Keeping agent morale high at peak times
As we move into the busiest part of the year for many contact centres, keeping staff morale high is even more crucial for delivering fast, efficient service. At the same time, contact centres are taking on extra staff to cope with demand, all of whom need to be motivated and trained to be ambassadors for your brand.
Together, these factors add to the pressure on contact centre operations. How can you ensure that you get the best from all your staff? Based on our experience working with contact centres across the retail, financial services, travel and public sector we’ve isolated five areas to focus on:
1. Give them the tools to do the job One of the biggest complaints from agents is that they don’t have fast access to the information they need to answer customer queries or have to navigate through a myriad of different systems to find what they are looking for. This makes their job more complex, interactions more time consuming, and decreases customer satisfaction. In many contact centres basic information is still stored offline in physical folders, rather than being available on their PCs. Make sure that knowledge is centralised, easy to update and that it is simple and straightforward for agents to access it.
2. Match the skills to the channel Every person is different, so ensure that you play to their strengths. Some agents are typers, more at home with the written word, while others are talkers, happy on the phone but less confident with answering emails or chat sessions. While modern contact centres require multi-skilled, multichannel agents, make sure you recruit and train people with the right traits to deliver high levels of service.
3. Provide variety There are many different types of interactions dealt with within a contact centre. For example, a department might be responsible for issuing paperwork to customers around insurance policy changes or VAT certificates to corporate buyers. Rather than simply assigning this role as a full time task for someone, inject variety into their day by mixing tasks. We know of one Holiday Company that focused staff on customer complaints in the morning and then more positive communications in the afternoon in order to keep motivation high.
4. Train, train and train Particularly for new staff, there is a balance to be struck between providing sufficient training and getting people working productively as soon as is feasible. Again, a central knowledgebase can help reduce training time, as agents don’t need to memorise specific information or processes, but can quickly access them from their PC. Analysis of the questions that they are posing on the system can also allow supervisors to identify gaps in their training that can be filled with refresher sessions.
5. Make it fun! At peak times of year, the pressure is very much on, and contact centre agents are at the coalface of customer contact. Build team spirit through competitions, decorate the office, hold themed - or even better - food-related events and reward star performers to create a buzz around the contact centre. This will increase motivation, attendance and build a reputation as a great place to work – which all feeds into increased staff retention and easier recruitment. What tips do you have for increasing motivation at peak periods? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.