If you think you’ve been hearing more about agent engagement—aka “workforce engagement management (WEM)”—lately, you’re probably right. With the increasing focus on the customer experience, better engagement with the agents who serve them makes perfect sense. After all, it’s a key way organizations can elevate and sustain the contact center customer experience by:
That’s why Gartner predicts that by 2020, elevating employee engagement will become a key differentiator in more than 20 percent of contact centers, up from less than two percent in 2015.1
But this shift will require more than new tools—it will require contact center leaders to evolve the way they work and the ways in which they engage with their agents.
Here are four ideas to help you get started.
All employees like to be heard and have their ideas considered, and contact center agents are no exception. One easy way to better empower your agents is to involve them in more business decisions, particularly ones that affect their processes and work environment.
As an example, you could involve your agents in the identification and selection of new training topics and technology tools that can help them deliver better customer experiences. For instance, many agents say the lack of customer data available to them at the time of a customer’s request hinders their ability to quickly resolve that inquiry. By involving agents in the resolution of this issue—which may turn out to be a combination of data, technology and process—you’ll make them feel empowered while solving a painful problem for both your business and your customers.
There’s no shortage of analytics available for understanding contact center data. Like any tool, however, how you use it is as important as when you use it. And when it comes to better engaging agents, you want to measure—and make business decisions based upon—the things that really matter.
For example, analytics used to identify new opportunities for self-service increase agent engagement because they essentially offload routine, mundane tasks to automated systems, so agents instead can spend their time servicing higher-value inquiries. Customers are happy because basic questions can be answered more quickly and more consistently, and agents are happy because their queues aren’t filled with simple inquiries best answered by other means.
Agents—particularly Millennials—value work-life balance and expect it from their contact center leaders, who then need to balance those desires with staffing needs and work rules. As a result, one easy way to improve agent engagement is to offer a variety of scheduling options that recognize performance and seniority in tangible ways.
For instance, Calabrio’s Dynamic Scheduling goes beyond traditional and current shift bidding to better engage your agents, decrease agent churn and drive more efficient contact center operations.
It’s a multi-step process that melds the Voice of the Agent (VoA) with the needs of the contact center by inviting agents to select their preferred shifts based upon pre-established work rules, with priority selection awarded to high performers, those with seniority or those awarded some other type of performance-based distinction.
With meaningful rewards available to those who work toward being among the first to participate in the scheduling process, you incent engagement and foster a healthy, ongoing competition between agents.
“Gamification” uses gaming science and psychology to increase agent productivity while reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching new skills. While gamification incents and recognizes agents—motivating them to meet or exceed expectations by completing specific objectives and outpacing peers—its ultimate goal is a customer-oriented one: superior experiences that result in longer-term and more satisfied customers.
We find most contact centers launch inaugural gamification initiatives that feature one or more of these three key strategies: rewards and recognition, peer competition, and training and development.
For instance, when it comes to rewards, recognition and peer competition, you could:
Keep in mind, sometimes creative and inexpensive gifts—like giving each month’s top performer a reserved parking spot or additional time off, having a manager cover the phone while the agent takes a coffee break, or giving agents the option to work from home—are more memorable and valuable to agents.
When it comes to training and development, gamification often is used for both new-hire onboarding and ongoing skills development. You could:
Agent engagement, or WEM, is quickly rising in criticality due largely to the changing expectations of contact center agents and the scarcity of high-caliber agents who can deliver stellar customer experiences. To engage and retain the professional, experienced agents your customers demand, you need to embrace new tactics like the ones listed above. Your agents—and your customers—will thank you.
1 Gartner, “The Essential Shift From Workforce Optimization to Workforce Engagement Management.” May 24, 2016.