Agent happiness and satisfaction is a very important, yet often overlooked, part of call centers. If you tend to overlook call center agent engagement, remember that keeping them happy can only benefit your company.
Customer experience is key to the success of any business and one of the most important competitive differentiators. In fact, 77% of consumers consider a company’s customer experience just as important as the quality of its products and services. Those of us in the customer experience space know too well that agents are the interface of the business with the customer and can make or break a deal. That is why keeping agents happy and engaged is crucial, and directly related, to achieving high customer satisfaction levels.
It’s no secret that call center agent attrition rate is the biggest challenge businesses face. This is more true than ever as contact centers are also experiencing the effects of the Great Resignation. Agent turnover is a higher trend and adds stress to the customer service operations, regardless of industry. Contact centers are the epicenter of customer service and agent churn negatively impacts the delivery of successful experiences, not to mention the cost. Engaged agents ensure high retention rates and commitment to providing superior customer experiences.
What is call center agent engagement?
Agent engagement represents the commitment of the agent to the call center and its goals. Engaged employees are committed to the company’s goals, motivated to achieve the goals, and do their best at work every day. Engaged agents boost performance, stay longer, motivate others, and lead to higher business outcomes.
Disengaged agents are not the best brand ambassadors for your company, so it’s important to transform the contact center into a happier place to work. Some of the reasons that a happy call center means a more successful one include:
- The happiness of your call center employees will likely rub off on your callers. That means a more positive and friendly experience for anyone who comes in contact with your call center.
- A happy employee is a stable employee, meaning they’re likely to last. A low turnover rate is always good. It creates a stronger team, more expert knowledge, and cuts down on your training costs.
- Happy agents are also proven to be more productive. So if your employees are working happily at your call center, they’re probably working hard and accomplishing tons while they do.
CX "Munch & Learn" - Elevating agent engagement
Seven ways to nurture call center agent engagement.
There is not a one size fits all strategy, but the steps below apply to all contact centers regardless of line of business. Follow these steps for engaging with agents:
1. Align agents with the call center culture.
Call center culture is directly related to the levels of agent engagement. Make clear what are the goals, and what’s their part towards achieving the goals. Ensure that agents feel happy, satisfied, and empowered. If they do, they’ll feel more motivated to achieve the company’s goals. A good work environment positively influences agent morale and leads them to do their best.
If agents have a positive job experience, they respond with exceptional performance. Additionally, a happy and healthy call center work culture builds the idea of community among agents, enabling stronger communication within the company. The call center’s culture is directly aligned with the quality of service and agent engagement. Engaged agents genuinely care about their job, the customers they serve, and the company’s goals.
2. Give positive feedback.
Feedback is an essential part of a manager’s position. But feedback isn’t only about criticism. It’s also about recognizing others’ achievements.. If you are going to suggest points of improvement to an agent, begin by stating their strengths, ,as it makes the recipient more apt to absorb the suggestions for improvement.
Not every review has to be about improving. You can also give positive reviews. Or send quick notes when someone does something outstanding. People are much more likely to rev up their game if they know that someone is noticing their hard work and achievements.
Don’t save praises. Recognize achievements, big and small, in a timely manner. Praising and giving immediate feedback for a job well done is important for agent morale and motivation.
3. Welcome feedback.
Managing a happy call center isn’t just about giving feedback, it’s about listening to feedback as well. A healthy workplace will welcome feedback and suggestions in a structured and professional way. But it’s not enough to hear the requests. You have to show that you’re listening as well.
If someone asks for more flexible hours, consider the option and make moves to try it out. If someone wants to rethink a call center system function, hear their idea out and see if what they’re saying makes sense. If so, give it a shot!
Approachability and open communication are key. Ensure that doors are always open and active listening is always on. Create an inclusive environment where people know and are at ease with each other regardless of their role in the contact center. Foster a culture of communication that enables all employees to speak their minds and suggest improvements on how to do their jobs more efficiently. Then, be sure to make changes accordingly.
4. Motivate through incentives, rewards, and recognition.
There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Competition keeps agents on their toes while making the workday fun and upbeat. You don’t want anything too dramatic or anything that could cause a lot of jealousy. If cash prizes aren’t the right fit for your call center, you might want to offer a gift card or flexible working schedules. Center the competition itself around something related to work.
Maybe it’s about who receives the most positive feedback from callers or who helps the most people on the phone that month. Whatever the contest may be, make it an ongoing event so that it gains momentum and workers are inspired to work harder to win the prize. If one prize isn’t working, you can always simply try out another. See what works best in your call center and what makes your employees the happiest.
Agents are indeed your best asset—show them you care. Make employee appreciation day a year-round event, instead of one day out of the year. Congratulate publicly for a job well done, share success stories, and offer growth opportunities.
5. Encourage wellness.
A healthy workplace is a happy one. There are loads of wellness programs out there for HR reps to encourage in their own offices, but you don’t necessarily need to follow one of them to encourage your call center reps to live healthier lives. First of all, you can encourage everyone to get active.
This can be done by signing up, as a company, for a corporate race or offering to subsidize the cost of gym memberships. You could even get a little creative and hold meetings on outdoor walks instead of at conference tables whenever necessary. Or think about replacing the chocolate with healthy snacks, like fruit and veggies. Staying healthy can go a long way to keeping everyone in your call center happier.
6. Create a fun and happy work environment.
A fun and relaxed work environment can do wonders for agent engagement. Host events for your office once every month or two. Maybe this means a quick happy hour after work or maybe it means hosting a full-blown event on less of a regular basis. Events give call center agents something to look forward to and help break up the day-to-day schedule. This makes time fly and puts a smile on everyone’s faces.
Remember that keeping a happy office doesn’t only feel good, but it’s financially worth your time. Even if you have to foot the bill for some of these steps to happiness, the money you’ll save on raising your employee retention rate will make it all well worth the cost. And, of course, so will all the smiles.
7. Implement technology that supports agent engagement.
A contact center culture that promotes happiness and wellbeing for agent engagement only makes sense if the technology simplifies agent work. Empower your agents with the best tools for them to do their best at their job. It’s very hard, to say the least, to provide stellar customer service if they have to juggle between applications, work with disjointed apps, or search for information all over the place. Agents should focus on the customer, not the hassles of technology.
The right contact center technology empowers agents to be efficient, boosts productivity, and drives engagement levels. Leverage technology to ease agent work and make it as diverse as possible. For example, automate routine, mechanical tasks and allow agents to solve complex customer problems. Or use intelligent call routing to match customer needs to the agent with the skills to handle those needs. This improves not only customer satisfaction rates but also agent confidence.
Implementing contact center software that simplifies agent work is a great incentive for growth, reduces churn, and creates engagement.
Wrapping up call center agent engagement.
As the importance of CX continues to grow, it’s crucial that companies meet customers’ expectations. Before thinking about the customers, contact center managers must think about ways to promote the well-being of employees first. The happiness and engagement of your call center agents will certainly reflect on the customer experience they provide to your customers.
If you’re looking to increase engagement in your contact center, you may also like the following:
- Contact Babel report: The Inner Circle Guide to Agent Engagement & Empowerment.
- Webinar: The Great Resignation and agent engagement with Zeus Kerravala.
- Webinar: CX “Munch & Learn” – Elevating agent engagement.