Showing posts with label agent motivation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agent motivation. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Engaging Your Call Center Team

When the objective is agent engagement, the one option that should always be off the table is to do nothing. But as this recent ICMI article describes, that’s exactly what some call centers do.

When you do nothing, that’s exactly what you get in return. And how do think customers react when they are forced to deal with uninspired, unmotivated and perhaps even incompetent call center personnel?
So why do some call centers take the attitude that since agent turnover is already high, it’s a waste of time and resources to invest in agents that may be gone next month?
The probable answer is that employee engagement takes more than a quick fix to get right. One technology upgrade in workforce optimization software or workforce management can solve a slew of problems, but alone it won’t create positive attitude adjustments among the agents using the system.
Here are 5 steps you can take that should make a difference. Add these to a workplace where employees are respectfully treated, and watch how agent turnover slows.

1. Ditch the Assembly Line Attitude
It’s right to expect all of your agents to possess the same job skills, or train them toward that goal; it is not right to treat them all like the same generic person. The last conversation a manager has with an agent should not be the one that took place at the job interview. Get to know them as individuals.

2. Listen to Them
Agents are on the front lines of customer service, and they will have ideas on how methods or scripts can be altered to better serve customers. Listen to those ideas and reward those that are implemented. The more an agent feels like he or she is part of the company, the more likely they are to stick around.

3. A Little Praise
The old adage about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar is absolutely true. If John is doing a good job, let him know – don’t wait for his next employee review or training session.

4. Free Stuff
Another way to recognize valuable agents is to reward them. A gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater can do wonders for morale, and create a healthy competitive environment among shifts as other agents strive to be recognized.

5. Manage Mistakes
Did an agent mishandle a call? It’s going to happen, especially with newer hires. This is a training moment, a coaching moment, but not a “verbally dress down the agent on the floor” moment. Nobody’s perfect. Take the necessary steps to minimize such incidents, but insults and threats are not going to result in better performance or motivated employees. 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

10 Tips for Better Call Center Agent Retention

An excellent call center agent is an important asset that adds value to the company. Finding and keeping these assets is one of the most imperative functions of call center management. Here are 10 tips that should help with call center agent retention.
call center agent retention

1. Hire the Right Employees

Retaining quality agents begins with hiring quality agents. Those who start out with the required experience, personality and skills for call center work are more likely to become the type of agents worth keeping.

2.  Open Communication

Agents who feel separated from management are less likely to feel a strong sense of company loyalty. Make sure they know that managers are available to discuss their concerns or address any issues.

3. Competitive Salary

This is obvious, but no less important.

4. Challenge Them

As call centers become contact centers, there are opportunities to challenge agents to master other forms of customer interaction, including online chat and email. Learning new skills benefits both the agent and the call center.

5. Management Support

In addition to open communication (#2), managers should also nurture, encourage and support their agents to encourage loyalty and consistent job performance. Consider using workforce scheduling tools to automate repetitive tasks and have more time to interact with your staff.

6. Encourage Self Training

While coaching and training should be a regular part of the agent experience, agents should also be able to use call recording software to review their own performances and make changes as needed. They will also appreciate the trust you show in them by allowing them to correct their own mistakes.

7. Boost Morale

There are a number of team-building activities, seminars, outings and other activities that can improve agent morale and built a team spirit outlook.

8. Provide the Right Tools

Agents work best when they have the technology that makes their jobs easier. Call recording software, workforce management and quality assurance solutions not only benefit managers, but agents as well.

9. Schedule Flexibility

The more an agent is able to adjust their hours to deal with personal issues or make their life outside the office more stable, the more likely they are to remain with a company that takes their personal needs into consideration.

10. Don’t Accept “Acceptable” Turnover

Call centers average a 30% turnover rate, but that’s no reason to accept such substantial attrition. If your call center is at 25% turnover, set a goal to lower that to 20% in six months or one year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Call Center Agent Shift Swapping

Call center agent shift swapping solution - Monet Software
Shift swapping is an inevitable occurrence at every call center, and is one of the more significant agent staffing challenges that management must oversee.

In general, allowing agents to swap shifts solves more problems than it creates. With this arrangement, agents have more control over their working hours, and that flexibility can encourage employee loyalty.

However, if this privilege is abused, it can lead to staffing confusion, lower productivity, a shortage of agents for unpopular shifts, and inconsistent customer service.

Agent Staffing Solutions
While shift swapping should be offered as an option, some center without the right processes in place try to  discourage this. They achieve this by built-in incentives for agents to work the shifts to which they are assigned, and by limiting swaps to, say, three a month or five in each quarter.

Call centers should have a reliable process in place that tracks shifts and instances of shift swapping. This will not only make the process easier for agents and management, it provides managers with insight into which agents may be abusing this privilege, and how working different shifts impacts an agent’s job performance.

While some last-minute shift swaps are unavoidable, as emergencies do happen, a center should require that agents request swaps at least three or five days in advance. That way, managers can adjust schedules accordingly so productivity is not impacted. For example, if an agent who is particularly adept at handling customer complaints swaps shifts with an agent who is not as qualified in this situation, the call center may wish to bring in another agent from a different shift with that same specialty.

The ultimate objective is to satisfy the needs of the center and the needs of the employees, and to make any staffing changes as convenient as possible.

The Role of Workforce Management Software
Shift swaps are yet another function that should be handled through a workforce management solution - through a simple self-service tool that includes shift bidding. An effective system will allow agents to search for shifts to swap, and instantly know if there is a conflict with their arrangement. Supervisors will then have the ability to approve or reject the swap request, and find out if there are any issues with weekly minimum or maximum restrictions on work hours should the swap be approved. To learn more about agent shift swapping and supervisor collaboration, please follow this link to our main website.

With effective workforce management, the system that allows shift swaps should be efficient, transparent and controlled by management with the limitations necessary to maintain service standards. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Important call center metrics: Agent turnover

Working in a call center is demanding due to the nature of fluctuating call volumes, emotions calls, and time pressure. As a result, many call centers experience a high turn-over. It's not uncommon that some centers experience 30% or more - meaning that 3 out of 10 people leave and need to get replaced and trained. A high turnover has a negative impact on costs, productivity and service quality of the center.

How can you reduce turnover in a call center? First, you need to measure your turnover, and try to identify and track the reasons for the turnover. Second, you need to find ways to improve working conditions - here is a list of tips and ideas where to start :
  • Hire the "right" people - make sure you understand the challenges of your customer service or call center work and select people that can best deal with it
  • Engage - make agents part of the team by listening, encouraging them to make improvements, etc.
  • Flexibility - Providing more flexibility in their work schedule is a great way to motivate your team
  • Schedule - Use good WFM tools to create an accurate forecast and optimal schedule resulting in less overworked (and happier) agents
  • Adherence - Monitor and track schedule adherence to make sure that the call load is spread "fairly". A few agents that are not in their seats, will cause a lot of "pain" to the rest of the team.
  • Create a positive work environment - culture, office space, equipment, etc.
For more ideas and tips on call center agent motivation, please read our previous blog post.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Motivation of call center agents, employees and workforce

Employee motivation is the most important and probably most challenging management task in a call center - and it has the biggest impact on the overall call center performance and success. There are no simple recipes or easy answers for this. Dependent on your industry, the size of your center, the culture of your company and the people in your company, you need to develop your own plan of action. Here are a few things to consider:
  • Practice clear communication: What do you expect from agents, how is performance measured, etc.
  • Include agents into problem solving: Share reports and metrics with employees and discuss issues/improvements
  • Recognition of employees: Publicly and individually recognize employees as a valued member of the organization
  • Make employees more knowledgeable: Develop your employees' skills through training and coaching
  • Build confidence: Provide necessary training and coaching, give feedback that helps them grow
  • Teams: Create teams that work "well" together
  • Good infrastructure: Make sure that office, chairs, headsets, and other infrastructure etc. are functional and provide a positive experience
  • Flexible schedules: Start- and end-time flexibility can be a win-win for the employees and the call center performance
  • Good resource planning: Accurate forecasting and scheduling helps reduce stress
  • Lead by example: Actions instead of words and mission statements
But how do you find out what's important for your call center? Just listen do your agents, ask specific questions, and listen again.