Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Importance of Motivation in the Contact Center

By: Ana Simões

In a fast-paced business world, where there is no place for second best, it is hard to keep a team motivated, especially in stressful workplace environments such as the contact center. You often find overworked, burned out agents, measured against KPIs that likely weren't implemented with the agent in mind. Even worse, they may not change with the dynamics of the contact center.

It is not always possible to achieve first call resolution levels. Just think of technical support through email. If your email is too lengthy, you may lose the customer. Too short, you run the risk of multiple exchanges. 

Consider the number of contacts. Depending on the project, you will have account cases, billing cases, technical cases, and so on. As you can imagine, it is faster to handle account level issues than technical cases with several troubleshooting steps. Handle times will be different for these cases, as will be the number of cases handled at the end of the agents shift.

Under these conditions, customer satisfaction may be out of the agents’ control. As you can see, it's quite easy for agents to become frustrated and lose focus. This is where motivation come in!

How to motivate your team, then? Let's think psychology. In 1943, Abraham Maslow's Theory of Human Motivation, suggested there is a 5 tier hierarchy of needs. He believed people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and supposed that some needs precede others

The needs can be broken down as such:

  1. Physiological- food, water, sex, air, shelter, warmth, sleep 
  2. Safety- shelter elements, security, law and order, stability, freedom from fear. 
  3. Social- friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection, belonging to a group, be it family, friends or work. 
  4. Esteem- achievements, dominance, self-respect and respect from others, independence, status and prestige.
  5. Self-actualization-  personal growth, self-fulfillment and potential.

To motivate your team it is important for their needs to be met. A stable job, with a stable workplace is always a good place to start. Make sure the KPIs are fair and achievable. Make sure the workload is not too taxing, CSAT is due to your agents work and not due to other variables, and first call resolution is in line with the type of cases they are handling.

Keep in mind, it is not always possible to keep your focus for an entire shift.Find ways to keep them engaged. Incorporate themed days, activities and events.  Reduce stress levels by allowing them to take mental breaks after difficult or lengthy interactions. 

While you're at it, focus health! Appeal to your team' s physical well being.Create a leisure room for reading or quiet time. Have a place for short workout sessions such as yoga, Pilates,or stretching.

Allow your team to actively contribute in brainstorming and decision-making.
Communication is everything, in any kind of relationships. Talk with your team and listen to what they have to say.

Promoting personal growth intent on developing new skills can also be an asset for both the agent and the company. Utilize seminars, conferences, workshops and training as a way to grow your team members and increase skill sets.

Last but not least, spend time on the front line! This is by far the best way to understand the challenges they face, and identify their needs.

Keep your team happy, and your team will be there to keep your customers happy. 

Ana Simões is an experienced customer service trainer and recruiter. Her background as a psychologist provides her with an insight into the mind and behavior of customers and agents. The result is a unique, personal approach to the contact center.

Connect with Ana on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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