Call Center Management Feature Article
October 14, 2013
Steps Call Center Management Can Follow to Enhance Agent Engagement
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
In the call center environment, focus is often placed on improving the customer experience. Too often, members of call center management are pressed to produce performance numbers that have more to do with the number of calls handled in an hour than the happiness and contentment of the call center agent team.
Too often, call center management team members will do nothing when it comes to agent engagement. If it’s not at the top of the list for performance measures, it doesn’t get done. According to ICMI, however, if the focus is to do nothing that is exactly what managers will get in return. As a result, customers are left to interact with agents who are uninspired, unmotivated and perhaps even unqualified to really handle their issue.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for call center management to assume that since agent attrition is already high, there’s no need to invest resources in an individual who will be gone within the month. The problem with this approach is that it ignores the role such an attitude plays in this high attrition and how it could be turned toward the positive.
It’s true that employee engagement takes more than just a quick change in attitude to implement correctly. For instance, it’s not uncommon for call centers to implement workforce optimization platforms in the hopes that it will cure some of what ails the center. While the tools provided can contribute value, they won’t create positive attitude changes without additional help from call center management.
To truly make a change in the call center and encourage agent engagement, Monet Software suggests a 5-step approach that starts with getting rid of the assembly line attitude. While managers may expect all agents to come to the table with the same skills, they shouldn’t be treated like the same person. Individuals contribute individual value to the call center and managers should get to know the agents personally.
Listening is another important step to drive employee engagement. Agents are talking to customers more often than any other employee. They likely have ideas on how to improve processes or even products. If they are given the opportunity to share their insight, they are more likely to get engaged and stick around for the long-term.
A little praise can go a long way. Yes, management should expect the agent to perform the job as expected. But acknowledging that the job was done well takes very little effort, but goes a long way with the recipient. It’s important to do this on a regular basis and not just during a review session.
Rewards can motivate an individual toward improved performance and engagement. The key here is to tie this back into step one and get to know the individual and what motivates him or her. If this is tied into healthy competition, improvements are likely to be instant.
Managing mistakes to help the agent learn and prevent future issues is crucial to overall success. New hires are going to make mistakes and proper feedback and training can help curb it in the future. A positive approach works best, unless the agent is unwilling to improve. Engagement won’t happen automatically. Call center management must set the tone and encourage behavior. Following the steps outlined here is a great place to start.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi