Here are ten smart goals we believe every contact centre should be working towards to maintain a happy and productive workplace.
1. Make every day fun
It is no secret that contact centre work is demanding and repetitive. If mismanaged, this environment can cause unusually high levels of sickness and stress in your employees.
Adding fun into your daily routine is a great way to counteract these negative side effects – and it doesn’t have to be difficult OR expensive.
There are so many ideas to choose from, from bringing in sweets and celebrating birthdays, to playing games such as keyword bingo, and handing out spot prizes to reward excellent customer service.
Even a regular dress-down or fancy-dress day each week can help to turn an average day into a great day.
2. Use metrics based on effectiveness not efficiency
There is a tendency in the contact centre industry to focus on the efficiency of an operation, rather than looking at the effectiveness of individual interactions.
While this approach does look good in the short term, as your agents power through your call queue meeting their strict Average Handling Time (AHT) targets, poor-quality conversations often lead to call-backs from dissatisfied customers.
For more information on improving your performance goals with metrics in the call centre, take a look at this article discussing 27 Ways to Get the Best Out of Your Metrics
If this sounds like your contact centre, perhaps it’s time to change your focus? A good first step is to start targeting your agents on First Contact Resolution and just let your supervisors worry about Average Handling Time…
3. Create visible opportunities for agent career progression
The contact centre industry has a reputation for dead-end jobs and a high turnover of staff. You can help to shake off this stereotype by offering visible career progression opportunities to your agents.
An individual joining your team should know from their very first day where they could be in 6, 12 and 18 months’ time. Make time to talk to your new recruits about their ambitions, then check in regularly to support them in achieving their goals.
For more information on Career Progression in the Call Centre, read this article.
If you are a small company with limited opportunities for internal progression, you could try introducing qualifications and training opportunities instead.
Taking an active interest in your agents’ personal development will help to nurture a happier and more engaged workforce.
These advances could be recognised with staggered pay rises (upon completion of each certificate) rather than new job titles.
Whichever approach you take, taking an active interest in your agents’ personal development will help to nurture a happier and more engaged workforce.
4. Maintain a clean and comfortable working environment
Your agents are the face (and voice) of your organisation… And if they aren’t happy, your customers will definitely know about it!
Get every day off to a great start by getting the basics right. Comfy desk chairs, clean toilet facilities and tasty food in the canteen can all help to keep a smile on everyone’s faces.
No agent will be giving their best if they are trying to balance on a broken chair, having just had a burnt jacket potato for lunch! Happy employees = happy customers.
Read more about keeping your agents happy by reading these 25 Ways to Motivate your Employees.
5. Simplify your IVR for everyone’s benefit
If configured properly, an IVR can help to streamline interactions by getting your customers through to the right agent first time – and allow you to offer simple self-service options. But getting it wrong can result in an endless stream of frustrated customers connecting to your agents. There is plenty of ways that your IVR can let you down, so make sure you read 43 Things You Should NOT Do With Your IVR Messages to make sure that your aren’t falling at the first hurdle.
If your IVR isn’t enhancing the customer experience and making your agents’ lives easier, block out time in your schedule to find out why… And then do something about it! Take a look at these 19 Ways to Create a Great IVR Experience.
6. Act on customer feedback
So many companies are obsessed with surveying their customers, but never do anything with the data they collect. Don’t be one of them! Your customers are a valuable source of knowledge. They know what they want, what works, what doesn’t, and what your competitors are doing better!
Whether you ask customers to take part in short after-call surveys, monitor your Twitter feed, or invite focus groups into your contact centre, just make sure you act on the information you gather!
Even better, tell your customers when you have acted on their suggestions. They will be much more engaged with your brand, and far more likely to offer their feedback in the future, if they feel they are being listened to.
7. Empower your agents to deliver excellent customer service
Your agents don’t need to be micromanaged in order to do a good job. Ironically, this approach can actually result in a poorer customer experience and even lower agent morale.
Micromanaging an actually result in a poorer customer experience and even lower agent morale!
Instead, empower your agents to handle customer issues and trust them to do the right thing.
- Train your agents on how to handle an escalating situation
- Encourage your agents to think for themselves and to ask for help only in extreme circumstances
- Allow them to issue refunds or send apologetic gifts without having to ask a supervisor’s permission
Your supervisors have better things to do than babysit your agents, and your customers could really do without being put on hold AGAIN while approval is granted for their refund. There are a number of approaches to agent empowerment, so take a look at this article discussing The Truth About Agent Empowerment (You Are Probably Getting It Wrong!).
8. Focus on internal communication as much as external communication
When you are constantly “firefighting” against incoming customer calls, it is easy to overlook the need to communicate well with the people inside the office too.
Swapping employees between departments for “taster days” and encouraging upper management to spend some time on the contact centre floor are just two of the ways you can help break down harmful communication barriers.
The more everyone communicates internally, the better, more consistent service you’ll deliver to your customers externally.
How about making use of the Johari Window, which is an effective way of sharing knowledge with the team!
9. Keep investing in the best technology you can afford
In a 2015 survey, 67% of industry professionals named budget as a key barrier to running their dream contact centre.
However, it just isn’t a realistic strategy to let everything grind to a halt while you wait for one of your board members to win the lottery.
Instead, focus on making the best of what you have. Invest in the best technology you can afford, over months and years if needs be, and keep striving to move forward.
10. Stop making assumptions about your agents’ scheduling preferences
“It’s the way we’ve always done it” and “No one will ever want to do that” are dangerous phrases in the contact centre – especially when it comes to scheduling your agents.
Rather than assuming that your night or weekend shifts are undesirable and hesitantly assigning one per agent/per week, ask your team about their work/life balance and personal preferences.
You may be surprised to find that some of your agents would actually prefer to take on more night or weekend shifts, as it fits better around their studies or childcare arrangements.
You should also try to build more flexibility into your schedules to better accommodate your agents’ preferences. For example, consider introducing a shift that finishes at 2pm to help those who need to do the school run.
Here we have an article in How to Avoid Schedule Dissatisfaction.