.
You will probably be able to call in the favour when your team is short staffed.
6. Express an Interest
On an effort-to-effect ratio, few morale-boosting strategies are of more value than this. Expressing a passing interest in your agents’ personal lives, no matter how brief or trivial the ensuing discussion may be, will remind your staff that you’re a mentor and acquaintance as well as a manager.
Such small talk will also help bond that vital glue of rapport between telephone staff and their management, and set you on your way to creating a harmonious, communicative and highly functional contact centre.
7. Be a Sport
When popular television and sporting events come along, don’t ignore them. Put up a silent screen showing the cup final or the London Olympics. You may find that such a gesture is met with a significant lift in your newly energised agents’ call quality. It will also help to reduce absence.
You’ll need to make clear that in spite of your discretion, you will tolerate no resultant lapse in the employees’ professionalism and productivity; should the screening cause your staff to become overexcited or distracted from their duties, it’s straight back to the phones for them.
8. Derelict Days
Be it due to technical problems, over-staffing or just slow trade, every contact centre experiences the occasional slow day. But instead of leaving your agents to twiddle their thumbs and aimlessly trawl the company intranet, keep their corporate knowledge up to scratch with a series of creative, prize-based quizzes. Who can name your board of directors? Who can cite your company slogans, or the best-selling products of the last three months? You may find that you’ve a rabble of buying/marketing/QA enthusiasts in your midst, each of whom should be encouraged to pursue their position of interest as and when a vacancy arises.
As well as keeping your employees occupied, such games will allow you to identify areas of potential internal progression for each agent.
9. Make Announcements
Harking back to the sense of monotony which your agents may feel throughout much of their working shifts, it would be prudent to devote some time each day to breaking the cycle of repetition that so hampers their morale. This can be done easily enough through the use of brief announcements, hand-outs and group emails. From travel reports to bonus objectives to employees’ birthdays and wedding anniversaries, such communications will not only help to solidify relations by demonstrating that you’ve your employees’ best interests at heart, they’ll convince the staff that you pay a positive, active interest in their personal achievements, too.
10. Thank You
Those two little words alone make up one of the most effective ways to improve your agents’ working attitude. Failing to frequently recognise and express appreciation for your staff’s efforts can lead to a dramatic decline in their performance, dedication and occupational interest. So, take every opportunity to show gratitude for your employees’ hard work, be it during a one-to-one, midway through a meeting or even spontaneously, on the floor. Your recognition will refresh and inspire its recipient. And should you find yourself taking the agents’ exertions for granted, give yourself a good old pinch; theirs may be a largely perkless job, but a thankless manager is a fringe benefit they could most certainly do without.
George Dixon is a regular contributor to Call Centre Helper.