Happy agents will work harder to produce happy callers and customers
Call center work is hard. Not every person who accepts a position as a call center agent has the determination to stay in that position for the long-term. This is one reason why most call centers experience a high turnover rate.
While some aspects of call center work are fixed and not conducive to change, other factors are within management’s control. By addressing these items, smart managers can take significant steps to produce happier employees and reduce their turnover rate. In the process of doing this, they will increase agents’ job satisfaction and lengthen their tenure at the company.
In short, these tips will make for happier agents. And happier agents help make callers happier. Everyone wins when you follow these happiness tips.
1) Train: Cultivating happy agents begins on the first day of their employment. It starts with training: not quick training, not job shadowing, and not haphazard instruction. To be happy and successful, agents require excellent training. This includes how to operate your systems and software, advanced customer service skills, and in-depth product education. This will leave newly-hired agents well-prepared to do their jobs with excellence.
2) Support: Agents who feel the backing of their managers and company are more likely to be happy in their employment and with the work they do. The support occurs on many levels, but it falls into two basic categories. One is management doing what it says it will do when it says it will do it. The other is ensuring agents are never left to flounder when doing their work. This support starts with tip number one, training, and continues through the next six.
3) Communicate: Make sure your agents know what you expect of them. Let them know your standards, the metrics you measure, and the outcomes you expect. A failure to do this will result in agents reaching their own conclusions, which will most likely be wrong—and detrimental.
4) Include: Whenever possible let agents be a part of decisions that affect them. Allow them to offer input on policy changes, assess new software, and make recommendations in how they can do their work more effectively. This will not only give them ownership in the results, but it will also serve to make them feel like a more significant part of your team.
5) Evaluate: Your agents strive to apply their training, meet your objectives, and serve your callers. Your job is to encourage them. A key way is through providing constructive feedback on their work. This can include letting them know their results in the metrics you track, which is best accomplished through an agent portal. Another way is providing timely and actionable quality assurance (QA) monitoring. Also offer side-by-side coaching. Then make sure you celebrate their successes in all these areas.
6) Respect: Treat your agents the way you want them to treat you. This includes helping them maintain a good work-life balance. Recognize that they are more than just a warm body who sits in your operations room and takes calls. Celebrate their birthdays, have parties around key holidays, and offer fun activities for no reason at all. Pay them what you promised, and pay them well. Nothing communicates value like an above-average hourly rate for your labor market and a respectable benefits package.
7) Empower: Much of call center work relies on adhering to specific protocols of what to do and when to do it. However, whenever possible, empower your agents to disregard a customer service policy if they feel it’s the right thing to do for a caller. Then support them in their decision, even if you may disagree.
8) Thank: Two simple words can go a long way toward making agents feel valued and appreciated. These words are “thank you.” Thank them when they pick up an extra shift or stay late. Thank them when they handle a difficult call with excellence. Thank them when they go the extra mile, for the smile on their face, or because of praise you received from a customer. Sometimes it’s nice to thank them just because.
Putting these tips into practice will result in a call center that treats its employees well and affirms them and their efforts. This will make your company a better place to work, for both you and your staff, which will benefit your callers and customers. Now that’s something to be happy about.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry, which helps clients grow their revenue. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.