Salaries, bonuses, incentives and other benefits found in a paycheck will attract agents to contact center jobs.
But money alone won’t keep agents happy and motivated day after day for the long term. Whether they handle inbound customer care calls or perform outbound sales, contact center agents are like any of us: They want to be respected as professionals, and they seek positions that reward not only hard work, but also skill and creativity.
Managers that understand this are in a better position to keep contact center morale high and agents motivated to pursue a career path. With this in mind, we offer seven creative ways to boost motivation and morale in your contact center:
1. Recognize and respect your agents’ skills and talents
We all know that contact center work isn’t easy. A successful agent brings many skills—particularly “people skills”—to the position. These include patience, problem solving, empathy and creativity. If we want our agents to perform as professionals, then we need to recognize that they are professionals with a unique skillset necessary for a challenging—but rewarding—career.
2. Identify and address the early signs of burnout
Don’t let overwork or stress inside or outside the office lead to agent burnout that can’t be turned around. The key is early identification of burnout symptoms. These include absenteeism, chronic lateness, depression and isolation, and loss of productivity. Work with the agent to put them back on a healthy track: offer flexible schedules; allow them to telecommute if possible; offer incentives such as paid days off; and encourage them to take advantage of amenities during breaks to help lower their stress levels.
3. Make sure your agents have the best equipment possible
You want your agents to focus on customers, so make sure their computers and other workstation equipment are up to date and reliable. Address ergonomics on an agent’s first day and inquire about their comfort on a regular basis. Consider the overall ambience of the contact center: A good working environment includes comfortable lighting and temperatures, fresh ventilated air and low sound levels.
4. Schedule regular customer feedback sessions
Agents want to know that they are doing a good job for their customers. You can recruit customers to participate in a feedback session with agents through ads or surveys on your website. You or your team members may also know a friend or family member who also is a customer and who can offer valuable feedback on their experience with your contact center. Agents like to hear that customers appreciate their service.
5. Get together for breakfast or lunch to share knowledge and best practices
Schedule regular get-togethers where experienced agents can share effective customer care solutions with others. A good time to host these events is shortly before increased holiday call volumes and before special promotions. Your agents will appreciate that you helped them prepare for the busy period, and their new problem-solving knowledge will help them steer clear of stressful situations.
6. Jump into the trenches with your agents
On a regular basis, plug in and handle calls alongside your agents. By doing this, you’ll always be in tune with what your agents are going through. Taking calls can help both you and your agents brainstorm solutions for improved service. When the calls are coming non-stop during the holidays or during special promotions, jumping into the trenches serves as a great morale booster—agents will appreciate your willingness to help reduce the call volume for everyone on that day!
7. Educate agents about career paths
Most agents like to know that they are not destined to be stuck in the same position for the foreseeable future. During the recruiting and hiring process and beyond, explain to agents the career tracks available in your organization. Agents will be motivated to become team leaders or contact center managers. They may also be interested to learn about similar opportunities in other cities. Agents also will be encouraged to know that their customer service, communication and problem solving skills are welcome in company departments other than the contact center.
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