The reason for a contact center is to take care of customers. For your employees to care of your customers, they need to be taken care of, too! This means keeping them happy, comfortable, and engaged. Interestingly, the contact center environment is often overlooked when service quality issues arise. Yet, it is often the cause, or at least an important factor in a bigger problem.
There are a variety of factors to consider to create a positive work environment for your contact center team. The following are a few of the essentials that should be evaluated on an ongoing basis.
As the old adage goes, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” When it comes to evaluating your agents’ physical work spaces, it’s very important to experience it for yourself. First, sit at a desk. Are the chairs and desks comfortable? Is the lighting sufficient? What about the volume of noise, the temperature, and even the air quality? All of these things matter tremendously when you’re experiencing them for hours at a time. Next, take some calls. Is the headset user-friendly? Can you hear the customers, and can they hear you? Finally, consider your rules. Do you let employees bring personal touches to their workspaces like family photos? Are they allowed to set up their workspace to best fit their work style? If you have issues with any of these, so do your employees. Sometimes, it’s the simple act of adjusting the air conditioning or upgrading desk chairs that can make a tremendous difference when it comes to employee happiness and performance.
Do you have an antiquated contact center system that has been cobbled out of disparate solutions and tools? Your agents will quickly get frustrated if they continuously have to shift between screens to manage everyday tasks and they don’t have a comprehensive view of each customer to understand context and history of their issues. Over time, these inefficiencies lead to decreased employee satisfaction and increased churn. While there’s definitely an investment in updating your system to accommodate all of the channels and sources of data required to help today’s customers, it’s a necessity for enabling your agents to do their job effectively. New contact center systems offer far more integration between CRM, workforce management tools, and other solutions to give agents a single dashboard to manage issues. New options can help improve efficiencies such as VHT Digital, which integrates non-voice interactions with call routing systems. The investment in an integrated system can not only help agents better understand your customers but it will also improve first call resolution rates, increase overall agent efficiency, and provide better insights to make future business decisions.
Hopefully, you have a great team of professionals working for you who have demonstrated core competencies, as well as responsibility and quick-thinking. If so, it may be time to give them a little room to say yes to reasonable customer requests, and in some cases, even to do a little extra when it can make a difference in keeping a customer happy. Your agents are on the front line with customers. By empowering them with the ability to provide the best service, you’ll give them the confidence to excel in their job.
Contact center agents often feel removed from the rest of an organization because the bulk of their time is spent with customers and not with other teams and employees. Because of this, there are often communication challenges between them and others. Management often makes the mistake of formulating decisions that affect contact center operations without agent input. This lack of collaboration can breed frustration and discontent, especially when decisions make day-to-day work within the contact center more challenging or complex. The reality is that agents are a tremendous source of business insights because they work directly with customers. And their opinions should be heard and valued. Regular meetings or sessions where agents get to share their opinions and management can discuss their goals and objectives can be very beneficial in improving agent satisfaction. As well, an open door policy should be established to enable agents to ask questions, discuss suggestions, and address problems. By creating an environment of collaboration, your agents will feel more like part of the team and can even provide new ideas that can improve efficiency, productivity, and growth.
Another common mistake is only addressing agents when something is wrong. Of course, mistakes need to be corrected, and problem areas may require closer evaluation or extra training. However, it’s also important to recognize when things are going well. Customer service is hard work, even under the best of circumstances. Are you doing enough to say thank you to your agents? It can be as simple as a free lunch or a small bonus. Or it can be extended out on a program level with performance-based incentives or other perks.
It’s important to remember that your agents work directly with your customers. This is why it’s important to treat them as well as you can. You’ll be paid back for these efforts two-fold by having both happier agents and more satisfied customers.