Article : How Call Centers Can Improve Employee Motivation And Morale
In an increasingly competitive job market, ensuring that your staff turnover is low is one of the most important things you can do to improve your call center’s performance. Many organizations believe that the customer is king, but another school of management thought says that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the customer. Many call centers view staff as easily replaceable, when in fact management is simply not counting the (high) cost of training and hiring agents, and is completely discounting the biggest asset of an experienced staff –that is, the experience.
In speaking with some very successful call center managers, I found that they actually focus more on first getting the right staff on board, and then making sure that they are motivated, rewarded, and happy with the job. That means getting the right demographic for the job; providing the career path, or other intangibles that keep people motivated. Call center staff ultimately need to enjoy where they work. If they do, they are much less likely to leave.
So --- why do people not like where they work?
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Money, it is known, is a negative motivator. That is; not enough money and people will go looking elsewhere. But pay them enough, and then you need to start looking at the actual work environment. The key here is to keep people happy enough that they don’t want to go looking for another job.
In the call center, one significant aspect of the job is dealing with your callers.
Human beings in general like to please other people. They like to be proud of what they do and be complimented on it. They like dealing with happy people, and they like to be able to make people happy in return. By providing agents the tools and the authority they need to do their job, you can significantly improve staff retention. This isn’t related to call centers at all. Give software developers great new state of the art machines vs. old Pentium 90s and you will see a productivity increase that has nothing to do with the text editor they use. They feel valued and the minor speed improvement the fancy hardware provides has little to do with any productivity improvement. But to the staff, it reflects an attitude of management and their view of the staff’s importance to the organization. By providing the BEST tools you can get – (and by best I mean in the staff’s view, not in your view or in the Vendors view!) – will improve moral and increase retention.
That’s half of the battle.
The other half is Management 101. Tell your agents what you want them to do. Tell them clearly. Then measure them on that. It seems simple, but many organizations use measures for agent performance that don’t reflect what they want the agents to do.
Clearly, next to sales, call center agents are about the easiest employees in the world to measure. So how come senior management talks about customer retention and satisfaction, and then turns around and measures the agent against average handle times and speed of answer? They complain about excessive call times and then use those same quality recording examples for training the other staff. Whenever management does this, they send out inconsistent signals, which significantly affects staff job satisfaction and performance.
Management must actively align their business measurements with how and what they measure their agents on. Only by doing this can you hope to get the performance that you want. Further, companies must ensure that they are providing their call center the tools and support they need to do their jobs as valued front line customer service staff.
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About Rob McDougall:
Rob McDougall, President and co-founder of Upstream Works focuses on business interaction management and has provided contact center solutions to many customers. To ensure that Upstream Works continues to be a leader of innovation, Rob plays an active role in promoting the company through corporate evangelism, articles, and speaking engagements.
About Upstream Works:
Upstream Works provides best-in-class Omnichannel Contact Center software to increase customer engagement and agent success. We bring the omnichannel customer journey together across all applications and platforms with a single, integrated agent desktop with management simplicity. For over 15 years, organizations around the world and across all industries have benefited from Upstream Works’ experience and expertise, gaining operational efficiencies and transforming the customer journey.
Published: Saturday, April 7, 2007