Contact centers today have a mandate: delight customers via any channel they choose in the timeliest way possible. Reach out to them when appropriate, and anticipate their needs if you can. Ensure they remain loyal customers by offering them value. The practice is called customer engagement, and businesses all over the world are spending a great deal of money to try and further the idea in their businesses.
Far fewer companies, however, take that engagement approach and turn it inward to their employees. Customer engagement is going to be difficult – probably impossible – to attain without first succeeding with employee engagement, according to a recent blog post by Tom Lynam, marketing manager for workforce optimization solutions provider NICE. Lynam notes that a recent Gallup Poll (“2013 State of the American Workplace”) found that 70 percent of the American workforce is either unengaged or actively disengaged. All total, this is costing U.S. businesses between $450 billion and $550 billion a year. Given the “ripple effect” in customer-facing businesses, it’s probably costing far more than that in lost opportunities for customer engagement.
In the contact center, it’s often about employees being disconnected from the goal of their jobs: to help people. They feel like simply another moving part in the machinery and are often unable to see the positive effects their work results in.
Lynam writes, “Most, if not all, businesses capture customer feedback of some sort, on some part of the customer experience, but from my experience only a handful actually share this with the staff. As a result, employees have little visibility into what impact the work they do has on the people they serve, which can cause a sense of detachment from their day-to-day work. This can be the case with frontline staff in a call center or the design teams working on the latest product range.”
Employees who feel that they are actively accomplishing good work in their day-to-day jobs are far more likely to be engaged with their work than those who don’t. Performance management solutions can help connect employees to the results of their work.
“By fairly measuring staff on KPIs [key performance indicators] within their individual control, businesses can not only promote a positive atmosphere, but give themselves the opportunity to highlight and effectively reward their top performing (and subsequently most valuable) staff members,” writes Lynam. “This philosophy is a cornerstone of what we believe in.”
Many contact centers are choosing to use programs that give agents immediate feedback on their work, even providing rewards, points or “tokens” for a job well done. It’s a way to ensure that agents aren’t too far removed from the results of their work.
So before you think about attaining customer engagement, it’s critical that you first master employee engagement.
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