11 Aug 5 ways to improve contact centre culture and keep call centre agents engaged with client goals
Contact centre culture in a COVID-19 world is different than before the pandemic. At our Durban contact centre, as at other contact centres around the world, various measures are in place to ensure the threat of the virus is managed. Our priority is to keep our employees and agents safe, but this also requires adapting company culture to the new normal.
Many contact centres will be working with newly flexible shifts, reduced headcount per floor and increased remote working. This will alter the way it feels for agents to be at work and how they communicate with each other. Keeping call centre agents engaged is, of course, crucial to their success in representing clients well. And with so much enforced change and likely more to come, finding new ways to boost engagement is important for contact centre leaders.
So how can contact centre managers ensure that these distributed working models do not adversely affect call centre agent engagement?
What does a flourishing call centre culture look like?
To ensure call centre agents remain engaged, and to motivate any disengaged team members, start with what that looks like.
- An Actively Engaged agent will be openly proud to be an ambassador for their company and for the partners they work with. They will clearly be striving to do the best for the end customer at all times and helping team members.
- An Engaged agent considers themselves an important part of the contact centre and often exceeds targets.
- A Partially Engaged agent is unsure exactly how they fit in to the overarching structure and tends to see few opportunities ahead. They could be looking for other jobs and easily swayed to leave.
- A Disengaged agent will avoid work as much as possible and is likely to fall out with colleagues and managers.
- An Actively Disengaged agent openly doesn’t care about their job or the customer and is planning to leave as soon as possible.
This scale of engagement can help to identify where changes need to be made in order to maintain a working, successful culture. Finding ways to motivate disengaged agents and continue to encourage actively engaged agents is a balancing act.
5 ways to help call centre agents be more engaged
- Actively recognise agents that deserve it
Tracking performance is key to call centre agent development. Within the data you collect, you will be able to see which agents are fully engaged and those that are improving. Take the time to recognise these improvements in either results and figures, or effort and attitude. It’s important to be specific, and praise individuals for their personal development.
This has a two-fold effect: the individual agent feels noticed and rewarded which further boosts their motivation and their team members strive for the same level of recognition. Public recognition, using multiple mediums, goes a long way to improving motivation and engagement and is something that can be integrated into training and development easily.
- Feedback must always be constructive and useful
Feedback doesn’t always have to be part of a formal appraisal structure. Keeping it human and low-key encourages a culture where all agents are reviewing their own performance and listening to constructive feedback. Normalising feedback takes away any feeling of criticism for the agent and demonstrates it’s a part of development.
But the delivery of the feedback is key. If a call centre leader recognises there is a need to coach or help their agents, they should always frame any issues within a positive context. Always recognise what the agent is doing well and integrate the feedback into this. Give the agent intelligent, helpful feedback and clear information on what they need to do.
- Understand that contact centre agents are not just a ‘resource’
In pressurised, time sensitive environments, it can be easy to become overly focused on targets and goals. And while striving always to surpass targets is an important part of a call centre team’s role, don’t forget about the people involved.
This is particularly true during challenging times. The pandemic is taking a toll on many people’s mental health and wellbeing and contact centre managers must take this into account as they manage all the challenging envirnments associated with working in a ‘Covid 19 ready’ workplace . Find out about team members and their personal circumstances by asking how they are. Adding the personal touch to leadership will always improve engagement.
- Tell them why
Every goal set for contact centre agents should be linked with their overall objectives. Engagement can be vastly improved just by explaining why their roles are so important and how their daily work contributes to the success of the company. In short, call centre agents should know that what they do every day makes a tangible difference.
- Empathise with call centre agents
Most team leaders or contact centre managers started out as agents, so have an inside knowledge of what leads to active engagement and motivation. Develop their skills, recognise their successes and reward achievements.
Mark Chana is an experienced business and call centre leader. He is the Chief Operating Officer of CCI Global and Managing Director of CCI South Africa. At CCI Global, Mark Chana has ultimate responsibility for all group operations, business development, and company performance. He is also the Managing Director of CCI South Africa.