5 Ways to Improve Contact Center Culture
Contact centers have one of the highest staff turnover rates among all industries. Staff can often feel undervalued and lack job satisfaction, largely due to the monotonous nature of some of the activity. Contact center agents have often been subject to stereotyping too – being seen as fairly unskilled employees and easily replaceable.
Contrary to these notions, most contact center agents are very knowledgeable about the business offerings. They also typically possess a keen ability to adapt rapidly to changing situations. In the right environment and with the right support, contact center agents enhance the customer experience, providing excellent customer service which in turn results in increased customer loyalty.
Considering the vital role they play in the business, how can you get the most from these essential team members? Here are five simple suggestions to get more from your agents on an ongoing basis and improve the culture of your contact center overall.
1. Focus on the Right Numbers
Often inbound contact centers are in place to provide customer service when things have gone wrong or customers need help. A common failure in contact centers is focusing too heavily on numbers such as average handling time, which can potentially lead to agents rush calls and not work through the issue as thoroughly as they could.
If agents feel their managers are not providing them with the right framework to allow them to do their jobs effectively, they may start resenting their managers and it could create an “us and them” mentality.
To improve this managers might work towards a more customer-centric call center, focusing on the customer journey and more impactful metrics such as first contact resolution and satisfaction scores.
2. Demonstrate Solid Leadership
A contact center is not created with poor culture; it develops over time through poor leadership. Communication is key for team leaders and contact center managers who must demonstrate good leadership. Therefore, they cannot hide behind their desks only managing through numbers, action plans, or discipline.
Team leaders and contact center managers need to come out of their office, be visible, and communicate with their team. Agents are ultimately the people dealing with customers and can contribute great insight and fresh ideas. It’s essential that agents feel valued by senior staff. This could be something as simple as asking agents what they think when looking to make improvements and changes, or jumping on the phone alongside their team.
3. Invest in New Technology
It can be very frustrating for even the most motivated agents if they are forced to use outdated technology. Technology should be an enabler – not a barrier. Yet, too often agents experience issues that restrict them. Problems such as a bad line, the screen freezing, not having a clear view of all customer history and interactions, or a poor script that is rigid or slow can all be highly frustrating for both the agent and customer, which in turn leads to a negative customer experience and reflects poorly on the company.
On the flip side, empowering agents with the right equipment can lead to more motivated staff and improved customer experiences. This can apply to the back office as well. How many times from your own experiences have you been transferred from operator to operator where agents cannot solve your problem? Skills-based routing allows customers to be transferred to the most effective agent for their particular issue, creating a far more positive customer experience.
You can also offer agents variety over monotony. A blended dialing system is not only more efficient but gives staff a greater range of tasks and interactions, which many agents prefer. The right contact center software can make a world of difference.
4. Promote from Within
Often working in a call center can just feel like a placeholder in an agent’s career path or even like a dead end job. This mentality makes it hard for managerial staff to get the most out of their agents and properly motivate them. Why excel in a job you cannot progress in?
Reasons such as financial incentives exist of course; however, incentivizing through career opportunities can yield a number of benefits. Unlike financial incentives, having a culture of looking internally for prospective new managerial positions costs the company nothing. In fact, it actually saves the company a significant amount of recruitment and training costs.
New managers promoted internally have a far better knowledge of the business from the ground-up and are able to better empathize with agents, which can help provide valuable insight into improving culture and working conditions.
Furthermore, new managers promoted from within are often more accepted and command a greater respect from agents. Agents are assured in the knowledge that their manager has done (and excelled in) the job they are managing, helping reduce the “us and them” mentality mentioned earlier.
When was the last time someone recognized you for doing a great job? How did it make you feel? Agents in large teams can often feel unappreciated and undervalued. You can be sure a manager would step in if an agent was doing a bad job. Why not recognize those going the extra mile to provide a great customer experience or to exceed their target?
The great thing about recognition is it doesn’t have to cost anything, but can provide far more motivation than financial incentives. Recognition can make an agent want to do a great job, and feel proud knowing they will be appreciated for it.
A big part of creating and maintaining a productive culture in your contact centers is making sure your agenst are properly motivated. Get some tips from one of our other posts on how to better motivate call center teams and boost morale or try implementing motivational games and team contests to inject some life into your day-to-day call center operations.
Contact center culture isn't really something that you can fix and leave. It needs to be considered as part of the bigger picture and embedded into the business philosophy. It's one of the areas we discuss in the Golden Rules of Outbound Campaigns. It's free to download so grab your copy here: