This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
Managers in any field must understand how to engage, train and motivate their employees effectively. This challenge is none more important than in contact centers, where agents are measured against daily performance metrics while managers must make adjustments throughout the day to meet service goals. Agent skill levels can vary greatly in every contact center and even more so now as the Generation Y workforce enters, armed with tech-savvy capabilities. As a contact center’s workforce optimization strategy evolves, it’s important for managers to explore and consider new ways to revitalize their efforts to drive the performance improvement process between managers, supervisors and agents.
Keeping the Bar High
Success in agent training and communication starts with setting the right performance expectation with employees. Supervisors react differently when agents are struggling to meet their metrics, causing some supervisors to think that the current goals are too rigorous for the average agent. This can convince them to adjust performance metrics for the overall contact center even if a select number of agents are meeting or exceeding those metrics. The effect, however, can be that the high-performing agents might feel less challenged with lowered expectations. Their motivation to excel begins to suffer, hurting the metrics for the contact center overall.
In these instances, leveraging modern WFO solutions can help supervisors more effectively manage their workforces and help agents meet their goals. For example, to maintain a productive operating environment, supervisors should manage to their best employees while helping underperforming agents improve. Managers can strengthen their approach by using WFO’s performance analytics tools to analyze their most productive agents and take what they’ve learned to help underperforming employees refine their skills. The approach can help managers foster a healthy and challenging workplace, properly motivating and training all agents to achieve.
The Good, the Bad and the Agent
Today’s WFO solutions feature quality management systems that are very capable at automatically flagging calls of interest for supervisors. The issue is that it can be common practice for supervisors to set their QM systems to flag only negative calls of interest. These calls are recorded and then used as training examples on how not to handle a situation. But if modern QM can flag negative calls of interest effectively, why not build morale and reinforce agent best practices by flagging positive calls of interest?
This strategy directly benefits agents who are performing well and those who are struggling. Supervisors can quickly share these examples as evidence of what’s working with their entire agent workforce via QM. These recorded calls can also be imported into a learning management application to demonstrate best practices in customer service. Moreover, positive reinforcement can help agents feel like they have a stake in their jobs and in the success of the business. If they perform well, their accomplishments play a part in training future agents.
A Holistic, Role-based Desktop
Ease of use also can play a significant role in improving every individual’s contribution to workforce optimization, from the agent to the supervisor to the executive. Users need not settle for irrelevant applications and a cumbersome workflow when new alternatives are more intuitive, easier to navigate, and reduce the number of clicks users must execute to get to applications. Each user has access to his or her unique view through a single sign-on to access all the applications needed for his or her responsibilities.
Effective workforce optimization tools should provide personalized views for each type of user. Executives may want a view to correlate contact center performance to business results. The conscientious agent may want to monitor his or her own performance to stay on track. Multi-tasking supervisors may need convenient access to all information from scheduling to customer interaction tools to the data that helps them understand where to focus coaching and training. A more organized and simplified desktop can dramatically improve how agents and supervisors view information, collaborate, and improve performance communicate and resolve.
Mobile phones and smartphones were among the first consumer technologies to influence business operations and successfully mobilize the workforce. Now tablet computers are beginning to make their mark in workplace activities as well. In the near future, contact centers might integrate tablets into their day-to-day operations because of the technology’s ease of use and mobile benefits.
Consider the power of WFO solutions that can be easily rendered and used on device formats such as smartphones and tablets. This ease of access to WFO applications on the tablet can potentially reveal opportunities for supervisors to conduct coaching sessions with their agents on a more personal level. For example, a supervisor may notice an agent is receiving stellar marks from customer surveys and outperforming metrics. The supervisor can use a tablet to bring up the agent’s metrics and walk over to that agent’s desk to acknowledge the strong efforts.
Alternatively, if a contact center supervisor sees an agent wrestling with performance issues, he or she can use a tablet to display the statistics and conduct a face-to-face coaching session. The supervisor can immediately push training sessions to the agent’s desktop from the tablet and help improve contact center performance in real-time.
Tailor the Approach, Engage the Employees, Boost Performance
Opportunities to drive performance improvements more effectively are evolving, and workforce optimization should not be viewed with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Today’s WFO solutions save time by streamlining workflows, improving accessibility, empowering agents and enabling supervisors to strengthen their interactions with agents. Adjusting management styles and best practices to match the strengths of new technology presents new opportunities for agents in the contact center to increase their performance and job satisfaction.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi