Top 5 Tips to Motivate Contact Center Agents
Your contact center agents are your company’s face to the outside world.
They’re your frontline to your customers, the ones you trust to maintain those critical buyer relationships.
But their jobs aren’t easy ones. And those roles are vulnerable to high turnover. It takes a special mindset to field complaints and calls, day after day. Without the right support, jobs like theirs can be physically, psychologically and emotionally draining. You don’t want that. You want your agents to feel energized. You want the interactions they have with your customers to be positive ones. And you want those agents to be your longtime employees.
It’s not as hard as you might think to keep your contact center agents happy, motivated and committed. Here are the top five tips based on our experience helping customers with their workforce engagement efforts.
Entrust agents with more autonomy and authority.
If you’re truly committed to a superb customer experience, you want your frontline agents empowered to deliver solutions—not just answers—on behalf of your company. The quicker your customers receive helpful, definitive information or decisions, the happier they will be. And the less runaround an agent has to go through to provide this information, the happier the agent will be. But this shift takes trust and flexibility, on both sides—here are a few ways to shift gracefully.
- Train your agents appropriately, and continuously.
- Have faith—with proper training you provide—agents will make responsible, reasonable decisions on their own.
- Make sure agents know it’s okay for them to make occasional mistakes, so they trust themselves and you.
Eliminate obstacles from their daily tasks.
We all know how mind-numbing and frustrating it can be to face the same problem time and again, with no end in sight. Or to stumble through an overly-complex process. Contact center agents are no different. Tasked with an already difficult job, agents quickly can become demoralized and unmotivated when asked to follow workflows that don’t make sense to them. So help them out.
- Find and remove obstacles that over-complicate their processes.
- Simplify workflows.
- Stop doing what’s no longer necessary, relevant or meaningful.
- Better yet—involve agents in your streamlining project, and take their suggestions to heart.
Keep rewards simple and frequent.
The most appreciated or memorable rewards are rarely the most expensive ones. Simple, creative, lower-cost rewards delivered more frequently often generate better results. So do something extraordinary but easy—create fun contests to recognize superstar agents. A few ideas:
- Have a middle manager cover the phone while the agent takes a coffee break.
- Award a monthly, reserved parking spot.
- Publicly recognize agents for above-and-beyond work.
- Reward superstars with additional time off or small, cash spiffs.
- Come up with your own crazy, creative ideas to find out what inspires your team.
Advance agents’ careers.
Not all contact center agents have the same career aspirations. And—since most contact center agent roles are entry-level—agents typically welcome advice and mentoring on how to advance their career from managers or more senior peers.
- Find out where they want to be a year or two from now, and work with them to map a path to get there.
- Learn what their professional interests are, then help them understand how to apply those interests to their current or desired role.
- Help them develop not only their practical workplace skillsets but also their emotional intelligence, aka “soft skills”—communication, assertiveness, conflict resolution, etc.
- Build their aspirations—is there something they want to do but doubt their ability for some reason? Help them reach beyond what they think are their limitations. Develop a plan to help them overcome any shortfalls they believe they have.
(Bonus: while you’re making agents more productive—and more marketable—you’re also grooming your next level of senior contact center employees.)
Connect with them on a personal level.
Everyone craves connection. It’s a basic human need. Frontline employees tend to feel undervalued, so they in particular need connection.
- Find out the most interesting thing about each person you manage.
- Find out what motivates them.
- Then make those connections in conversations with them. Build that bridge.
You might also be interested in:
- Whitepaper: “Millennials at Work: Leveraging Millennial Strengths in the Contact Center”
- Calabrio’s Workforce Management technology