Lori Stout of Talkdesk shares three tips to help boost employee engagement in the contact centre, after discussing how important it is to the customer experience.
Why Higher Employee Engagement Is Critical for Customer Experience
It stands to reason that happier employees create better customer experiences, right? But how much does it matter to your customers – and to the success of your business?
The short answer is that it matters a lot.
Recent research shows that organisations with highly engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by over 200%.
If your employees are punching the clock every day, putting on a thin facade of politeness with customers, just to stay employed—then you’re missing out.
What do employees want in order to feel engaged and excited about their work? It starts with a few basic themes: transparency, simplicity and ownership over their performance.
Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “Isn’t it enough that they get a pay cheque every two weeks? What’s in it for me?” Oh, my pragmatic friend—do I have good news for you! Employee engagement doesn’t just benefit your employees and customers. Your workforce can also make or break your bottom line.
It’s no secret that turnover is a plague for many contact centres. You spend valuable time and money recruiting and onboarding agents, just to lose them to another company a few months later.
The vicious circle of contact centre attrition ensures that the “grass is always greener” somewhere else because most contact centres are in a constant cycle of recruiting and dangling a shinier carrot in front of potential employees. As a result, unhappy agents tend to move from job to job, costing the contact centre huge amounts of money in lost productivity and training costs.
Now, consider that – according to Gallup – engaged workforces experience 67% less turnover. Even the most pragmatic among us can’t argue with a number like that. And if that’s not enough, try this: companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty on average, according to Aberdeen Group.
We can all agree that employee engagement matters. So how do you improve it? Especially if your company culture is in a bit of a slump and your employees have all but checked out. It may feel impossible, but it isn’t. Here are three tips to accelerate employee engagement in your contact centre to retain a talented workforce, committed to a great customer experience.
1. Socialise Your Company Mission
Would you get on a bus every morning and ride it for eight hours if you had no idea where it was even going? Of course not. Your employees are no different.
If you don’t share the vision of your company and where you’re headed, your employees will not be motivated to come along. Be transparent. Start by telling them your overall mission as an organisation. Socialise it. Talk about it in all-hands meetings. Make t-shirts if you want—do whatever it takes to imprint it into the minds of your employees.
Next, make it crystal clear how the performance goals of each employee tie back into the big picture. If you draw a map for your employees of the path your company will take to meet its mission, and your employees can see how their work connects the dots along that path, they will be far more likely to jump on that bus with you every morning with a feeling of purpose.
2. Give Your Employees the Tools They Need to Be Successful
If someone asks you to build a house, and they hand you a banana and a couple of cheesy puffs instead of a hammer and nails, how would you feel? Okay, okay—so that’s a bit of an exaggerated example, but when we give our employees these big, audacious customer service goals and then hand them the equivalent of a banana, they feel defeated before they even start.
Agents want to do a good job. They want to be successful. For that to happen, they need the simplicity of the right tools and technology to enhance their ability to work instead of detracting from it.
By giving agents the right information to help the person they are interacting with at that very moment, we reduce effort for both the customer and the agent, preserve the context of that customer’s journey and set the agent up for successful resolution of the interaction.
Technology shouldn’t distract your agents from focusing on the customer. Instead of worrying about checking “process boxes” and staying out of trouble with their supervisor, agents need the freedom to stay 100% engaged with the customer. They should always have access to their agent desktop and the customer’s information, no matter how many browser tabs they have open or where they are navigating at the moment. The applications they use most should be fully integrated so they don’t have to remember to add information and track notes in more than one place.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost focus that technology works for us instead of the other way around. Your contact centre applications should be intelligent enough to offer suggestions and look for efficiencies behind the scenes while your agents are doing the important work of helping customers.
3. Empower Your Employees to Take Ownership Over Their Performance
We’ve all had the experience where we contact customer support about a little error on our account and expect it to be corrected or refunded quickly so we can get on with our day. Instead, we’re transferred twenty times up the contact centre organisation chain, trying to find someone with the authority to refund a measly $20.
You’re frustrated, the agent is frustrated, and you still don’t have your $20.
What if, instead of requiring layers of bureaucratic intervention to serve customers, we just…trust our employees to make the right decision?
Either we have confidence in our employees or we don’t. The fastest way to poison the employee engagement watering hole is to take all power away from our employees, rendering them completely ineffective when it comes to serving customers.
Zumiez, the clothing accessory company, uses wallboards and dashboards to give their employees complete visibility into what’s happening in their contact centre. They don’t stop there, however. They encourage employees to move from queue to queue to best support the customers who are waiting to be served, without having to wait for supervisors to approve changes. As a result, they’ve improved SLAs by 15% and continue to drive down their average answer speed.
Getting Started With an Employee Engagement Strategy
If your employee engagement strategy needs a tune-up, don’t put it off, hoping that it will improve. Instead, start by talking to your team to find out what they need to do their jobs more effectively and to feel invested in your company and your culture. Be prepared for some scepticism at first, and be equally prepared to follow through on your commitments to the team to gain their trust and buy-in.
Remember to centre your efforts around transparency, simplicity and ownership. Tell your team why you need their help to accomplish your long-term company goals. Give them the tools they need to do their best work. Finally, give them the freedom to serve your customers well. You’ll be amazed at the results.